Croatia Flag

Hrvoje Josip Balen, Mislav Balković and Tomislav Dominković

EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year Class of 2021, Croatia

Hrvoje Josip Balen, Owner, Founder and Board Member; Mislav Balković, Owner, Founder and Board Member; and Tomislav Dominković, Owner, Founder and President of the Board of Algebra

Algebra co-founders make the grade in their quest to improve Croatia’s education system.

Photographic portrait of Hrvoje Josip Balen, Mislav Balković and Tomislav Dominković

Hrvoje Josip Balen (left), Mislav Balković (center) and Tomislav Dominković (right)

It was their shared experience of a disappointing higher education that motivated friends Tomislav Dominković, Mislav Balković and Hrvoje Josip Balen toward entering the education sector themselves. They were determined to change the system. “We strongly believed that people around us deserved better education,” they explain.

So in 1998, they cofounded Algebra, setting up their first small educational center in a living room with six computers and borrowed furniture. Today, it is Croatia’s largest and fastest growing private educational organization, serving 15,000 students annually. It provides innovative short- and full-study programs in areas such as software engineering, digital marketing, data science and 3D design. It was their foresight in seeing a market for STEM subjects that really propelled their growth. They are now the second biggest institution in the country providing educated digital experts.

Their pioneering approach has resulted in 20% annual growth of freshmen students in the last decade. The three friends hope they have been able to prove “that approaches can be challenged even in formal education, if one is daring and persistent.”