In an unprecedented move, German entrepreneur Robert Knapp decided to start his internet business in Romania at the time his friends stood against the move and told him he is "absolutely nuts".
According to the article, his friends described Romania as a dangerous third-world country that “civilized people should” avoid but Knapp still aimed at his goal and made it real.
Knapp, reported the article, noticed that several Silicon Valley businesses had their tech teams based in Romania. He saw that tech giants, banks and startups had R&D offices across this eastern European country, so he figured there must be a rich tech situation out there.
He also found out that the cost of living and the salaries paid to software experts are much lower in Romania than in Germany.
With €100,000 (equivalent to $114,000) he started his business. Knapp had borrowed the capital from investors to realize his dream of building a VPN company, which he named CyberGhost.
In 2011, Knapp moved to Bucharest after he left Germany and after six years, he still believes Romania is the only place where he could have made it happen.
"We would have closed it down in Germany after a year and a half, and in Silicon Valley after a few months," Knapp said, pointing out to the current status of the business which has been improving.
"I was circling between Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, and Tel Aviv, which are the most obvious places to start an internet company, and Romania popped up during my research more and more," Knapp explained adding "If you want to run an internet startup, you can basically do it from any location.”
He pointed out that owing to low-cost life and business in Romania his internet business survived.
According to recruitment agency Adecco, in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, a junior developer starts at about €700 ($800) a month take home pay, while an experienced one can reach up to €3,500 ($4,000) a month.
For a tech company, costs associated with salaries are low, as developers do not pay income tax and there are many incentives to encourage the country's growing tech sector.
Costs in Bucharest in general are roughly half those in Berlin so "every euro that we generated [operating] in Romania was worth two euros compared with Germany," Knapp said. "You can sustain a business with little money for a long time.”
“Any German employee would have resigned immediately... but Romanians get stuff done,” Knapp noted.
Romania is the only country where protests to take down a government and to support the fight against corruption happened between 7pm and 11pm, for several days in a row, as people had to go to work the next day, Knapp says.
Because the local market alone is too small for a startup to succeed, Romanian technologists have to think globally from the outset, and this need helps them create products and services that could take off worldwide.
Although he's fond of Romania, Knapp thinks the country has to catch up with Western Europe. It needs to improve its health and education systems, and it needs to upgrade its road infrastructure.
Romania is apparently enjoying the highest annual growth in the EU, and it can thank its tech sector for a good chunk of that activity.