From the view of an east coast American joining the Romanian ecosystem.
Techsylvania is one of the Leading Technology Events in eastern Europe. 3,000+ engineers, founders, investors, executives and CEOs of IT digital companies, banks and pioneers of growing startups from across the world meet at for inspiration and networking.
It was 2 days of Silicon Valley meets Europe, a pitch competition, and hackathon. Former speakers include the Founder of Ubuntu and Canonical Mark Shuttleworth, and the CTO of Spotify Andreas Ehn. This year there were special appearances by Cluj-Napoca’s very own Mayor Emil Boc, Silicon Valley’s Matt Michelsen, Soft Bank Vision Funds Sakshi Chhabra Mittal, and Co-Founder of SpaceX Tom Meuller.
As I am personally building an HR Tech centered technology company, I attended talks and workshops centered around product development, international business, fundraising, and lessons from VC to startups.
Interesting Tech Companies
Entering the HR tech space, I sought out companies in the space of product development, automation, SaaS, and IoT. Although much to choose from, here are 2 Romanian company picks:
CertSign, a Romanian company that develops innovative software for information security and information systems protection. Services include integrated archiving, from taking over documents from the customer and processing them to physical and electronic archiving. Expertise in the electronic archiving of legal documents – a technically aware HR professionals dream.
Wolfpack Digital, not only a Romanian company but the founder and CEO is a woman, Georgina Lupu. Georgina was inviting as she greeted me personally. Wolfpack was named the top development companies and strongest IT employers in Cluj, Napoca. Wolfpack builds versatile web and mobile apps using optimal native technologies for companies worldwide.
The advice to open your mind was given by just about EVERY single speaker. An applicable theme to all tech entrepreneurs. Many speakers suggested around the words of – if you want to better yourself, seek a world beyond your own. Not only will you find yourself and your purpose. Yet, you will learn from those who have walked the path you are trying to fulfill.
All segments and workshops were typical for western world conferences. For me, this was astounding to have right here in Romania without the travel California. I had a total of 10 favorite talks and workshops, but these were the ones that stood out the most:
- Human-Centered Product Design – J Cornelius (Nine Labs)
- Lessons Learned from Successful Startups – Matt Michelsen
- How to Scale with All the New Data Regulations Across Countries – Peter Yared
- Panel: What’s Next in VC & Global Trends
- How to Fundraise With Zero Connections – Fang Yuan
My Thoughts on the Romanian Tech Ecosystem
Overall, I continue to see Romania as an underrated location to build a startup. For locals, there is much growth and catching up that needs to be done. Traveling for a short time and coming back to your country will ensure your success. Entrepreneurs and bootstrappers, while many look straight to Bali, know that there is a space here in Romania beyond “low-cost talent”. But don’t forget the way you can contribute back to a country developing.
“If your focus in Romania is to hire cheap developers without getting to understand the culture, you are making a mistake”.
Philipp Kandal, Techsylvania Chairman & VP of Engineering at Telenav
After networking, I can attest, many Romanian entrepreneurs, developers, IT professionals, and tech talent that are intelligent willing to learn. Yes, you may find your next developer or your next CTO right here in the land of vampires. Ok, there is no way I could talk about Romania and fit that in somewhere.
For Americans/Western world entrepreneurs that come across this article, considering a move to Romania to build a startup, or simply hire awesome tech talent, please take to heart the words of Philipp. Learn about the people, the culture, the language. Challenge yourself to find ways to give opportunities for growth, learning, expanding, and overall give back to Romania.
And for the Romanians reading this, the theme of Techsylvania is an imperative one to success. Keep an open mind, don’t judge a book by its cover, or assume that someone’s intelligence is based on appearance. There can be much to learn from Americans/Western world in terms of tech, business, career development, and soft skills. To truly want to grow, learn from those who have done so already, study what they have done right, study what they have done wrong, and become better!