I never thought I’d have to say this out loud, but apparently I have to. As one of the many people that have been involved in the tech scene of Cluj for the past 15 years, I too bear the responsibility of making sure the information that gets out is in fact, reality.
So I’m saying this as clear as possible: Cluj Napoca is NOT the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe. Media outlets, enthusiasts, politicians – please stay clear of this phrase.
It might very well be wishful thinking, but this town is very, very afar away from being Silicon Valley. And before you dismiss this, let’s examine the facts.
Silicon Valley has the following key ingredients that make it what it is:
a long history of innovation
a large concentration of big-name tech companies
a LOT of capital (angel and venture)
a plethora of incubators & accelerators
a few reputable universities
Now, out of these, Cluj-Napoca has a diverse enough workforce (currently around 10,000 people employed by tech companies) and a couple of reputable universities.
You will see that TWO of the most important factors are missing: a long history of innovation and capital.
I’d add the lack of entrepreneurial education and a realistic (and healthy) taste for risk. We have a lot of Project Managers – but we don’t have nearly enough Product Managers. You know, the CEO of the product. The gal or guy that actually knows how to turn a problem into a desirable product.
We do have a few startups. Mostly copycats, but that’s a good enough start. It’s something. There are a couple of notable exceptions too.
What we’re really good at though is execution – and I can back that up with a LOT of examples. And I know literally hundreds of amazing techsters that can execute like no other. And good product people started to appear. Maybe some angels too.
So I believe that we’re heading in the right direction. But Cluj is NOT the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe. It never was and I hope it will never be.
I want it to be Cluj. I want us to set an example so people will call other cities “the Cluj of…”
So let’s start working towards THAT goal.