Entrepreneurship program Future Makers, designed for young people aged 20-29 who want to learn how to start a business, kicked off on February 8 in Bucharest.

Throughout its duration, the program will train 1,500 young people from 13 counties in Romania and select 50 business ideas that will move to the incubation phase. A specialised jury will pick the winners who will receive cash prizes of EUR 20,000. The program is designed and implemented by the Global Shapers Bucharest Hub, part of the youth organisation of the World Economic Forum and Social Innovation Solutions and supported by The Coca Cola Foundation.

The launch event included a panel where the speakers highlighted the challenges and opportunities of starting a business in Romania as a young entrepreneur and gave advice on several key elements to take into account when implementing a business idea. The panel included Nicoleta Eftimiu (General Manager Coca-Cola Romania), Sorin Mindrutescu (Country Manager Oracle Romania), Irina Anghel Enescu (Young Global Leader at World Economic Forum) and Ioan Iacob (CEO Qualitance).

Entrepreneurship is not a profession

“We are active in several areas. Youth education is important to us as well as the environment, as well as other topics. In what regards entrepreneurship, Coca Cola chose to get involved because innovation and openness to change are two values that are important for us” Nicoleta Eftimiu, GM Coca-Cola Romania said.

“For me entrepreneurship is not a profession. If you ask my son Andrei, he will say his favourite job is entrepreneur. If you ask him why, he will say ‘because I am my own boss.’ But what I believe is that entrepreneurship is a mindset. He or she is not someone who has a business but someone who has the spirit. You can be employed but at the same time you are an entrepreneur if you are curious and are not afraid to make mistakes. So this is what I tell everyone, to find this entrepreneurial spirit. I believe the country needs a lot of young people who have this spirit.”

No need that can sell by itself 

“How easy is the access to AI? The world we live in now has no connection to the world I lived in and technology is shaping everything. The access to AI is almost instantaneous. There are technologies that have made access to the market for new companies very easy, such as the cloud technology. New technologies are changing the world. What is Uber, a technology company or a transport company? Co-working makes billionaires in technology by it is essentially a real estate business. You are global citizens, go for it!,” Sorin Mindrutescu, Country Manager Oracle Romania, told the packed audience.

“There is no need that can sell by itself,” he cautioned, highlighting that those who want to bring a business idea to life must look at what the market needs. “Life is tough and you must understand that you need to strike a balance. Bring alongside the idealism a certain level of pragmatism. Indeed, when you do not have big needs, you find other resorts within your personality,” he added.

In Romania there is a lot of space to create 

“When you look at entrepreneurs from Romania and elsewhere what sets them apart and what could be bring here? It is daunting to talk about the future given that the future is already shaped for the most part except that it is not evenly distributed. When I got back to Romania in 2010 I had in mind to do my best to help even that out. Each place has its own possibilities and dynamics. There are differences. For instance when, because you live in the US, while standing in a queue you will hear about someone who is planning to create artificial organs by cloning pigs and what do you know, a few weeks later, you read that they’re already done it. The question is : is it necessarily worse in Romania because of that? In Romania we miss so many things and there is so much space to create something that will make our lives better, especially in the services sector, that perhaps we should not focus on the differences. I would focus on the fact that there are things to do everywhere,” Irina Anghel Enescu, Young Global Leader at World Economic Forum, said.

“What I see in Romania is a lot of people who do not look at the market. The market is the most important thing. Your smallest problem is money. Because there are venture capitalists who can provide that.”

Your business idea should solve a problem 

“Ten years ago when I started Qualitance I had an idea that was very unclear. I thought that technology will change everything about the way we live. This coincided with the moment iPhones appeared and that was a turning point” Ioan Iacob, CEO Qualitance, said. “We started as a services company. There were no financial ecosystems, venture capitalists at the time that allowed you to find funding. If I had 20 years, I would finish my college degree because I wouldn’t bet on becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg. Then I would try to solve a problem. I wouldn’t start from the idea o using AI, machine learning, or something else. I would start by solving a problem. What the technologies offer was unthinkable a few years ago. I would start a product start-up.

“Technology allows you to scale things in a way that was not possible before. Technology answers some fundamental needs. Blockchain answers the human need of decentralisation as well as the need for freedom.”

Technology is the new alphabet

“As part our launch event, Oana Toiu, Curator at Global Shapers Bucharest Hub said, “we had an option to create a technology table. But we concluded that technology is not something that needs to stand by itself as an isolated field. It is like reading and writing, and it is present across fields, it is the new alphabet,” she told the audience.

“Why do we invest in young people? Because it is easier for them to understand things and through us our parents will be able to discover things,” she added.

 

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