Julie Donders

How to Build Bridges From East to West

When pushing forward, build bridges. We are where we are because of the bridges we crossed. Bogdan Iordache, who is managing partner of HowToWeb, is one of those men who is building bridges between Eastern and Western Europe, so we set out to get his views on the problems regional startups are facing and how Western Europe can help them. We believe in the adventurous spirit these startups possess and the drive to make it big.

Rocking in the Valley

For a technology and services start-up, Silicon Valley is the best place to network towards investment. Through the RockStart road trip we provide startups with the opportunity to meet successful entrepreneurs in the Valley, get access to both a network of partners and potential clients, investment funds and global communication channels, which is hard to achieve while staying in Romania or Europe. Networking is the tool that leads startups to potential investment. Meetups are the events where jobs are secured and partnerships are formed. Get out there! Tell your story!

What’s Shaking in South East Europe (SEE)?

As Bogdan puts it: “Romanian startups needs to think more international. There is lots of hunger and a drive to make it big. Since we have a small market, there is a smaller chance to reach critical mass locally. Start local, then global and keep in touch with your customers.” All the ingredients are there: great engineers, fast learners and the financial constraints in place make way for more effective, better, more accurate ideas. As Bogdan points out: “the scene for informal investment is small, so the money needs to come from elsewhere. This makes Romania more of a scouting pool for VC’s to sign up our local talent and relocate them to Silicon Valley, London or Berlin”.

When asked about countries in the SEE region, where international focused startups hail from, Bogdan’s reply was:

You need to have a great support system ready, because there is stiff international competition. The startups that do focus to go international mostly hail from: Estonia, Croatia, Serbia and Romania. Prime examples to watch out for in 2012 would be: UberVU from Romania and the bootstrapped Nordeus from Serbia.

Connecting the Dots

To start and proceed takes courage, now that is why we love you. Together everybody achieves more. Look around you, everything is changing. When going into unchartered waters, you want to have talented, world-class business people who understand that disruption is the main focus. Getting the right team together will allow for connecting the dots towards product-market fit. That is why we are here to give your rock-solid support by pushing you forward and creating something bigger than the sum of their parts.

Bogdan’s Boulders

The SEE region is a great resource for fantastic people, given that they get into the right environment. With the right entrepreneurial mindset, we could see a bunch of startups emerging from the region. As Anca Foster, SEE co-ordinator of Startup Weekend points: “think global and work hard and focus on your vision, not the obstacles”. That right mindset and the proper connections would be the real benefits for the entrepreneurs and would help them polish their ideas. This way, entrepreneurs would be able to validate their ideas faster and receive seed funding sooner. Bogdan’s top 3 advices for starting up in the SEE region:

1. Go to an accelerator, it is difficult to get to know the right people so get out there and network;

2. Talk with your customers, get out of the building as soon as possible and do this on a structural basis;

3. When a start-up gets money: this is not a victory but mostly a challenge to stay focused and not spending the money on stuff that is only waste. So treat it as something that will help you along the way, not as something that will get you there. Investors are not the warranty for success; it’s the team’s own efforts, the will to succeed and having a good product.

There are lots of challenges, but these challenges come in a package with big opportunities. As Stephen Covey put it: begin with the end in mind and you will know the road that leads you there. We will support you all the way to initiate change – be it in mentality, attitude, education, processes or work environment.

Failure Pushes You Forward

The vibe in the Valley differs in terms of vision. Failure is positive, there is nothing wrong with it, as long as it’s fully stretched and undeniably complete. Failure forces us to act, it pushes you forward. What is worse? The feeling that you should have done more.

On to You…

What are YOU doing to build a community around your start-up, blog or product? Which one of Bogdan’s tips did you like the most? Let us know in the comments section below.

Please share it across your network, so that others can appreciate it as well.

We would most definitely!

PS: there is more exciting news coming about our program, so keep in touch via @RockstartAccel!

Also on Rockstart