“Software is eating the world” said Marc Andreessen a few years ago and he was right. We’re in the middle of an amazing growth for tech startups. Innovation, unicorns, VCs, mega-trends are just a few of the words used on daily basis by the people in the field.
Accelerators, incubators and investment funds are sprouting on a weekly basis in various corners of the world. And besides them, there is one more model emerging: “company builders” (or “startup studios”). Actually it’s not such a new concept, but somehow remained less known, compared with the counterparts mentioned earlier.
The main reason is probably that it takes a huge amount of effort, time and money to set it up. It basically means to get your hands dirty with every startup, work hard every day, suffer and rejoice not just with one startup, but with more in the same time, not an easy burden. But exactly this is what we need as well, here in Cluj-Napoca.
Cluj has a strong, renowned name for software building. 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.
On the shoulders of the outsourcing companies, we’re making the first steps now into the products era. We’re not there yet, but we’re rapidly moving towards that. Let’s face it: we do know tech, we have a great quality-cost competitive advantage, but we need to gather business experience on a higher level. And the way to get to know business is also by going through building our own products.
“How is that?” you may be wondering. Well, it’s simple: we have a skill which other ecosystems lack or comes with a higher cost: building software. Based on this we can partner with others who can complement us, by knowing business. These others, are mostly present in bigger, more developed markets, they have the expertise and the network in their industry but they lack the tech partner who can push on the product side while they build the business side.
And that’s why we started Seed For Tech. To build on what we have, to take advantage of this gap and market opportunity, to push our local ecosystem to the next level: that of product building.
By knowing product and connecting with business people, we can form valuable partnerships for both sides — we’ll have bridgehead in other markets and soon we will be able to make Cluj-Napoca a strong “home” for tech product innovation — , we’ll do business and products in one place. It’s a long shot, it will take a few years, but we’re speeding towards that.
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.
Tech, product, marketing, financials, business, all of these in one solid team, ready to work on a concept, to know how to take it from idea, through customer discovery and validation, to MVP, monetization, product market-fit and beyond.
All of these materialized in processes, in methods, oiled with passion and enthusiasm, making the structure efficient and effective in getting from ideas to startups and then to sustainable businesses.
It will be a long way and it will be tough, but it will be an amazing adventure. We are building companies — and that’s what we’re meant to do at Seed For Tech.