#Top100Entrepreneurs: The story of the Romanian entrepreneur taking over startups across Europe

Newsroom 18/12/2018 | 12:02

AROBS is the IT company founded 20 years ago in Cluj-Napoca by Voicu Oprean. The company started with a team of 10 people and plans to reach 1,000 employees by 2020. Moreover, the Romanian firm is working with customers from across the globe and has started to acquire other companies abroad. Entrepreneur Voicu Oprean ranked 66th in Top 100 Entrepreneurs by Business Review and banii.net, having gained a total of 11 points. 

“20 years ago, I was 27 years old and had very little money. But I had my own PC, bought with the money I had earned in the US, as I had just returned to the country. Aside from this computer, I also had a lot of enthusiasm,” says Voicu.

With a degree in Computer Science from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, he knew early on that he wanted to be his own boss. Before creating AROBS, Voicu was a karate instructor at this own dojo.

In 1994, he opened a gym and built a small network, with two locations in Cluj-Napoca and one in Bucharest. Looking back, Voicu says that he worked on this project “with great pleasure.”

Then, he went to work in the US and returned to start a company that has been expanding constantly for the past two decades. And the first challenges appeared right away. The entrepreneur realized early on that “we had to launch our own product to really succeed.”

“Thus, 15 years ago, after three almost disastrous initiatives, we launched our first product – OptimallSFA, a solution for sales optimization. A few years later we launched TrackGPS, now the main solution in the telematics field in Romania and a huge success abroad,” explained Voicu.

Now, two decades later, AROBS provides software development and innovative IT solutions for customers in 14 countries in Western Europe, North America and Asia. Sectors such as automotive, life sciences, travel, and telematics represent strategic areas for the Romanian firm.

“Each new market, each new branch represented a new challenge for us. Thus, my advice for anyone starting a business is to go at full speed ahead once they find something that works, when things are happen the right way. Abandon the defensive attitude and focus on winning,” says Voicu.

From the 10 people crowded in an apartment in the company’s early days, AROBS has now reached 700 employees in Romania and in its international offices in Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Indonesia, Belgium and the Netherlands. For this year, the founder of AROBS expects a turnover of around EUR 30 million, up from approximately EUR 25 million in the previous year.

In terms of staff, Voicu says the plan is to reach 1,000 employees by 2020 and in terms of earnings the target is an EBITDA of EUR 11.6 million by 2020. This growth would also be supported by AROBS’ acquisition of other international players.

This year, AROBS ventured even more abroad, in the Benelux area, by taking over CoSo by Arobs B.V. and CoSo by Arobs BVBA in a deal worth EUR 1.3 million. The two companies have 10 employees. Voicu says that CoSo’s portfolio of products and services completes AROBS’ in the fields of fleet management and process automation, and also provides a competitive edge in the area of educational software. Asked whether he wants to list AROBS on the stock exchange, Voicu says this will always be an option, “but right now we are focusing on growing through our own resources.”

Right now, 60 percent of the company’s sales are made outside Romania and its biggest clients are in Germany, Finland, US, UK and France, just to name a few. The company owner says these are also the markets that will generate most of the future demand.

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