Monthly Archives: December 2009

Would a startup accelerator help Romanian entrepreneurs?

After the tremendous number of entrepreneurship meetings, websites, TV shows, podcasts, blogs, wikis, etc. have emerged in Romania to promote the IT entrepreneurship movement would the industry benefit more from a startup accelerator?

I’m not thinking here of just advisory stuff, where you can call or meet with your advisors every couple of weeks or even months, but daily support in topics like:

  • finding the right market for the startup
  • creating a product
  • marketing planning
  • compiling a business plan
  • raise funding (and don’t get screwed)
  • connecting with the right people
  • incorporation help
  • legal & accounting advisory
  • getting in the right mindset
  • polishing the idea

The benefit for the entrepreneurial team is either:

  • get a proof of concept to the market faster and maintain or strengthen the first mover’s advantage
  • validate the idea faster so seed funding can come sooner than later
  • have a well put together company when it’s time to receive the first round of funding

I need your help here as I would like to know how useful would you find such program and what benefits would you see entrepreneurs getting out of it. What should the entrepreneur give back for those services? How would the added value be measured? Please comment even if you’re not involved in any way to Romanian startups. Any kind of feedback is highly appreciated.

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Review of what I did in 2009

Just a short review of the amazing things I had the opportunity to do in 2009.

First of all thanks for everyone that’s been around. It’s next to impossible to make anything worthy on your own so everyone that sees a connection to things on the following list should know that I am very grateful.

January 2009:

  • Started year with some rather important foreign clients for management consulting and local business representation. High-level meetings with local IT&C people took place. Great way to start the year.

February 2009:

  • Been attending regularly the weekly OpenCoffee Bucharest meetings. There’s a bunch of great people meeting there every week discussing all kinds of geeky topics.
  • On the management consulting front things were really intense. Got three active clients plus a couple more on queue.

March 2009:

  • Finally gave up hosting my websites on GoDaddy after a dozen major issues and hundreds of support emails. Moved everything to HostGator to a much better level of service & support. Kind of important decision when you receive tens of thousands of daily hits spread across tens of websites.
  • Romanian economy has really slowed down at this point. Getting any deal done is next to impossible as companies lost any expansion appetite while struggling to survive. Major local IT companies become extinct. Things are not looking too good.

April 2009:

  • Co-founded TwiMarket.com, a startup meant to become the place for classifieds on social networks.
  • Start blogging at Mafteianu.com. Still on of my better decisions regarding personal branding. It’s great to have a place to post your ideas and thoughts. Find it rather interesting that I owned a blogging network for about 5 years but did not start a personal blog for myself in the meantime. Think urgent vs important.
  • The need for external aid got me to buy an iRobot Roomba. Things became really busy for me at this point so any help was highly welcome…

May 2009:

  • Start discussing the selling of some of the more important news blogs from BloggerWork. One month later I stopped worrying about traffic spikes, keyword density and daily articles as a deal is reached and the blogs get sold.
  • Pitch TwiMarket.com at some local events to warm up for the event to come. Also we get featured in a local startup news website among other Internet buzz.

June 2009:

July 2009:

  • Started the eWiki.ro project meant at becoming the ‘Online Wiki of the Romanian Internet Market‘. It has got some traction from the community and got some cool projects and people featured there.
  • Started discussing about getting seed funding for TwiMarket.com though some connections obtained from the participation at Seedcamp. Happily the deals felt through.
  • Upgraded from the original iPhone to the new 3G one. Gave up the Blackberry soon after as I got tired of carrying three cellphones with me everywhere.

August 2009:

  • Start attending Startup School at the recommendation of a Seedcamp advisor. Soon afterwards I accept the invitation to become their Romanian ambassador as I was amazed at the number of great entrepreneurs they managed to bring to the community.
  • Consider starting a local (mostly) online lead generation business. Test the concept with some people but do not find the right partner and delay starting this business indefinitely.

September 2009:

  • Organize OpenGrill #2, a road trip to the ‘best road in the world‘ attended by some of the best Romanian entrepreneurs.
  • Start an IT hardware/services business. I’ve been reminded this way of the joys of the Romanian employee and what great culture inheritance we got from the communist regime regarding how employees see work and deliver results. There used to be an communist blue-collar worker saying ‘We pretend to work and they pretend to pay up”. Go figure…

October 2009:

  • Become a co-founder in iCartApp.com. The desired outcome of this project is to create an easy entry point for anyone wanting to extend their ecommerce store to the new mobile commerce market. Along with a very focused development team project lead by a visionary co-founder we manage to get a private beta in just one month.

November 2009:

  • I turn 22 years old. Feel really old as something is now fundamentally changed. I am not longer the youngest guy in the room at every meeting.

December 2009:

  • Graduate from Dragos Roua‘s mentorship program of. Been reminded that doing things your way it part of what makes doing business great.
  • Visited Budapest and Vienna. Both are really beautiful cities.
  • Start thinking more seriously of starting an iPhone apps development business as augmented reality gets more and more hype.
  • Request one of those new biometric passports as they are required to travel to the place where Silicon Valley is located.

Disclaimer: The list is not meant to be complete, but rather on overview of why I think this year was great for me and what I learnt from it.

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Using Google Wave for Project Management / Collaboration

For one of my latest projects I decided to invite everyone on the team to use the Google Wave for team collaboration. Wave is still full of bugs and slow but we managed to do a good job at using it as a project management / team collaboration tool to sharing tasks, comments and discussions. Is it also very useful for copywriting collaboration (better than Google Docs as it is faster).

Below you can find some basic principle we are using in Google Wave for project management.

First and foremost you will want to organize all waves related to a project in a separate folder. It’s nice to set a color to that folder so the waves stand out in your Google Wave Inbox. Below you can see a blue example of the ‘New Awesome Project’ (TM).

Google Wave Project Management Folder Organizing

Afterwards setup a new wave for every distinct topic and invite everyone interested and create inside that wave new replies with tasks lists.

For managing the tasks lists we use the following set of rules.

Google Wave For Project Management Overview Of Legend

You can create a to-do list inside a reply with usual tasks in normal text, bold tasks as high priority, done tasks with strikethrough. For attributed tasks you specify at the end of the task who’s responsible. In case of tasks with a deadline you specify before the task when it needs to get done.

For comments I recommend using inline replies as they can be collapsed and leave the list with a clean look.

Separate in each reply tasks in a GTD-friendly way, with next actions, waiting and someday/maybe groups and after a reply has a large number of tasks (and becomes too bloated) make an inline reply  at the end of the main reply and move the completed tasks there. In such way you can keep all task lists clean and current just by a daily reviews for the task lists you are directly involved with and you can ask your project manager to do weekly reviews across all waves including tasks lists to ensure the vision and goals are current and well represented in your waves.

Looking forward for your feedback and suggestions in the comments about this project management approach to Google Wave. It is not meant to be a complete approach, but a simple one that anyone can understand and use right away.

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