February 27, 2014

Spherik student program status and learnings

In October 2013 Spherik Accelerator launched its program dedicated to student teams preparing for national and international competitions that focus on the commercialization of new and innovative technologies, in partnership with Babes-Bolyai University and The Technical University of Cluj. Six teams enrolled in Spherik Student’s first edition, four of them aiming to enter Microsoft’s Imagine Cup global challenge: Plexis (former Think IT), Team Zero, Scripterers and Smile Technology. During last year’s busy schedule, in November and December, teams had their first contact with mentors, received guidance for their projects and attended the User Centered Design workshop. This week, teams reached another milestone and presented their projects in front of experienced Imagine Cup veterans and former jury members of the competition, local entrepreneurs and young professionals. The training session tracked the 10 minutes pitches and proofs of concept in an attempt to prepare teams for the national finals. Mentors gave important advice on the pitches’ structure, solutions’ premises, presentation skills, design elements in an interactive pros & cons approach. Students received feedback from Tudor Vlad (Founder of KimSkim), Adrian Pop (Optima Group), Iulian Nitescu (Founder of GraphMasters), Ovidiu Pintea (Owner, Optima Group), Marius Mocian (Founder of Transylvania Innovation Ventures), Catalin Zima-Zegreanu (Lead Game Designer, Evozon Systems), Dan Koblicska (HR Manager Romania at Nspyre), Sergiu Damian (Co-founder and contributor in the Romanian Association for Better Software) and Simona Motogna (Vice-dean Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science Babes-Bolyai University). Some of the given advice is noteworthy for any startup looking to secure its grounds: Remember the worst questions you had to answer about your startup and anticipate uncomfortable ones. Bring evidence to your arguments. Real facts & figures trump assumptions. Find respected sources to back up your ideas – everyone looks up to authority. Having a designer in your team is a game changer […]
February 24, 2014

Cluj Innovation Labs tech guests and leaders

Entrepreneurs, business leaders, tech angels, media professionals and startup owners are joining the first edition of Innovation Days  in Cluj. The 10 week program dedicated to young entrepreneurs begins with a startup building marathon, continues with weekly meetings and workshops and ends with teams competing in Bucharest, during a Demo Day finale. The program starts with individuals and teams presenting their ideas in front of a group of professionals highly exposed to the tech industry for feedback and evaluation. This will take place in a kick off event at Liberty Technology Park during the 8th and 9th of March. Some of the confirmed guests are Dan Suciu (Director of Engineering at 3Pillar Global), Vlad Ciurca & Oana Petrus (Startup Weekend Cluj),  Istvan Hoka (CTO ZenCash), Mircea Patachi (Perl Department Manager, Evozon Systems) and Florin Muresan (CEO Squirrly). During the opening event, participants will be assisted in designing their solutions and presenting them to the jury. Oltea Zambori and Cristina Putan from PR Beta Timisoara will support teams in creating a stunning speech, while Andrei Pastuhov’s expertise in branding and interfaces will help build their vision. During further weekly meetings, experienced professionals will be tackling critical subjects like business models, product vision and lifecycle, sales and pitching. Andrei Pitis (President at ANIS), Cosmin Mihaiu (CEO MIRA Rehab), Florin Somodi (President at JCI Cluj), Iulian Nitescu (Founder at Graphmasters) are some of the Innovation Labs’ trainers. Because pitches are such a high stake for startups, we thought of preparing them furthermore. Before going to Bucharest to present their solutions, teams will rehearse their pitches in front of Cluj International School students and will receive mentors’ feedback. Innovation Labs is truly a premiere for Romania. Such a long-term effort is meant to help teams fully develop their ideas and projects and prepare them […]
February 20, 2014

Spherik Student interviews: Think IT, winner of Microsoft App Challenge

In our times, people gained an extraordinary independence in terms of being remote, working abroad or travelling. For many, going together to the cinema and sitting next to each other often can’t be done. The next best thing when being in different locations is watching home movies in sync. This modern times issue has been tackled by one of the teams enrolled in Spherik Student program. In November 2013 Think IT team – Alexandru Coman, Adrian Mateoaea and Paul Cîrstean – developed Remote Cinema during Microsoft App Challenge. Remote Cinema was selected out of 70 apps developed during the hackathon, came in the first place in Cluj and won the national competition. Spherik Student is overlooking Think IT’s progress. This is where they are now: How did you come across the idea behind Remote Cinema? A while ago we were trying to watch some video materials over Skype for one of our projects. The experience was really annoying, because the video wasn’t synchronized and we couldn’t talk about it in ‘real time’. After a few frustrating attempts to watch videos over Skype we thought it would be really cool to have an app that synchronizes a video on multiple devices. Because we couldn’t find a solution that fit our needs, we decided to build one. What is the most useful feedback from users since you launched in Windows store? Before we launched the app, the solution that we developed was tailored for our needs, so our vision for Remote Cinema was really focused and also narrow. After people started using it, we realized from their feedback that there are so many interesting scenarios in which our application can be useful. This was really useful because we discovered all this new ways in which we could improve our solution. You’ve launched an […]
February 12, 2014

Innovation Labs 2.0 cimes to Cluj-Napoca

At its 2nd edition, Innovation Labs is a two months program designed to take a team from the early stage of idea discovery through the point where they’re ready to enter a full-time seed Accelerator program. During this time teams will go through a series of workshops and coaching sessions on a weekly basis, covering key aspects of business creation. This year, Innovation Labs 2.0 targets both Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca. Spherik is in charge with deploying the program in Cluj, from organizing the local hackathon and workshops, to communication. The program is looking for students and young professionals having different backgrounds — not only tech oriented, and not necessarily having a defined idea to advocate. The pre-accelerator is looking for candidates:                  ✏ having a startup idea of their own, or are interested to be part of a team                  ✏ students or graduates in Computer Science, Mathematics, Design, Architecture, MarComm, Business                  ✏ young professionals / freelancers / individuals looking for co-founders                  ✏ established teams working on new ideas The program launches with a 24 hours hackathon (taking place at Liberty Technology Park), continues with weekly workshops and seminars (business models, product life cycle, branding, pitch presentations) and ends with a Demo Day in mid May (in Bucharest). Registrations are open until the 5th of March. If you are hesitant and there is more you want to know before signing up, ask away in the comments. Good luck!
February 11, 2014

The zero moment of a start-up

The beginning is the hardest part of any process. Just having a plan, drawing and projecting it are rewards in themselves. Procrastination may go on for years. For some, it all remains only a “what if?” scenario. Not making a move keeps us away from hazard. To break this numbness, a fight must be fought. Even our brain plays tricks on us and makes mere anticipation pleasurable. Sometimes people prefer just to dream. But there are some who break through. What drives humanity forward are people that overcome the fear of acting out, people who jump without knowing how deep the water is. Passing this block takes courage. Startups take courage. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”— Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer The “decision to act” is truly the whole stake. Once you decide, things will fall together one way or another. It’s like getting on a bus – once you get in , you start travelling. The zero moment of a startup is not the idea. It’s the decision to go on with it and bring it to the world.  People who do this are this industry’s heroes. This blog is dedicated to them.