Rimac Automobili founder Mate Rimac shares lessons from bootstrapping an EV company

'We had situations where I can't even start to explain what we survived'

Mate Rimac’s founder story has the makings of automotive folklore. He started Rimac Automobili in his garage in 2009 as a literal one-person operation that has grown to a company with more than 1,000 employees, supply contracts with automakers like Porsche and a new electric hypercar moving into production.

What might not be known is how close the company came to failing. “It has been such a wild ride,” Mate Rimac said during an interview at at the virtual TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 event. “The first seven years, we were like out of money and technically bankrupt all the time.”

The founder and CEO of Croatian electric hypercar and components developer Rimac Automobili joined TechCrunch on our virtual stage to talk about the company’s new Nevera vehicle, his interest in electric robotaxis and the prospect of an acquisition of Bugatti. Throughout the interview, he gave a candid account of some of the company’s lowest points, how he and the company survived and what other founders can learn from his experience.

“It was quite a ride.”

Today, Rimac Automobili is a household name in Croatia with plans to grow even larger. Rimac is currently building a headquarters and technology campus on a 49-acre site that is slated to be completed in 2023. It was a far more solitary experience the first few years of Rimac Automobili’s existence. Even when it gained recognition, the company came close to failing numerous times, Rimac said in the interview.

It has been such a wild ride. And like the first seven years, we were like out of money and technically bankrupt all the time.

We had situations where I can’t even start to explain what we survived. I set out this company 12 years ago, I was alone for two years. The first employee joined me in 2011. So it was really built from a garage.