We are begining to publish a series of interviews from How To Web 2013, most important event dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship from Eastern Europe. Radu Georgescu is a well known IT entreneur from România as he built several products: RAV Antivirus sold to Microsoft, Gecad ePayment sold to Napster, and the last big transaction have been the selling of Avangate.
Ovidiu Mățan: Hello, Radu! You are one of the most famous entrepreneurs from Romania! Can you tell us, for the readers of Today Software Magazine, how it all started? Where did you start from?
Radu Georgescu: It is history; I started in 1992, I graduated from the faculty, sold my first programs, after which I started others, some of them failed.
The first applications were antiviruses?
I started by writing an application over Autcad/Autodesk; after that, I continued with other three products, all three have failed, the antivirus was sold to Microsoft. After that, I set up other companies, some of them failed, Gecad ePayments was sold to Napsters.
If we are talking about Gecad and the famous selling to Microsoft, can you tell us whether Microsoft was attracted by the technical aspect of the application or there was a marketing part towards them?
Microsoft was interested only in the technical aspect. Microsoft purchased the technology and the technical staff that came along with the technology.
The technical staff is still working for Microsoft?
Absolutely, only that not from Bucharest, but from Redmond. Practically, the company built the technology for Microsoft, and Microsoft made an offer to the respective people to move to Redmond and they have all moved there and are still there. They are the main part of the team that is developing the security for Microsoft today.
Related to the last Avangate success, can you tell us a few words about it? How long did it take to develop it?
The company started in 2006, seven years ago, growing by 70% each year.
Were the clients Romanian?
The company was multinational, with headquarters in the United States, offices in Romania, Holland, China, Russia and Cambodia.
The startups are becoming fashionable in Romania; how do you see their evolution in the future? Can we expect them to outgrow the outsourcing at a certain point?
I am also a vice-president of ANIS, and Andrei Pitis is the president, and together with him we have set a goal in persuading the outsourcing companies to also build within a small part of product. I think the outsourcing has the following problem: it is generally dependent on one or two clients, it is a cheap selling of minute-person, unscalable, while the product is exponentially scalable, independent of the provider. We are trying to develop this trend of migration from outsourcing towards product and I hope this thing will happen soon. We can already see it happening slowly. ANIS has even done a research which was released two weeks ago.
Which do you think will be the domains of interest, with a potential in the future?
I attended Robin"s presentation this morning, which was exceptional and there is a lot of truth in it. I don"t know, I am not a visionary, I cannot answer to this question.
Radu Georgescu: Now let me ask you a question. Why don"t you write your magazine in English?
Ovidiu Mățan: But it does come in English, too. Usually, the one in English comes out a month later.
Radu Georgescu: Excellent! Congratulations! A software magazine written in Romania! And do you also have readers abroad?
OM: Yes, but most of them are readers from Romania - a few thousands - and a few hundreds from abroad. The last part is technical and the first part is about events.
RG: It would be nice for you to turn it into an international magazine, such as TechCrunch and The Next Web. It would be awesome for you to do something like this!
OM: What is your opinion on Google Glasses and how will the technology progress in the future?
RG: I don"t know if Google Glasses will be the winner, but it is obvious that what the Americans call whearables will be in our lives. It may be the glasses from Google or from elsewhere, it may be the watches, or the shoes, or the phones or the headbands, I have no idea, but I strongly believe that something will be.
What do you think of the Romanian startups? There are hardly any successful startups.
Oh, yes, there are! There is Oxygen XML, which is the coolest XML editing tool in the world, an extraordinary business. Avangate didn"t seem spectacular, either … Why is it that all good companies are the ones established by Radu Georgescu and Florin Talpes?! There are so many thousands of extraordinary entrepreneurs. Let"s judge a company by what it is and not by the person behind it. Oxygen XML, without having any connection to it, is selling because it is very good, isn"t that spectacular enough? Could they have done an even better job and promote it? Yes, but that product is an extraordinary one.
Which is the ingredient that maybe the Romanian startups are lacking?
It is being built. Time is what"s lacking. Let"s find successful examples. People are building, people are failing; and we need to learn from the experience of my failures, of your failures, or those of other people and start to try more and more. The angel investment infrastructure is being built, the VC infrastructure is being built, there are events; everything is being built and in time will be. Think of MavenHut, Ubervu, Softpedia, think of Emi Gal. They are all successful examples.
Is there a recipe for success?
What I am trying to do together with Andrei is to persuade outsourcing companies, which are the ones that are capable of doing this, to build their own small products to takeover.
A piece of advice for the young people who wish to set a startup?
I do not give advice, I am not in the position to give advice. One cannot give general advice from some wise men.
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