The pizza app days are long gone. Now, the maturing Romanian startup ecosystem is all about wearables, the Internet of Things, medicine and gaming.
The number of Romanian early-stage tech businesses dreaming big has doubled in the past three years and, despite the fact that 90% of the country’s IT sector is still focused on providing outsourcing services to foreign companies, founding a startup has become increasingly attractive for both young tech professionals and senior developers.
Romania’s most precious asset is its tech talent pool, and it’s still somewhat easier to find and hire a skilled developer here in comparison to London or Berlin.
However, funding is insufficient and successful startups tend to move their management and sales teams to the UK or US to have a better chance at raising growth capital.
These are some Romanian startups to keep an eye on:
1) Vector Watch
A potential game-changer in the wearables industry, Vector Watch has created a 30-day battery life smartwatch. It’s a stylish piece of tech that values simplicity. It’s meant to help make time for “what truly matters” and not crowd your life with unnecessary apps and widgets. Manufactured from stainless steel for a premium look, Vector has two collections, Luna and Meridian.
Last year, Vector launched in the US, UK, Switzerland and Romania. In 2016 they plan to focus on further developing the product and on growing their business throughout Europe, the US, Asia, and Australia. The startup has offices in London, Silicon Valley, Hong Kong and Bucharest. The engineering team is based in Romania, while marketing, sales and management are located abroad.
The startup was founded by Andrei Pitis (CTO) together with Irina Alexandru and Dan Tudose. The CEO is Joe Santana, former head of Timex, while Steve Jarvis is in charge of design and Ron Spencer is the COO.
In November of last year Vector Watch raised $5 million, led by Bucharest-based GECAD Group.
Plugin your webcam: it’s time to turn yourself into the Gingerbread man, a red panda, a fearless commander or an anime character. FaceRig allows you to embody a digital avatar your friends will see, tracking your face expressions in real time.
FaceRig is the work of Romanian startup Holotech Studios, an indie developer focused on providing affordable solutions for creating digital characters in real time through image-based tracking. Their Steam-based app has reached 250,000 buyers, an impressive number for an indie software product.
“In 2016 we will continue to focus on improving the quality of our tracking sensors and to add support for a wider variety of them, instead of relying on just webcams,” Dragos-Florin Stanculescu, co-founder of Holotech Studios, told tech.eu. “We will also bring more licensed avatar content onto the platform and launch FaceRig Studio Beta, a professional tool for animation artists.”
The startup is also currently studying the possibility of adapting its solution to mobile platforms and to bring their technology to VR.
This mobile app detects suspicious moles on people’s skin, suggesting a doctor visit or not depending on each case. The company claims the accuracy of their system is 81%, the same as a dermatologist’s eyes.
SkinVision was founded in Romania, yet the company moved to Amsterdam in 2012 following an investment round. They’ve raised about €4.5 million in five years and are involved in several research and data-gathering projects. They’ve also worked closely with the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, a partnership that resulted in a paper published in the European Journal of Dermatology.
In 2016 the team plans to further expand their products and to narrow the gap between patients and dermatologists, co-founder Mircea Popa told us.
4) MIRA Rehab
Physical therapy can be fun and engaging. MIRA Rehab aims to motivate patients by transforming traditional exercises into video games. This helps ensure a faster, easier and more optimistic recovery. The software has been CE-certified as a medical device and it’s being used with patients of all ages.
Founded in 2012 by four Romanian computer software students, the startup has its headquarters in London while part of the team remains in Cluj-Napoca. Last year they set up an NGO in Romania called “Un Zambet cu MIRA” (A Smile with MIRA) to help children with disabilities who come from families unable to finance the treatment.
MIRA Rehab has raised over €1 million in capital. They have worked closely with both the University of Manchester and the Romanian “Babes-Bolyai” University. The current product, MIRA Clinic, is being used in over 16 institutions across Europe, North America and Asia.
In 2016 they’ll launch the next version of their product, which will allow remote monitoring and treatment prescription. The company also expects to start a series of clinical trials in Romania and to obtain the approval of the FDA, in order to make their software available in the US market.
Axosuits is a startup focused on creating affordable exoskeletons that people with disabilities can use to have a normal life. The company has yet to commercially launch their product, but they expect to do so in 2016. “The validation of the business idea was done on both sides of the Atlantic by key med-tech professionals,” co-founder Kapy Hirte said. “Tests conducted in 2015 proved our hypothesis and now we’re ready to launch it.”
The startup was founded in 2013 by Kapy and Dorin Hirte. In 2014 they closed an angel round that enabled them to work full time on the project and expand the team with IT and medical professionals.
6) Clepsisoft CyberFog
Ethical hackers at Clepsisoft CyberFog help protect an organization by creating thousands of fake computers and services, thus helping in the hiding of the actual equipment.
A targeted attack is less likely to disturb a real computer, as it’s difficult for the criminal to identify which machines are authentic and which are fake. The probability to hit the real equipment is next to zero. When one of the thousand fake computers is under attack, it sends a warning signal to the others and the aggression can be stopped at an early stage.
The startup’s co-founders, Mihai Raneti (CEO), Claudia Dehelean (COO) and Adina Brutaru (CCO), are Romanians, while the CTO, Kacper Gogol, is Polish. They have offices in both Ploiesti (Romania) and (Wroclaw) Poland.
In 2016 they plan to further develop their product, expand their team and set up an office in the UK or Switzerland.
Ever wanted to adjust the temperature of your home while you’re at the office? Or to turn on the washing machine? DeviceHub helps you monitor and remotely control your house. They also have projects in areas such as public transportation, medicine, industry and agriculture.
DeviceHub’s platform can accommodate different types of sensors and welcomes both business and home users, providing connectivity, interaction and data storage services for a wide range of smart devices.
The company currently has several enterprise clients and a community of over 3,000 active developers, and it’s exploring the possibility of launching similar projects in areas such as public transportation, medicine, manufacturing and agriculture.
The Timisoara-based startup provides web forms and surveys for different companies and NGOs worldwide. Founded by Florin Cornianu (CEO) and Tudor Bastea (CTO), the startup has raised €1 million from 3TS Catalyst Romania, the leading private equity growth and venture capital fund dedicated to Romania.
In 2016 it will focus on expanding into additional markets, developing new products, growing its team, finding new ways to connect with audiences and building new business partnerships.
Ever wanted to learn martial arts but lacked the time to step on a gym’s tatami? The guys at Jaboo have developed a strap that connects you to your phone and acts as your personal sensei.
“We’ve developed a technology that can analyze hands’ movements, and we’ve also built a working prototype and assembled a team that can build the mobile app,” Camil Moldoveanu, co-founder of Jaboo explains. “The future is about building wearables that improve athlete’s skills in every sport,” he added.
In 2016 he also hopes to see this technology used by people who want to learn self-defense.
“In the first half of the year we will build the app and test it. We also plan to start our pre-order campaign,” he said. “Hopefully, by the end of 2016, we will be able to ship the first batch of products. We’re also looking to find a good partner as investor.”
10) KillHouse Games
This startup creates military-themed games with strong gameplay and “respect for the player’s time, money and opinions,” Dan Dimitrescu, co-founder, told tech.eu. The other two co-founders are Mihai Gosa and Catalin Saitan.
Their first game, Door Kickers, was funded via crowdfunding. “Having sold over 200,000 copies of the game and grossed over $2 million, we have our immediate financing needs covered,” Gosa said. To follow on their previous success, KillHouse recently announced Door Kickers 2. The team is also upgrading their technology to include 3D environments and characters.
Traderion does for junior institutional traders and students in finance what a flight simulator does for wannabe fighter pilots.
“We combine an advanced simulator and extensive data to help banks recruit the best junior traders and further develop their skills,” Florin Grosu, COO of Traderion, told tech.eu. Their platform uses real-life scenarios and artificial intelligence to create the high-pressure environment traders tolerate.
“Traderion helps banks reduce the cost of every bad hire by making up to 90% more accurate hiring decisions and by reducing the time spent on training junior traders before they are allowed to trade with real money,” Grosu said.
The startup is currently negotiating pilot projects with three of the largest banks in the world and plans to open offices in New York and Hong Kong.
Featured image credit: Razvan Ionut Dragomirescu / Shutterstock