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Startup Cities in SEE: Who is Who in the Emerging Bucharest Ecosystem?

Bucharest Startup Ecosystem
Image credit: Unsplash
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A recent survey by BroadbandDeals.co.uk classifies Bucharest as the best city for remote working for 2020. Taking into account factors such as Internet speed, cost of living, and availability of jobs for remote workers, the research shows that the Romanian capital outperforms cities such as Las Vegas, Budapest, Barcelona and Hong Kong. A lot can be said about the tech successes achieved by Romania. In recent years, the local startup community has been flourishing with some 59 VC announcements made in 2020, according to the Romanian Venture Report. And there is much to see. Bucharest is still the hottest point on the Romanian map, and we decided to sort out the most promising startups whose recent achievements have contributed to the development of the startup community.

According to a report on the state of the Romanian ecosystem by EY Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe & Central Asia (CESA), the rounds completed in 2020 represent a 27% increase in the transactions over €75k. While the average funding per round is close to the one we witnessed in 2019 – €552k – there has been an increase in the number of seed rounds in the ecosystem, which says a lot about the entrepreneurial activity in the region despite the pandemic. The top-performing sectors as per number of rounds in 2020 were enterprise software, health, security and education, as well as e-commerce and games, as the ecosystem is catching up with the global trends. 

Something interesting about the local startup ecosystem is that it is mainly funded by angel investors. According to data of the European Commission for 2020, about 67% of the funds for early-stage companies come from angel investors, while only 27% are provided by early-stage VCs. Equity crowdfunding is the funding method in the rest 7% of the cases.

Startups

UiPath – a  US-Romanian Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform that enables enterprises to automate their software workflows. It recently reached a valuation of $35B.

Bunnyshell – a SaaS platform that makes management of cloud platforms easier.

FintechOS – its platform enables organizations in the financial sector to buid nd launch new digital products with minimum coding.

TypingDNA – a US-based startup that enables the protection of user accounts with typing biometrics analysis.

Oveit – a live stream shopping startup that enables customers to buy products using their digital wallets directly from the livestream.

Finqware – an open banking fintech startup that connects consumers, businesses, and banks through its cloud-based middleware.  

Beez – Romanian cashback startup that provides an alternative to credit card payments.

Druid – an AI conversational technology startup that builds intelligent virtual assistants for large enterprises.

CODA Intelligence – Its SaaS cybersecurity platform is designed for SMEs and it also offers vulnerability management solutions to answer the specific needs of enterprises.

Tokinomo – develops in-store advertising robots that are reported to increase sales revenues by an average of 200%.

Docbook – the platform of the startup enables people to make online doctor appointments and provides access to medical imaging and healthcare databases.

SanoPass – a platform that puts all medical benefits for employees in one place.

Cartloop – offers a conversational commerce platform that texts customers to convert those who abandoned their carts.  

Ialoc – offers an online booking platform for restaurants, bars or coffee places.

Oncochain – develops a central database with information collected from daily cancer clinical practice in healthcare units all over the world.

KFactory – the solution of the startup uses IoT and machine learning in manufacturing, in order to boost the performance in production. 

CyScale – a fintech startup that develops cloud-stored data security solutions. 

Innoship – its multi-carrier shipping software optimizes the interactions between retailers and couriers, streamlining the costs of courier services by up to 25%.

Brio – the startup has created the first Romanian educational SaaS platform. 

Apiary Book – a Romanian AgTech startup whose platform helps for apiaries management, monitoring beehives, and analysis of data gathered from colonies.

Avocado.red – the startup has developed a platform that matches users to specialists in fields such as psychological therapy, legal assistance and life coaching.

Soleadify – a machine learning  company whose product is a self-updating global database of businesses.

Voxi Kids –  this platform offers materials designed by speech pathologists to help children overcome speech problems.  

Deepstash –  its content aggregation platform collects information from different sources and matches it to the user’s preferences to deal with information overload.

Machinations – the startup has built a game design platform for the design, balance, and execution of simulations of game systems.

Investor ecosystem

GapMinder VC – a $45m fund targeting IT Software and Services startups in Romania and Central Eastern Europe in their seed or series A round.

Cleverage VC – an emerging Romanian venture capital that has made two investments, as noted by Crunchbase

Business Angels Romania – an angel network and a member of EBAN (The European Trade

TechAngels Romania – an association of over 70 angel investors who mentor and coach startup teams and provide investments during pitch sessions organized directly or via participation in other specialized events.

Early Game Ventures – this VC invests in early-stage companies that have the potential to address big markets. They generally prefer to be the first institutional investor in startups.

Sparking Capital – focuses on pre-seed & seed investments in Romania in consumer internet, marketing-tech, supply chain-tech, fin-tech, property-tech, travel-tech, circular economy startup.

Simple Capital – generally invests in tech startups, and mentors them to support accelerated growth locally and internationally, as well as help them reach next investment rounds.

Roca X – specialized in investment management, Roca X targets disruptive businesses in their early stages. It generally has an affinity for tech startups in the MVP or prototype stage. 

Supporting organizations & associations

SeedBlink – the biggest Romanian equity crowdfunding platform.

Techcelerator.Ro – an accelerator whose 10-week program for tech products aims to help startuppers reach the market and ensure pre-seed and/or seed investments.

Romanian Fintech Association – Established in 2020, the Association is a professional entrepreneurial organization focused on helping fintech startups and scaleups expand internationally and attracting more tech enthusiasts to the ecosystem.

Digital 2 Law – Legal and tax advisory brand, remotely spread in various jurisdictions, dedicated to working with startups and SMEs.

StepFWD – a pre-accelerator for tech startups, StepFWD is dedicated to first-time and early-stage entrepreneurs who want to develop their prototype or idea into a business.

The Entrepreneurship Academy – an entrepreneurial faculty in Romania, where students practically learn how to build and develop a business. EA partners with Team Academy Netherlands and its curriculum has been implemented in over 18 countries.

Endeavor Romania – the Romanian office of Endeavor was established in February 2021 with the goal to support startup founders in need of mentorship and network opportunities during the process of scaling their ventures.

Coworkings

Impact Hub Bucharest – a regional winner in the 7th season of Central European Startup Awards, where it was classified as the best co-working space in CEE. 

Commons Unirii – located in downtown Bucharest, this co-working space is famous for the diversity of professionals that one can come across.

TechHub – this coworking space specializes in offering conditions needed by startups, including smart community, and support program for their product & business.

Lists are never complete, if you’re part of the Bucharest startup ecosystem, fill in this form and we’ll add your organization to the listicle as soon as possible.

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Viktoria is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive and a sophomore-standing student at the American University in Bulgaria. Combining her Business Administration studies while mapping the Southeastern European startup ecosystem is a positive-sum game for her as she has the chance to interact with the most active entrepreneurs in the region. Her favorite topics include venture capital structures, investments, as well as innovations in the scitech and fintech sectors.