Techsylvania 2017 - Great people, great content, great city and a really great time. What more could you want from a tech event?

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Colette Ballou introduced me to Vlad Ciurca, the founder of Techsylvania, towards the end of last year. Techsylvania is the leading technology event in Eastern Europe, Vlad was looking to add a speaker on company culture to his line up and I was happy to oblige. The event took place this past week in Cluj-Napoca in Romania and I feel compelled to write about it because it was such an enjoyable and impressive experience.

Cluj is a stunning city of 350,000 people and has become one of Romania’s main tech hubs outside of Bucharest. The city is located in Transylvania close to five capitals in Eastern Europe - Belgrade, Budapest, Sofia, Kiev and Bucharest and there are regular daily flights from London Luton with Wizz Air and Blue Air. Cluj feels like a student city with lots of bookstores, cool bars and restaurants.

The Techsylvania event has grown to 1500 attendees in 4 years and was oversubscribed again this year. The one main difference to other events that I experienced as a speaker at Techsylvania was the feeling of being part of a really big and caring family. Everyone on the organising team was incredibly welcoming and well briefed. They went out of their way to make sure we experienced the best of Cluj. We had a wine tasting in the bottom of a salt mine on Sunday night, dinner at a palace turned into an art museum and a chocolate and wine tasting at a really cool speak easy private members club on Monday. On Tuesday we had dinner and were taught how to cook a paella by a local chef. The conference itself, which included a hackathon and a pitch event, was full of really great presentations by the likes of Ralph Simon, Chief Executive & Founder of Mobilium Global (The Inventor of the Ringtone), Tobias Jaeger, Managing Partner at Axiom Capital, Josef Dunne Founder of Champion Prints 3D and Jerry Kennelly the Chairman & CEO of Riverbed Technology and was book ended by two fascinating presentations. The opening key note by Martin Wezowski Chief Designer at SAP left us empowered to think about the future that we can design for ourselves, instead of worrying about machines replacing most jobs, and Newton Howard Professor at Oxford and Director of the MIT Synthetic Intelligence Lab closed the conference with a mind-blowing presentation on the computer brain interface.

I had some fascinating company culture conversations throughout the three days, including with the MC for the event Philipp Kandal who sold his Cluj-based business to Telenav. I am hoping to set up an interview with Philipp in the coming weeks to get a deeper understanding of how the post-acquisition culture integration went. Sal Dhanani the Co-Founder and Co-President of Telenav and I had a great chat about how important culture is for a business, “It’s everything!” as he succinctly put it.

Vlad Ciurca and his team ran an excellent event in Cluj. I would recommend, if you get a chance, to attend the 2018 edition. Great people, great content, great city and a really great time. What more could you want from a tech event?