Skilled workforce, cybersecurity, gaming, robots, open source enthusiasts looking to share their know-how, and good internet to connect us all, are a few of the keywords that can describe Romania’s innovation ecosystem at large. As an emergent market in Central and Eastern Europe, the young tech society is growing fast and it needs guidance, rules, and regulations, to scale in the right direction.
Since the tech sector continues to evolve and expand – last year local startups raised over 100M euros, local communities like MyidEA and Launch in Bucharest, Make IT in Oradea, and Rubik Hub in Piatra Neamt, to name a few, keep building different incubators and accelerators to equip early-stage entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to grow.
“Every startup wants investors and every investor is looking for outstanding projects. Although there are opportunities to connect, they are not always effective. Through Pitch IT UP, we facilitate this interaction in a simple, authentic way, without hidden obligations,” Matei Dumitrescu, president of idEA, shares about the project’s mission to support all ecosystem players to source up their skills.
Between September and November, we partnered up with a spirited organization – MyidEA, an independent Bucharest-based equity-free accelerator that connects tech startups with industry mentors and partner investors. Each year, they have several ongoing programs, like Commons Accel, ShopStartup Accel, and a Pitch it UP monthly series of events to get to know the investors, practice pitching, and network with like-minded builders.
While Commons Accel has accelerated over 300 startups and has a portfolio of companies that have raised over 45M euros in the past four years, ShopStartup Accel is a niched new program targeting eCommerce players.
“It is said that it is not easy to receive an investment. In fact, it is not easy to find the right investor for your startup. Pitch it UP is the perfect opportunity to carefully analyze the profile of different local investors and the recommendations they give to startups presenting their pitch deck,” Adriana Ancuta, Community Lead MyidEA, tells me.
For the Pitch IT UP #4 event, we have used our Storytelling muscles to sync up via Zoom with a few tech startup founders and support their goals. We touched upon their background, mission, solution, and team, among others, to peel the layers of the onion and bring to light an array of stories that they can move forward with.
Pitch IT UP #4
With this edition of PIU, before the investors had a chance to ask the entrepreneurs their questions, we played a fun game of “true or false” with:
- Sergiu Negut – co-founder of Cleverage VC, a niched healthcare investment vehicle in CEE;
- Valentin Filip – Managing Partner at Fortech Investments, who focuses on verticals like healthcare, manufacturing, finance, real estate, among others;
- and Marius Istrate – Chairman of the Board of TechAngels Romania, who is on a mission to curate exciting tech projects to present to the regional community of Angel Investors.
“I was happy to be at Pitch it UP! I found the selection of companies that presented very interesting. At different levels of business maturity, each startup had an area of exclusivity and growth potential that told a story for each of us, those who were on the judging panel,” Sergiu Negut reveals.
The startups chosen by the MyidEA team to pitch were:
- RepsMate (Alin Rosca), a conversation intelligence platform designed to enhance customer experience, increase the efficiency of operations, and raise revenue.
- Ulpia (Catalin Balog Bellu) – a series of tools – from a platform to courses and events, to bring together the dental community and grow together.
- TaskLight (Andrei Negulescu), a future-of-work tool that aims to bring together five communication applications into one – chat, email, tasks, file sharing, and an AI chatbot.
- Unison Goodies (Tudor Iacob), a company developing plant-based cereal bars, nut butter, and vegan mayo, to name a few.
Pitch IT UP #5
For the fifth edition of MyidEA’s Pitch IT UP series of events, we have had the pleasure of playing the “true or false” game with:
- Cristina Daianu – Partner and Head of Dentons’ Venture;
- Daniela Aldescu – Investor at SmartImpact Capital, a micro-investment fund focusing on early-stage startups;
- Cristian Negrutiu – Founding Partner at Sparking Capital – an agnostic micro-investment fund launched in 2018;
- Cristian Dascalu – Partner at GapMinder VC, a $45M investment fund, and at Techcelerator, an accelerator program focusing on solutions with an AI component.
“Pitch it UP is the perfect opportunity to remind entrepreneurs who come to present to investors that focus is essential. It must be calibrated both in the long term, to show that there is a strategy for the coming years, and in the short term, to show what the startup’s plans are in the next six months to reach a series of milestones. Only in this way the product development journey can be successful and of interest to an investment fund,” Cristian Dascalu advises tech startup founders.
The tech startups that pitched and are looking to raise funds were:
- Ghlass (Filothea Favatas), a platform where fashion designers can sync up with affiliates like influencers to spruce up sales but also improve their orders’ sustainability.
- Autopia (Daniel Popa), a digital tool for car service professionals that automates processes through RPA.
- Solmag (Olivian Savin), an ecosystem that consists of a marketplace, a prosumer map, and a decentralized AI cloud to manage energy from renewable sources.
- Ziora (Marius Chirita), a tool for automating management processes for different companies – e.g. beauty, and dental, to name a few.
Pitch IT UP #6
The last event of the Pitch IT UP series this season was a private one, held with the oldest Romanian angel investors’ community – TechAngels. Led by Marius Istrate as Chairman of the Board, the members joined both physically and digitally from different corners of the world.
“What I have observed lately is that Romanian founders made progress in presenting their businesses. They have started to prioritize business thinking over technology. This means that when they approach angel investors, they know how to articulate a value proposition related to the business. Recently, we have also started to see businesses that bring an advanced look and feel, with a user experience (UX) and an interface with a neat design, even at the MVP level, and we really like that. But, founders need to be capable of briefly addressing other aspects as well. If you are already talking to me from a business perspective and showing me that you can build a business by presenting numbers, also explain why you have a technological advantage. So, talk about the business, but touch on other subjects as well: technology, user experience, pricing, user acquisition, and sales,” Marius Istrate shares about his experience.
The startups that pitched were:
- FoodFix.tech (Mihai Gavan), a tech startup that aims to support content creators in transforming their videos into cookbooks with the help of AI.
- Link by Aggranda (Stefan Vrabie), a tech tool that supports IT teams’ workflows built inside of the software development company founded by Cristian Ignat.
- Rayscape (Andreea Purcaru), the start-up co-founded by Stefan Iarca is looking to scale its digital assistant for radiologists in Europe with a new funding round.
- Bankata (Andrei Perianu), is a fintech on a mission of educating the public with their financial decisions, like debt management.
If you don’t want to miss the next sessions of Pitch IT UP make sure you register here – either as a startup founder or a curious attendee.
Photo credit: Lens of Alex