In the past 5 years, we’ve had gathered some great stories from the entrepreneurs based all over the region. All of these stories have people at their core, because one of the things we wanted to achieve at How to Web was to create the perfect content for people to really establish meaningful connections between one another. And it was a great reward to see friendly faces year after year, returning at the conference each November to learn more, to meet new people and to experience that sense of familiarity that comes with being part of a community.
So today we’d like to share one of those stories, featuring Radu Hasan [LinkedIn], Co-Founder & CEO of Smart Bill, the most used online invoicing platform in Romania. Radu has attended all the editions of How to Web since 2010, so instead of getting him a T-shirt, we asked him to share with us some thoughts on his experience at the event since then.
1. Radu, do you remember where you first found out about How to Web?
The first time I heard about How to Web was from my associate, Mircea, who had just met Bogdan Iordache at a conference in Targu Mures where each of them had their own presentation booth, one for Smart Bill and one for How to Web. 🙂
2. How did you decide to attend the conference?
After looking over the website [yes, the website from 2010 is still live] and the speaker list we decided to give it a shot. We were quite skeptical about it since we had never attended an international conference, just the local ones. We were very disconnected from the startup community at that time and did not understand the benefits of attending such an event.
3. Who did you meet there that became a part of your network, a friend or a partner?
We met a lot of people that later became partners or even friends. For example, at a How to Web event in 2011 we set the first meeting with Radu Georgescu, one of the most successful Romanian entrepreneurs, who soon after became our Advisor. Also, at the first How to Web event we first met Lucian Todea, another very successful entrepreneur who last year became an Investor in our company. There are several other people that later became partners or even consultants later on which we met through How to Web.
4. How did attending How to Web help you over the years?
For us, the first How to Web was a game-changing experience because it completely shifted our vision. From a small company in a small Romanian town we started to believe it is possible to become a big company at a global level. We started thinking big and our confidence grew through the roof. You might think I am exaggerating, but I am not, this is what actually happened. We owe How to Web a lot, it helped us, through the speakers that presented on stage and through the people we met, to completely change our mindset and start THINKING BIG !
5. How do you think the conference and the startup program and competition helped develop the tech ecosystem?
I am sure that we are not a singular case and that many other young entrepreneurs had similar experiences. How to Web managed to glue the Romanian tech ecosystem and link it to the global one. It was the first major step in that direction and we are starting to see the results : more and more Romanian founded startups having success at a global level.
6. What would be your advice for someone coming to How to Web for the first time, in order to make the most out of the experience?
Talk to as many people as possible, get over the shyness and geekiness. Don’t skip the parties, they are a great opportunity to meet new people and everybody is more relaxed after a couple of beers 🙂
Go to the event with the mindset of getting as much as possible out of it. It will be fun!
7. Why do you believe that conferences and start-up programs and competitions are important for the tech community?
It is the best way to bring together the whole community : entrepreneurs, investors, journalists, developers, students. For a couple of days, you feel like in Silicon Valley, the same energy and enthusiasm is all around you. You get inspired, motivated and the connections you make or older connections that you “nurture” can prove extremely useful on the long-run.
8. How do you get involved in the community and how would you like to see others do it?
Most of the times I am in Sibiu, where the tech community is very small to non-existent. But I come frequently to Bucharest and I am happy to visit TechHub Bucharest every time and attend its events. Bucharest is looking better and better every year and the community is growing pretty fast.