After almost two years of leading Startup Moldova and contributing to its development, I am about to embark on another challenge. Beyond being a professional move, this is also a profoundly personal one, as Startup Moldova has long surpassed being merely a job for me.
Many things have changed in the past two years. We jokingly say (but, jokes aside), that Startup Moldova is, in itself, a type of startup organization. We identify a problem that we believe needs solving, propose and test solutions, validate hypotheses, and, product by product, service by service, conduct fundraising and hire enthusiastic teammates who pour their souls into what they do.
The instruments intended for use at Startup Moldova to aid the ecosystem were somewhat different in 2021 when ATIC laid the foundation of Startup Moldova. These instruments shifted when I took over leadership at the beginning of 2022, and I can confidently say that they are different today. They will continue to evolve, and that is great.
In two years, I personally conducted more than 50 interviews for Startup Moldova positions. It was a whole process before we found the right people for the right positions. We initiated strategic partnerships with the EU Delegation, Embassy of Sweden, Future Technologies Activities project, USAID, UKAid, Orange Moldova, Premier Energy, Terre des Hommes, ESTDEV, to name a few.
We provided mentorship support from expert professionals and successful founders to our startups, accounting for over 200 hours of fully subsidized mentorship offered in 2023 alone. We started proudly and loudly to talk and communicate about our founders and their accomplishments. We took legal stands on legislative changes that impacted startups, and some – we already won.
We organized community-building events, repeatedly confirmingthe power of networking and connections. We built relationships with various investors and learned that they are as eager to find startups to invest in as the startups are to find funds for their ventures. Just last month, a deal was signed, and 40,000 EUR came from an investor with whom we facilitated the connection.
To do all this (and much more), we needed a village. Our village is our team. I want to thank Mircea, Mircea-Florin, Ilinca, Artiom, Doina, Olesea, and also Ligia, Denis. Catalina, although gone for months now, played a crucial role in building Startup Moldova too. It took me a while to find all of you, but when the team was complete, I just knew that everything fell into the right places, and each of you knew a bit more than myself in each of your fields. I am forever grateful for your dedication, trust, and loyalty.
I also want to thank our board members. The CEO job is one of the loneliest jobs in the world, but you always made me feel heard and supported. I truly appreciate your dedication, professionalism, and the way you approach your mandates with Startup Moldova. Throughout my whole mandate, we had more than 12 board meetings per year, and we never failed to reach a quorum.
I am humbled and happy that Olga Melniciuc—an indisputable professional and expert in the investments and entrepreneurship area—is taking over the leadership at Startup Moldova and will begin leading it starting January 15, 2024. I know that Olga, together with the team and with the support of the board and our partners, will manage to take the organization and the entire ecosystem to another level. We have been working hard to put in place the basic instruments needed for ecosystem support. Now all the stars are aligning to put these instruments into even more action.
I will remain a strong supporter and believer in the power of our ecosystem, in the talent of our people, in our capacity to create innovative, great products, and make a positive impact on our country, but also – the world.
Executive Director of Startup Moldova from February 7, 2022, to January 14, 2024.