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Cluj Startups: 2021 Review

Cluj Startups: 2021 Review

In 2013 the first activities of Cluj Startups NGO took shape around the mission to support and facilitate the growth of the startup ecosystem. This was just the beginning as over the years people started to join the cause and make their own contribution to the startup scene. 

Fast forward almost 10 years (in 2022 we are 10 years old), and we have around 25 active members and collaborators, we’ve done over 13 meetups, we have over 100 partnerships, we’ve monitored over the years over 1000 startups in Romania, and we have almost 3400 members on the facebook group. 

In 2021 we continued our efforts of consolidating and focusing our activities in dedicated programs that we have built in the more recent years. 

 

So what have we done in 2021?

Cluj Startups Pre-accelerator

We managed to consolidate our learning efforts and resources into the first edition of our very own pre-accelerator program. The pre-accelerator is a 3 months intensive program, that took place between April and June. It is an applied business program for 30 startup founders organized to validate and generate new investable businesses.

Participants had access to resources like mentors, advisors, investors, books, articles, other programs and specialists.

Our main goal and focus was to validate the idea by building the startups’ foundation and pre-selling it from the first moment. We paid special attention to every startup’s validation step and focused on developing it to be investible by our investors’ network.

The program culminated with the Demo Day that took place on the 29th of June, where the founders could showcase their products and get valuable feedback.

We had 20 startups in the program this year and some of them  also pitched for investment at Transylvania Angels Network.


It was a great achievement and it wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Alin Pausan, who made the program come to life, together with the help and dedication of our team of members.

 

Transylvania Angels Network

Our angel investment network has grown a lot since 2018 when just a few local  investors from Cluj-Napoca, were interested. Fast forward two years and a half later, our group contributed with investments of approximately 2 million euro in startups from telemedicine to agritech. 

In 2021 we had 12 meetups, 29 startups pitched for investment, we’ve invested in 7 and we continued to collaborate with other investment groups. 

We had especially a very good collaboration this year with Fortech Investments, Growceanu and TechAngels for their collaboration with T.A.N. during this year. Check out more details in the dedicated article HERE.

 

Startup House (our club dedicated to founders)

The mission of this project is to help startups through connections and applicable educational programs that can help them expand their knowledge and grow their businesses.


This year we had 9 meetups with different startup topics, both business and technical. It marked the consolidation of the brand from the previous years and brought forward a lot of useful and applicable topics for anyone wanting to build a product from an idea, develop their product further and even for those founders that are seeking investment.

 

Upster Startup Conference

We had the second edition of Upster Startup Conference, between 17-18 November. The conference took place online, but also had pre-conference meetups, one on validation from a legal perspective at Techsylvania, and one focused on investment.

We managed to have over 160 participants this year, bringing the number of participants since the first edition over the 500 mark. 

We plan on developing and adapting the format, the topics even further in 2022, so stay tuned. In the meantime check-out our dedicated article where we share deeper insights into the conference, HERE.

 

Blockathon

In February we had an online hackathon focused on engaging bright minds from the blockchain and startup communities to contribute to the digitization of processes in the public sector. The hackathon took place between February 13th and 21st. We organized it in collaboration with Spherik Accelerator and it was made possible under the B-hub for Europe program.

 

Partnerships

This year we are happy to have started strongly with involvement in the working groups for the ROStartup initiative, started by RubikHub and supported by the World Bank Group. There we have brought forward the voices of the founders in our community, their needs, the problems that they face. Together with all the other organizations we managed to put together a white paper to go forward and push forward for the lawmakers. This was an important first step that made it clear that if we want our voices to be heard we need to get involved and not stay on the sidelines.

At the end of the year we took part in the co-design process that resulted in FixCluj. This initiative involved several local organizations, and wanted to put together a hybrid program dedicated to young people between the ages of 16 and 26 that have innovative ideas business or community oriented. The program aims to offer both a learning component to help guide these young minds along the way and also a financial aspect. Teams that get to the last stage of the program will get up to 50 000 EUR.

It was a plentiful year for partnerships both overall as an organization and for each of our projects. We aim for 2022 to continue the great partnerships and initiatives started now and make room for new ones both in Romania and outside. It is in our hands to shape the future of the ecosystem. AlliedForStartups, where we are also a member, and other initiatives are definitely something we want to be part of also in 2022.

 

What’s on for 2022?

We want to consolidate our projects and processes even further. We want to expand our partnerships and collaborations for each project and on organization level. The last months of 2021 were dedicated to a complex rebranding project that we aim to implement in 2022. This will affect everything we do and how we will do it moving forward, so stay tuned. 

Our efforts across all projects will be directed towards you, our community. We want to improve our programs to be able to offer more to you, our community.  We would like to have you on board this journey so that we can help and support each other.

As you can see we have a lot planned for 2022, but everything starts with the first step. This first step will be the official launch of our People of Cluj Startups project. This is how we aim to bring our team to the spotlight. All great projects and initiatives have a great dedicated, committed team behind them. That is why, before we start anything else we will begin with our members.  This way you know more about who we are and why we do the things that we do. Here’s a preview:

 

Cluj Startups team 2021

Calin Sipos,
President of Asociatia Cluj Startups