Whether you’re a startup founder or an investor, I’m sure that you’ve heard the name Radu Georgescu dropped in a conversation at least once. And that’s because Radu is one of the OG Romanian entrepreneurs, having started his career back in 1992 when Romanian startups were but a myth.
Some of Radu Georgescu’s successful exits include the acquisition of the RAV antivirus technology by Microsoft in 2003, the ePayment business acquired by Naspers in 2010, the acquisition of Avangate by Francisco Partners in 2013, and the acquisition of the Vector Watch technology by Fitbit in 2016.
Besides his role as a Founding Partner at Gecad Ventures, Radu Georgescu is also the Co-Founder of PawSquad, a marketplace that connects pet owners to pet care providers, and a Board Member for TypingDNA and SymphoPay.
Because he has more than 20 years of business experience, we wanted to know how Radu sees the current Romanian startup ecosystem, what has changed since he first started, what we still need to improve and what we need to do to become a mature startup ecosystem. His thoughts in the interview below.
Q1: We’ve seen many regional startups becoming profitable global companies, but the CEE is still behind the rest of Europe for startup deal flow. How do we address this challenge?
Well, I believe there is a good deal flow in the CEE, a region with outstanding technology talent and significant entrepreneurial skills that now gains better and better business acumen. Startups are not an issue, growing them is the challenge.
Q2: Romania is the second country in the CEE that attracted the largest private equity investment in 2017, Invest Europe data shows. Are we a mature startup ecosystem yet?
Almost there. We are close to becoming a mature startup environment, but we need to grow up and become a mature “post-startup” environment. I actually look forward to this in the (near) future!
Q3: There are a few European startups that made the headlines lately and brought us into the spotlight. Still, we didn’t notice a particular increase in the number of funds with activities in the CEE, but more likely many companies that went to incorporate in the US or other countries. Is this something that we want for the regional ecosystem?
The VC/Investment in the CEE is growing from the bottom up. A lot of Seed VCs are already active in the region, and some very good Series A VCs are now making plans for next year. I guess once this will happen, more and more good companies will choose to stay in Europe and look for global offices and businesses once they are better established.
Q4: From an investor’s point of view, what’s your take on Blockchain technology and the rise of blockchain projects?
I am personally in love with Blockchain technology. I believe it is beautiful, clean and supple. Having said this, I did not see any real/solid use-case for it. I’m sure these projects will come, and someone will get rich soon, but who is this someone? ICOs, on the other hand, are a scam.
Q5: How do Western investors feel when they hear a startup is based in Romania?
If 20 years ago Romania was not even on the map and 10 years ago it was known as a good place where you could outsource, now, Romania is a good product building environment. Exciting technologies, outstanding founding teams and vision, good product design and decent business development (improving every day!) gets us there. Thank you UiPath, Bitdefender, Avangate/2Checkout, Vector Watch, Hootsuite/UberVU, InterAKT, Clever Taxi, and so many others (sorry for not mentioning all of them). Huge thank you to all failed startups as well, because they have built the premises for these successes!
Radu Georgescu is also one of the global experts who will join us for How to Web 2018. As this is a rare networking opportunity, make sure you grab your ticket and come meet him and other founders and investors on November 19 – 20 at the National Theater in Bucharest.
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