While common 2023 New Year Resolutions revolve around exercising, opting for healthier lifestyle choices, traveling, and saving money, the tech startup entrepreneurs below will walk us through their business goals for 2023.
Since it’s not always easy to stick to startup goals and to be able to cross-punch provocations like a pro, we talked with 13 determined founders from CEE about what they learned in the past 12 months, and what they plan to do differently next year to drive growth. Ready to make next year the best one yet for your tech startup’s success?
#1 The value of choosing the right business partner.
Romanian Alexandru Holicov, founder and CEO of edtech startup Adservio, a management platform to share students’ information with parents, tells us that “The lesson of 2022 is that the right partnerships enable us to bring even more value to the customers. As for a new approach for 2023, we believe that integration with Microsoft 365 and establishing new sales channels will consolidate our market leader’s status.”
#2 Be open to new market opportunities.
Bulgarian Iva Gumnishka, founder and CEO of Humans in the Loop, a social enterprise that offers human input to MLOps lifecycles, shares that: “We can never foresee where a new humanitarian crisis will appear, and we have to be fast in addressing new waves of forced displacement. Our focus until this year was on the Middle East, but we realized that we must react to support Ukrainian refugees in Eastern Europe. My goal for next year is to design a scalable impact program that can be applied to different contexts and communities so that we can be ready to support new waves of refugees, especially those generated by climate changes.”
#3 Play with the balance of determination and adaptiveness.
Bulgarian Georgi Kadrev, co-founder and CEO of Kelvin Health, a deep tech company that uses AI and thermography to offer a preventive tool for healthcare, has had a busy year.
The team has focused on vascular pathology, and has recently been awarded Health Tech Innovation of the Year at Med-Tech World Malta, and was selected as a Digital Health finalist to present at the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), part of CES Las Vegas, in January 2023.
Georgi is known for his right attitude and tight morning routine, which he shared more about here. “It’s a matter of balance between determination and adaptiveness, but better be aware of the existence of both ends of the spectrum, then reflect on and adjust your tendencies. We are looking forward to 2023 which will bring a lot of new mission-driven partnerships across the world. It will also move us closer to the regulatory approval of Kelvin Health so the impact that we already observe in clinical research continues to unfold at scale,” he concludes about the business goals for 2023.
#4 The importance of building great teams.
Serbian Nevena Sofranic, founder of Recrooit, a crowdsource-based recruitment platform, based on peer-to-peer recommendations, says “I’ve learned the true importance of networking. One significant hire makes an impact, but two great hires build your company up. Founders that are stubborn recruiters build startups that can iterate fast.”
#5 Follow your gut, always.
Greek Alexis Pantziaros, co-founder and CEO of Coffe-Eco, a circular economy startup that uses spent coffee grounds as biomass for raw materials that are used in the beauty and food industries, shares that “2022 was full of learning and progress. We position ourselves in the market of upcycling cosmetic ingredients as one of the upcoming players. Plans are critical to be used as guidelines, but doing what your gut is telling you is even more important. In 2023 we plan to create a community of stakeholders around Coffe-eco to drive sustainable and high growth.”
#6 Listen to your clients.
Romanian Bogdan Nicoara, founder and CEO of proptech Bright Spaces, a platform offering 3D twin-based marketing and leasing for real estate players, says: “Qualifying clients’ needs is critical in selling and growing a product that generates a whole new category. Your clients and partners can be of highly valuable help in correctly and completely defining the benefits brought by your product, especially when we’re talking about innovative solutions. For 2023, we plan to grow internationally even more and work with entire commercial real estate portfolios.”
#7 Choose to work with people who share your goals and values.
Romanian Iulia Dorobantu, the co-founder of Charger, an end-to-end platform for the green-tech industry, offering Electric Vehicles (EV) charging, Photovoltaic system (PV) systems, and Smart City solutions, reveals her business lesson for 2022: “This year, for me, was a big lesson about choosing what people you bring alongside you as part of the projects you’re working on. They have to have the same values, final goal, passion, and energy for the project. No matter if they are teammates, investors, partners, or solutions providers, their energy will influence your growth and results.
As for New Year’s Resolution to drive growth, one of her business goals for 2023 is “to grow a talented and passionate team, together with whom we will be able to reach for the stars and bring a high-quality product to the market.”
#8 Integrate feedback to grow.
Romanian Alex Poe, the co-founder of edtech Chambr, a game-based platform targeting trainers to transform the learning programs they offer, says: “The most valuable lesson I learned this year was to trust my inner founder’s instinct when making decisions. Especially when hearing things like ‘you can’t’, ‘it’s impossible’, or ‘far-fetched’. Having a growth mindset, being coachable, and integrating feedback to adjust the course as needed is crucial when building a start-up. For 2023, we want to reach $200K ARR, raise our first investment round of $500k from US investor(s), relocate to the US, and expand our team.”
#9 Remember your personal “why” to move forward.
Greek-born Anna Natsvlishvili, co-founder and CEO of Morphoses, a UK-based edtech that offers a platform focused on soft skills development for K12 learners, says: “Remember why you became an entrepreneur, regardless if you’re approximately or enjoying considerable growth. For most of us, the main reason we joined this challenging and, at the same time, exciting journey is that we want to make the world a better place in our niche. So, I’ll try to remind myself more frequently of my personal ‘why’”.
#10 Leaders should assume the responsibility of educating.
Romanian Alex Burghelia, the co-founder of circular economy tech startup Flip, which offers a platform for refurbished phones, tells us that “asking customers the right questions and delivering the best value proposition for them is crucial to growth, especially considering the current context of macroeconomic uncertainty. We plan to invest even further in education and break the current behavior of using new phones, by replacing them with refurbished phones that work and feel like new. As market leaders, it’s our mission to encourage responsible consumption and empower the circular economy to the masses.”
#11 Focus on priorities is the key to success.
Romanian Mircea Popa, co-founder and CEO of Medicai, an AI medical imaging cloud network to connect patients with doctors and clinics, says he wants to “Focus more! That is something I constantly remind myself of as it’s easy to get distracted.”
#12 Don’t be afraid to pivot towards product-market fit.
Romanian Ciprian Dudulea, co-founder and CEO of The Outfit, a fashion tech startup that bridges the gap between stylists and clothes to fit the right owners, tells us one of his business goals for 2023 is to “Not be afraid to make big product moves or pivot if necessary. We’re laser-focused on finding a strong product-market fit before any other growth metric.”
#13 Find who you are and stick with it.
Amongst his New Year Resolutions, he counts:
- Know where you’re going – spend time understanding yourself.
- Stay true to yourself. Whether it’s taking money from the wrong investor, working with a wealthy client that doesn’t share your main values, or simply seeing something wrong on the street and moving on – one should be true to him/herself and never make any compromises with their values.
- Life is not a sprint, but a marathon – make sure you have enough energy to keep up the pace.
Here are the vital energy-boosting elements from my experience: stay positive, substitute negative words with positive equivalents, surround yourself with the “right” people, walk in nature 30 minutes every day, work out 3-4 times/week, eat less bread and meat, drink lots of water, avoid work after 8 PM and during the weekends, take long summer and winter breaks, give back to the community – I am a volunteer at Podkrepi, never compromise sleep, have fun on Fridays and Saturdays, listen to your body when you are sick, tackle the unpleasant tasks first, be an early riser.
- Fundraising is good, but bootstrapping is better! Focus on earning your revenue and get your company at least to break even. Investors will follow.
- Whenever you feel cornered – quit something you’ve been wanting to quit for a long time.
- Persistency is the key to success. Simply put: don’t quit.
- Whenever someone doesn’t appreciate you, leave and continue your journey.