TechPeaks: People Accelerator

There are plenty of start-up accelerators in Europe as well as United States. Italy is catching up with Tech Peaks – The People Accelerator in Trento, Italy/EU. Tech Peaks aims to support IT specialists/designers/biz developers from Eastern Europe, CIS and Russia possibility (financially and professionally) to build start-ups for EU market.

Top-notch mentors with global business and technology backgrounds provide coaching and valuable connections. Teams can tap into innovative research labs to reinforce their technological advantage. All participants are provided with an exceptional opportunity package: free accomodation, free working space, free visa support and a monthly living allowance.

TechPeaks is a long-term initiative, already set up and funded for 4 years with 13M€ (~17M$) of committed capital: One boot camp in 2013, starting in May, and two boot camps each following year.

Participants need skills, talent and most of all passion for what they believe in. TechPeaks provides a small salary (€500/m), free housing, food, desks, services and visa for 6 months. Teams and ideas can be there from the beginning or be shaped during the programme. During the first weeks, teams form and change, validate ideas using lean methodologies. Teams pitch ideas to get a non-equity grant of 25k€ (~33k$), incorporate and start their businesses.

Top-notch mentors with global business and tech background coach teams present in the accelerator. Research labs provide people networks and ideas. More importantly, startups attracting private investors in the following 12 months can access phase 2 and get matching funds up to 200k€ .

We are an Estern European endorser of TechPeaks. Programs such as this can bring real value to a forming and constantly maturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem by first providing the necessary tools for market education, followed by funding opportunities, networking and business strategy.

Applications close on 5ht April. If you are interested to learn more about the project, please visit For additional info, also free to to e-mail us directly, glad to put you in contact with the organisers. 

UseTogether: Rely on vision, adrenaline and effort!

Romania is filled with pure talent. And the entrepreneurial community does not lack such gifted businessmen either. Very proud to present UseTogether : a digital community of trusting people who share the same vision and values (collaborative consumption, reliability and contribution to the community). The company is founded by Victor and Mircea, two Romanian entrepreneurs based in Cluj-Napoca showing an immense ambition to create a truly original and successful business.

We are more than happy to have Use Together selected for LAUHCHub, an Eastern-European start-up accelerator. The funding is not bad, to that we add the mentoring sessions and the possibility of engaging with important decision makers in Europe. Since we are curious by nature and appreciate the persistance of UseTogether in structuring a balanced business, we asked Mircea, Co-Founder UseTogether a couple of questions. As always, enjoy! :-)

VC: What does UseTogether do and how did you come up with the idea?

UseTogether is a startup which creates an online community where people borrow, lend and swap various items or services without having to buy them. This concept is part of the growing trend called sharing economy. Our project was born at Startup Weekend Cluj, in February 2012, where we won the competition. We received support in mentoring and office space afterwards from Philipp Kandal (CTO at Skobbler), we managed to launch the beta version in August 2012 and now we have 1000 members in Romania.


VC: UseTogether is based in Cluj-Napoca. Did it inconvenience you in any way? 

It might have been an inconvenient as the startups ecosystem was not that developed last year (2012), so some more support probably would have speeded up our growth. In autumn, a few other Cluj-based startups have been accelerated or got investors, so we had some advice from them and somehow we went on supporting each other. Looking back, I see it like a brotherhood of startups. At this moment, the ecosystem is more developed and we can contribute back with our knowledge gained so far. On the other side, the fact that we were working in our hometown made it easy for us because we had fewer expenses and we were more comfortable. Practically we managed to bootstrap for one year (besides our effort and time invested, the money we’ve taken from our pockets was in low amount).


VC: UseTogether just announced an investment from Bulgarian accelerator LAUNCHub? What do you plan to do next?

On short term we will move to Sofia for a few weeks and enter LAUNCHub’s mentoring system. As far as development goes, we want to grow the community in Romania and the CEE countries, improve the product with all the safety and communication features and clarify the monetization plan. On a longer term, we seek a seed investment which will be needed probably in Autumn 2013 (LAUNCHub’s 200k sum seems promising).


VC: For this session of LAUNCHub, over 200 start-ups from the region applied. What made UseTogether different and better than all other competitors?

First it was the team, we are really committed and motivated and the selection committee saw that. Second, we also had traction and a working platform, so it was a proof of concept. Besides these, we were prepared as we have been in other pitching events. Really important was also the idea and the trend behind it as sharing economy is growing really fast, there is a lot of buzz around and investors saw potential in this trend as a game shifter.


VC: The market UseTogether activates in: shared use of resources and reduce consumerism is fairly new. What’s your secret sauce in comparison to your competition?

The vision! We don’t just want a website which serves the process. We want a community of like-minded people, joining in the principles of sharing for a better world. It’s a connector for these people, where new ties between members can be created (it’s already happening in Cluj) and it’s far better and inspiring than we expected. 


VC: What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

The adventure and the adrenaline, the vision and the causes in which I believe, the stress and the struggle, taking something from scratch, designing it and make it a succeed, the dream of better life in a better world. “Startups aren’t here to change the world, they’re here to save the world


VC: Looking back on your start, what’s one thing you wish you understood about entrepreneurship before you ever got started?

At the beginning we were on shaky grounds, we didn’t know how to grasp it. As a team we were still hesitating and it took a while to get us on track, but I think this also contributed to our current decisiveness and energy. I wish we had these from the beginning. Lesson learned!


VC: If you could offer a first-time entrepreneur only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Have a strong motivation and vision! When [entrepreneur]ship will be shaken by the high waves and storms, you will ask yourself why are you doing this. And if you can’t relate to that strong vision, the first waves will blow you away.


VC: And to end the interview with a smile, how much money do you think I could make if I started a business like yours?

I don’t know how your business would go as it depends on your motivation, mindset and effort. Being an entrepreneur is not about making money as first objective, but it’s to create value and usefulness and then the money will come as a result. I’m not saying that money doesn’t count, it does, a lot. I’m saying that creating a good and valued product has to be stronger than the financial rewards in order to make it a sustainable business on long term.

More than 40 investors interested in Romanian start-ups

VentureConnect, one of the notable programs in the Romanian business environoment, targeting entrepreneurs of the IT, Online, Technology areas, will be bringing them together with 40 confirmed investors for the Venture Connect event, on 31st of May, at Intercontinental Hotel, Bucharest. Entrepreneurs can submit thier projects until the end of this week, on 20th of May.

VentureConnect, the initiative that started in 2010, reached its fifth edition. The entrepreneurs interested to present thier business in front of over 40 investors from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary or Poland can submit thier projects until 20th of May. Along with the traditional pitching event, the second part of the day will host a conference dedicated to Romanian investors, interested in supporting entreprenorial start-ups in the IT, Online, Technology areas: Angel Connect.

Among the confirmed investors who will attend the event, we mention: Andreas Cser (Director of Fraser Finance), Alexis Bonte (CEO eRepublik Labs Limited), Ondrej Bartos (Partner & Chairman of the Board at Credo Ventures), Gwidon Humeniuk (Member of the Board at Xevin Investments), Maxim Gurvits (New Europe Corporate Advisory) along with other Romanian business-angels.

“A company’s success is based on its project development, its business objectives, as well as fully understanding the targeted market. As technology or business planning can be learned, mentored or even bought, the project developed by entrepreneurs has the experimental value: it involves several try-outs, failures or multiple repositioning strategies. But, in order to shape a scalable business that’s locally and internationally appreciated, the entrepreneurs need a mature business environment. I am happy to be seeing a stable and growing market in South-East Europe, especially in Bucharest and also in Bulgaria” says Maxim Gurvits, Investment Banking Associate la New Europe Corporate Advisory.

Until now, two major investments were granted:  in 2011, project. an online recruiting platform that was supported by Andreas Cser (business-angel Frasier Finance), Alexis Bonte and Post-Privatization Foundation and BITTNET Systems, a leading project in the Network Training market in Romania,  who announced in the beginning of 2011 the investment of Răzvan Căpăţînă, Romanian business-angel.

“We are very happy with all the start-up projects that were submitted, from the first Venture Connect event in 2010 to the most recent ones for the event on 31st of May. Together with the Venture Connect Board members, we’re doing our best to bring to Bucharest investors interested in the local entrepreneurial market and to facilitate the development of local business to become internationally recognized” declared Ana-Maria Andronic, Senior Associate at Biriş Goran, co- founder member of VentureConnect Foundation.

The Venture Connect spring edition is supported by Allegro Group Romania, part of the international media group Naspers and the Post-Privatization Foundation (FPP).