Are you a Romanian overseas and want to return home? Do you live outside Bucharest and are you willing to invest in your area? Have you ever thought to launch your own entrepreneurial business? If yes is the answer to any of these questions, we have good news: a new online platform, RO-WIN, manages e-learning entrepreneurial courses and also some funds to encourage young people to consider becoming entrepreneurs. For this particular matter, Business Review talked with Mihai Zant, managing partner Reviro, one of the co-founders of the project.
Why an online entrepreneurial platform?
An entrepreneurial platform is the best way to address systemically a large entrepreneurial public in diaspora, our main target with Ro-Win. We can both advertise efficiently and our subscribers can find all the resources in one place, follow the application process, do the specific trainings and participate in the pitching process.
Who is more precisely the team Ro-Win?
The Ro-Win team is a team formed by four entities: Reviro, EDUCATIVA, Impact Hub Bucharest and GEA. The main part of the team at this moment is formed by Reviro, an organization that targets Romanian students abroad that want to find jobs back in Romania. Reviro is a part of Educativa Group which through its programs helped thousands of students to attend Universities abroad. Impact Hub Bucharest has an incubation role and using its experience it is running the entrepreneurial course and subsequent assistance for the Ro-Win Project.
Ro-Win has the role to find Romanians in Diaspora, train more than 300 people in entrepreneurship, select 60 business plans as an output of the online course and award 36 of them with EUR 35,000 plus the needed assistance to incubate during the first 18 months as a start-up.
Who are the project’s ambassadors? How did you choose them?
Part of our team, there are also eight members living abroad and staying close to their communities in UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, that we like to call ambassadors. We have carefully selected the team at the beginning of the project to help us reach efficiently our target public. We looked for networking skills and a good understanding of the community. Also, we wanted to pick some ambassadors that could easily reach out to entrepreneurs in diaspora.
We also consider our ambassadors any Romanian who lived or is living abroad and opened a company in Romania. We are in touch with some of them and we care building a community around them.
How did you select the online courses – the eight themes?
The eight themes are: From idea to Start-up, Start-up First Steps, Operational Management, Marketing and Advertising, Financial Management, Team Management, Launching Strategy and Sustainability. We have chosen them considering our partners’ experience in assisting entrepreneurs on their start-up journey. We also consider they cover the most important subjects needed during building one’s business plan and before taking the challenge.
The Romanian entrepreneurial ecosystem
How would you describe the current entrepreneurial ecosystem in Romania?
From a tax perspective, the current entrepreneurial ecosystem is still competitive if we compare it to other EU Countries. Also, Romanian employees, even if in high demand, they are willing to go the extra mile and contribute to the growth of a company. Of course there are still a lot of things to fix related to predictability and fiscal environment but we expect a push from the private sector for this to happen faster and we stay confident in a growth on the private side.
You already did the selection of the participants. How many of them are from Romania? How many are overseas?
We have already over 1000 subscribers that have shown interest in our program. Of course there is a space between intention and doing it and that is the exact difference that makes someone with an idea an entrepreneur. We have over 100 complete applications and we expect this number to grow after our events in Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. There are more to come in Paris, Manchester, London, etc. Regardless of the events we have regular online sessions presenting the program and free industry webinars.
The subscribing period is opened until July 14 to allow everybody to complete their applications and finish the course. After the course, the selection will be made on September 15 based on the business plans issued after the free course.
If you are a Romanian from Diaspora, living there for more than a year you can subscribe on our website by filing a short form. This will allow you to find out more and access all our resources.
Are the ideas pitched more about services or products? How many of them have the online dimension (meaning online shop, services etc.)?
I would say more are in services and a lot of them have the online dimension as our subscribers may choose to stay in their adopting country but open a business in Romania and sell abroad.
Was it difficult to find participants?
Participants were reluctant at first but after transparently explaining the details they became more and more interested. Of course being realistic and sincere about what a program like this can do for you, helps a lot. If assisted well, Diaspora Start-up is a real opportunity for those decided to open a business in Romania.
What are the misunderstandings of entrepreneurship?
When you look at others you might think it is easy. I would say that depends strongly on the person making that decision, the WHY behind it and a realistic timing. So entrepreneurship is a hard but rewarding journey.