Liveblog Balkan Conference 2017


Dan Mocanu (Business Coach), Romania

Uses and applies the Blue Ocean Strategy

If you are an investor, how do you decide who will be your next big investment? And if you are a business startup, how do you decide what funding you will access?

What if there could be an X-Ray of your business?

What if you are a small vineyard from Australia, and you want to make it in the US? Use Blue Ocean Strategy!

Use the strategy canvas in order to assess the competitors’ strategies.

Competitors: High price, comes with sofisticate jargon (chateau…), expensive advertising, old age, high prestige, complex taste, complex selection. Even if some features are a bit higher or lower, the strategy is pretty much the same: it addresses the connaisseurs.

The Yellow Tale wines: focus strategy, on the customer experience (they eliminate 3 features the others make you think you can’t do without and add 3 new: easy-to-drink, easy-to-select, fun&adventure – a glass of wine everyday, not necessarily for special ocassions). It addresses the novice, regular people.

What can you do to make JCI / your organisation a blue ocean?

Bogdan Mugescu (FruFru, former Bucharest Stock Exchange), Romania

Is the one who founded AeRO at the Romanian Stock Exchange.

Financing options for businesses:

1. Governance

2. Due Dilligence

If you want the get funding, create a crystal-clear company from day one.

Don’t be affraid to share your business with someone. In the US, after 5 years, the founder is left with no more that 20% of their startup. Don’t be affraid to share the good and the bad.

Cristian Logofătu (Bittnet Systems), Romania

At the university, they started the first CISCO Academy in Romania and then became the headquarters of ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence), a trendy certification in the 2000s.

Start reading what the businesses did in the US in the 2000-2010s and you’ll be 5 years ahead of your competition. Literally.

In a pitch, try to do or say things that will get the media’s attention. In a startups competition, they said they will raise their investors’ money 8x in 5 years. The story got covered by Ziarul Financiar and they also received their first outside financing.

If you don’t invest in someone else’s company, how do you expect someone else to invest in yours?


Ioana Sfârlea (Fortech), Romania

Advisers are really important in order to develop a sustainable business.

Participate and apply in the Risky Business Fund, which will be held in Transylvania (Cluj) in June.

How do you find a true mentor, who will act as a consultant, that will help you for real? JCI is a really good platform, since it’s a global community with specialists from across industries.


George Manolov (KOWN Investor Club), Bulgaria

They’ve build a mobile app, Fundraise on KOWN, where they added a 5-questions pitch and investors sign-in (like / dislike) in order to learn more. Like Tinder for startups 🙂



Anca Banita (Let’s Do It Romania), Romania

Before starting Let’s Do It Romania, the team members were DOERS by themselves, now they do it together.

The event gathers 1.400.000 million volunteers.

They do educational workshops in schools.

They started Let’s Do It Corporate, where they involved 5000 people from companies in cleaning up, renovating schools and hospitals. At the beginning people weren’t happy to join, but after the first action, they started asking for more.

Mobile App: Let’s Do It!, where people announce areas in need of cleanup.

Let’s Do It is the most spread volunteer action in the world, in over 100 countries. It started in Estonia.

The reasons for which garbage areas exist are lack of education and infrastructure. Let’s Do It Romania raised awareness regarding these problems.

JCI and Let’s do It networks have a global partnership. In 2018, the 15 of September, will be a global cleanup day. There is a need for teams in every country. Are you going to be part of it?

Let’s Do It is a team of believers, who do crazy things and contribute to somesthing bigger. Whouldn’t it be awesome if we did…?

Values: Doer spirit, team, sustainability, madness
If you get 5% of the people in a group to make something, the rest will follow.


Mutlu Toksoz (JCI Turcia)

How did sustainability came to be?

50s: employees/ unions/

70s: client needs / cost control

90s: evironment regulations

What is sustainability?

Taking our responsibility towards future generations

A triangle, 3 Es Model: Environment / Economy / Equity (Society)

All goals are important and they are connected.

Major sustainability issues

Corporate ethics

Fair labour practices

Responsible use of influence

Climate change and energy use

Water – availability and conservation

Sustainable manufacturing

Environmentally conscious manufacturing.

Clean Technologies

Green Products

What is it, in practice?

Optimise the processes, and use less energy, water and materials

Use reciclable materials

Actions taken by companies. Industrial Ecology

Make the used product a raw material again.

Sustainability reporting

As a company, you need to tell your stakeholders what you are doing in this regard. According to a Pleon research, Human Rights are the subject the stakeholders want to hear about most.
Customers become more aware and request more from companies.

As a consumer: Become more conscious about your impact: How your t-shirt can make a difference


Florina Seres (XEROX SEE Distribution Manager), Romania

Servitization: Adding services to products. Putting to market the product functionality, not the product. Eg, you sell a hole into the wall, not a hammer or a drill.


Lock-in customers

Lock-out competition

What XEROX did

The first copier machine was built in 1959 by Xerox and costed 2000$, while their competition put similar equipment in the market at around 300$.

They offered a pack:

* 96$ / month

* service included

* 2000 copies free monthly

* next copies 4cents / copy

* cancellation with 15 days notice

Choosing the right partners:

Each area in a territory had one exclusive distributor, a “concesioneer”. Although right now the exclusivity policy doesn’t apply anymore, half of their distributors sell only Xerox equipment.

Build loyalty with customers and partners

For every new toner, the users receive points, which they can use to buy vouchers or even donate to different causes.

Challenge the status-quo

Think different and do things differently in your business.


Alex Dona (Times New Roman), Romania

Marketing in the Balkans is marketing like everywhere else. The difference is the culture between regions.
The understang of punctuality (academic quarter? 🙂 ), the way people see the boss, the elders, how diiferent cultures resolve problems, etc. WE ARE DIFFERENT.

Whenever you do marketing, you need to understand the specifics. Alex used to work in Sanoma Hearst as a Sales Manager. When the crisis hit in 2008, they started to notice differences in readers’ media consumption: while in the west 90% of the sales were based on subscriptions, in the Eastern Europe they were selling on a monthly / weekely / daily level. It’s hard to build a business model based on no figures, with no reliable forecasts.

Dark social: When users send private links, a website sees this, in analitycs, as direct traffic. 50% from the direct traffic is dark social traffic.

Go directly to all stakeholders, at once. Get to all the people that can influence your business. Not focus on content and hoper it’ll be ok.

Create projects, like the one with Mega Image. In order to be free, don’t accept money from the client.

They don’t sell advertising on performance, because they don’t think this should be their only responsibility.

They keep the team happy, by keeping them in a bubble. The clients don’t communicate directly with the editors, unless they are specifically allowed to do so.


DOING BUSINESS IN THE BALKANS – challenges and opportunities

Ruslan Cojocaru (Tucano Coffee), Republic of Moldova

Peace, Love&Coffee

Tucano is a reflection of themselves, of the founders and employees. Tucano is a bird, from Latin America.

The biggest challenge was to not allow smoking in the premises before the anti-smoke law in Romania, in March 2016.

Their mission is to develop Peace&Love to their employees, visitors and clients. They teach yoga, photo and many more, to their employees. Yoga gives focus and gives peace to the mind.

Franchising is their strategy. The initial franchise fee is 9k-12k Euros, depending on the country. It includes training etc. The overall initial investment, hoever, is around 100k Euros.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix


Catalina Brînza (, Romania

The strategy is focus on the Romanian designers & workshops. There are lots of big brands, but the small manufacturers didn’t have the know-how and oportunities to promote. Her business started in order to help this exact niche of manufacturers.

Why Romanian designers? Everyone want to be themselves and dress accordingly, but the well-known brands are really expensive. There is also a trend of “proudly made in Romania” and a 30% YoY growing market in online fashion


Adrian Bacanu (Quest Mission), Romania

They change the perspective and innovate, by promoting another way of thinking. For example, thinking of all sorts of similarities between the participants at the conference (people, have Facebook, have phones, gravity, passion for learning, etc.)

The first business was setup in Constanta and, because of wrong assumptions, the business failed before the first anniversary. It took another year to “heal the wound”, but they are happy to say they have a business failure. Now Quest Mission is a successful business in Bucharest (Piața Amzei area, Bucharest).

Smart Designs is their other business, whose main value is transparency.


Patrick von Bachelle (Automotive industry), Croatia

The strategy to work with local people is key to success, esspecially in this region.

The car is a status symbol in the balkanians lives. After paying the rent and the monthly car installment, there is no much money left to spend. The car should lose its importance, we should use the car more as a utility (getting from A to B), not as much a comodity (status symbol).



Ioana Sfârlea (Fortech Cluj), Romania

She started as an entrepreneur and the project stopped because they didn’t find a good developer, they could count on.

Now, she’s on the other side, looking for ideas and business plans and help putting them to market.

1. Seed / Angel phase: under 5 mil. US $

2. Early stage: under 50 mil. US $

3. Late stage: cool exits, huge brands

Smart money: an investor that keeps on investing, not someone who invests once and then looks for an exit

Unicorn: a startup that made it big (around 100 “unicorns” in the world)

The 3 phases of an Optimal Product Process:

1. Business Model Canvas

2. Asses the market needs

3. Product description (product roadmap)

These 3 documents need to be sent with the funding request, in order for the investors to understand the project. They interact with a huge variety of industries, so you need to make them understand your market / industry.

Types of Startup Metrics:

1. Test your product on your market

2. Create a plan and go to an investor with it. The investor will be impressed if you present some real data, from a market research you have done.

3. Content is king, but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants.


George Manolov (KOWN Investor Club), Bulgaria

There are 3 ways to win the start-up “golden-rush”:

1. Create a startup

2. Join a startup

3. Invest in a startup

Only 1% of the companies become super-successful. How do you identify those 1%?

KOWN Bulgaria setup up a monthly meeting, where founders came and pitched their ideas. For many of the pitches, everyone lost a lot of time, because they figured from the first couple of minutes that they weren’t a good fit. In order to become more effective, they created a mobile app, Fundraise on KOWN, where they ask the standard 5 questions and then decide if they want to meet the startup founders. The next step is setup a conference call and, if everything goes well, they invest even the next day. Everything is digitalised, the investors communicate and invest via the mobile app, they sign their contracts, they send monthly updates or organise Q&A sessions to investors via videos uploaded on the mobile app.

For investors:

1. It’s FAST

2. Invest continously

3. Best terms (no control over the company, the founders are kings

Pictures from the event can be found here:

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