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Issue 24

Techsylvania

Ovidiu Mățan
Founder @ Today Software Magazine
OTHERS

On the 2nd of June, I took part in Techsylvania, an event 100% dedicated to entrepreneurship. Such an event, which can be considered to target only a limited part of audience, from the point of view of the local industry, represented a premiere for Cluj.

The first part of this event was represented by a local hackaton, where the participants had the opportunity to develop applications for devices such as Google Glasses, Small printer, Onyx Beacons, Leap motion, Sphero, Sony Smartwatch 2, Pebble, Oculus VR, EyeTribe Tracker. The result of the 24 hours hackaton was spectacular in so far as innovation is concerned, beating many of the startups we have seen lately. We ask ourselves the question: why is it that such devices aren"t there permanently in a Cluj IT club? We, TSM magazine, have been trying for a while to create such a place, but the biggest challenge is finding the actual space where the club can carry out its activity. Of course, its complete achievement is only possible through the involvement of the companies in the domain, which showed their willingness.

Coming back to Techsylvania, it took place at Cluj Arena, the same place where IT Days also went on, so, it was a pleasure to see again this place, in a new organization formula. The event began with the presentation of the executive producers: Vlad Ciurca and Oana Petrus. The keynote presentation was delivered by HP Jin, CEO Telenav, which consisted in the story of success and of the importance of perseverance in everything we do. He started as a mere student in China, but he struggled to receive a scholarship in the USA, which was the first step in order for him to have the chance to create his own software company. He managed to obtain a scholarship in Standford, given the fact that they allotted only one scholarship for each study domain for the entire China. Here, he studied aeronautics and astronautics and it was also here where he came up with the idea for his company: navigation through GPS. Thus, the first application of GPS navigation on mobile phones was released. He raised money for the financing, and his way of getting money was a simple presentation, but he stated that personal relationships mattered foremost.

Bad luck followed Telenav during its period of growth. The day they decided to come to Europe for fund raising, the attacks of 9/11 took place. A day before launching their intention to register on the stock exchange, Google announced its free maps. The series of bad luck does not end here, as, on the day IPO roadshow started, Microsoft also announced the free maps. The Iceland volcano, which interrupted the flights for several days, erupted during a trip to Europe, for the promotion of the company before the registration on the stock exchange. Despite all these shackles, Telenav became a successful company which has recently purchased Skobbler. The dream of HP Jin is to lead Telenav from Top 100 to Top 10, and in his investments portfolio there are projects such as that of building a flying machine. The advice he gave to the participants was: God favours you because you are persistent.

Marcus Segal, former COO Casino Division at Zynga and entrepreneur, made an impression due to the multitude of domains he has worked in. He started from the music industry, as a VP in eMusic.com, a service of online sale of music albums at the beginning of 2000s. Being an utter novelty at the time, they faced the challenge of educating the users, who often did not understand why their shopping would not result in a material disc of the purchased album. Eventually, Napster appeared, which affected the sales, and the company was purchased by Universal. Marcus also gave some practical advice: belong to a community, do not search for pegacorns (pegas with a unicorn"s horn). We also mention the unique approach consisting in a legitimate question that should be addressed to a VC: is there anyone in your network who could help me?

Andy Peper, developer advocate at Twitter, presented an integration of Twitter and the Internet of things, such as monitoring the humidity of the soil where plants are growing and alerting the owner by a tweet the moment when watering is required. Of course, the Twitter API was also presented, with a few practical examples.

Josef Dunne, co-founder of Bebelverse, presented the Nemawashi concept, a procedure of taking a tree and re-planting it somewhere else. His journey in the world of startups is spectacular; he started with the idea of Bebelverse in a Startup Weekend in Greece, from where he moved to Chile for the Startup Chile program. Among other adventures, to a great extent caused by the lack of financing, he reached the podium of LeWeb, TheNextWeb and TechCrunch Disrupt. His dream of having no constraints in the development of Bebelverse, caused him to turn down a 2 million dollars financing at some point. His disruptive and humanitarian spirit materialized in a 24 hours hackaton after the tsunami moment in Japan, on the 11th of March 2011. The result was a very useful application for communicating with those in distress.

Voicu Oprean, CEO Arobs, presented the successful story of the company and ways of stimulation one"s employees to develop their own product ideas.

In the end, I would like to also mention Rohan Chandran, Head of Product and Global Services at Telenav, who presented the professional side of product developing. The success of a product is not a lottery, but an iterative cause-effect analysis according to which decisions are made.

It was a pleasure for us to take part in the first Techsylvania edition, which stood out in the entrepreneurship area of the local IT environment and we hope it will become a local tradition.

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