I recently hit Bucharest in Romania to experience the rising star event of the Central and Eastern European scene, HowToWeb. This annual conference is doing an amazing job of bringing CEE entrepreneurs together, and Bucharest is gradually emerging as one of the key tech hubs in the region. The reason? It’s pretty simple – there is great engineering talent, plenty of it (there are 22 million Romanians) and it’s affordable. I could of course name any other number of cities that fit this profile – Kiev, Ljubljana, Sofia, Warsaw and more – but at the moment HowToWeb is bringing many startups and entrepreneurs in from the region to network and party, and mashing them up with international speakers such as Mark Randall of Adobe, Michael Breidenbruecker, founder of Last.fm and RjDj and Pablos Holman of Intellectual Ventures Lab.
While the CEE ecosystem remains young, and its entrepreneurs are still finding their feet, the key advantage is that in order to get anywhere they most thing global, since local markets are still developing. So while you will see many German startups still only focusing on Germany (why, not when there is a sophisticated and connected audience of over 90 million people) CEE startups have to think out of the European box, literally. And that’s why HowToWeb, founder by the ever enthusiastic Bogdan Iordache
, is in English, to give that ecosystem exposure.
At the event I met and interviews (see video) with VentureConnect, an initiative to maximize investors’ and entrepreneurs interaction and kick-start the scene there. They put on one-day events consisting of two sessions, with the first involving pre-selected entrepreneurs pitching before the attending investors, and the second creating one-on-one discussions.
At HowToWeb we saw pitches from the following companies as part of their Startup Challenge, pitched in front of 750 internet professionals. Worth checking out:
- Appscend (Romania)
- Betcafe (Greece)
- EasyLing (Hungary)
- Finderly (Austria)
- Fonii (Bulgaria)
- MobileCampaign.eu (Hungary)
- Nexi.me (Romania)
- Spotie (Croatia)
- SociaLook (Romania)
- Tripomatic (Czech Republic)