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.
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 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 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 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 […]
March 11, 2014

Cluj Innovation Labs hackathon outcomes

Entrepreneurs in Cluj have been under assault with startup events these weeks. March has been the host of Startup Weekend’ s 3rd local edition, followed this weekend by Innovation Labs. And next comes Cluj City Apps. Under hostile circumstances (Women’s Day, sunny weather, Saturday’s football game) Innovation Labs participants showed up and took the 24h challenge. Seventeen teams worked on their ideas overnight and 10 of them were selected to go to Innovation Labs’ next phase. Sunday all ideas were pitched on stage and three of them were distinguished for the competition’s focus themes. Team Plexis (Digital Life) is developing Clamber, a hobby-centered app that works like a personal assistant with complex social integration. KiLine (Big Data) is building a location-based marketing app created for personalized interactions between shops and their customers. Creators of Zeno (Internet of Things) are building a life- monitoring bracelet which ‘gives you Zen’ by helping users stay aware of their vital signs and limit stress levels.   Congratulations to all Innovation Labs participants! We’d like to see you go on with your work no matter what you might stumble upon in your future endeavors. Thanks to all mentors and joury members for joining the event and assisting the teams during the two busy days. For the following weeks, finalists will be attending seminars and workshops with tech and business professionals in order to prepare for the final competition along teams from Bucharest. Good luck and keep innovating!
April 1, 2014

Spherik Student 2014. Project overview

Spherik Student 2014 developed in partnership with Babes-Bolyai University and The Technical University of Cluj completed its first (pilot) edition. The program is meant to create opportunities for student teams preparing for international competitions. We are looking to support tech students who accept the challenge of various international competitions by offering them mentoring from both entrepreneurs and business people, as we believe that one day some of these students will turn into successful Romanian entrepreneurs themselves. This year Spherik Student guided six teams in Cluj-Napoca competing for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup global challenge. Four of them fully developed their applications and officially enrolled in the competition. Until now their ideas were kept secret, but after applying to Imagine Cup’s national phase, we can reveal their plans: SMT team is tackling the frail situation of people that suffered a stroke planning to ease their recovery.  Basing their solution on Microsoft Kinect, they are offering an application meant to guide patients through interactive exercises, designed to help improve speech abilities. “Our solution addresses this issue in a way that patients won’t see an image of themselves. Instead, they will be helping a virtual 3D character to achieve certain steps that contribute greatly towards recovery.” – Bogdan Mursa Scripterers are developing an online game for interactive storytelling that lets the user decide how the action will unfold. Basnu is a game for collaborative writers and narrative addicts.  “The game progresses by taking decisions and then completing a puzzle representative to that decision. Because the player decides what happens next, each gameplay will be a unique experience.” – Horia Ardelean         Team Plexis is creating a social app that connects people with same interests and hobbies. Clamber wishes to create momentum for various communities getting together in their free time. The 3 young entrepreneurs are Microsoft App Challenge […]
April 11, 2014

High school students made entrepreneurs for a week

One of Spherik’s missions is increasing the community’s receptivity to entrepreneurship and innovation. Besides our main program dedicated to early startups (more details to come soon), we are actively involved in similar initiatives, meant to educate and foster entrepreneurship. Transylvania College in Cluj is constantly offering its students alternatives to standard education. This March My Money Week, a financial and entrepreneurial program, rolled out its fourth edition involving all grades, from kids in kindergarten, to high school students. Catalina Amihaiesi, Programs Manager at Spherik, was invited to mentor the student teams participating in the Startup Competition — the main activity addressing high school students during My Money Week. This Startup edition was in connection to the global theme promoted by Child and Youth Finance International, a platform that last year engaged over one million young people from 80 countries. Last year Transylvania College won the Global Money Week Award for the best implemented financial and entrepreneurial education program. “Not only do we aim to educate children to be ready for the needs and challenges of the contemporary society, in which financial ‘literacy’ plays a decisive role, but we also want to encourage the young generation to share ideas, take a stand, and impact the future society at a global scale.” — Transylvania College Students signed up for the competition with various startup ideas, from event planning, media and advertising to orthodontics software solutions. They were trained by professionals during several mentoring sessions and finally pitched their ideas to a jury that picked out two winning projects and an honorary mention. The winners are Rares Rus and Bogdan Buduroiu, students in the 11th grade, followed by the younger Bogdan Ionescu from 10th grade. Rares designed a key holder that packs up just like a Swiss knife and managed to have a prototype ready, […]
May 12, 2014

Spherik Accelerator welcomes Techsylvania winners

We’re backing up the first edition of Techsylvania with free office space for the hackathon winners until the end of the year. The winning team will be granted with an individual office for 6 months to put together a business. Spherik Accelerator will provide the necessary facilities for building of a tech startup from scratch. The talented developers will have a 24 hours sprint to come up with applications for some cool tech devices (Google Glasses, Leap Motion, Pebble, Onyx Beacons, Oculus, EyeTribe Tracker, Intel Galileo Board – to name a few). The hackathon is focused on wearable and connected technologies, so we hope to see some cool projects emerging in Cluj. Special perks for the hackathon and conference:  25% discount for joining the hackathon using the SPHERIKHACK code  -30 Eur discount for the Techsylvania conference, Regular tickets, using the SPHERIKTECH code Fill in the promotional codes on the Eventbrite registration page and see you there!