One of the questions that I hear very often has to do with Romanian intellectual property, especially in the Cluj IT ecosystem. Even though, in Cluj, several local start-ups have stood up from the crowd, we can say that we neither have a benchmark, nor a small unicorn, if you wish. There are many reasons why this initiative was not steered in the right direction. Even though there are events, like Startup Weekend or Techsylvania, which get involved in start-up support, unfortunately, many of these initiatives are short-lived. What might be the reasons for this state of affairs? It may be either because the initiated number of projects is inferior to the actual needs of the society, or because the financial resources and the other means of ensuring support are much too modest to be able to lead to the implementation of the respective project. We can also add the competition that comes from Western Europe, a fierce competition which is usually the winner at local competitions.
I believe that a start-up is not only a successful technological project, but rather a mirror of the community and of its ecosystem. If we look at the great companies around the world, we notice that these have not started out with a unique, fixed idea, but have learned to adapt to and win the consumers' vote. Given all this, we decided to get more involved starting out with this year's IT Days. We will introduce local start-ups to the public present at the competition and we will get the public involved in voting the most popular start-up.
Traditionally, in each competition there is an expert panel which decides the winner. When a small number of people decides the winner, it is quite possible that the winner be decided based on the business idea instead of the design or the features. The business plan may be valuable, but in many cases we may be talking about a prototype which does not yet have clear, detailed vision about income generation. Think about Uber or Facebook and their losses up to the moment when they became giants. Getting the public involved in voting can lead to a community of local supporters, which is what a start-up needs most, support.
Mike Butcher from TechCrunch will assess the start-ups. Even if he doesn't get to decide the winner, his analysis will be presented in front of the public, after which, the public is free to vote according to their own point of view. Mike has a long-standing experience with start-ups. His expertise in the field is praised worldwide. Mike's comments and analysis will prove very valuable for all start-ups.
Communication is one of the most important factors not only for start-ups, but for any business. In light of this, the start-up chosen by the public will get a round-trip ticket to Silicon Valley. Moreover, by making use of our networking capabilities and the community, we will try to set up, together with the winners, a series of meetings with investors and other start-ups from Silicon Valley. If there are any other companies interested in joining our initiative, they are more than welcome to do so.
To enter the competition, start-ups must meet all of the following requirements:
Startups must be based in Cluj-Napoca.
Startups must have their website up-and-running.
Startups can demo at least one prototype.
Once all the requirements above are met, our readers can enter a start-up by sending an email at startups\\@itdays.ro. The initial list will consist of all the entries received from our readers and from ClujStartups.com. To ensure transparency, we will publish the list at least one month before the conference, and with the help of the people registered at IT Days we will provide a shortlist which will be the result of electronic voting.
We try to promote the local ecosystem. Once we organize this competition in other cities (like Iași, Brașov, Timișoara or Bucharest), we will gladly welcome the start-ups based in these cities. We believe that, for now, this competition is best suited to offer local initiatives the visibility they need.
This project offers a chance to promote the Cluj IT community. If you have an interesting project or friends which have a cool start-up, send us a message.