BrexitToRemainia newsletter #41

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Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Black Friday! The two have in common not only the timing, but also the rapid interationalization of their respective concepts. In Romania alone, Black Friday delivered 50% growth to online retailers. Equally well off are the players in the outsourcing industry, with 14% growth expected for 2018 (but associated challenges in finding candidates). IT&C sector is booming as we already know, which is also confirmed by the tech-driven nature of all 6 Romanian innovators awarded at this years’ New Europe 100 event. Much to celebrate therefore in the (increasingly globally-recognized) Romanian restaurants, such as Privo.


Be savvy: know what`s happening right now in Romania. News from politics, economy, business, various industries and social life.


2017 Outsourcing Market

In our previous newsletter we promised to tell you more about how business services industry evolves in Romania (it’s been long since we covered this topic in depth). The ABSL (Association of Business Services Leaders) and KPMG issued their 5th “Outsourcing Industry report” 2017, which you can read in full here. Based on responses from 40 companies active in the sector (employing 30,000 people), the insights are as follows:

  • Romania was ranked 1st for mature outsourcing markets in the 2016 BPO index from Cushman & Wakefield (by the way, estimated to be 1.5BN EUR in value)
  • With 120,000 employees working in the sector and an estimated growth rate of 14% in 2018, recruitment is difficult
  • But Process Automation might be the salvation: 48% of companies interviewed use basic forms of automation, 24% use Robotic Process Automation (remember UiPath?) while only 10% of them do not use any type of automation
  • As expected, the workforce in the outsourcing industry is young (1-3 years of experience as stated by responding companies), with 61% being female employees

If you’re a pro in the field, the rest of the report will interest you, too. It talks about business models, types of customers & services provided, organizational maturity, geographical range and plans for expansion of the 40 companies being interviewed. If you’re a commoner (just like us) you might want to be spared the details.

 


Take action: grasp opportunities for advancing business in (and/or with) Romania. What others think & do. What business events to attend.


Black Friday 2017

We have now closed the 7th edition of this increasingly popular shopping day called Black Friday. If you remember from last year, the increase back then was around 45% versus 2015. This year, “rumours” go that online transactions grew 50% versus 2016. The figure is specifically looking at online payments (as opposed to total volumes purchased), however the news is good in terms of increased confidence in digital banking (we don`t fare well on this). Less good is the fact that many of the purchases (30%) were made with credit cards using zero-interest installment option. This means Romanians will become even more indebted than they are now, which only adds to the concerns that the economy is overheating. Back to the stats (offered by PayU online payment provider):

  • There were 264.000 transactions registered, valuing 160M RON (roughly 35M USD). A simple math indicates an average purchase was worth 130 EUR
  • IT&C products remained on top of consumer preference, followed by fashion, books, toys, furniture and the like
  • Buyers from 70 countries were interested in Romanian sales. Strange enough the top foreign locations were Saudi Arabia, Pakistan & Cyprus, with average aquisition values going up to 5 times higher than local ones

One other good news is that, this year, Competition Council and the Agency for Consumer Protection (ANPC) have monitored the compliance of vendors with sales rules. The most important of course is whether they raised the prices few weeks before Black Friday and then declare false discounts. The outcomes of this monitoring (which is based on either complaints or randomized audits) will be made available soon, we hope. Nobody likes to be taken for a ride, as Brits would put it.

6 Romanian Innovators to know

Among the good things that Visegrad Group does is the organisation of the yearly “New Europe 100” awards, in partnership with Google, Financial Times and Respublica. The program recognizes and propels “challengers” from Central & Eastern Europe who – with their courage for innovation, expertise in emerging technologies, unique skills and social outreach – are having a global impact. Last year, we presented the Romanian finalists here. This year, we will do the same, so let us introduce you to:

  1. Daniel Dines, CEO of UiPath, the robotic process automation (RPA) star-company which raised the largest VC funding ever for a Romanian startup. Do you remember how much? If not, here is the hint.
  2. Ana Maria Udriste, founder of Avocatoo. The platform (Romanian language only) connects clients with the lawyers best suited to their needs. That, plus loads of useful articles about legislation, presented in infographics, blogs and easy-to-use guidelines.
  3. Florin Talpes, CEO or Bitdefender. You might recall his name from last newsletter, where we wrote about the 5 areas of specialization he sees for Romania if we were to leapfrog in the IT&C industry
  4. Sergiu Ardelean, co-founder or Artivive. Simply put, Artivive is the easiest way to use augmented reality for art. You can enjoy a demo of how it feels to be in a museum and use the App directly from their website.
  5. Alin Chiriac, (among others) founder of AdFaber, a tech NGO running (among others :)) a series of tech clubs where kids learn computer sciences. It’s free of charge of course.
  6. Cristiana Bogateanu, co-founder of Academia inventeaza (translated as Invent Academy). Similarly to the above, the aim is to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to kids. The courses are not free, but have a look at how pretty their website is! We’d gladly attend one if we weren’t way above the age limit

You can read a bit more about all these innovators and change makers in this nice article. And may we we suggest? Invite them to connect on LinkedIn. They are valuable people to have in your network if you do business with or through Romania … and they might not say no.


Know your game: Build your Aces for when you meet a Romanian business partner for coffee. What we (might) like to talk about.


Privo … of Targu Mures

If you happen to be in the middle of Romania (or Transylvania in general) it means you’re not far from Targu Mures. With a population of slightly over 130.000 inhabitants split equally between Romanians and Hungarians, Targu Mures is Transylvania’s most under-rated city, says Lonely Planet. But one reason to visit it (besided its convenient location for surrounding attractions) is Privo restaurant. It claims to deliver one of the best culinary experiences in the world, as 29 international awards hold testimony. The latest of them has recently been received at the Haute Grandeur Global Hotel & SPA Awards Gala in Bangkok. Connoisseurs recommend duck breast with cranberry sauce or the Chocolate Mousse with Barry cocoa. We just spread the good news.

Talking of restaurants …

… we just discovered Restograf, a website / blog about best restaurants in Bucharest. Pity it`s available only in Romanian, but you’ll surely be able to navigate it’s quite standard indexing structure. For example, you can filter by type, location, cuisine, user rating, option to deliver at home, price etc. So that you know, of 1.545 restaurants listed, 3 have been assesed as good and excellent by both Restograf and users: Italianesco (Hotel Sarroglia), Silk Panoramic and Vinexpert Terroir. We never tried them, but we advise you to … and let us know what you think.

 



Romanian Overview Report: In this comprehensive report you will find information about: macroeconomic landscape, industries and investments, infrastructure and technology, taxation system, human capital, governmental support and last but not least quality of life in Romania (if you decide to move over here ;)).

Investor Guide Romania: In this well-structured guide you will find information about: investment climate in Romania, economy in general and the business ecosystem in particular, availability of financing, employment and labour law, fiscal policies, as well as how it is for an expat to live in Romania (not too bad, we can assure).

#MondayMemo Newsletter (register): If you are Romanian (or able to speak the language) we highly recommend you register to MondayMemo. It is a weekly newsletter dedicated to entrepreneurs covering news from Romania and abroad (written exclusively in Romanian though!). While we just like to read news and share them with you, the author(s) of MondayMemo are experienced and high quality journalists: Mona Dirtu and Andreea Rosca.