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More than 30 investors from Transylvania have decided to set up Risky Business, the first acceleration fund for startups in Romania, with a value of EUR 250,000. The fund was recently launched in Cluj-Napoca.

Risky Business was founded by American entrepreneur Jennifer Austin and Romanian entrepreneurs Radu Iuhas, Bogdan Colceriu, Vlad Iuhas, and Adrian Horotan. They have also been running the Spherik accelerator program in Cluj-Napoca.


The acceleration fund will invest up to EUR 20,000 in around 15 companies this year, and the fund’s investors also have the chance to co-invest up to EUR 100,000 in any of these companies, alongside Risky Business.

Well-known business people from Transylvania have decided to invest in the new fund, including Andrei Dunca – the founder of LiveRail, which was bought by Facebook for USD 500 million, Sergiu Biris – the founder of Zonga and Trilulilu, Phillip Kandal – who sold his company to Telenav for EUR 24 million, and Voicu Oprean, Marcel Anghel, and Calin Vaduva – the founders of some of the biggest IT companies in Cluj-Napoca.

Besides the investors active in the IT sector, Risky Business also managed to attract other business people such as Dan Pitic – the founder of Perpetuum, Marcelus Suciu – the founder of the Marty Restaurants chain, Simion Muresan – the founder of Electrogrup, and Andrei Trifan – the owner of the Subway franchise in Romania.

“We are proud to have reunited so many diverse investors with solid experience, who believe in our vision and in promoting local investments,” said Jennifer Austin, Risky Business co-founder. “The development of a local investor community is crucial for accelerating Romania’s technological development,” she added.

To select the companies in which it will invest, Risky Business has launched an acceleration program hosted by Cluj Business Center. The program will culminate with a Demo Day at Techsylvania, one of the most important tech conferences in Romania. Those interested in registering for this program can do it until February 15 on


January 31, 2017 |

The first smartwatch developed by Romanian Vector Watch team has been acquired for an undisclosed price by US wearables giant Fitbit, less than two years after it came to market in 2015.

Leading up to its exit Vector Watch, the “affordable luxury” smartwatch which boasts a 30-day battery life, carved a niche for itself in the sector with its simple but stylish designs that work via phone apps on iOS, Android and Windows. The 50m water-resistant watches with LCD screens are sold globally, costing $300 to $500, depending on the model.


The company’s founder Andrei Pitis, will join Fitbit as Vice President of Engineering and head the new Bucharest office. He says that the majority of his engineering team is expected to join Fitbit, including key intellectual property specific to software and firmware development. He also says that his team can make more of an impact on a global scale now that they’ve joined the wearables giant.

“We’re excited to be part of Fitbit as they’re the leader in the overall wearables category,” says Pitis. “With Vector, Fitbit is establishing a cutting-edge development centre in Romania which will offer the company the ability to tap into experienced talent and expand its presence in Europe, the Middle East and Africa — in a cost-effective way,” he adds.

The company set up its research and development centre in Bucharest, Romania’s capital, in November last year. Since Romania joined the European Union in 2007, it has become a popular destination for foreign investors who benefit from the rich pool of IT talent and lower labor costs.

In an online statement, Vector said that no new product features — software or hardware — will be added, but reassured customers that existing warranties will be honored.

Last year, Fitbit also acquired Pebble, another smartwatch maker, which indicates a mission by the wearables company to consolidate talented developers involved in the wearables sector. However, whether these recent acquisitions can help Fitbit boost its share price — which in 2016 lost 75% of its value — remains to be seen.

Like other Romanian tech companies, Vector has benefitted from splitting its team between Romania and the UK. Typically, the former benefits from the large pool of skilful developers who focus on the product development, while the latter develops key business connections. Vector is considered to be a leading innovator in the Romanian startup scene.


See also the press release on Vector

January 12, 2017 |

• Third edition of EIT Digital Challenge seeks startups ready to scale up and enter new markets
• Startups can apply in five digital technology categories
• Prizes package includes access to EIT Digital’s pan-European innovation network and €50,000 for the winner in each category
• Submission deadline July 31, 2016


Startups from all over the EU can now apply for the EIT Digital Challenge. With its pan-European contest, EIT Digital seeks to identify the next wave of top European startups in digital technologies to help them scale up. Applications can be submitted in one of the following five digital technology categories:
• Digital Industry
• Digital Cities
• Digital Wellbeing
• Digital Infrastructure
• Digital Finance

The call for applications is open until July 31, 2016.

Five final pitch events and a unique prize package
The best 10 teams per category will be invited to pitch in front of an expert jury at one of five final events taking place in different cities across Europe.

Last year, the Romanian startup IQrypt made it into the final and presented their encryption technology in Trento, Italy.

The finals of the EIT Digital Challenge 2016 will take place in London, Paris, Stockholm, Helsinki and Eindhoven.


This year’s finalists are competing for an exclusive prize package:
– the best three teams in each category will gain access to EIT Digital’s innovation network and will receive significant visibility and publicity.
– they will also have the chance to join the EIT Digital Accelerator for a full year and work with a team of dedicated business developers and finance experts in order to build and develop their market strategy and get support in terms of customer acquisition and funding.
– on top, the best team per category wins a €50,000 cash prize.


From startups to scaleups
Eighty per cent of European startups plan to internationalize their business, but only about half of them actually take this step”, says Dominik Krabbe, EIT Digital Challenge Lead. While being successful in their respective home country, startups face many barriers when expanding to another country. This includes the fact that Europe’s market and investor landscape is highly fragmented and complex. EIT Digital seeks to close this gap and facilitate access to new markets and customers as well as funding through its pan-European innovation network.
EIT Digital is the leading European organization for innovation and entrepreneurial education and its partner network consists of more than 130 well-established corporates, SMEs, startups, universities and research institutes. The contest can be your pass to enter this valuable ecosystem.

The EIT Digital Accelerator operates in 13 cities across Europe as well as from a hub in Silicon Valley and has already supported 233 startups with raising a total of more than €67 million in investments.

Read More…

June 6, 2016 |

Seed For Tech, a product-focused company based in Cluj-Napoca, is taking 10 promising startups at Tech Open Air (TOA), an interdisciplinary technology festival held this July in Berlin.

Romanian or international startups on the lookout for investors, business or tech partners, or just interested in high-quality tech events, knowledge, inspiration and experiences exchange, are given a chance to win free tickets at one of the best tech festivals in Europe, Tech Open Air (TOA) Berlin 2016.

Interested startups or entrepreneurs have to Submit an Application Form until 1st of June 2016.

Seed For Tech takes into consideration as eligible candidates startups or entrepreneurs with deep market knowledge and a promising idea in their area of expertise, no matter the stage they are in. Transactional model (SaaS, ecommerce, marketplaces) are in focus, but any startup, with a tech component, will be carefully considered. The evaluation criteria will focus on the feasibility of the business and the attractiveness of its market.


“We encourage startups to pursue their dreams for betterment of our society. Our own experience taught us that the right kind of context exposure, network and partnerships are critical for creating sustainable products. Therefore, we want to facilitate access for promising startups to high-quality tech expertise and experiences. TOA is a place like no other to get inspired, empowered and connected.” said Andreea Pavel, Seed For Tech Manager.

TOA is one of the coolest tech events in Europe. Take this opportunity to be part of this festival and exchange knowledge, inspiration and experiences. Meeting successful entrepreneurs and sharing fresh and interesting ideas is always inspiring.

During the 3 days festival, startups and entrepreneurs will have the chance to meet more than 120 industry leaders, artists and scientists and discover what keeps them enthusiastic and what they truly aspire to change.

Furthermore, there will be satellites events, where the attendees will get the chance to visit startup offices, enjoy corporate perks, participate in workshops and network with influential people at meet-ups and memorable parties.

Stay tuned by following them on Facebook, Linkedin or Seed For Tech Blog. They’ll announce the selected startups in June.

May 6, 2016 |

Carbon offers financial and know-how support to indie studios in the region

Carbon, Romania’s first incubator company that wants to develop the gaming industry, has been created in the Eastern Europe region where the number of game developers has been growing steadily in the last couple of years.

Carbon was founded by a group of veterans in the gaming industry: Catalin Butnariu, Head of Deployment at Amber Studio, Dragos Hancu, General Manager at Amber Studio, and Jaime Gine, a Spanish investor with a vast experience of more than 15 years in the gaming industry.


The idea of creating an incubator company is a direct result of indie studios’ need of funding and know-how, which continues to rise in this region. Carbon wishes to support regional entrepreneurs in the gaming industry by helping them to develop unique games and establish sustainable businesses.

“Romania is an important regional hub for video game development. Despite the fact that there are many talented and skilled people here, almost all major project developed in the country in the last 15 years belong to giant companies like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft or Gameloft,” said Catalin Butnariu, Co-Founder of Carbon, and President of RGDA (Romanian Game Developers Association).

“Our goal is to expand the local entrepreneurship in the gaming industry by helping projects with good potential to grow and become popular on a market that is not friendly enough with start-ups in this business category. We hope that as time goes by Romanian developers will be able to establish their game studios and gain confidence in the resources this region has to offer,” added Catalin Butnariu.

The incubator company offers direct funding of up to $50,000 per project, as well as customized counseling services, split in three packages, depending on the needs of each businesses.

All start-ups will be advised by a network of mentors – design, production, monetization and business development experts. To maximize the launch of a product, Carbon can also provide start-ups with additional funds for marketing, which vary by project.

More importantly, developers will remain 100% independent during the funding period. Carbon is willing to share the risks with indie studios that are funded from its resources since the business model of the incubator company is based on revenue share, which means that Carbon will receive a certain percentage from the revenue generated by supported projects. In this regard, Carbon will collect 7-21%, depending on the services package chosen by the funded start-up.

Read More…

April 21, 2016 |

Accel, the VC firm that has been involved in some of the biggest deals in the most recent tech boom — startups backed include Facebook, Supercell, Dropbox, Deliveroo, Slack and Atlassian, Spotify, Flipkart and many more — has appointed a new partner, Luciana Lixandru – Romanian born and raised.


Her rise at Accel — she was previously a principal investor — speaks to the evolution of the 30 year-old firm.

Originally from Romania, and now based out of London, Lixandru is only the third female partner at Accel. (One other, Sonali De Rycker, also happens to be based out of London; and the other is Tracy Sedlock, the COO out of Palo Alto; another female partner, Theresia Gouw, left in 2014 to found Aspect Ventures.) She also, at 32, ties with one other partner, Nir Blumberger, as the youngest.

Lixandru focuses on consumer internet, marketplace and software companies, and she is very much on the hunt for new deals (no Brexit impact here, she told us in an interview).

She has been at the center of some of Accel’s more interesting investments out of London in her last five years with the firm.

They include Deliveroo, the food-delivery business that focuses on a smaller group of hip eateries and competes (fiercely) with the likes of Uber Eats and Amazon Restaurants among the newer guard of delivery startups, but also Just-Eat and others that have been around for years. Deliveroo’s last round of $275 million in August 2016 valued the company at around $1 billion.

She is also an investor (and a board observer) in Wallapop, the used-goods marketplace that last year merged with LetGo to take on eBay and Craigslist (it, too, recently raised a ton of money). Other portfolio companies she’s been involved with include investments in Europe’s Catawiki, the online auction house; and Selency, a used furniture and home decoration site. She also worked with search startup Algolia and others.

Unlike some investors, Lixandru doesn’t come to the VC world having been involved in a startup, unless you count Lixandru herself. Born in a small town in Romania to parents who trained as engineers and seem to have only lately emerged as entrepreneurs themselves (mother is a textile engineer, father “built bridges” but now owns a small bakery), Lixandru surprised her decidedly “not international” family when she told them she wanted to go to university in the U.S.

“At 16, I had this idea that I had to study in the U.S.,” she said. “It was a crazy idea at the time, deciding to do that in 2001. Romania had not been out of communism for that long.”

Read More…

January 21, 2017 |

Cluj-Napoca, the heart of Transylvania has hosted Techsylvania, one of the biggest multi-layered events dedicated to technology and innovation in the East Europe region.

Techsylvania was the meeting place for over 1300 entrepreneurs, software developers, technology and innovation aficionados who interacted during the four days event with top founders and managers from the international tech scene. The synergy was enabled by conference content, vocational workshops and networking sessions.

The participants could meet founders of successful companies, researchers, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs from worldwide reputable companies and organizations. Facebook, NASA, Twitter, SoundCloud, Prezi and Coca-Cola are just a few which have sent top representatives to inspire the IT & startup community in Cluj. Among the most appreciated speakers were Tim Draper, founder and manager of DFJ, an investment fund with over $3.5 billion under management and Mark Shuttleworth, the first South African entrepreneur to travel to space and to create Ubuntu, one of the most famous software operating systems in the world.


Techsylvania guests could test and win cutting-edge, smart gadgets and devices during the tech exhibition at the conference. Drones, Virtual Reality glasses, smart wristbands and new generation of personal transportation devices have been presented at Techsylvania. There was also a product launch: Symme3D Enormo, the first 100% Romanian industrial 3D printer.

An additional part of the event was the Techsylvania wearable and connected devices hackathon, the software development marathon that brought together over 130 developers with tech and creative skills. The teams had 24 hours to create projects using the devices made available by the organizers. Green Box team, whose project aims at estimating the efficiency of solar panels based on the location and environment parameters has won the competition. The winners have been rewarded with access to a pre-acceleration program held by Young Leaders Club, mentoring from Tandem Capital, wearables and IoT devices and many other facilities to transform their project into a sustainable business.

Read More…

June 7, 2016 |

The biggest technology event in the region is soon to be started!

Techsylvania brings to Cluj-Napoca international leaders in investments, innovation and technology. The event will take place from 21st to 24th of May, at the Students’ Culture Hall.

Born in a family of investors, Tim Draper is known as one of the biggest players on the global investments market. Tim Draper is the co-founder and Managing Partner of the Draper Fisher Jurvetson investment fund, which holds no less than $5 billion in administration, according to Wikipedia, with the mission to finance new business from the technology field. The investor will share information regarding the challenges from his career during the Techsylvania conference.


Another special guest speaker that will join us for the 3rd edition of Techsylvania is Ioana Cozmuta, Industry Innovation and Microgravity Lead at NASA. Experienced technology researcher, Ioana facilitates the commercial success of space technologies to help build a robust economy on Earth’s orbits and creates meaningful partnerships for the success of the NASA missions. She will speak about the emergence of innovation and technology inside a prolific agency inside the United States Federal Goverment, only at the Techsylvania conference.

Moreover, among the international speakers that have been confirmed to participate at the conference, there is also Mark Post, the inventor of the first hamburger with laboratory-produced beef meat, as well as Steffi Czerny, one of the most influential 100 tech people, according to Wired Magazine. Not to forget top managers of some of the most famous companies, such as Twitter, Soundcloud, Hootsuite, Prezi, who will also be speaking at the forthcoming event.

During the Techsylvania hackathon, software developers will test their programming skills and also their creativity, creating apps for DJI and Parrot drones, virtual reality devices as Oculus Rift or Merge VR, smart watches from Vector, Apple and Google or devices that track gestures and eye movement such as Leap Motion and The Eyetribe Tracker. 130 developers will be competing for gadget prizes from Vector Watch, Parrot, Alcatel, Pebble, Merge VR, Leap Motion and Misfit, an exclusive invitation for the pre-acceleration program hosted by Young Leaders Club and business mentorship from Founders Forum in London.

Techsylvania organizers add a new component to the event by bringing themed workshops for developers and entrepreneurs. Among these, there will be themes on assisted driving, creating PR strategies, developing innovative organizations or techniques to have a successful pitch, all of these delivered by Techsylvania speakers and partners.

The event will be completed with a pitching competition that will gather startups from around the world on the Techsylvania stage. The most promising startup will be awarded a trip to Silicon Valey, offered by Microsoft.

More information about the event and last-minute tickets can be found on is a partner of Techsylvania for several editions now and we are glad to see this event becoming one of the most important in Romania.

May 16, 2016 |

This appeared originally on How to Web blog. How to Web (Romania) is one of the biggest tech conference in Central and Eastern Europe.

Back in 2008, Vladimir Co-Founded uberVU, one of the first all-in-one social media services in the world highlighting insights from billions of conversations happening on many social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc). They won Seedcamp in 2008, rapidly turned into the service of choice for thousands of customers around the world, closed two financing rounds and were acquired by Hootsuite in January 2014.


After the acquisition, Vladimir remained with the company as Director of Product, in charge with all Analytics products. During his career, he wore many hats, from product manager to technology chief or marketing guy and he led UberVU through various stages of growth, from the early days to scaling globally, the exit and beyond. Last week, Vladimir shared his story and the lessons learnt along the way with the startups in MVP Academy Batch of 2016. The story of uberVU is an insightful case study for early stage startup founders, and we are happy to share with you the key take-aways of the discussion.

uberVU – the beginnings

Before founding uberVU, Vladimir Oane, Dragos Ilinca and Dan Ciotu had a media agency. Passionate about tech products, they started considering their options to develop their own product. Their first idea was to build their own CMS, and then they decided to make a social media publishing platform.

In 2008, they attended the second edition of The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam in order to connect with relevant people and gather feedback for their idea. One of the first persons they talked to was Robert Scobble, American blogger, technical evangelist and author, a well-known figure on the global tech scene having worked at Microsoft, Fast Company, Rackspace, or Upload VR. His positive feedback motivated them to go forward.


After attending The Next Web, Vladimir and his Co-Founders took the decision to close the agency and go the product way. Said and done, they applied with their idea and a prototype at Seedcamp in London.

“We submitted our application one day before the deadline (and it was shallow at best). When the guys from Seedcamp called us, we decided to go to London. We pitched our product there and we won. Being in London was an interesting experience, but we did not really grasp what was happening with us. The biggest challenges we faced in the beginning were opening a bank account and finding an apartment to stay in”, Vladimir remembers.

Raising money

They went to London without having a registered company and they incorporated afterwards, donating to the newly founded company the work previously done. Being a London-based company helped them later on in raising money, both from Seedcamp and from Eden Ventures, their second investor. This is because most VC funds invest in companies where they are familiar with the legislation (the reasons are not tax-related, but investment related – legislation in countries such as UK or the Netherlands provide all the required details for the entire process to go on smoothly).

“We initially raised 50k EUR from Seedcamp in mid-2009. After validating the technology and there were signs that we’ve got good chances to make it, we raised a new round from Eden Ventures, a London-based VC fund”, Vladimir explained.


Read more on How to Web blog.

April 21, 2016 |

28 accelerated startups, more than 1 million USD in seed investments & 13 products launched on the global market. These are, in a nutshell, the results of the first 2 editions of MVP Academy, their accelerator program. Tech founder working on a product with global potential? Apply by March 31st and you can be part of the MVP Academy batch of 2016!

When and where?

April 11th – May 31st @ TechHub Bucharest

What’s in it for you?

– Know-how: workshops and crash courses in customer development, product, growth hacking, investment, legal & more;
– Lead generation: Mentoring, on-demand meetings, and access to an international network of 400 mentors & 700+ startups;
– Pitching: Lots of presentations & pitch practice sessions to help you fine tune your pitch;
– Seed investment opportunities: Some of the best teams in the 2016 batch can raise an average of 50k EUR in exchange for a minority stake in the company from MVP Angels, the angel investors network associated with the program;
– Ongoing support: Throughout the program you’ll attend 1 on 1 coaching sessions with a hands-on approach to help you build your business and product strategy.


The team is looking for tech startups that think big and have the capacity to execute and learn fast. There are a couple of eligibility criteria you should comply with in order to make the most out of the program:
– You are an early-stage tech startup in its first 2 years of activity;
– You are committed to building your product;
– You have at least a working prototype to show us;
– You have not raised more than 50k in funding for the current product;
– You have no prior acceleration experience with the product you’re currently working on.

Read More…

March 17, 2016 |

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