How was this year’s kick-off for the Romanian startup ecosystem

Although 2021 just started, the Romanian startup ecosystem has been rocking the scene ambitiously. Through our monitoring, in the last two months, we gathered several exciting updates related to the startup world and its activities.

With the aim to keep interested people informed about the ecosystem, we created this report, where we listed the most relevant news related to startups, investments and accelerators.

  Startup Exits and Breakthrough News  

On this chapter we had some amazing news so far!
  1. US company Mocha Global has acquired, in a $3M valued transaction, the Bucharest-based T-Me Studios, a company specialized in developing mobile apps for Android (link).
  2. Miniclip, a world leader in mobile gaming, announced in the end of February a strategic investment through which it has become the majority shareholder in Green Horse Games (link).
  3. Algolia, the leading Search-as-a-Service company, acquired machine learning startup MorphL with aim to help power Algolia’s new API-based ML models which enables developers and marketers to predict users’ intent, personalize online experiences, and create highly-targeted offers. (link)
  4. ThoughtWorks, a US-based software consulting company acquired Gemini Solutions, a software development and consulting services firm, founded in 2005 and having offices in Bucharest, Cluj and Iași (details here).
  5. ELGD digital currency, launched by Elrond, broke the threshold of €3B in January. In just 24 hours, the market value of this currency has risen by about $1B, according to (link).

Financing and Venture Capital Investments

Two months = ~ €8.2M invested in Romanian startups
  1. Druid, a startup specialized in developing intelligent virtual assistants (chatbots) for Enterprise organizations, has raised $2.5M through a Series A financing round led by GapMinder VC with an investment of $2.2M, and completed by EGV and private investors (link).
  2. iFactor, a Romanian fintech that aims to democratize SME lending, has raised close to  €700K in an equity crowdfunding campaign on the London-based equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs with the Romanian venture capital fund ROCA X leading the financing round with an undisclosed investment (link).
  3. Finqware, an open banking platform, received €500K seed financing  from Elevator Ventures corporate investment arm of Raiffeisen Bank), GapMinder and a group of angel investors, all former supporters of Finqware (link).
  4. Questo, a platform for city exploration games, has attracted funding worth $1.5M in an investment round led by Early Game Ventures with Sparking Capital‘s participation. The new investment is set to help the startup’s growth and expansion globally (link).
  5. Hyperhuman, a startup that allows trainers to create studio-quality video workouts in minutes by removing the complex process of video production and editing, raised €500K to build a digital publishing and content monetization platform for the fitness industry. The round of investment was led by EGV and joined by Sparking Capital and Simple Capital (link).
  6. ROCA X announced it invested €150K in the local startup Benefito Mobile, a startup that will launch a prepaid card that will reward users when they will purchase products and services from partner companies (link).
  7. In the first two months of 2021, Seedblink has listed 7 startups from various sectors out of which 6 already managed to complete the investment campaign: Plant an App (IT) – €720K, Oveit (e-commerce) – €500K, Benefito Mobile (telecom) – €300K, Comarket (HoReCa) – €240K, Recomedica (healthtech) – €302,5K and Milluu (real estate) – €884K.
  8., a startup that developed the online platform with the same name that helps parents find and rent nannies, managed to attract an investment of €30K from the group of investors Growceanu and from Dragoş Nicolaescu (link).
  9. Two entrepreneurs, Ioana Burcea şi Andrei Sota, have invested €30K in Edesia, a marketplace that digitalizes how restaurant owners purchase raw materials from suppliers (link).
  10. German startup, Luminovo announced that after two major investment funds that financed the business, 8 business angels co-invested as well, including Daniel Dines, founder and CEO of UiPath (link).
  11. 2Performant recorded RON 1.75M transactions on the BVB Stock Exchange, the second-highest turnover since the listing so far (link). Also, FireByte Games, a startup that specializes in developing video games for mobile devices, plans to draw money from investors and list its shares on the Bucharest Stock Exchange’s AeRO market in the following weeks (link).

New Venture Capital Funds Launched

New venture capital funding available
  1. LAUNCHub Ventures (Bulgarian fund which also invested in ~10 Romanian companies) announced first closing for its new fund at €44M, which they plan on investing in 25 Eastern European startups that are in the B2B SaaS, fintech, proptech, big data, AI, marketplaces, digital health, web 3.0, and blockchain sectors (link).
  2. Earlybird Digital East Fund, a fund associated with Germany’s Earlybird VC, but operating separately has launched a €200M successor fund. The fund’s focus will remain the same as before: a seed and Series-A fund focusing on countries stretching from the Baltics to Central and Eastern Europe, and Turkey (link).

⚡ Acceleration Programs ⚡ 

  1. At the end of January 2021, the teams accepted in the third cohort of Commons Accel, a 3-month acceleration program, started the mentoring sessions and workshops. The program accepted startups from mainly the following 3 areas: Education and Innovation, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Responsible Businesses (link).
  2. Innovation Labs 2021 the program focused on student-led startup ideas will have the kick-off hackathons in Bucharest, Cluj, Iași, Sibiu, and Timișoara at the beginning of March, followed by two months of workshops and mentoring for the selected teams.
  3. Blockathon, a hackathon focused on blockchain organized by Spherik Accelerator, with support from B-Hub, Activize and Cluj Startups took place and the selected teams needed to find solutions that can contribute to the digitization of public sector processes through blockchain technology.
  4. #NEXTFinTech DEMO DAY,a program by Techcelerator, took place after 3 months in which 11 selected startups received mentorship. At the demo day the startups pitched their products and presented their achievements in front of an international & local jury of investors. 
  5. Cluj Startups launched a Pre-Accelerator program which has a 3 months of  intensive curriculum for 30+ future startup founders. The main goal is to validate their startup ideas and support them in prototyping and pre-seed investment later on.
  6. Make IT in Oradea launched at the end of last year a pre-acceleration program called Bright Labs Incubator, which has an annual budget of €300K, that will go to finance projects that have the potential to turn into a business.
  7. The third edition of the Innovators for Children program opened the registration for innovative projects and solutions, dedicated to increasing the quality of life of children in Romania. At this year’s edition, Impact Hub Basel and the Botnar Foundation will support startup projects, and the Vodafone Romania Foundation joins the program with funding of €72K to support the participation of the NGO sector (link).
  8. EIT Health launched the Wild Card program for the fourth time, intending to find healthcare startups that are developing innovative solutions in two medical areas: eye and vision care and pain management. At the end of the competition, two teams will receive up to €1.5M in funding.
  9. Upcelerator, a 4-month accelerator program, opened its call for early-stage startups. The applicants of the program receive mentoring, the opportunity to network, and a $10K equity investment.
  10. Founder Institute Romania and Founder Institute Bulgaria join forces to run an online pre-seed accelerator program for early-stage entrepreneurs from Eastern Europe. The program is 3,5-month-long and they help the founders to build the beginnings of team, product, traction and prepare for fundraising.

Other ecosystem news 

  1. RoStartup strategy project continued with almost 20 workshops engaging 100+ participants with various roles in the startup ecosystem, with aim to find a set of measures for ecosystemic growth. The project is led by the World Bank and Rubik Hub and has the purpose of creating a strategy for innovative entrepreneurship which to be implemented by the Romanian government.
  2. Impact Hub Bucharest has been selected as EIT Food Hub for the period 2021-2023, with a role to implement a plan of innovation- support activities as part of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (link).
  3. Activize, in partnership with FreshBlood, revealed a preview of the investments done in 2020 in healthtech startups and the Healthtech Map, which contains around 60 Romanian startups active in the healthtech sector. They are working on creating a Romanian Healthtech Report, which is expected to be published in spring this year.
  4. The platform, launched last year by entrepreneurs Sergiu Biriş and Andrei Dunca, became available to the general public and can host events with several thousand participants, such as conferences, workshops, webinars, concerts, or courses. For 2021, they plan to continue developing the platform and increase the degree of notoriety in the US (link).
  5. Iceberg announced a partnership with Orange and the Brasov Metropolitan Agency, which will bring the support program for startups, Orange Fab, closer to Brasov innovators, focused on areas relevant to the region: tourism, industry 4.0, mobility, and cybersecurity (link).

That’s if for now! The spring is projecting itself quite activized, with high energy and enthusiasm, so let’s see what will it bring for us

This article is based on the weekly monitoring reports containing each 20 to 30 news of interest about the startup ecosystem and venture capital in Romania, so if you are interested to find our more about it check our new Startup Ecosystem Radar project

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