Less vocal in Romania, but very influential abroad, owning a several million Euro business and financing already successful European start-ups, the Romanian-French business man Bogdan Herea is ready for a new challenge. The launch of ACADEMY+PLUS, a software / engineering / entrepreneurial alternative education platform in partnership with the famous Ḗcole 42, is an attempt to create the new generation of tech entrepreneurs, ready to change the world and to enjoy professional success from a very young age.
AdH: It is said that Romanian is the second most spoken language within Microsoft. If all the Romanian software intelligentsia is abroad, working for the most successful companies of the moment such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Skype, to only name a few, what’s the situation like back in the country?
I am around 40 and I am part of a generation that helped shape the reputation of the Romanian software industry abroad. Strangely enough, Engineering and Mathematics were disciplines that were helping you escape the communist persecutions.With equations, numbers and abstracts, it was easy to stay out of the political storm while you did your best to have a peaceful professional life.
During my childhood, we were somehow spectators of the fierce-less competition between Russian and American intelligent minds. We grew up with chess as TV shows, an admiration for intelligence and strategy, with ideas about who is reaching the Moon first, with stories of how the Russian pencil was worth more in space than the billion dollar American pen.
Regardless of which side you were on, for all of us the common denominator was pretty clear: hard science was cool and could change the Planet’s life and yours for the better.
The result of this way of thinking was a generation with a fierce passion for evolution and professional success. Thus, when the free economy and circulation came along, the first thing we did was to find opportunities abroad.
AdH: You were in the same situation and yet you decided to come back. Why?
I was in the same situation: as an awarded student with notable results in Mathematics and Physics competitions, I applied and received an European scholarship at INSA Lyon. I have spent more than 13 years in France, for my education and later, for work. I became a Frenchman. ButI’ve always kept in mind the idea of coming back and building something up in Romania. When the opportunity to develop a software company in Cluj did appear, I just tried my best to transform it into somethingbigger. Today, PITECH+PLUS has offices all across Europe and, while the business is mainly driven from abroad, the ideas and implementation come mostly from Romania.
We grew at an incredible pace; the hiring process became as regular as monthly payments. Moving forward meant hiring more and finding even better people. And then we realized: from a certain point onwards, those people were really hard to find. Most of the brilliant minds were already abroad, enjoying success at Cern, in California or in Paris.
A new generation of thinkers and doers is needed. So we are taking the next step: gathering people with obvious potential and helping them turn their dreams into reality.
We are doing this for PITECH+PLUS, but also for the whole market. Eventually, every engineering and soft company will enjoy the benefits of recruiting people specialized at ACADEMY+PLUS.
AdH: Why should ACADEMY+PLUS be the first choice for the future Romanian Mark Zuckerbergs?
We have great teachers and we follow the model of learning by doing; we are to conduct the process so that in three years from now we will be able to recruit the best candidates for our company. As a very successful business platform, we wouldn’t allow ourselves to do anything less. The success of our growing business depends on the success of this Academy.
What’s more, we have the support of the partnership with the highly praised Ḗcole 42, which is a similar program in France and the one inspiring the way this school works.
Most of the remarkable soft developers and engineers in France already have or will attend it at some point in their academic lives, therefore this is a great starting point for ACADEMY+PLUS in Romania, as well.
AdH: Which are the admission criteria? Is there an age limit?
Well, having a high-school diploma would be nice. There is no age limit, but there are some admission criteria. The applicants need to solve problems online; the solutions they deliver let us know whether they are a suitable candidate or not.
We have the subscription process ongoing right now, and we will start the first semester in November. The school is based in Cluj, so they will need to join us on our premises, but we trust the experience will be enjoyable. The learning takes place both online and offline. In this way, we try to make the program accessible to as many as possible.
Another requirement is for the students to keep up the pace; the Academy is fun because the learning process is through discovery, by doing it yourself and taking on feedback.
Our future students must want to perform, get out of their comfort zone and realize that we can provide them with the bread, the butter and the knife of the craft. If they are among the best students, they can easily make a living out of it and are also given the instruments to change the world. Willingness to change the world and make a living out of it is the required mindset. To me, it sounds like a great unique selling proposition and were I in my twenties, I’d die to attend such a school.
AdH: It seems the students will have a great learning experience. But we heard there will also be other opportunities while attending ACADEMY+PLUS. Can you give us some details?
There are also other incentives. For example, our top students will receive scholarships for The Alternative School for Creative Thinking, where they can learn what real creative thinking is and gain access to international competitions such as Young Lions at Cannes Lions or Eurobest festivals.
Besides our partnership with Ḗcole 42, we are developing another one with The Alternative School for Creative Thinking. We had a great result with our first collaboration: the ideas delivered by students during the local Cyber competition were worthy, followed by Cannes, where The FlipSters (Bianca Dumitrascu, Razvan Ghilencea) won Gold in the 24 hours Young Lions competition.
It was a great success for the team, an indicator of the value of The Alternative School and definitely a benchmark for PITECH+PLUS in finding, supporting and investing in the best minds of contemporary Romania.
Therefore, as soon as you’ve proven your qualities as a student, we build a series of opportunities for your later development that will simply confine you to be successful by all means and to enjoy the process.
Who is Bogdan Herea?
Romanian National Olympian in Physics and a strong competitor in Maths, Bogdan continued his university studies at INSA LYON (L’Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon). He graduated EURINSA (European preparatory classes) as valedictorian in 1995, followed by a 3-year long specialisation in Computer Engineering. Throughout the next 13 years, Bogdan continued to study and work in France, inventing or revolutionising systems in the companies he worked for as Project Manager (GETRONICS and MTMD Lydis). Despite having obtained the French citizenship and being able to continue a successful career in Lyon, he chose to return to Romania in 2005.
His competences, hard work, network of contacts, entrepreneurship instinct and talent to discover and encourage valuable people, helped him launch his own company in Cluj-Napoca, in 2005: PiTechnologies – a complex company offering consulting services andonline security systems development.
With a turnover of EUR 5 mil., in 2014 PITECH has access to operational teams in Bucharest, Cluj, Targu Mures, Berlin, Paris, Brussel, Laussane and Dubai, working with 250 Romanian and foreign specialists, for clients in Europe, Middle East and United States. Once re-branded as PITECH+PLUS (2 years ago), the structure became the epicenter of a group of companies which support start-ups focusing on technology, mobile apps and innovation (Genealogie.com, Greenbureau.com, Videdressing.com, Kweekweek.com, SONIC+PAY).
Bogdan Herea is the founder and partner of RODEAPPS (Berlin, 2011) and Umanlife.com (Paris, 2011), the latter having been awarded Best Pharma Start-Up in 2013, the same year it won StartUp Academy, in France. In Autumn 2014, PITECH+PLUS Group will welcome a school: ACADEMY+PLUS, implemented in partnership with École 42. The objective is that the Academy’s students will become the new generation of coders and entrepreneurs to develop tech-savvy and innovative start-ups. Through a partnership with the Alternative School for Creative Thinking, the team empowered by PITECH+PLUS won the only Romanian gold on the Cannes Lions 2014 stage in the Cyber Young Lions competition.
In 2012, Bogdan was awarded the “Entrepreneur Francophone de l’Année” trophy by GADIF, the same year he became the President of the Francophone Bussiness Club in Cluj. In 2014, he was awarded in 100 Young Top Managers, published by Business Magazine and is invited to be part of the jury at StartUp Academy, France.