CHECK OUT THE EVENT PRESENTATIONS!

Conference and Forum,

October 18, 2012

Willbrook Platinum Convention Center,
Bucharest, Romania

How To Be Successful Overnight In Just 13 Years

If you do a search on Google for the quote “overnight success usually takes 15 years” you’d be surprised. Looks like a lot of people said that. In fact, there were so many, that it’s kinda hard to find the real author. But relax, we’re not going to talk about the real author of this quote. But we will talk about something very real, though: and that’s a real life story, based on real life facts. Without further ado, let’s go:

13 years ago I was minding my own business, living easily as a radio anchor (apparently, some people considered that I have a “radioesque” voice), when, all of a sudden, I decided to go entrepreneurial. Just like that. I wanted to be my own boss and stuff. By building a business on the internet, that is. It was before Google, before iPhone, before cloud computing. Credit was something irrelevant since the interest was around 80% (believe it or not). Money was incredibly hard to find, so I had to finance my business using the 3 “f”s: family, friends and fools. But I got lucky.

I came out with the idea of creating software for Americans, because we, in Romania, were so cheap. And smart, as programmers. For a year or so, it went fantastic. I had a constant stream of income. Then, the bubble came in and the US internet almost shut down. Basically, I was out of customers. But I got lucky.

I came out with the idea to write software for the recently hyped telecom companies. So, I partnered with one of the two major players, and started to create content for them. It was a revenue-sharing agreement, in which we created stuff for free, and got paid by a percentage of what the telecom company was cashing in. In 6 months, I had another revenue stream. But the technology we used to create software on, namely WAP, was rapidly becoming obsolete. In just 2-3 years, it was out of business. But I got lucky.

I came out with the idea of creating a network of sites in Romania, based on various niches: one was about cooking, the other one was about cars and so on. In another 2-3 years, the network became the third player on the internet market (if we didn’t count the media trusts, that is). But the competition was rogue. Soon, I faced a difficult choice: either partnering with a bigger player, or selling out. But I got lucky.

I found a client for my company and did my first exit. Then I created a blog in English, dedicated to entrepreneurship and self-improvement. In 3 years, the blog attracted a constant audience and I was able to build an ecosystem of products around it. It’s the thing I’m still doing today. Some of the products are ebooks, some of them are iPhone apps, some of them are web apps. A few months ago, 2 of my ebooks were translated in Korean.

And, as I write this, I have a very clear understanding of this: if anything will go bonkers with the blog, I know I will be lucky again. Because, you guessed, it’s not about luck. It’s not about luck at all, in fact.

I couldn’t reach all the way to US, letting them know that we can build better software than their engineers, I couldn’t partner for more than 4 years with one of the biggest telecom companies in Romania, I couldn’t create a network with more than 1.5 millions unique visitors per month, I couldn’t have books translated in Korean, I couldn’t do any of these without a very simple ingredient.
And it’s not about the quality of work, which goes without saying. That’s fundamental. It’s not about persistence either, which, again, it’s mandatory. It’s a very thin and delicate layer which is almost always ignored by any entrepreneur: self-branding. And that’s not about the brands you build, it’s about you, as an agent of change.

It’s not about building products, as it is about building relationships in a certain way.
Interested? I’m hoping to speak more about this topic at the Leaders in Marketing conference this fall. Join in 🙂

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Dragos Roua is a founding member of the Venture Connect board and a constant presence of the tech-entrepreneur landscape in Romania. When he doesn’t write code for the projects in which he’s involved, he writes about entrepreneurship, personal development and motivation on his blog. He wrote and self-published 6 self-improvement books, 2 of them being recently translated into Korean. We are proud to have Dragos as one of the invited speakers in October 18.

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