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The ecosystem leaders of SEE started here: The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies

Daniel Nicolae, Co-founder of Innoship; Andreea Plesea, Co-founder of Druid AI; Laurentiu Cluve, Co-founder of Tokinomo; Marius Pasculea, Co-founder of Peelhy; Ionut Tata, founder of Iceberg Plus
Image credit: Daniel Nicolae, Co-founder of Innoship; Andreea Plesea, Co-founder of Druid AI; Laurentiu Cluve, Co-founder of Tokinomo; Marius Pasculea, Co-founder of Peelhy; Ionut Tata, founder of Iceberg Plus; LinkedIn

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” –  Leo Buscaglia

Interest in business, entrepreneurship, and technology is often built during academic years. What programs and universities influenced the shapers of today’s Southeast European innovation ecosystem? 

The next stop in The Recursive’s exploration of education hotspots for entrepreneurs in the region is The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies. We follow the journeys of SEE startup founders and investors, starting from the universities where they defined their passions and built their knowledge and skills base.

The university’s roots go back to 1913, when it was established by Royal Decree at the initiative of the Minister of Industry and Commerce at the time, Nicolae D. Xenopol,  together with a group of young economists who had graduated from leading universities in Europe. It was then called the Academy of High Commercial and Industrial Studies and was the first economic higher education institution in Romania. 

The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies appears in top positions among other Romanian universities in various international rankings. It has 13 faculties with focus on economics, business administration, and public management. Students at the university have also created The Entrepreneurship Student Society, a community that organizes events dedicated to mentorship, networking, and best practice sharing.

Find out who are the five tech entrepreneurs who started out at The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies.

5 founders from The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies

Daniel Nicolae

Name: Daniel Nicolae

Company: Innoship

Position: Co-founder and Managing Partner

Market specialty: Information Technology & Services, Retail, E-commerce, Delivery Management Software, Supply Chain Management

The story in a nutshell: Daniel Nicolae co-founded and currently holds the Managing Partner position at Innoship,  a key player among AI-powered startups in retail and commerce. Innoship is an advanced multi-carrier shipping software using algorithms to help retailers increase the quality of shipping service. A seasoned entrepreneur, Daniel has vast experience in the supply chain management and e-commerce industries. Before Innoship, he co-founded Maillon Fintech, a lendtech SaaS platform for retailers and lenders, and held management positions in supply chain at Orange Romania and Orange Services, among others. Daniel graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Cybernetics, followed by a Master’s degree in supply chain management from KEDGE Business School.

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Andreea Plesea
Andreea Plesea

Name: Andreea Plesea

Company: Druid AI

Position: Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)

Market specialty: Information Technology & Services, AI, Machine learning, Chatbots

The story in a nutshell: Andreea Plesea co-founded Druid AI together with Daniel Balaceanu, and Liviu Dragan in 2018. The AI-based chatbot aims to enhance the quality and efficiency of interactions between employees, customers, partners, and enterprise systems. Druid AI is one of the fastest growing AI startups in CEE, and recently raised a €2M Series A round. Prior to her current role, Andreea worked her way up through the ranks at TotalSoft, from .NET programmer to directing the business applications team. Andreea holds a Bachelor’s in Business Computer Studies and a PhD in Economics and Business Computer Studies from the same university. 

Laurentiu Cluve
Laurentiu Cluve

Name: Laurentiu Cluve

Company: Tokinomo

Position: Co-founder and COO

Market specialty: Information Technology & Services, Retail, Marketing & Advertising, Robotics

The story in a nutshell: At Tokinomo, the startup making headlines everywhere for its innovative approach to retail advertising involving robots, co-founder and COO Laurentiu Cluve brings his expertise in event management and project management. Tokinomo is a local and international success, entering new markets every year. In its most recent fundraising round, the team grabbed €700K to accelerate growth and develop its technology further. From his role, Laurentiu identifies trendsetter ideas, follows potential business deals, and develops negotiating strategies. He graduated from The Bucharest University of Economic Studies with a degree in Marketing.

Marius Pasculea
Marius Pasculea

Name: Marius Pasculea

Company: Peelhy

Position: Co-founder & Business Developer

Market specialty: Biotechnology, Food technology

The story in a nutshell: Marius Pasculea is passionate about developing innovative businesses that embrace circular bioeconomy goals. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics, followed by a PhD in Bioeconomy from the National Institute of Economic Research. In 2019, Marius founded Peelhy,  a biotechnology company creating bio-labels that sanitize fruits and vegetables for consumption. Peelhy is a pre-seed phase, having a laboratory prototype and testing the industrial prototyping phase. Before founding Peelhy, as a postdoctoral fellow in circular bioeconomy,  Marius explored how the overlaps between different policies and implementation processes impact the circular economy development in Romania.

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Ionut Tata
Ionut Tata

Name: Ionut Tata

Company: Iceberg Plus 

Position: Founder & CEO

Market specialty: Consultancy, Business services, Investment management, Funding/ Grants, Business development

The story in a nutshell: Ionut Tata is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 6 organisations, including Iceberg Plus, a consultancy and investment management company that works closely with innovation institutions and startups. Since 2019, Iceberg Plus has been selected by the Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) as a representative in Romania to help implement and expand initiatives by EIR InnoEnergy, EIT Manufacturing, and most recently EIT Urban Mobility. The latter aims to make mobility in urban spaces more accessible and friendlier for citizens. In the regional ecosystem, Ionut Tata also brings experience in politics as public policy mentor, subject matter expert for the European Commission. Ionut obtained a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.


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Antoanela is a Sustainability Communications Specialist and Deputy Editor at The Recursive media. From these roles, she is helping organizations communicate their latest sustainability goals, strategies, and technologies. She writes about climate tech, ESG, impact investment, sustainability regulation, and related topics.