It is not just a maybe it is. While small by Sillicon Valley, Boston and London standards, $53m poured into startups in Romania in 2017 and considerably more in 2018. While just a small % of the total amount invested in European startups there is a long arrow pointing toward growth and even greater investment that can eclipse that of Berlin´s startups and tech companies by 2020.
While many of the startups focus on the Romanian market such as FashionUp and Elefant.ro others are focusing on global solutions in cyber security, healthcare and social media. Having attended a recent event at Bucharest´s Radisson Blue Hotel and Bucharest Tech Week I was amazed at the number of companies attending and the reception we received for our Settle mobile payments solution that was developed for Banks, Telecommunications companies, integrators, media companies and retailers among other in the post PSD2 world which will allow anyone to offer mobile payments.
From the first minutes of the event major international retailers (Fact: Romania has one of the most advanced online / electronic retail in the world), tech startups, Fintechs, Banks virtually stood in line waiting to hear more about Settle and what our plans were for Romania. By the end of the event there were dozens of interested companies that wish to work with us which was way above all of our expectations.
Taking from the retail sector and their digitalization we see the necessity of connected businesses to following their path by offering a more mobile user experience that is based on the latest in technology. Payments, communication, user knowledge and behaviour as well as cyber security, all part of the greater ecosystem.
Additionally the number of students and world class universities and technical colleges (3 in top 1000 in world), the abundance of talent (100k + developers with half in Bucharest alone) and a general interest in entrepreneurships.
From a cost perspective the cost of operations is lower, and the major airport is getting easier to reach from all over Europe. Traffic is still a major challenge but Uber and other rideshare businesses have been in the country for some time - all signs of a healthy and growing early adopters and tech development market.
The Financial Times way back in 2017 reported the popularity of tech and Romania due to their focus and excellence in Science. Article can be read here.
Blockchain and Crowd based services are gaining popularity in Romania with dozens of startups filling the landscape.
The number of accelerators and startups born from them has been ever increasing with some of the largest from the Romanian Stock Exchange (Fintech) Made In, Hubs and clusters have been strengthening over the past years many located in Bucharest and the picturesque city of Brasov and the Cluj-Napoca regions.
Bogdan Ceobanu has a lengthy article at thinkgrowth.org (click for article) that is worth reading.
Regarding mobile payments and the Fintech space in Romania:
Daniel Doderlein, Founder of Auka:
“Romania is still a large cash culture – consumers and business owners have a lot of payment pain points that Settle will solve. For example, our research clearly shows Romanian businesses struggle with cash handling and connecting with new customers. These are resolved with Settle which will empower businesses to safely and securely handle digital money, ultimately creating more business revenue.”
With this in mind Auka has identified Romania as a great market and tech environment to be in. After working in the Romanian market for the better part of a year our Oslo based Fintech Auka (developer of Settle) made the announcement:
Romania is a country heading up the growth curve with a fantastic people, independent but willing to work together, a large student population that is carving it´s very own niche out and a great tech and higher education space. The market is getting ready and in my humble opinion to be a leader in my humble opinion.
For more information on our plans for Romania please feel free to contact me on this page or via my Linkedin page. I enjoy all things innovative and love connecting with others in the same space.