Alumnus Jakov Kukin and his path to success in the tech startup world

At RIT Croatia, we take pride in the achievements of our students and alumni. Their successes are a testament to the dedication and hard work they invest in their education and careers. Jakov Kukin is an International Business alumnus who exemplifies the spirit of innovation and excellence we cherish. He and his best friend Stjepan Dolić, founded their startup team to develop and license a production line for perovskite solar cells and issue their licenses to manufacturing companies, Total Energy. Despite recently graduating, Jakov has already achieved great results! As of his latest success, he was in the top 10 finalists for the Digi Awards competition with his startup.

Perovskite solar cells are the future

Jakov and his friend Stjepan Dolić, have been friends since kindergarten. Their entrepreneurial journey began even before they enrolled in college. The team ventured into reselling various products online, many of which originated from China. This experience taught them how to identify promising opportunities and critically assess ideas.

Both of them wanted to study renewable energy options, and after discovering perovskite solar cells, they dedicated themselves to exploring the potential of perovskite technology. Stjepan is a chemist whose role at Total Energy is to develop technology. He is researching how they can produce durable and industry-optimized perovskite solar cells. Currently, solar cells are made from silicon, which has several problems. Its production is a severe environmental threat with large quantities of water and waste. Silicon-based solar technology has reached its energy efficiency limit, so the scientific community has been developing perovskite-based solar cells that contribute to solving these problems. „Our team has addressed these issues and designed innovations in this field to bring perovskite solar cells to a market-competitive level“, Kukin explains.

Jakov as a business person is finding potential investors and partners. He is making a business plan and cost structure as well. „Since we are a team of two, most of our work is mutual and we help each other whenever we can“, he explains. Total Energy operates in Croatia's innovative technology sector, where finding individuals with significant experience is challenging. „Additionally, credibility is a concern, as we are two recent college graduates striving to make our mark in an industry dominated by influential global companies“, says Jakov. Despite the challenges, the team is gradually building its expertise and credibility in the industry.

Total Energy recently won first place at Rijeka's Big Bang Camp startup competition. The team was also accepted as one of the projects in the Nuqleus startup incubator and has recently been welcomed at the EIT (European Institute for Innovation and Technology) Jumpstarter program. The European Union created the EIT initiative to educate startup teams and give them the necessary opportunities such as funding and relative connections to bring their ideas to reality. Their project with perovskite solar cells has been published in the Jutarnji list for competing at the Student Digi Awards. Each year, the Digi Awards recognize the best young innovators in the technology field and Jakov and Stjepan were among the top 10 finalists.

Academic knowledge and real-life experience

Regardless of age, and the lack of expertise in Croatia's innovative technology sector, Jakov and Stjepans' dedication has already earned them recognition. Despite the industry challenges, RIT Croatia's education shaped Jakov's business knowledge and work ethic. The International Business program provided Jakov with a solid foundation in business principles, which he has been able to apply to his current role at Infobip as a customer growth intern and Total Energy. „Key skills from my education include research, time management, problem-solving, and collaboration. These abilities have been crucial in effectively managing tasks and working with diverse teams“, he explains. The combination of real-world experience gained through entrepreneurship and the academic knowledge acquired at RIT Croatia has equipped Jakov with the skills and mindset needed to succeed in the dynamic business world.

We are incredibly proud of Jakov and Stjepan for their remarkable achievements with their startup. We wish them the best of luck and continued success in all their future endeavors!