Today we are proud to introduce you to Sergiu Biris, one of the investors in Risky Business and mentors. You may know him as co-founder of Trilulilu, LiveRail (which was sold to Facebook in 2014 for $500m), and Zonga.
Sergiu, the quintessential serial entrepreneur, began his entrepreneurial career in 2002, launching his own design business while he studied management and advertising at UBB. Later, he teamed up with Andrei Dunca and Bogdan Colceriu to launch Trilulilu, the so-called “Romanian Youtube.” After three months, they were fielding some low-ball investment and acquisition offers. But the big one came a bit after. While Sergiu was shopping for a coffee table he answered his phone and heard an offer to invest at a valuation of €2.5 million. Not one to be idle, he shortly-thereafter co-founded LiveRail, with Andrei Dunca and Mark Trefgarne, from London. The story became the stuff of tech dreams when it was snapped up by Facebook for half a billion dollars. After this, he co-founded Zonga the biggest music streaming service in Romania. As CEO he has led Zonga from from fledgling service to integration with major carriers and its upcoming launch in international markets.
Sergiu knew the Risky Business team from working with some of them in the past, separately, on different projects. Bogdan Colceriu was one of his co-founders in Trilulilu and he got to know Radu Iuhas from TripJournal, which went on to win “best travel app in the world” Google. It came as quite a pleasant surprise to find this team working together on a new project.
Why is Sergiu #WithUs? In his own words:
“First, because of the team behind it and the enthusiasm they bring. They have the right mindset to do whatever it takes to make the project successful. Second, because it’s a great moment for such an initiative. There are a lot of startups being launched and some of them will take the leap to becoming great companies. I want to be part of this wave and Risky Business can be the platform to help me achieve this.”
Although an extremely successful serial entrepreneur, Sergiu is honest about the challenges and bumps along the way, which were plenty. Since the startup ecosystem was nonexistent then, they faced these bumps and challenges without anyone to provide quality advising, mentorship, or guidance. At one point they even risked losing their investment due to high burn rates! Unfortunately business publications rarely talk about such challenges, preferring to cover big exists and glamorous success stories instead. Thus, many aspiring entrepreneurs are not prepared for the difficult journey ahead or feel like they are facing challenges that others easily overcame.
In Sergiu’s opinion, as well as the opinion of the Risky Business team, one of the biggest problems facing startups is the lack of support when it comes to product development in general and monetization in particular. Building something is easy, but building something people are willing to pay for– that’s another story. Considering the common experiences, values and perspectives on entrepreneurship, it was only natural for Sergiu Biris to join in, both as a Risky Business investor and a mentor.
Startup founder? Here’s what Sergiu Biris advises you:
As an investor and seasoned entrepreneur, he is well aware that there is no secret recipe for success. But that does not mean there aren’t certain elements that can make a startup stand out.
First of all, he is looking for startups that solve real problems in a focused manner. Trying to do a lot of things with very limited resources is most likely to result in failure, so startup founders are advised to find those things they are very good at and start building from there.
Moreover, Sergiu advises those who think about founding a startup to be prepared for the hard road ahead and give 100% in everything they do:
“Building a startup is hard, it takes effort, it’s frustrating and has 99% chances of failing. It obviously has a lot of positive sides, like the freedom to do what you love and to make your own choices. There’s gold at the end of the rainbow but you have to be willing to go through potentially tough times to get to it and nothing is guaranteed.”
Sure, no one said it was going to be easy, but Sergiu encourages skilled professionals to try to develop their own projects and build cool stuff even if it may disrupt their comfortable lifestyle. For him it was definitely worth it. And considering all the support entrepreneurs can get now, be it mentorship, product development consulting or investment, this is the best time there ever was to get to work and build cool stuff.
Ready to build your startup with mentorship, acceleration and development support, and up to €100k in investment from experienced entrepreneurs like Sergiu? Apply today!
Also published on Medium.