The idea of taking d10e to Bucharest was conceived over some drinks at the 2016 edition in Amsterdam where Mike Costache was a guest of d10e’s founder, Brock Pierce. Brock and Mike both live in LA, but Mike grew up in Romania and did extensive business during 2006-2013 so Brock asked Mike to co-chair d10e and a team was put together to make it a reality. About 6% of Romania’s GDP comes from tourism and Mike is always interested to bring more tourists to Romania. This explains the two days of tourism on top of the full day of the conference.
But why Bucharest, Romania you may wonder…
Romania may not come to your mind when thinking about the world’s most promising places for tech and startups, but it does have a flourishing start up community. RomanianStartups.com offers a snapshot. The online database currently lists 314 startups, 650 founders, 50 events and 15 accelerators/incubators. Stats are modest, but Romania has come a long way since the its break from communism, almost 3 decades ago and since 2007 when it joined the European Union.
Romania’s 43 years of communism were characterized by food shortages, secret police and complete centralization, and it remains a painful chapter in the minds of most citizens. Yet some of the legacies from this period, including a strong telecoms infrastructure and a STEM-focused education system, have actually had positive residual effects for a generation too young to remember the oppressive regime. Coupled with Romanians’ natural resourcefulness to make more from less, these factors have helped the country emerge as a hotbed of tech talent with global ambition.
Thanks to its unique culture, history and education system, its capital city of Bucharest has bred a new generation of tech entrepreneurs who are hoping to put it on the startup map. Once known as the “Little Paris in the East” because of its wide boulevards and Belle Époque architecture, modern-day Bucharest could just as well include the word “Silicon”.
In a recent article, TechCrunch named Romania the Silicon Valley of Transylvania giving examples of several game changing startups such as Vector Watch, which has its engineering team based in Romania that has created a smartwatch with a 30-day battery life; Axosuits, a Romanian robotics startup focused on creating affordable exoskeletons for people with disabilities.
TechCrunch also notes: Large tech companies certainly have their eyes on what’s coming out of Romania, too. In 2014, Facebook acquired ad technology startup LiveRail, which was co-founded by two Romanians. In 2013, Avangate, a Bucharest-based commerce outfit, was bought by San Francisco’s Francisco Partners. In 2012, Twitter acquired Summify, a Vancouver-based company started by Romanian entrepreneurs. And in 2015, we acquired Quality Software Corporation for their leading quality management software capabilities and deep engineering talent.
Apart from meeting its incumbent startup community, the organisers from d10e seduced the d10e audience with the promise of an unforgettable mix of business, history and fun, proposing among others, two touristic trips: the Bucharest City Tour (on February 21) and A Trip to Transylvania and its famous castles (on February 23)
Facts about Romania:
- second-fastest growing economy in Europe, after Ireland (forbes.com)
- Romania ranks among the top 5 countries with the fastest internet speed connection
- With just 20 million people, Romania ranks in the top 10 globally in number of certified IT specialists — 95,000, about half of whom are software developers.