Being part of a startup team is - in most cases - a wonderful thing: it’s new, exciting, challenging, and most of all you get the feeling that you contribute to building something new, something not done before.
Currently, the Romanian startup sector is booming. It is filled with a mix of hyper-growth scale-ups and small but promising startups. Romania’s capital, Bucharest, is an ideal location for startups as it is featured on lists of the best cities for remote work, internet speeds, and co-working spaces. Romania also has top class programmers.. and, importantly, some amazing speciality cafes.
In this article, we’ll showcase some of the most exciting Romanian startups and the teams behind them. The main criteria is not size or revenue, but the startups’ concept and the strength of their team.
So, here’s our list of top 10 startup teams in Romania right now:
Okay, you might not consider UiPath a start-up anymore, but the company still has a long road ahead. UiPath started in Romania in 2005 and is the biggest Romanian unicorn valued at $7 billion. UiPath describes itself as a leading Robotic Process Automation (RPA) vendor providing a complete software platform to help organizations efficiently automate business processes. Among UiPath’s clientele are major government organizations like the CIA and US Navy, as well as household names like Uber, McDonalds, and Orange.
Last year, UiPath posted revenues of over $350 million and attracted $550 million in financing from investors like Sequoia, CapitalG, Wellington Management and Sands Capital. Daniel Dines, UiPath’s co-founder and CEO, says the company is ready for an IPO in the US next year.
UiPath is headquartered in the USA and has offices in six other countries. Last year the company launched a lab in Bucharest called “Immersion Lab,” where clients and partners can test their scenarios of automation via RPA.
When describing his path to founding UiPath, Dines said, “I am pretty lazy, but I had a talent for math. University was a disappointment, but I loved high-school. One colleague told me he was earning $300 a month as a programmer. I lived with $30 so I started to study programming. I got a job at a company that did not have enough computers, so I worked from 8PM. It was the love of my life. In 2000 I went to the USA at Microsoft for 5 years”. The rest is already history.
Elrond describes itself as “a team that can build rockets” and as CEO Beniamin Mincu says, that’s not just as a figure of speech. Elrond is a highly scalable, fast and secure blockchain platform for distributed apps, enterprise use cases and the new internet economy. The startup’s ambition is to offer anyone, anywhere easy access to the digital economy, by bringing a 1000x improvement in blockchain speed, scale, cost, and user experience.
The team behind Elrond has brought together 30 people - entrepreneurs, engineers, and researchers. The Elrond founders are Beniamin Mincu (CEO), Lucian Todea (COO) and Lucian Mincu (CIO). The core team behind Elrond: Adrian Dobriță (Head of Engineering), Radu Chiș (Head of Technology), four Core Developers - Robert Sasu, Sebastian Marian, Iulian Pascalau, Corcoveanu Cristian, and three Research Engineers: Andrei Marinică, Camil Băncioiu, Andrei Bancioiu.
“After more than two years of intense development, the next major step will be the official launching of the network, along with a secret product we are building. We aim to bring the next big wave of blockchain adoption, and hope to have exceeded 1 million platform users by the end of this year. The main use case Elrond is targeting will be a global, near instant, and inexpensive financial ecosystem”, says Beniamin, who compared their product with the step made from dialup to broadband internet.
Elrond has received a $5.15 million investment from Silicon Valley and global investors such as, Electric Capital, Binance, NGC Capital, Woodstock fund and others, and is valued at $18 million. Currently, Elrond is listed on Binance as generating $2.5 million in daily trading volume.
Bringo is the first Romanian platform that will shop for you. Bringo is a mobile-based marketplace for various vendors, from big and national to small and local. Their main vendor partner is Carrefour Romania, who is now also the major shareholder in the business.
In order to meet all the business needs, Bringo outsources a lot of the services to partners. Ascend NetSolutions, the creator of Bringo platform and currently a minor shareholder, is now managing the IT infrastructure and flows. The team also works with several agencies for marketing-related activities. The accounting services are also outsourced. Bringo also needs and has a close cooperation with the vendor partners for in-store process flows and operations. However, with the rapid growth of the business there is a need of growing the team as well to be able to respond to the increased demand on the market.
Bringo’s core team is relatively small and flat, consisting of 9 full-time employees in charge of Operations, Business Development, Marketing, Customer Support, HR, Finance, and Legal/GDPR matters. This allows the team to move quickly and be very responsive to client needs and market changes.
“The strength of Bringo lies in its passionate and open-minded team who carried the business through the recent extremely tumultuous times, boosting order volumes 5 times, and also delivery capacities by onboarding 1.000 new delivery drivers! People rely on us now more than ever before, and we feel the motivation and deep responsibility to continue improving our services each day in these times of digital transition. It is a great challenge and we will continue for our customers!“, says Justyna Torres, administrator.
When describing Bringo's service, Head of Marketing Ivan Laketa said, “With our fleet of over 1,500 shoppers on a national level, we provide more than a simple delivery service. Our shoppers are trained to choose the best products for our clients, offer alternatives for missing products, or even advice on product replacements. Closeness and transparency with clients is our core pillar. Our clients can feel confident that with Bringo they will get the same quality of products as if they went shopping themselves.”
Bringo also relies on fast delivery. In normal circumstances, clients have their orders delivered to them within just 90 minutes of order placement in the app. The speed of delivery is assured by their vast fleet of shoppers and the in-store picking flow, put in place with their partner vendors.
In these troubling times, Bringo's delivery speed dropped a little, but this is because the customer base has grown tenfold, as people were forced to stay at home.
Bringo's main growth areas are product improvements, expanding the list of vendors in the app, and, of course, geographical expansion both domestically and internationally.
Deepstash is a curated platform of ideas on topics like health & time management, which aims to improve the way users interact with content.
“We are helping our users read smarter and remember more from what they read. We do it through a format we call an idea, a short self-contained note that organizes itself. It's simple, fast, and... fun. One million people have downloaded our mobile app and we are just getting started.”, says Vladimir Oane, co-founder and CEO.
Deepstash started when the two co-founders Dan and Vladimir quit their jobs. After 3 years working in a larger company, after 8 years building one of the first successful European SaaS businesses, they wanted back into the game with a product-focused on their shared passion: helping people manage the information overload and giving knowledge workers superpowers.
Behind this exciting startup is a “focused” 10 person team that is spread around product development, content, and marketing. The “master chief” is Vladimir Oane (CEO and co-founder), followed by Dan Ciotu (co-founder) and Cristian Mezei (Partner, Growth). They believe trial and error will always out-perform lengthy planning sessions. That’s why they work in short result-oriented sprints called “missions”. Deepstash uses missions not only in product development but across the board by building on top of what works and discarding the rest.
Deepstash allows you to read articles, learn new skills, get tips on productivity, or discover life hacks. One million people have downloaded the Deepstash app by now. Have you tried it yet? See their team here.
XVision’s goal is to make healthcare smarter with the help of artificial intelligence. Andreea Purcaru, the startup’s Business Developer said, “Our journey started in 2018 with a multidisciplinary team of four people from Timișoara, passionate about artificial intelligence, deep learning, and optimization of medical processes. From the beginning, we added to our team medical experts willing to improve the healthcare system and to help radiologists fare better at their everyday tasks. Later on, we have extended our team with business, medical and technical advisors, and also with top-notch investors.”
XVison was founded after winning several hackathons and business competitions and has succeeded in demonstrating that artificial intelligence has a real use-case when it comes to X-rays analysis.
Currently, their team counts 10 members, 3 board advisors, and several investors, including 2 VC Funds. The core team is composed of 5 people that work on developing the platform and the AI algorithms, 2 that work on business development, and 4 radiologists that help to develop a product with a real medical use-case. The “captain” of the team is Ștefan Iarca, founder and Business Manager.
XVision can be described as a mix of talented and highly ambitious people, an innovative product, and many sleepless hours. XVision aims to scale to international markets and all of their team efforts are directed towards this main goal.
6. Froala Labs
You have probably already used one of Froala’s products without even knowing as the company’s web-based rich text WYSIWYG editor is used around the world. Froala Labs was founded in 2013 by Ștefan and Diana Neculai, and now has thousands of clients in over 110 countries, including some Fortune 100 companies.
Two years ago, the company was acquired by Idera. It has kept its identity, but the founders left in 2019
TypingDNA aims to improve security without compromising user experience, by identifying people based on the way they type. The company started research in 2014 and launched publicly in late 2016. Since then, their technology has stood out due to its seamless user experience in areas such as fraud prevention, user behavior analysis, and multi-factor authentication.
As of May 2020, TypingDNA’s team has 21 members. The company’s Co-founder and CEO Raul Popa is the “captain” of the team, which is driven by a passion for innovation and technology.
CMO Cristian Tamaș said, “We could say our team is like a swiss-army knife. This description encompasses very well how each of TypingDNA’s team members has a very different, yet highly needed role, that brings value to the evolution of our company.”
Their technology excels at being the most widely available online biometric technology - it works with any keyboard, on any device, works passively behind the scenes, and doesn’t need more than one previous sample to start working. TypingDNA’s proprietary algorithms’ have reached unprecedented levels typing biometrics accuracy, securing it a leading position in the behavioral biometrics industry.
In January 2020, the startup closed a Series A investment round and is now focused on expanding the versatility of implementation and improving adoption among developers. TypingDNA is still growing and at the moment there are several positions available in their team.
EcoTree is the first software platform where authorized waste collectors can be connected with waste generators. Through EcoTree’s service, users can manage specific waste and recycling operations, such as vendor management, multi-location management, document automation, bidding, and reporting.
The project started 3 years ago with the purpose of bringing corporate and IT know-how into the waste collection & recycling market.
At the moment, the “enthusiastic” EcoTree team consists of five members with different backgrounds: Bogdan Andronache (CEO), Alexandru Petrescu (COO), Dan Simota (CTO), Marius Cirstea (Sales Manager), Florin Ciobanu (Lead Developer), and many freelancers.
“We’ve managed to access a private equity financing of €215.000 and nonetheless, a strong and reliable board of advisors. Our biggest challenge was to express our vision in a simple way along with EcoTree’s goal - to accelerate recycling through intuitive tech, automation, and data analytics”, says Bogdan Andronache, CEO.
EcoTree is currently in a development stage, on multiple layers. First, they are focused on validating their platform through proof of concept projects. The company is also focused on product development. EcoTree is preparing to go live soon and scale their business as much as possible.
Digitail is a digital platform for veterinary practice management that helps veterinarians gain time by automating redundant processes and providing efficient services to their clients.
Digitail’s team consists of 10 members, including veterinarians, developers, and testers. They are pet parents, millennials, and tech savvy. The company’s co-founders, Sebastian Gabor and Ruxandra Pui, are serial entrepreneurs and pet parents that have bootstrapped Digitail until now.
“We’re a team of mission-driven, metrics obsessed individuals who are rapidly changing the slow-moving healthcare industry every single day. There are no limits, no politics, no hierarchy. But most importantly, we make sure everything we do is held to the highest quality standards because what we’re building impacts the lives of real people”, explains Ruxandra Pui, who now acts as Digitail’s Product Manager.
Currently, like many startup teams, Digitail is facing the challenge of not being in the same room as a co-located team. So far, Digitail has raised €220k from Fast Track Malmo, The Nordic Web Ventures, Christian Jantzen (Futuristic) and Hampus Jakobsson, Erik Byrenius, Jonas Vig (CEO of MinDoktor) and Emil Sjödin (Refined).
Digitail aims to release new features that help vet practices have a better relationship with their clients. Currently, telemedicine is the first on the list considering the situation because of social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. In terms of growth, Digitail is planning to expand to additional countries.
Jobful is a recruitment platform meant to attract the right candidates for the right jobs through gamification. Jobful began their journey 3 years ago, as a small agency with gamification expertise targeting young professionals who want to develop their careers and companies that want to make the recruitment process more efficient by providing an initial test of candidates’ skills and an assessment of their interests.
“From project to project we got closer to recruitment and we decided to focus all our attention there. As a consequence, the research phase followed. Following the interviews, we identified challenges for both the candidates and the recruitment professionals. And that’s how we decided to start Jobful: we considered that we can not solve only a punctual sub-process, as our competitors are focusing on volumes. So the whole process must be changed entirely: you can't recruit more or better if you don't address the educational area, you can't do sourcing without adding selection mechanisms to get rid of the noise, and you can't attract talent without employer branding. It is a complex mix both important and delicious,” said Ilinca Drăgănescu (CMO), when describing the concept behind Jobful.
The Jobful team, as they describe themselves, consists of 15 people and describes themselves as ”awesome and agile.” They have a horizontal organizational structure, based on democracy, ownership, and accountability. But as the team grows they are looking for a solution in terms of leadership, be it a leadership board or a different form of management.
In terms of investment, Jobful started by winning a local competition for startups, at the end of 2018, which helped them gain both finance and exposure. In June 2019, they raised €100,000 from an angel investment, and last winter they had a €250,000 pre-seed round after taking part in the Sap.Io accelerator in Berlin.
The next steps for Jobful are launching their mobile app, while preparing for a seed round. In the mid-term, they are looking to expand to new territories and they are already building their go-to-market strategy.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a tough period for all industries, as consumer habits and market conditions change, but the startup ecosystem may be impacted harder than others. Even though people are more connected (online) and are supportive of each other than ever, as we all go through this together, many startup founders are struggling to keep their companies alive as funding dries up.
However, these times also give us time to pause, reflect, take stock and let the creative process thrive. So let's make the most of it and consider it a challenging but hopefully productive cycle for the Romanian startup scene.
What do you think about our list?
Do you know any companies that belong on this list? Do you have a startup you think we should know about? Do you want to fill out your own org chart? We'd love to hear from you so don't hesitate to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.