I’m just back from IT Days in Cluj-Napoca in Romania, where I had the pleasure of speaking. And I’m telling you, a shift is happening here, there is a tangible feeling of change in the air. This region is no longer happy to the world’s outsourcing destination. Now they want to play for real!
Cluj-Napoca is the second biggest city in Romania, and the leading tech city due to the big concentration of IT companies and the university. It’s the ancient capital of Transylvania but these days the young people are concerned about other things than garlic; they want to build businesses!
In a city of 300,000 inhabitants, around 40 tech startups have already emerged over the last year, and the community is growing fast. Lots of the cofounders are former developers for outsourcing companies who’ve got experience building software for Western companies.
This of course is bad news for Western European companies who rely heavily on cheap & talented development resources here. But for the locals, this is great news.
Why preferences are shifting
The shift seems to stem from both opportunity and necessity. One entrepreneur told me that the outsourcing opportunity felt like was nearing it’s end, perhaps not before 5 or 10 years but that other countries are getting the gigs as Romania becomes more expensive.
The local authorities are investing €70m in a creative and tech initiative. Formerly the custom has been to support big companies establishing offices here, but now the focus is shifting to helping small and medium sized companies. Nokia recently closed their office here, making hordes or people unemployed so it seems the authorities have changed their mind about big corp being the safe bet.
After my talk, which was about how to make the jump and how to get early traction, loads of eager, optimistic people came up to me to tell me with glaring eyes that “they too now were ready to take the jump and become entrepreneurs”
It would be an amazing development for this part of the world, with its talented engineers, to start producing its own global brand products. The spirit is certainly strong in this one!