I was invited to be a mentor on a local entrepreneurship event called Arena Ursilor. The idea for the event was to put 10 promising entrepreneurs and their projects in front of the best mentors and business angels Romania has to offer and help them push their projects forward by advice and possibly financing.
The level of the projects was surprisingly high as the vast majority of the entrepreneurs pitched project with some level of technical implementation, at least at proof of concept stage. The others were domain experts, having worked in their line of expertise for many years and having the necessary experience to move to stating a business on their own.
The projects with the greatest potential to make a difference in the near future from the ones pitched at the event, in my opinion, are (in no particular order):
- VideoGuide.ro is a built to order video tour platform. Emanoil Serban, the project’s founder and CEO came to the event to raise money to develop the project further. He was asking for 60.000€ for 20%, giving the project a 300.000€ valuation. Currently they have 150 clients for their video tour filming and publishing service at a revenue of 300-600€ / client / year. The company is operational for around 2 years now and Emanoil plans to raise money to expand the sales effort to more cities in Romania.
- Tjobs.ro is a job platform with a twist. The twist comes from the fact its co-founders are domain experts in recruiting romanian employees for foreign employers and they formed a union of local recruiting companies. Those over 300 companies then submit their open job positions to Tjobs, while Tjobs makes sure that the end-users submit CVs only to verified companies that have a proven track record. This makes for a great win-win relationship for both the end-user and the employment agencies, with Tjobs being more like a trust partner for both than a usual recruiting platform. The Tjobs founders came to the event to raise money, asking for 150.000€ for 5% at a 3.000.000€ valuation.
- Fantasy Accelerator is an animated comic project. The project, in the idea state at the moment, is started by a young ambitious romanian guy who studied in the UK for all his university years. He came back with an idea of how to make online comics more interactive. Guy’s name is Claudiu Revnic and you can find him on Facebook.
The event went really well, with both the investors and mentors getting to know about new projects and the mentees and participants getting to interact with a group of experienced and successful local technology people.
Heroku, the San Francisco based platform as a service startup, has just announced it has raised an additional $15 million in the second round of venture capital investment.
As one of the first cloud providers, Heroku were incubated in Y-Combinator, following an investment round of $5 million afterwards.
Heroku is currently hosting over 60.000 app on their service. Anyone can host for free an app there, as long as their database doesn’t exceed 5MB of storage.
The system provided by Heroku offers the simplest deployment and scalability solution for Ruby on Rails, by pushing the app via Git and moving up and down a couple sliders when additional concurrency or background processing is needed.
Many people see the investment actually being directed at Ruby and Ruby on Rails, and as a bet to the future that more and more startups will choose this framework and programming language and host their apps in a cloud environment as opposed to dedicated servers.
I’ve just received a very interesting email in my Inbox. Will attach it to this blog post and would like to know your oppinions on the subject in the comment section. Personally, I am very happy Google has taken this decisions.
Dear Google Apps admin,
We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar.
Google Apps will continue to support Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 and above.
Starting next week, users on these older browsers will see a message in Google Docs and the Google Sites editor explaining this change and asking them to upgrade their browser. We will also alert you again closer to March 1 to remind you of this change.
In 2009, the Google Apps team delivered more than 100 improvements to enhance your product experience. We are aiming to beat that in 2010 and continue to deliver the best and most innovative collaboration products for businesses.
Thank you for your continued support!
The Google Apps team