Slovakia may be a small country at the heart of Europe, putting a lot of emphasis on agriculture and forestry, the country is also home to many highly interesting companies boasting of a world-wide presence. Although they may be relatively popular in other parts of Europe, their ‘Made in Slovakia’ origins might remain unknown for most. This article will showcase the five most interesting brands and companies that originate from and are unmistakably Slovak.
Nowadays, billions of people have some sort of personal computer, smartphone or a laptop. But they might not know how their devices are protected. Anyone who spends a lot of their time tinkering with technology should know ESET, a Slovak software company known for its highly-reliable anti-virus technologies such as the NOD32, Smart Security or their smartphone security software. Founded in Bratislava decades ago, ESET has been protecting households, individuals and businesses from malign network threats since 1992 (although the creation of NOD dates back to 1987), when it was established after the merger of two companies led by Peter Pasko and Miroslav Trnka.
The ESET name comes from the Egyptian goddess of health, marriage and love. After the worldwide success of NOD32 in 1998, the company was able to expand worldwide and establish offices in several other locations around the globe. To this day, its expertise is widely recognized, and ESET continues to receive prizes such as 100 consecutive VB100 awards from Virus Bulletin, a prestigious anti-virus and malware magazine. Last year the company joined the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, a public commitment among more than 80 global companies to strengthen the cybersecurity of users around the world.
Slovnaft (Slovenska Nafta, or Slovak Petrol)
Where would we be without access to petrol or gas to power our cars and our homes? Slovnaft – humorously known as Mordor in Bratislava due to the fires from the towers lighting up the sky like the eye of Sauron – is Slovakia’s main oil refining company located on the outskirts of Bratislava.
Established as a successor to the Apollo company (whose former location now houses the Apollo bridge and the twin towers of Panorama City) established in 1895 but destroyed in 1944 by Allied bombs. Slovnaft was founded in its stead in 1949 and was later reorganized as a joint-stock company after the Velvet Divorce of Czechoslovakia. Slovnaft refines nearly 6 million tonnes of crude oil per year and produces a wide variety of motor fuels, oils and other petrochemical products. Slovnaft is also highly visible all across the country and acts as sponsor to major sport events such as the hockey league of Slovakia (Slovnaft Cup).
Nowadays Slovnaft is a part of the Hungarian MOL group, led by Oszkar Vilagi (a Slovak Hungarian from Dunajska Streda, my hometown), a telling symbol of how intertwined Slovak and Hungarian relations are.
Zlaty Bazant (Golden Pheasant)
Just like our Czech brothers and sisters, Slovaks are also known for their love of beer. Slovakia houses several famous breweries, but the most well-known is undoubtedly Zlaty Bazant, based in Hurbanovo.
Now part of the Heineken Group, Zlaty Bazant was established in 1969 and named after the pheasants roaming the countryside around Hurbanovo, in the south-west of Slovakia. It is often cited as one of the three main beer brands of former Czechoslovakia (after Pilsner and Budvar of neighbouring Czechia), that highly contributed to making beer one of the flagship industries of Czech Republic and Slovakia. The beer is known for its medium strong and pleasant bitterness, together with its golden colour thanks to its own malt formula. Zlaty Bazant is enjoyed across the globe, even on the other side of the great Atlantic pond in the U.S. and Canada.
Just like Slovnaft, this particular brand of beer is known for its sponsorship of the largest music festival in Slovakia, Pohoda, which takes place in the city of Trencin yearly and is often visited by famous Slovak, Czech and international musicians. Due to this and its sponsorship of Slovak cinematography, Zlaty Bazant is a quintessential and most emblematic ‘Made in Slovakia’ beer brand, known and enjoyed by more than just one generation.
For those who cannot find their way around cities or countries just by using their senses or following a regular paper-made map, there is Sygic, a world-famous online GPS navigation system developed in Bratislava. It became the first company to offer navigation to iPhone and second for Android smartphones, which makes it an internationally known company, even if many are unaware of its country of origins.
It was founded in 2004, and by 2015 had already reached the milestone of 100 million downloads of its navigation app. The company offers its navigation services in more than 30 languages across nearly 200 countries on several operating systems, so you will certainly never get lost in the world as long as you have Sygic on your phone.
Now owned by the Austrian Erste Group and established in 1824, Slovenska Sporitelna (SLSP) is the oldest and biggest commercial bank in the country, leader of banking services in Slovakia. When compared to other banks in the country, SLSP offers the largest ATM and bank network, together with the most reliable and modern banks in the country: it currently services over 2.2 million clients and has branches in over half a dozen country in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
The bank has won several awards, as its services and customer care may arguably be unrivaled on the Slovak market. As an important Slovak brand, SLSP sponsors several cultural and sporting events, such as the Slovak Football Association and representation during the world cup (UEFA or FIFA). It also sponsors the Slovak Olympic team and the Pohoda music festival. So, if you would like to use the services of a Slovak bank, SLSP might be (also from my own personal experience) one of the best choices.
Interested in flagship Central European brands and businesses? Check out our list of the most famous companies from the Czech Republic or the most quintessential ‘Made in Hungary’ brands!
Written by Mark Szabo
An international relations and European politics student at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, Márk grew up in a bi-cultural Slovak-Hungarian family, stoking his interest in Central European politics and cross-national relations. A former intern at the Bratislava-based Globsec Institute, Márk aims for a career in diplomacy. He joined the team of Kafkadesk contributors in April 2019. To check out his latest articles, it’s right here!