How To Found Your Startup In Cluj

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Would you like to take a closer look at the startup community in Cluj? This Guide will lead you through the main hotspots of the community. Find out more about startup events, co-working spaces, funding and mentor opportunities in a beautiful city of Cluj.

Cluj-Napoca: Romania’s Entrepreneurial Start

Cluj-Napoca is the 2nd largest city in Romania, after its capital Bucharest. There are 11 universities – including two world-famous ones: Babeș-Bolyai University and Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Thus Cluj is a preferred location for many of Europe’s youngest and brightest – not only because of the overall decent cost of living but also good employment opportunities. Cluj is also quite decent when it comes to housing, eating out and leisure time, thus many young entrepreneurs choose Cluj for their new ventures.

For over a decade now, Cluj has been a preferred destination for offshore and nearshore development. A staggering 12.000 people actively work directly in IT and a couple of thousands in supporting jobs. It’s safe to say that about 5% of the city’s entire population is engaged in the IT sector one way or another.

Most of this workforce is employed by a large number of outsourcing companies. But this also means that there is A LOT of technical talent in Cluj. As opposed to say, Vienna, where most of the startup scene is comprised of business people and there is a huge lack of technical people, the exact opposite is true for Cluj.

National and European grants are supporting the development of the tech ecosystem in Cluj and locally, as well as international companies which are actively training a lot of technical talent – so there is still room to grow. It’s estimated that in the next 5 years more than 100.000 new jobs will be created in the IT sector in Romania.

Many of the people involved in the local tech scene have been working as freelancers for the past 7-8 years, so they’ve got a healthy taste of what it’s like to be a part of a startup, that’s why we’ve been seeing a trend to start local startups recently.

This tendency to move towards startups was also fueled by the recent success story of Cluj-born LiveRail that was acquired by Facebook for around $400m.

Meet Cluj’s Startup Community

discovering Cluj startup community

Although small, the Cluj startup ecosystem is a vibrant one. At the time of writing this guide lists of 29 operating startups in Cluj and lists 39. It’s estimated that a total of 50 startups are currently operating out of Cluj-Napoca.

The absolute best way to connect with the local community is to attend its regular events. There are a number of places to check for startup related events, but your best bet is to check the sites of the venues.

  • ClujHUB – is the most active venue for events and meetups. They hold almost daily meetups, one of the regular ones being OpenConnect.
  • CoFounders’ Group is a particularly active one, but make sure you request membership before you drop by.
  • Cluj Startups FB Group is a great source of upcoming events & meetups. New ones are added almost every day.

There are also few regular big events happening in Cluj:

  • Techsylvania – probably the biggest startup event in Cluj. International speakers & audience always attend Techsylvania, so this can be a great first contact with the local startup ecosystem.
  • Boost Your Startup Network – is an event organised in cooperation with StartUs and aims to bring startup enthusiasts and mentors together. Great for networking and expanding your startup network. Next event will be in May, more infos will be announced soon.
  • Cluj StartupWeekend – the local chapter of the famous StartupWeekend, where you can build your startup in – you guessed it right: one weekend. Some pretty cool projects came out of the few editions that took place in Cluj so far.
  • ITDays – a more formal festival of the local ecosystem, organized by TodaySoftware Magazine – Includes panels, speeches and a pitch session.
  • Cluj Innovation Days – one of the biggest events, organized by the ClujIT Cluster. It features European Union programme presentations, speeches by EU parliament members and politicians. Definitely one of the more formal events.
  • Transylvania Demo Day – similar to StartupWeekend, organized usually during Cluj Innovation Days.
  • Startup Live
  • 3Day Startup

Co-work In Cluj

cluj coworking spaces

The co-working spaces in Cluj-Napoca are ideally suited for small teams – and they are particularly tempting since the startup scene is mostly centered around these.

  • ClujHUB: One of the oldest & most active co-working centers. They organize most of the startup related events in Cluj. They are located near the city center in a totally refurbished building. The vibe is Google-ish and one of the best perks is that you get a yard, where parties and barbecues are quite frequent. Very vibrant community.
  • Cluj Cowork: It’s located in an old building in the city center. Many startups prefer its more “bohemian” look and feel.
  • Chaos CoWork: You can’t get any more downtown than this. It’s a cosy coworking space, centered around the idea of free software & the Pirate Party.

Office space in Cluj is also quite affordable, starting at around 8 EUR/sqm to 15 EUR/sqm in a Class A business building.

Get Money In Cluj

cluj startup guide finances

Frankly speaking, Cluj is not quite “there yet” when it comes to angel money and venture capital. Most of the investments done in the city are either done by outsourcing companies in the form of spinoffs and technical resources.

A few notable exceptions come in the form of seed investments from local angels – usually these investments happen after a demo day (see Transylvania Demo Day for example).

Government grants and support:

  • Government supports new ventures by providing easy ways to found a company. For example there is a type of company is called SRL-D (debutant limited liability company) that can be formed in 3 days with no cost. This is particularly helpful for those that start up in the tech scene. More information can be found here (in Romanian only – but you can ask any local startup group (for example Cluj Startups FB Group)  to help you with these, they will gladly do so).
  • You can apply for a 10.000 EUR non-reimbursable grant if you found a SRL-D – as well as exemption from paying taxes for up to 4 employees. More regarding this opportunity here (also in Romanian).
  • There is also the tax exempt that IT workers get in Romania – and of course this is a huge advantage for Cluj. As from 2001 there is no income tax for IT workers. You need to keep this in mind when hiring devs in Cluj.

Incubators & Accelerators:

Other than that, there are no formal venture institutions worth mentioning. Some angel clubs are forming, but they are far from mature or very active. One such network is TechAngels.

Mentoring In Cluj

cluj startup guide mentors

The absolute best resource to start with is the ClujBusiness website. It contains pretty much all the information needed to get started in Cluj. A lot of effort was put into the site and it’s updated constantly. Aries Transilvania is also a great resource of IT companies – it’s the local chapter of the largest IT&C organization in Romania.

Also, a good way to get more information is to join one of the Facebook groups mentioned above, then drop by at one of the coworking spaces and have a talk with the managers, they will be more than eager to help out.

If you plan to take a quick trip through the city, get in touch with Cluj Greeters (part of the Global Greeter Network) and they will show you around the city and introduce you to some of the people working in the startup scene if you ask them to.

Are you ready to get on the startup road in Cluj? 



The guides are like startup communities – they contstantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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