As our community helps create more successful entrepreneurs, we can expect to have more investors. Read about Andrei Dunca, a tech entrepreneur turned investor #WithUs.
Declared to be “the man of the year” in 2014 by Business Magazine, Andrei Dunca is the technical driving force of the biggest startup success story in the region, LiveRail, which was acquired by Facebook for $500 million in 2014. The technical founder and CTO of the monetization platform for video publishers was not new to entrepreneurship when LiveRail was created though. He began to to try his hand at entrepreneurship in high school and later co-founded Trilulilu with Bogdan Colceriu (co-founder and Partner in Risky Business) and Sergiu Biris (co-founder LiveRail and Zonga). With a successful regional exit under his belt, he was well aware of the challenges of tech entrepreneurship.
Initially a side project, LiveRail began its remarkable story with its headquarters in a tiny studio apartment in San Francisco, with a team of only 5 people. Despite being in the midst of a recession, the business grew steadily, attracting customers like CBS, Electronic Arts or Sony. LiveRail expanded to include a sales offices in New York City and London, and a large engineering office in our dear Cluj. LiveRail grew 2-3x each year thereafter and in 2012, after 4 years of hard work, LiveRail became profitable. In 2014, with steady profit and a 170-person team, LiveRail was acquired for the princely sum of $500 million by Facebook. Andrei joined Facebook to oversee the integration and today continues to develop the LiveRail technology as an engineering manager.
Great new beginnings
Although he has not lived in Romania for some years now, Andrei maintained close contact to the community in Cluj, especially coming to Techsylvania. Already familiar with the work and values of the team from his prior collaborations with them and their previous work with startups, Andrei was happy to support Risky Business. Moreover, he shares the same opinion with the Risky Business team that it is critical–especially at this moment–to invest in the creation of good local products.
Andrei knows full well the need for strong support when building a startup. While we know all about his successes, there were more than a few “oh shit” moments. He learned early on that building and running a company is very serious business. When they took investment, the investors demanded a level of discipline and rigor the team was not yet accustomed to. Things get serious when other people are trusting you to multiply their money. While many young aspiring entrepreneurs might think that things get easy when you get investment, the reality is that you are accountable to your investors. Looking back, Andrei is very grateful to his early investors for their patience.
The biggest challenge was lack of experience building a business; we had to figure everything out by ourselves, which on one hand was exciting, but on the other hand I’m sure we made many mistakes, and we definitely experienced “growing pains”.
After having the support of such dedicated and patient investors, Andrei joins Risky Business to pass it on, bringing his experience as an entrepreneur, mentor, and investor. In his own words:
I want to tap into the local talent that’s surging in Cluj and Romania and be part of the opportunities that emerge from my hometown. At the same time, my background and experience can be an asset for the team and future startups, so I’m looking forward to working together.
Although this is Andrei’s first experience as an investor, he has solid advice for startups and knows what he is looking for in teams.
First, it all about the team. If the founders don’t complement each other, can’t make sacrifices and put the necessary effort to drive the business further, then most likely this will not be a success story. Then it’s about the product – if it solves a real problem, something we at Risky Business can’t stress enough, then Andrei Dunca will surely take a look. He is especially interested in startups that tackle the technologies of the future, including AI, VR/AR or new energy solutions. And he is definitely looking into great startups he could push to the global market. You may have noticed that we said “product” instead of “idea” and it was definitely intentional. In spite of all the buzzwords and tropes, Andrei recommends focusing less on the idea and more on actually doing. The learning that comes with each step–the successes and missteps alike, it will take the idea further than endless business model canvases and talking. But it’s not all sweat and tears though. You can still find time for a good book or movie, which is exactly what Andrei does when he is not at the Facebook headquarters.
Success takes hard work and perseverance–but you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re a relentless founder ready to give it your all, apply for up to €100k in financing, plus acceleration and development support. You’ll get support from investors and entrepreneurs like Andrei who have been in your shoes and can help you succeed, and become part of a strong and growing network. Apply today
Also published on Medium.