Mate Rimac – it’s pronounced Matty Rimats – can’t keep up. His company is expanding so rapidly that the HQ, in an industrial area 20 minutes outside Zagreb, resembles one of those miraculously ever-evolving buildings in Minecraft. During a whistle-stop tour, it’s impossible not to lose your bearings as one department gives way to another, each containing roomfuls of bright young things rewiring the future. Some have compared Rimac with Elon Musk, but following him through the endless doorways, an image pops into my mind: he has the spry charisma of Gene Wilder’s original take on Willy Wonka. Substitute electricity for chocolate.
Rimac now employs 500 people, of 29 nationalities. There are coders, software engineers, designers, and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) experts. There are also dogs, including Mate’s Japanese Akita, Nala, and the atmosphere is, well, fully charged. We pass a deputation of engineers from an Asian automotive OEM in a stairwell, the latest in many who have come to Croatia to consult this deeply impressive young man. So yeah, Mate’s HQ can’t keep up. No wonder a sprawling new campus is on the drawing board, complete with hotel, kindergarten and museum.
But he also can’t keep up with what’s happening inside his own head. “I got up at 5am, and I’ll be here until 11pm,” he says. “I work day and night and get maybe 20 per cent of what I want to achieve done.
“For example, I’d like to develop a central nervous system for the company that streamlines all of the communication, all the information that’s floating around in emails and after meetings. You still have to call someone up to get an update on a project. No one has figured out a better way of doing it. It drives me crazy.”
This feature originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Top Gear magazine.
Words: Jason Barlow
Photography: Joe Windsor-Williams