Interview Snorri – Startup Weekend
1. How did you find out about Start Up Weekend in Tirgu Mures?
From Johann Stan (
Invited Lecturer at AGH University of Science and Technology, European Young Innovators Forum, Asonam 2013, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint Etienne).
2. Why is it possible for a Start Up to develop in such a small town like Tirgu Mures? Our city has only 140,000 people :).
The size of the region matters less than the state of infrastructure. Tirgu’s is nearly half of the Icelandic nation and Malta. Then we have Luxembourg, which has only 517 thousand people, but has managed to carve out a niche using the financial regulative framework as its backbone. To take a historical example, Macedonia 330 BC was small compared to many other regions yet Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Persia. It is all about leadership. If Tirgu becomes a breeding ground for visionaries and provides them with the means to execute their visions (i.e. infrastructure development), there is nothing to prevent it from becoming a notable contributor to the Start Up drive. Size only matters if the target are volume figures as with consumer sales. For ideas to develop, the only ingredient needed is fertile soil that enable ideas to grow.
3. How do you explain that the romanian IT market has two big centers such as Bucuresti and Cluj?
I am not overly familiar with the Romanian market, but I venture a guess that Bucuresti is more expensive which provides Cluj with a competitive advantage as far as pricing is concerned. Also, IT is the most lucrative sector to operate in with the highest revenue potential, so it makes perfect sense that more cities concentrate on that. Tirgu may well become the third center.
4. What do you encourage the most: free lancing or working for an employer?
It depends on the individual. Free lancing requires a high degree of self discipline, confidence, business savvy and the ability to actually close deals. Not many have what it takes to do this, which makes their ideal route that of working for an employer. When starting out, being an employee is actually beneficial in many ways, as it provides experience working in the field and with others both internally and externally), and it helps build a strong contact network that is essential when striking out on your own. Without these elements, it takes a genius to succeed.
5. What is the first advice you give to a participant at Start Up Weekend?
Focus. Know what you intend to do, how you intend to do it and how long it will take to get to the point of business viability. Forget what others may or may not think; this is your vision and if you can pitch it clearly (as in 7 words or less), it is up to the recipient (e.g. investor or customer) to decide whether he or she wants to engage. If not, the two may not be in sync for various reason, but that does NOT mean that the concept itself it flawed; it simply means that the two do not connect at this time. If you are focused, people will be able to tell others what you are doing and spread the word. If the focus is missing or is too unclear or vague, that free marketing opportunity is lost.
6. Is there something that you recomend to be avoided during Start Up Weekend?
Talking too much. Overselling can turn a great idea into a pest and cause partners, advisors and investors to distance themselves. Say what needs to be said and then stop. If the one spoken to is interested, make a future appointment but stop talking. The more you say after you have snared the target, he more damage you will do. Be tuned to when you have pre-sold the concept; listen more than talk … the person will actually tell you what he or she wants which gives you invaluable information about how your project is perceived that will help you toward your next pitch.
7. How do you think such an event can impact our city?
Low cost (particularly salaries and operating overhead) gives Tirgu – and Romania – a competitive advantage over Western Europe, USA and Canada. By operating development centres in Tirgu while operating marketing and sales outfits in high-cost regions (e.g. UK, Norway and Switzerland), high margins can be generated quickly. With a very low corporate tax rate compared to highly developed countries, Tirgu could easily become a favored outsourcing center for a wide range of labor intensive or R&D related projects. While this competitive advantage is ideal for IT and business intelligence, it can be applied to other scenarios such as support services such as graphic design, audiovisual work, copywriting, analysis, data processing and fact checking. As long as Tirgu focuses on high speed delivery – i.e. using online media – the competitive advantage is considerable. Once manufacturing and freight enters the picture, that advantage is reduced.
I am very fond of Romania and the Romanians. The country is absolutely beautiful – as are its inhabitants – and the culture something worth promoting. Romania ranks at the top of my favourite country list alongside Malta and Italy and I recommend it as a place well worth visiting.