It is essential to seize occasion and to promote the mechanisms that turn a regular business into a progressive project aimed at developing the economic environment. My recent business strategy is such a project as I plan to reform and diversify the way I invest. Thus, alongside the other entities involved, I am trying to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that stimulates the current boom of Romanian startups.
How it started
I turned my attention to this area as an angel investor because I think that startups are reshaping the future of investment. This is best illustrated by an example of genuine local success: Vector Watch startup.
Vector Watch is an international technology company with offices in Silicon Valley, London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Bucharest. This startup founded in Bucharest launched two smartwatches: Meridian and Luna. It managed to reach major global markets at a record speed, in less than 2 years with a burst of innovative technology.
Vector Watch has received a financing round of € 5 million from Romania Catalyst Fund, some private investors and GECAD Group, Radu Georgescu being the main investor. He is the person through whom I took contact with this startup as a result of smart partnerships, grown over time. Additionally, permanent connection with the industry of startups from Silicon Valley, helped me to recognize the opportunity offered by Vector Watch. I began to put into practice all the knowledge gained through my brother’s experience who lives there and took part in an exit when the company to which he worked was bought by IBM.
Why Vector Watch
Because an objective analysis presents Vector Watch as a company with the potential to effectively absorb possible setbacks, such as the risks related to execution. Taking into consideration the bulk of advantages, I’d say that any possible external threat could be changed into an ambitious opportunity. This indicates a forecast with an upward vector.
- elegant design and battery autonomy of over 45 days
- constantly updated applications (Uber, Music, Nest, Evernote, stock market information, Facebook, etc) compatible with iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- an innovative operating system, ‘the ultimate system for wearables’ which is going to be accessible to other wearable devices manufacturers
- professional team of developers with international experience. Andrei Pitiş, President of ANIS Romania, prior angel investor in companies such as CleverTaxi is the CTO. CEO is Joe Santana, former CEO of Timex, with an experience of over 20 years, and also ex-Nike designer, Steve Jarvis. COO is Ron Spencer, former sales director at Bulova and Fossil.
Opportunities and goals:
- counting to sell hundreds of thousands of watches worldwide, aiming the second position in the global top of wearables, after devices from Apple, thus surpassing traditional brands
- branching the offices from Bay Area, U.S., then targeting markets such as: Russia, Bulgaria, Central Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary), and the Arabic area
- adapting the operating system to the language and cultural particularities of targeted areas
Obstacles and shortcomings:
- fortunately, market related risk factors are still harmless to Vector Watch. We cannot accurately predict how the wearables market will evolve (whether it will maintain or not the trend of being on a roll), but basically, things look good. In addition, Vector Watch has exceeded the critical point of any startup born and ‘raised’ in Romania: severe shortage of adequate financing and cash flow. I, as the business developer and investor – Octavian Patrascu, believe that this startup could become an ‘unicorn made in Ro’, worthing accordingly (we speak of dozens/ hundreds of millions) that is likely to be bought by a big company from outside.
The next step
My statement as a business developer, active angel investor (having the inside perspective) is that we need to reform the Romanian socio-economic and business landscape through individual actions, as follows:
- a proactive vision based on innovation and the promotion of strategies through which the technology and sustainable investments add value to society and support the talented young people
- investing in startups is key to shattering the tradition of a blocked and dormant entrepreneurial mechanism which encapsulates the social and cultural development
Therefore, I invest in startups not only because it is an excellent way to diversify my personal portfolio, but also because it is the solution to create the necessary infrastructure to develop successful startups such as Vector Watch. And such business models strengthen the communities of startups by creating the appropriate entities.
Thus, the necessary levers for a proper functioning of this market’s key segments are built: a boost of funding sources, implementation of fair regulatory frameworks, greater visibility through professional advertising. A a result, angel investors benefit now from a law that gives them identity and foster their approach regarding startup investments. Also, we create more and more tools to support young entrepreneurs: accelerators, incubators, hubs and advisory companies dedicated to startups.
Maybe this way, soon, some other ‘made in ro unicorns’ will appear and take Romania’s economy to the next level, internationally speaking.