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100% YoY growth – 5 years in a row!, A Founder’s Story with Mladen Simic

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Mladen Simic, raised in post-war Croatia where everyone who got rich – got rich in a dirty way. Studied social sciences but always knew I’ll become an entrepreneur – but I’ll try to get rich an honest way. Built his first startup, used the money and experience to build the second one – Cinnamon – with two of his best colleague buddies. Now this startup is an agency of 120 people with a 100% YoY growth – 5 years in a row!
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I spent my childhood in war-torn Croatia. I remember we were collecting shells as a hobby and enjoyed a weird combination of slumber parties in bomb shelters during air raids. Now this sounds crazy, but at the time that was normal and as a kid who has a support of his loving and caring family, you’ll always find ways to have fun and enjoy your childhood. As soon as the war ended my mom died, but my father did all in his powers to make sure me and my sisters were taken care of every way possible. Despite all these things, I have great memories of my childhood and it truly helped me to always try to do good things, because shitty things happen by themselves.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I was riding my bike back from work one day and I was trying to put my earphones on to listen to some music. The new album from Black Keys was just released. Of course, my earphones were tangled. And as I was riding bike, handsfree, trying to untangle the earphones I got the idea for an invention that keeps earphones untangled at all times. I successfully patented it and sold over 200 000 pieces. I used that money and experience to co-found Cinnamon with two of my colleague friend – Ivan and Mateja. We truly started from scratch – we all had zero social capital and almost no business experience. But, we got along well, we knew what our goal is and we steadily pushed toward that goal. Year over year we were growing until we reached our current position as a leading European design and development agency.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
Do not overestimate what you can do in 1 year and do not underestimate what you can do in 10. It takes some time to get the ball rolling, but it’s worth it.

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Opinions expressed by Disrupt Contributors are their own. Disrupt Magazine invites voices from many diverse walks of life to share their perspectives on our contributor platform. We are big believers in freedom of speech and while we do enforce our community guidelines, we do not actively censor stories on our platform because we want to give our contributors the freedom to express their opinions. Articles are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by our community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Disrupt or its employees.
We are committed to fighting the spread of misinformation online so if you feel an article on our platform goes against our community guidelines or contains false information, we do encourage you to report it. We need your help to fight the spread of misinformation. For more information please visit our Contributor Guidelines available here.


Disrupt ™ is the voice of latino entrepreneurs around the world. We are part of a movement to increase diversity in the technology industry and we are focused on using entrepreneurship to grow new economies in underserved communities both here in Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America. We enable millennials to become what they want to become in life by learning new skills and leveraging the power of the digital economy. We are living proof that all you need to succeed in this new economy is a landing page and a dream. Disrupt tells the stories of the world top entrepreneurs, developers, creators, and digital marketers and help empower them to teach others the skills they used to grow their careers, chase their passions and create financial freedom for themselves, their families, and their lives, all while living out their true purpose. We recognize the fact that most young people are opting to skip college in exchange for entrepreneurship and real-life experience. Disrupt Magazine was designed to give the world a taste of that.