Interview with Nina Moldovan

Nina 2

Nina Moldovan is a CEO and entrepreneur of several companies in Romania, and has been very successful in the tourism industry and also encouraging entrepreneurs in the Cluj region. She is CEO of the Liberty Technology park, which houses many prominent companies. Her work at Spherik Accelerator aims to cultivate new entrepreneurs. Her work is a great inspiration, and has been a huge accomplishment! It was very interesting to read her thoughts!

You are the President, CEO and General Director of several companies. How do you manage your time?

I think that each of us splits his time between urgent matters, important ones, obligations and the matters that are dear to his heart. Their order and importance might differ .

In my case, the time allotted for each business or project that I am involved in is strictly related to the strategic plan that I have drawn up. I try to not have many deliveries at the same time, but it inevitably happens, so that my secret lies in relying on my team. I invest a lot in people so that I am confident that my business could be run temporarily without me being present. Although I choose to led by example.

My main current projects are:
• Liberty Technology Park Cluj – it is the first authentic technology park in Romania and it is just what tech companies need in order to develop and Transylvania has exceptional resources in these areas.
• Spherik Accelerator Association – is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with the main aim to sustain and promote Romanian entrepreneurs by providing them a complex structure of resources, which will help put Cluj on the entrepreneurial map of Europe.
• City Travels – is a travel agency in which I am a managing partner since 2007 together with my friend Ramona. The agency offers a wide range of tourism services for corporations and individuals and it has an excellent expertise on exotic destinations..
• The Association of Businesswomen Cluj (AFA) – I am one of the new members of this association that initiates and sustains a lot of projects especially in the social and educational fields and has an experience of more than 10 years during which it has made lots of people happy and has contributed to the consolidation of the local business community.

Spherik Accelerator is a new project. Has it been a success so far?

Spherik Accelerator is an initiative that I have been involved in from the very beginning. In order to have a better understanding of what a business accelerator does and how it is built, we have visited together with the team several accelerators in the US and in Europe. Thus we have managed to adapt the programs of Spherik to the current needs in Romania:
– Programs of entrepreneurial education
– Facilitating links to investors and possible partners
– Aggregation of an arrangement of resources needed by entrepreneurs in order to develop their idea, their business.
Cluj-Napoca is on track to become a center of innovation where the creative, tech, and business industries thrive. Besides strong industry, Cluj is ranked as the European city with the cleanest air, considered to have one of the best environments for foreigners and it is the European Cultural Capital of Youth in 2015. Cluj-Napoca is a great place to be a young entrepreneur.
• The first programs were directed towards students – Spherik Student- is a program launched in autumn 2013 to support students who take on the challenge of participating in international IT competitions. The first edition supported 6 teams from Cluj-Napoca preparing to take part in Imagine Cup, one of the most prestigious competitions of its kind. Organized by Microsoft in a new location around the globe every year, Imagine Cup brings together talented students from the entire world. As a result of this effort, half of the national finalists were teams from Cluj and the only team to represent Romania at the finals was one of the 6. The SMT team, consisting of Bogdan Andrei Pop, Bogdan Mursa, Rareș Urdea and mentored by Dan Suciu, was selected to attend the final competition in Seattle. The team presented its product that helps stroke survivors to rehabilitate in a fun way and without pressure to an international audience. Spherik will continue Spherik Student and will support our young talents to compete on the global stage.
• In spring 2014 we continued with Innovation Labs, which is a 10-week pre-acceleration program for students and young graduates who are passionate about technology and eager to launch their own product. This year the program expanded outside Bucharest and Spherik Accelerator was the host of the first edition in Cluj. More than 60 participants entered a 24-hour hackathon competition, 20 of which were selected to join the program.
• In October 2014 we launched the Spherik Main Acceleration Program – the call has already been closed and now the interviews are being carried out with the selected teams. Luckily we have valuable participants and on November 15th, 2014 we will start the program with an EMPRETEC training and then we will go on with 4 months of well-structured programs around the needs of future entrepreneurs.

The core of our program consists of workshops on a wide range of topics critical to success in a start-up. In addition to workshops, we will have weekly social and networking events relating to the current topic.

Luckily I am working at Spherik with an extremely dedicated, voluntary and engaged operational team that has the expertise to excellently coordinate the entire activity of Spherik.

The Liberty Technology Park is a beautiful and modern facility. Do you plan on expanding the park or creating more?

Liberty Technology Park Cluj is the first technological park in Romania, a park for creative ideas built in a revolutionary place designed to offer exceptional growth and quality environment for companies in the IT&C and R&D domains. Everything is located in one unique area, both conceptually and architecturally.

Liberty Technology Park Cluj seeks the ingenious reconversion of the former premises of “Libertatea “furniture factory in „a park for creative ideas” that is unique at national level and adopts the best practices of countries with tradition in this domain.

More than an ecosystem for companies in the IT&C and R&D, Liberty Technology Park Cluj offers a wide range of services and premium facilities.
The event area, the conference rooms, the wide green gardenlike areas, the leisure area including a restaurant and a coffee shop, the multifunctional sport grounds and also an area for retail and medical services complete the ideal tech habitat.

Today we are developing the 2nd phase of the project, which shall be finished in the first quarter of 2015 and the 3rd phase will be started most probably in 2016.
As far as our subsequent expansion plans are concerned, we are still looking at different areas in Romania, but we have met the greatest interest from our neighboring countries (Georgia, Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova) that are working on their development strategies in this direction and asked us about how to develop this kind of platforms.

Has the project attracted a lot of new business to Cluj?

Many companies are interested in Cluj-Napoca and in opening branches here due to the city’s unlimited human resources potential. These two elements are essential in shaping the ecosystem needed by both national and international companies.

• Over 100 000 students enter the universities here each year, one of four people is a student. Cluj has been ranked as the 2nd most important university center in Romania in 2012 according to European standards. It has a highly skilled workforce in several domains, particularly in the IT&C, R&D and in the medical field. And Cluj is the European Youth Capital of 2015.
• Cluj-Napoca has an attractive real estate market.

Yes, our project has attracted Evosoft, a Siemens subsidiary that occupies the B building of the Park – Siemens has opened an R&D center under the brand of its Evosoft subsidiary in the Liberty Technology Park Cluj. The premises have been occupied at the beginning of August. The company has leased an area of 3,000 square meters, i.e. the entire surface of building B of the complex.
The company is planning on hiring some 250 IT specialists until 2017. The new employees will be working on global software and product development programs for all Siemens divisions.

By hosting medium and large IT & R&D companies our project helped generate so far a number of approx. 400 new jobs. Keep in mind that we’re just one year away from the delivery of our 1st phase. We expect this number to be multiplied by 3 by the time our 2nd phase, buildings D&E, will be fully occupied. In terms of business development we are very proud to see our residents growing alongside us. We also invited local businesses in the food, sport and retail industry to open on site locations.

You also work in the tourism industry. Have you noticed a growth of the tourism industry in Transylvania?

Transylvania is a strong brand that is still not exploited sufficiently. The main limitations are the access possibilities to certain areas in Transylvania and maybe the insufficient promotion of this destination.
During the last 10 years the business tourism has seen a great boom due to the corporations that opened subsidiaries in the area, but the leisure tourism has still not reached its maximum capacity.

You are a very successful entrepreneur. What were your keys to this success?
I have faith in people and I consider people being the main value in each and every project. Usually faith is rewarded and if it is backed up with lots of work, continuous education and permanent interest in everything that is happening around us, the expected results may be well achieved.

What is the proudest moment in your career so far?

I am proud every time when I manage to create something new, authentic and efficient in each project that I am involved in. Luckily my entire career consists of start-ups, which allows me to have a great contribution to the concept, strategy and development. I always try to get involved in projects where I can make a difference, in new initiatives that share the same set of values that I do.

What is your motto in business?
Strength lies in unity. (Gh. Asachi)
Lead by example, To lead people, walk beside them …

This are a personal mottos of mine that does not only apply to business.

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