Romanian startup Nexi goes to Rockstart – a story of the first steps made right

Nexi demonstrated their strong technical knowledge with a clear focus on what they are currently building. The selection committee saw great potential in their current product and several ways to develop what they have as a business. Rockstart Accelerator believes that with the right mentorship, Nexi will be very successful with their new approach dealing with a well-known issue“. These are the words in which Rune Theill, of Rockstart accelerator, motivates Rockstart’s recent announcement
of accepting Nexi for their program.

This looks very much like another success Romanian startup story in the making. So we wanted to take some time to find out what the Nexi journey has been so far. This way, we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed and placing our bets about their future with the exact facts at hand. Read on for the Nexi story, told by Cristian Andreica, who founded Nexi together with Ciprian Mardare.

How to Web: Tell us about “the birth” of Nexi. How did you get the idea, how has it evolved so far?
Cristi Andreica: We started working on the idea of referral recruiting on August, 2011. We were in a board meeting at Balaur.ro, together with Alexandru Ghise (CEO) and Alexandre Almajeanu (investor), and decided we should approach the recruiting market from a different angle than a job search engine.

The first thing that crossed our minds was to build a prototype for Romania. In about one month and a half, we had Nexi.ro ready for launch. Basically, we were offering a public referral platform that would help users to refer their friends for the available jobs. We quickly gathered about 80 accounts and about 18.000 resumes.

Cristi AndreicaWe spent some time to contact and meet HR managers from companies here in Romania, in order to get feedback about the product and get them involved into using it. Over 15 recruiters kept telling us that they value referrals brought by their own employees a lot more that those from outside, so we switched to internal referrals.

At the beginning of Octomber 2011, we took development from ground and started working on a private referral system that would allow only the employees to refer candidates. In November, we had a prototype ready for HTW Startup Challenge and Netcamp StartupNow competition.

How to Web: How did you and Ciprian get together and decide to go into this?
Cristi Andreica: We met in college and started working together on several projects. For about 9 months, we were involved in Balaur.ro. Attended Yahoo Open Hack in May 2011. We managed to work together really well under pressure and Nexi seemed a great way to keep doing that.

How to Web: Tell us a few words about your product. What problem are you solving, what market ar you addressing?
Cristi Andreica: Nexi helps companies find top talents through their employees’ social networks.

As you probably know, more than 30% of the hires are made through successful referrals. But recruiters have a hard time getting employees to refer and making them involved in the process. So they end up having to scan the entire network of their employees in order to find the perfect candidates.

Nexi makes it really easy for employees to refer by sending them a shortlist with the best candidates. All referrals are sent to the company account, where the recruiter is helped to choose the right one.

How to Web: We’ve seen you compete in the How to Web Startup Challenge, we’ve seen you pitch Borris Wertz at the Bucharest GrowLab event. How has this road been so far?
Cristi Andreica: HTW was a great way to get out in front of the online community and connect with a lot of interesting people. Actually, Ciprian met James Digby (cofounder Rockstart) at the party after the event. James encouraged us to apply and here we are.

We met Borris Wertz at Bucharest Hubb and we had the application ready for Growlab. In between, we also sent our application for Springboard, Rockstart and IOVentures. Rockstart felt like the perfect match.

How to Web: Tell us about the Rockstart application process. What happened between your application and their “we want you”?
Cristi Andreica: We had to fill an online form with basic information about us and our startup. As an advice for teams who want to apply in the future, the information should be clear and concise, no bullshit. Put some numbers to reflect the achievement or failure of things.

On the second phase we were asked to record 3 videos about ourselves, have 3 Skype calls with the Rockstart team and fill a multiple-choice personality test. It’s really important for them to figure out if they can work with you or not. There has to be some sort of match between their beliefs and yours. I think this happens in every circle.

Nexi team in AmsterdamFor the last phase, we had to pitch in front of Rockstart selection committee in Amsterdam. We got the chance to meet them and the other teams still in the race. We got a Skype call just a few days later and we received the great news: we’re in.

How to Web: When will you be moving to Amsterdam? What’ll happen from now on?
Cristi Andreica: We should be in Amsterdam just a few days before the program starts (23rd of March). For the following 3 months, we’ll challenge our assumptions and continue building the product with the Rockstart team and great advisors from Europe and US.

You can find more details about the schedule and major activities here.

For us, the road is pretty much clear now. We want the get the most out of Rockstart and grow our startup like never before.

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