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Numărul 13
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Editorial nr. 13

Ovidiu Mățan
Fondator @ Today Software Magazine
DIVERSE

Business Days is already a well-known event on the national market and this month we have the opportunity to take part in its edition in Cluj. Laszlo Pacso, Business Days" organizer had the kindness to answer to Today Software Magazine"s questions.

Tell us a few words about yourself.

Very briefly about me: I"ve been an entrepreneur for more than 13 years, very passionate on project management, a business networking specialist, event organizer, video and educational shows producer, coordinator of some online and social media projects and more recently, a social entrepreneur. In my everyday life, I like nature a lot, the mountains, movies, books, classical music and photography. For 3 years and a half, we have been coordinating the Business Days program, which wishes to stimulate the Romanian business environment and to create the foundation of a healthy entrepreneurial culture in our country. It is a difficult mission, with a lot of challenges, but we are doing it out of passion and with a lot of faith in this country"s future. These things and especially the tenacity to face the numerous challenges are the things that essentially differentiate us from others who also activate in this domain. No matter how hard it has been for us, we kept on going. When you want to help and to generate a social impact in the environment in which you are active, you sometimes need to give up your comfort and set as a priority the interests of those whom you attend to through your project. From my point of view, this is what differentiates a social entrepreneur from an entrepreneur. A lot of people do not understand this yet.

What does Business Days mean and what novelty does it bring in comparison to the other business events?

Business Days is more than just a series of events. It is firstly an opportunity platform whose role is to generate numerous business possibilities for those who are using it, no matter whether we refer to the Business Days events, to the business networking sessions, to the mobile and online applications, to the socializing platforms, or to the educational video platforms.

If we refer strictly to the Business Days events area, the novelty we bring on the business events market is primarily the itinerant character and the fact that Business Days covers most of the country through the impact it generates. Another ace up our sleeve is the fact that our events are rigorously prepared. Before drawing up the program of an event, there are numerous meetings with business people from the respective area (managers, entrepreneurs, specialists from different domains) with whom we discuss and analyze the problems and challenges they are facing. These inquiring discussions help us identify new opportunities and especially map the actual needs and problems to which we try to come up with solutions, answers and ideas through the 16 workshops of the event. Another fact that differentiates us from any other business events organizer in Romania is the event"s structure, as it unfolds on three levels:

  • conferences - which are meant to fill those present with positive energy, to inspire, motivate and give them ideas, conferences through which we offer an analysis of trends, we point out opportunities in the technological development and progress.
  • workshops - whose role is to develop people"s skills, especially through experience exchange and interactivity, which focus on the practical, pragmatic component, on case study, good practice examples and many question - answer sessions in which we encourage the people attending to state their problems so that they find advice, ideas, solutions and even resources in order to solve them.
  • formal business networking sessions - whose role is to generate real business opportunities. Thus, after the participants have been filled with positive energy and have been exposed to a fusillade of ideas and inspiration and they are eager to generate businesses and to put them into practice, we create the opportunity for them, be it in the form of micro-meetings, or in the form of some open sessions, or in the form of some meetings generated by the matchmaking application, so that they can move on to taking action and benefit from the existing resources, contracts and opportunities at such an event.

Besides these, I would like to add the existence of an online and mobile application through which the people who attend have access to the entire data base of participants, speakers and partners and they can set meetings or they can generate exchanges of virtual calling cards. One other trump of ours is also the live transmission of the event and the involvement of some local or national televisions in a marathon of related shows or live transmissions from the place of the event, by which we make sure that the valuable information conveyed by the speakers reach those who could not be present at the event, but who are interested in the issues discussed in conferences and over panels.

BD is one of the few events which promote the local initiatives and businesses. Congratulations! How do you see their evolution in time? Are the same activity domains maintained in the evolution of the Romanian market?

Yes, that"s true. It is the essence of Business Days events to promote the Romanian businesses and the valued entrepreneurs or managers of the local business environment. It is not easy, because, unfortunately, the consumers of such events still prefer to pay for the models brought from abroad and less for those entrepreneurs who have tried and managed to obtain success in our country. Maybe not all of them are yet extraordinary speakers, but the information they share and especially their wish to help is more sincere and more useful than that of any stranger who comes here for a day or half a day to teach the methods and ways to obtain success, based on recipes which work in other countries, without really knowing the needs, the challenges and the specific needs of the Romanian business environment. Moreover, since we are absolutely convinced that the improvement of the public speaking skills of those who speak in Business Days events will generate a higher success in getting the ideas and inspiration through to the people present in the conference rooms, we have created a speaker support group, a team of professionals in the art of public speaking, who work with those speakers who wish to improve their skills on three levels:

  • before the event - in preparing the presentation and developing the abilities to create an impact in front of the people in the room
  • during the event - they evaluate each presentation, together with the TOAST MASTER Romania team, according to several criteria, with the purpose of helping each speaker understand its drawbacks and find ways to increase the quality of his public presentations.
  • post event - with coaching and training sessions for skills development, based on the things revealed in the evaluations.

It is a win-win situation, as from one edition to another the quality of presentations improves and we are developing, here in Romania too, a class of elite public speakers, who can attend business events from abroad, where they can promote, as ambassadors, the investment and partnership opportunities in our country.

In respect to the domains, I can say that each region has its own particularity; there are regions that are highly entrepreneurial, there are regions that are strongly corporatist and there are regions where the development of economy has entered regression. All in all, we are optimistic, since everywhere we have been we have encountered companies and enterprises which grow every year during a period of crises, proving that it is possible and that when you truly want something and you are willing to invest a lot of work and patience, success is not late in coming. It is from such people that those who attend the Business Days events can get inspiration and find out solutions. Business Days is not about how you can become a millionaire overnight, it is about how you can get a chance to succeed through honest and sustained work and through cooperation, because, yes, we do believe in the associative spirit and we believe that for long term success it is necessary for us to find partners, associates, investors and sponsors who understand and have trust in our business, and for this we have to learn to be transparent in communication and in relations.

What should a BD participant get after taking part in the two days of the event?

At least three things: inspiration, experience and business contacts. This is also our motto: "Inspiration, experience and opportunities for those who wish to generate value in Romania". If the first two are hardly quantifiable as value and only time and practicing the learnt things can generate to a certain extent their assessment, the last one is clear and obvious. I will give you an example: a CEO of a company, who takes part in a micro-meetings session during the first day, in an open session during the second day and uses the matchmaking application before, during and after the event, can generate approximately 25 + 99 + 100 = 224 leads to an event, with people about whom he knows at least 4 pieces of information: who he is, in what domain, what position he holds, where he can help and in what areas, where he needs help or where to look for references. Furthermore, over 70% of those who have filled in the questionnaires and have taken part in the Business Days events estimate that following these meetings they expect revenues of more than 10.000 lei, but half of them estimate to over 100.000 lei the value of these future businesses. I believe these figures speak for themselves. With an investment of maximum 100 euro, you have 70% chances to generate over 2.500 euro in business and 100% chances to increase your data base with over 200 contacts with whom you have interacted and you have either had a short conversation, or you have corresponded through the application, or you have met in workshops and panels.

I saw that BD will come back to Cluj in September. What novelty do you bring in this edition?

Compared to last year, we have a more interesting and much better adapted program. It is the second time we come here and we are much better acquainted with the business environment and its needs. We also have the matchmaking application, which is offered for free to everyone who attends.

We will have a national premiere, a common endeavour of the academic environment, the local administration, the civil society and the business environment, to create a debate concerning the city"s long term strategy, with focus on attracting foreign investors, including by involving the immigrant community in this event.

Besides these, we will have different additional manifestations and we will extend the impact area through the support which will be provided for some startups, by giving them the possibility to test their business idea in front of those present to the event and by facilitating their meeting with a few business angels and investors.

Since we are an IT publication, can you tell us a few words on the mobile applications developed by BD?

To be more specific, we have two applications, one is included in the other, but in terms of functionality, there are two. The first one is an application for smart-phones, whose role is to facilitate the access from these mobile terminals to the program of the event, the speakers, the video channel, the live streaming, the facebook page, the blog and the different interactive components of communication through the platform.

The second one is that of "meet-me" matchmaking, which is offered free of charge to any participant to such an event. The application allows searching, filtering and sorting the data base of the participants, according to four criteria: activity domain, position, company and name, facilitating thus the process of identification of potential partners. Two actions can be started with each of those identified as interesting: one can either request a virtual exchange of calling cards, or a meeting somewhere in an area especially set up for such meetings within the event. Both actions are done through a permission e-mail, so that the person receiving the request can accept it or turn it down, and in the case of a meeting he can reschedule it according to his agenda.

The access to this application is based on a username and password that can be found on the invitation received once the registration process is completed.

How do you see the evolution of the Romanian IT market from the perspective of the companies which take part in the event?

The IT market is well represented to our events and it is one of the most dynamic in our country, especially that of software. That"s the reason why in the event of 25th -26th September from Cluj, we will organize a meeting one evening between the members of the IT community in the area.

BD is a big event for the Romanian market. Can you tell us what does organizing such an event imply?

It is a very hard work, there are multiple causes, but the most significant is the still nascent mentality of customers to pay for the participation in such events. Also, there is an inflation of events on the market, which sometimes fail to offer the expected experience to the participants and sponsors. Therefore, in order to gain the partners" trust, a lot of work and passion are required, as well as a constant concern with quality. Moreover, for us to differentiate ourselves on the events market, we chose to communicate entirely transparently. Each time, we publish the video recordings, the photos and especially the info-graphics containing the data gathered from the feedback questionnaires from the former events, warts and all. Due to this open attitude and especially to the fact that we do not abandon this path no matter how hard it gets, we have managed to gather around us partners, supporters, ambassadors, friends, fans and speakers who support us almost unconditionally. It is a beautiful feeling which gives us the impulse we need so much when we have a hard time.

Business Days is in itself an inspirational story, as it is a project started up by a handful of people, in the middle of a financial crises, with no budget, nor experience in organizing events, but with a lot of passion, willingness to work and patience.

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