Endeavor Wrap Up – 2023 Year In Review

It’s already been a year since we were last taking a look at the upcoming trends in technology and the people who make them possible. The activity of Romanian startups has been reflected in our priorities and growth journey as well, and we’re happy to report a full, long year of positive trends.

DRUID AI, the  Endeavor Entrepreneurs secured a $30M Series B Round With Participation From Endeavor Catalyst

DRUID AI has raised a successful Series B, and we couldn’t be prouder of their journey. AI is one of the most promising verticals, and its development shows a certain maturing of the Romanian ecosystem, one that we are happy to support and try to be a part of. Along with FintechOS in 2021, DRUID has become the second investee of Endeavor Catalyst in Romania.

We witnessed a springboard of local growth outside of Bucharest

Although the capital is unsurprisingly our biggest tech hub, Romania’s growth is starting to take consistent shape in other tech enclaves all over the country. Local communities have put cities like Iași, Timișoara and Oradea on the map for innovation in 2023.

Supported by local initiatives and made possible by the increased external capital infusion over the last years, these emergent markets are starting to detach from the corporate environment and to nurture vibrant networks of their own. From the number of startups to the different industries they tackle and the complexity of the business cases they build, local communities have become an increasingly powerful engine of growth, one that has the potential to snowball into global expansion in the upcoming years.

Timișoara has become more vibrant and energetic, and the Prow Conference – a product growth event with over 20 speakers and 500+ attendees is definitely a testament to that. We were happy to participate and support the local community. Speaking of impressive local communities, Oradea was definitely on the list in 2023 – with both Creatopy and Siena AI raising $10M, respectively $4.7M.

Since this expansion of innovation is such a relevant growth indicator, in July we partnered up with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Techsylvania, the leading technology conference in Eastern Europe. One of the main drivers of innovation is our capacity to identify the right partners that are aligned in mission and values, and we are excited to discover new voices in the ecosystem alongside industry experts.

We celebrated local success

Digitail closed the first Series A of 2023 in Romania with the goal to become the market share leader of the veterinary cloud practice management system market. Ruxandra Pui, the co-founder of Digitail, shared some of the opportunities and challenges of scaling to the US, saying it looks more like a marathon than a sprint. Defining success as continuous learning and growth and making a real impact in people’s life, Ruxandra’s problem solving mentality fit her co-founder status like a glove. To all entrepreneurs looking to scale, her advice is to understand the market, from the ideal customer to the existing competitors and the culture and business style of your target market.

Since the number of Romanian women in tech is steadily increasing, we took the chance to talk to some of these successful women entrepreneurs about their leadership styles and lessons. We believe in hands-on insights drawn from personal experience and their power to shape up the new generation of entrepreneurs, so we talked to 5 wonderful ladies: Cori Grămescu, founder and CEO of Crave Bespoke Nutrition, Mirela Mus, Founder & CPO at Product People, and Simona Gemeneanu, Co-Founder at Morphosis Capital, Sorina Vlasceanu, Co-Founder at Veridion, and Xenia Muntean, Co-Founder and CEO at Planable.

We gathered insights from global builders

Each emerging market out there has its own particularities, but scarcity of resources and having to make the most of one’s network are two commonalities that we’ve seen mentioned often.

Beatrice Cord is the Head of Global Partnerships and Business Development for Endeavor Global. Circular entrepreneur and multidisciplinary strategist, she talked to us about her experience in rethinking regional potential and advancing the multiplier effect. While individual success isn’t impossible to achieve, she confirmed that it is definitely a much easier ride with access to a like minded community. Knowing from our own Endeavor mapping that about half of the unicorn founders have previous experience in a startup or a scaleup, Beatrice underlines the importance of Endeavor helping bridge the gap not just in terms of know-how, but also when it comes to inspiration and insights.

Stefan and Martin Florea, identical twins born to a Czech mother and a Romanian father who grew up in Germany, shared with us the adventurous journey that led them to the creation of VALOREO, a start-up company that acquires merchants, their expansion to LatAm and their successful exit to Razor Group. From having a self-starter mentality that is accentuated by being the children of immigrants to not giving up, their journey shows the real potential of straying from the beaten path.

Because building relevant communities is as tough as building successful products, among the voices that we found discerning and close to our mission, Panagiotis Karampinis, the Managing Director of Endeavor Greece, has talked to us about what it is like to create a movement from scratch and how we, at Endeavor Romania, can make the region a focal point for global investors.

We have only been in Romania for a little over two years, and it’s already been a journey filled with a surprising amount of support from everyone around us, for which we’re immensely grateful. For our anniversary, we had the privilege to host a series of events, from fireside chats to business breakfasts, where we invited some of our most prominent voices to join Romanian entrepreneurs in finding scaling opportunities and sharing experiences.

In-between the panels he was a part of in his first visit to Romania, we interviewed Allen Taylor, the Managing Partner of Endeavor Catalyst, a co-investment vehicle designed to support Endeavor Entrepreneurs with their equity financing rounds. Born in LatAm and having spread throughout the globe for the past 25 years, we found out that Endeavor Catalyst is starting to see real potential shaping up in the CEE in terms of the maturing of the startup ecosystem.

But the transition from an emerging market to a developed market is not only about building a multi-generational startup culture, and creating a framework for the democratization of tech. It’s also about taking it step by step, and trying to draw observations from other successful businesses from emerging markets that managed to navigate hypergrowth.

One such example is Melvyn Lubega, Endeavor Entrepreneur since 2017, and Board Member of Endeavor South Africa, who successfully took Go1, the learning & development ecosystem, to over $3B valuation. In his interview, he underlined the importance of finding the right balance between innovating constantly and staying true to your core business and consolidating your purpose on the market.

At the beginning of 2023, we kicked off our series of community events, bringing together over 75 high-impact entrepreneurs. Our events featured compelling business content and provided outstanding networking opportunities. We extend our gratitude to our special guests- Adrian Tanase, Alina Stavaru, Ana Cinca, Costin Taracila, Cristian Ignat, Dan Lupu, Diana Miron, Emanuel Matronca, Mihai Ristici, and Vargha Moayed—who played pivotal roles in making our events truly remarkable.

Excited for 2024!

Despite the increasing number of early-stage ventures, only a fraction of Romanian startups get to series A or beyond. Our mission at Endeavor Romania is to find those businesses that have reached or are close to a major inflection point in their growth journey and to support them with the knowledge, the network and the funding to reach their goals. We are going to continue our Business Breakfast Series, helping to elevate Romanian startups with true scaling potential, and we’re beyond excited for what’s next.