Meet the “Cluj Club”, the Romanian startups you’ll be hearing more about

These days you read more and more about important startup hubs from Europe. Be it Berlin, London, Stockholm or Barcelona, there is definitely a lot of potential on the European scene. But how about looking more in Eastern Europe? It’s my opinion that Romania and probably Cluj will soon be mentioned along with the other important cities in terms of startups.

Where is Cluj?

Cluj is extremely well positioned in that Eastern part of Europe and relatively close to Belgrade, Budapest, Sofia and Kiev (approximately 500-600 km). It also has a strong technical and computer science of about 4000 students graduating each year, only from these specialties. Furthermore, Cluj is well recognized by its strong focus on IT development companies. These companies have recently formed an IT cluster, known as Cluj IT.

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Last but not least, things are really starting to move in terms of local startups getting off the ground. These guys are pioneers in the startup industry and they are showing that Cluj has not only technical talent, but can also innovate and help the economy by creating jobs. Just so you have a better idea on what’s happening with the startup environment, let me give you the key players:

  • UseTogether is a community in which you can share, give away or swap personal possessions with other members for free.


    Victor Miron, Tribe and fire starter, tells us: “Cluj has a lot of potential for startups because of the big talent that is here gathered from all the Transylvania region.”

  • MIRA Rehab is a medical software that enhances physiotherapy treatment by gamifying rehabilitation exercises, using clinically built video games.

    Cosmin Mihaiu, CEO: The startup community in Cluj has grown and has formed a series of web events dedicated to people thinking of developing their own ideas. Events like Startup Weekend, Startup Live, OpenCoffee Cluj, OpenConnect offer a base point of knowledge that entrepreneurs can benefit from and from which they can understand what are the steps required to build their ideas into products. As such, Cluj has begun to have useful relations with the West  which help up and coming solutions reach their potential. “

  • Squirrly helps you get Excellent SEO on Your Next Article.

    Florin Muresan, CEO is of the following opinion: “We, the local entrepreneurs, have started to speed things up in 2013 and we really managed to get to know each other and build certain projects together that have helped develop the local startup scene. Don’t be fooled by appearances. We really collaborate these days and it helps each of us grow a lot faster. It’s great to be in Cluj right now, because it’s amazingly cheap to live here and find talented people. I think that you can build an amazing international startup from Cluj-Napoca, with a very low cost, that will allow you to grow fast and not worry about burning through all the money at a fast pace.”

  • CallerQ helps sales professionals increase the efficiency of prospecting with smartphones and provides analytics to sales managers that like to stay on top of sales team performance.

    Adrian Lupau, Founder & CEO: Among many other bad things, the communist period left also some good legacy embedded in the collective mindset of Romanian people : a school system designed for performance and the need for entrepreneurial spirit . 20 years later, Cluj is the ideal place for a perfect storm : you’ll find here people with abilities and drive; the drive to thrive!”

  • Txtfeedback is a real time feedback web application that combines an SMS system with a mobile chat in order to enable you to engage your customers in conversations.

    Bogdan Oros, Co-Founder thinks that: Cluj is a great place for an IT start-up due to the great software engineering talent pool available. Combine that with the vibrant start-up community and you’ve got a great place to start you entrepreneurship journey.”

  • ShareYourCart is the button that offers discounts in return for social sharing.

    Andrei Barabas, CEO:  Cluj is the ideal place to begin a tech startup due to vast technical knowledge, available in the market. This is largely thanks to local outsourcing companies who work with foreign clients and transfer the knowledge and standards to their employees.”

  • CatwalkFifteen is an app you should think of as your personal image consultant, whom you carry around and answers your every style question, unconditionally. Furthermore, it helps you create an original look and interact with your friends.

Philipp Kandal, CTO of skobbler (one of leading local product companies), and angel investor, concludes: “Cluj has a fantastic pool of technical talent combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion to create startups. I am very bullish on the prospects of Cluj as a big startup-hub in Eastern Europe in the next 5-10 years”

These are just a few examples that prove Cluj is a young city in the European technology scene, with low living costs, great technical talent and a suitable business environment to run a startup with an European focus.

Thanks so much to Oana Petrus, Philipp Kandal and Cosmin MIhaiu for reading drafts of this post.

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About the author

Vlad Ciurca

Vlad is a young manager and entrepreneur with over 5 years experience in retail, warehousing, business development, event organizing and product management. He is a Specification Engineer at Skobbler, working on creating map based applications for mobile devices. Vlad is the Organizer of the successful Startup Weekend Cluj event held in February 2012, and Founder of Transylvania Business Community. Prior to the above, Vlad was an Operation Supervisor at UPS and Ceva Logistics and managed a 70 person team, starting from a 4 person team. Also, he was the Co-Founder of one of the biggest online and offline communities of managers and entrepreneurs in Transylvania, Romanian Managers CLUJ, with almost 900 members. In 2011, Vlad was named a Technology and Entrepreneurship Expert in the "Young Romania Forum", a project organized by the League of Romanian Students Abroad, with the aim of getting the younger generation involved in the future of Romania. In 2012, he was a Mentor at the Imaginarium Cluj event, part of Restart Edu. You can follow Vlad on Twitter.

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