Startups come and go, but a Unicorn’s legacy remains. Being part of a fast-growing startup changes people. Besides fostering professional evolution, these environments have a way of also sparking the competitive entrepreneurial spirit, joined by global aspirations.
So, it’s not uncommon for tech professionals to move forward with a different hat, from that of CPO to investor, from rockstar sales manager to an international mentor. But also from that of an employee to a co-founder of a spin-off.
To get you acquainted with the buzzword “startup mafias”, know that disrupting startups produce different types of networks built by former employees or co-founders. These have the power to influence the local market, like the PayPal mafia (e.g. LinkedIn, YouTube, Tesla Motors, SpaceX) in the U.S. or the Alibaba mafia (e.g. Mogu, XPeng Motors) in China.
Today, we get to look at the UiPath community in Southeast Europe, with a focus on Romania. We want to discover who the alumni are, what branches they are aiming to develop, and what startups or VCs and other investment vehicles they are backing up financially or through knowledge.
This mapping is only the beginning of getting to understand the long-term influence of a local tech giant. So, feel free to share more names connected to our story.
The UiPath snowball effect overview
UiPath’s name is closely tied to that of its co-founder and CEO, Daniel Dines. Previously, we have covered his international investments in tech startups, but also local ones in the real estate sector. Another popular market for the UiPath tribe in Romania has been the agricultural one, where companies like the Agricover Group stand out.
But today we are diving deeper into the local tech startup ecosystem, with two names from the UiPath community that have been quite active in the past couple of years as investors. They are Marius Istrate, CPO of UiPath between 2017-2020, and Vlad Ionescu, Global Head of Growth between 2015-2020.
Of course, they are not the only UiPath community members present in the local tech startup ecosystem. Bogdan Nedelcov, who has been working at UiPath since 2017, and Harapcea Teo, UiPather since 2018, have co-founded their tech startup this year, Kubeark, an application management and distribution platform.
Other women in tech names that we have found are Ana Cinca, current COO at Bunnyshell, but a UiPather between 2016-2020, and an investor in parol; Andra Malina Platon, who after six years at UiPath, is now investing or offering strategic advice to startups such as FlowX.AI, DRUID AI, and parol; but also Andreea Baciu, Chief Culture Officer at UiPath, who is a mentor at Nestor, an HR software startup that aims to improve employee performance by leveraging technological tools.
The importance of diverse teams
“I now encounter entrepreneurs and executives who say they are inspired by the story of UiPath and that this success has encouraged them to start their businesses or take the risk and join a start-up. On the other hand, the windfall from UiPath’s IPO means that there are now tens, if not hundreds of UiPathers and ex-UiPathers who are willing to support start-ups financially and lend them their expertise,” Marius Istrate, part of the UiPath community, tells The Recursive.
Marius Istrate has a background in electrical engineering and computer science. He is an investor at Crew Capital, a VC co-founded by Daniel Dines and Brandon Deer, UiPath’s Chief Strategy Officer, and has backed up projects in EdTech, HRTech, Fintech, and software, to name a few, like:
- Bunnyshell – A DevOps automation platform targeting SMEs, launched in 2018, by Alin Dobra and Roxana Ciobanu.
- FlowX.AI – An enterprise platform helping banks and other financial institutions launch digital experiences, co-founded in 2020 by Ioan Iacob, Serban Chiricescu, and Radu Cautis.
- OxidOS – An operating system for embedded software development in the automotive industry, launched in 2021, by Bogdan Genis, Vlad Radulescu, Ioana Culic, Daniel Rosner, and Alexandru Radovici.
- Parol – A software recording and transcribing doctor-patient conversations in real-time, launched in 2021, by Claudiu Pandaru, Alex Livadaru, Alex Tepes, and Valentin Ichim.
- SmartDreamers – A recruitment marketing operating system for enterprises, launched in 2014, by CEO and founder Adrian Daniel Cernat.
- Younichoice – A European online application platform that connects students to the right university, launched in 2018, by Andrei Nicolae.
He shared that he is looking to help his investments “graduate” towards Series A financing and grow his portfolio to 5-10 companies that have the potential to have a successful exit in the next decade and a half.
“I only invest in what I understand. This means SaaS companies and enterprise software, predominantly. I do get a kick out of working with exceptional founders so I might deviate from my regular areas of investment if I find the founders’ stories inspiring. One ‘peculiar’ thing that I do is that I carefully screen the founding teams so that 50% of the investments I make are in diverse teams,” the former Chief People Officer of UiPath adds.
More than an inspirational effect
“First and foremost, UiPath empowered founders to dream big. The inspirational effect is tremendous! Secondly, we now have a network of operators and advisors who learned first-hand what building a global company means. UiPath ex-employees from all departments know how to scale operations and bring in the same processes for global expansion at new companies,” Vlad Ionescu shares with us.
Vlad Ionescu has a background in marketing and philosophy; he is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Tokinomo, the startup building robots for in-store marketing, which he also invested in, and is a Venture Partner at Underline Ventures, the latest VC to be launched on the Romanian market.
He says that before UiPath, local startups had smaller ambitions, and now all the founders aspire to grow at a global level. Something common in more mature markets has also begun bubbling into the local ecosystem, and we confirm that the current local VC trend is to encourage entrepreneurs to build with international scaling in mind right from the beginning.
Vlad also pointed out other UiPathers that are builders in the local tech startup ecosystem, and they are:
- Sonia Damian, the former Head of Talent Acquisition at UiPath, is now an investor through Crew Capital;
- Bogdan Florea, a former Marketing Manager at UiPath, is now Chief Marketing Officer at DRUID AI and an investor in Tootor.ro, an e-learning platform for children.
- Gabriel Pana, a former VP of Global Sales at UiPath, is now co-founder and CEO of Traction Keys, an agency providing lead generation and marketing services to startups.
And he shared that this also promoted the region so that international mentors have an interest in local startups. “In NYC I had the surprise to talk to a US sales team excited to work for a Romanian startup because of the UiPath success story,” Vlad reveals.