How we’re shifting the mindset in Cluj’s tech scene

1.Shifting the mindset

Cluj has a strong, renowned name for building software. The big outsourcing companies go over 10 years in lifespan and count hundreds of employees. Estimates say that we have more than 10 thousand IT people in Cluj, most of them working in outsourcing.

Photo by Marius Buzac

On the shoulders of the outsourcing companies, we’re making the first steps now into the products era. We go the extra steps to understand the matrix of reality — this could be the next wave of rising startups, encouraging innovation at larger scale and feeding the need for complementing the tech side by acquiring business and marketing knowledge.

New market trends arise and they get more power every day. We are living in times that forces us to change the way we do business and build products — it’s time for shifting the mindset.

One of the biggest differences between outsourcing companies and startups is that they are built in different speed gears. Startup founders need to stay flexible in front of new challenges. Time gets into a new dimension that is dictated by ones ability to identify great market opportunities and quickly act towards them.

For those who don’t know yet, Romania is listed among the Top 20 countries in the A.T.Kearney’s 2014 „Global Services Location Index”, in terms of attractive offshoring destinations. The criteria are: Financial Attractively, People Skills and Availability and Business Environment.

KPMG Advisory, “Exploring Global Frontiers” study, places Cluj-Napoca amongst the first 31 world destinations for investments in the field of information technology (IT), highlighting the key aspects which make it attractive: the specialists, the costs and the geographic position.

Cluj IT Cluster has gathered more than 30 strong companies that make more that 100 million in revenue per year.

2.The strength of the string

Following the “company builder” model requires discipline to manage resources, processes and teams, not just for one startup but for more, in parallel. If an accelerator or fund deals with 50+ startups a year, putting a piece in the startup’s puzzle, at Seed For Tech we cover more pieces in the puzzle and we fit them together, just that we do it with fewer startups.

We focus on quality more than quantity, we put our hopes in each startup as it would be most promising one, each is a winner, as we don’t afford to gamble chances and just hope to have at least one winner to return the whole funding, as in the case of accelerator funds. It’s not a 3 months program, it’s about years of partnership and work to reach success, together.

It’s about the “engine” we build and the pieces we fit together — killing bad ideas quickly and growing the ones that really worth, it’s the goal.

But sometimes the seeds you plant are not necessarily the seeds you grow. We like to build collaboratively and we are continuously looking to build bridges between tech, business, marketing and international expertise. Flexibility and the right match is important — but in the same time, we need to be able to measure and track vulnerabilities and the outcomes of our structure/ model.

We don’t create “Cutting edge” sophistication and put it in a complex environment that could become increasingly vulnerable to collapse. We don’t only try to put pieces together either, but rather to fit the right ones, in a good business environment and avoid the mismatch that could entails complicated issues along the way.

Photo by Umberto Cofini

3.When everything comes down to values

When you first decide to turn a vision into reality the fantasy is easy and everywhere. But what really set apart the outliers from average is execution. In our case, beside our strong value proposition, almost everything comes down to HOW we do it.

But what we really stand for? — We value great people and their work!

Now, putting the shiny stuff away, here’s the naked truth about our journey, especially as a team.

We strive for the best but we courageously take the burden that comes along the way — we make sure that our hard work pays off on the long run.

We can’t ask the Founders we work with to show discipline, structure, the right business mindset and a strong drive to push for more if we don’t have the right attitude towards what we build.

There is an unavoidable penalty that will always track us if we keep our standards too low. But there is a big difference that we’ve learned in the last few months — the difference between overestimation vs. underestimation of an idea and the perceived value created by a product.


Environment.

Netflix “Great workplace means stunning colleagues”. Trust and honesty is important not only between team members but also with oneself. We don’t compromise sincerity, we value kindness in communication and we support each other. But the ultimate guideline is — Better done than said!

Freedom.

There is a constant trade that we do every day. We exchange responsibility with freedom. Over-controlling and micromanagement is not in our nature. We like to build teams based on passion, potential, intelligence and character.

Communication.

There is a difference between small talks and communication. We don’t like noise. That’s why we set up tools that help us stay up to date with internal work-flow and not missing a thing from our Founders.

Openness.

Frank Zappa once said, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” We don’t like dull. We like to empower people and look for their potential. This is something that helps us to kill bad ideas quickly without wasting valuable time.

It’s like planting good seeds in the right soil — this is what helps us to create a pleasant working environment where learning and walking extra miles is encouraged.

Speed.

We live in a hyper connected world where speed really matters. How fast you run it’s important but what makes you a strong and reliable business partner is to understand what really helps you to speed up and what holds you back. Maybe understanding is more powerful that knowledge because it’s the ability of manipulating what do you know in order to find out what do you need to know.

Fitting in it’s not enough.

Keeping in mind the Purple Cow principle by Seth Godin, try to differentiate the average from the great. We want to learn the right lessons and successfully overcome unexpected challenges.

Fitting in it’s not enough — learn how to stand out!