Always ready to build a team, always smart and very friendly. This is Razvan Suta, Senior Business Development Manager at the Startup Wise Guys. Keep striving, never give up – that’s his motto on Linkedin. At key2platform, we’ve already had the pleasure of working with him for our podcast. Now we ask him about the benefits and challenges of online programme management and digital acceleration.
Would you mind giving us some background information on your program: when have you started and which startups are you targeting (region, industry, stage, etc.)?
Startup Wise Guys is one of the most important startup accelerators in the Central and Eastern European region, but we also do international scouting. Startup Wise Guys has been investing for ten years. There are currently 275 investments in our portfolio in four different verticals: B2B SaaS, Fintech, Cybersecurity and Sustainability. I have been working in the business development department for two and a half years on tenders, partnership agreements, new leads and anything that can add value to the Startup Wise Guys ecosystem. Moreover, I have run two online accelerators as a program manager.
How has digital transformation affected you in your program management?
COVID-19 and its restrictions were a shock for everyone, but perhaps less for us than one or the other organisation. We were used to working remotely even before the pandemic. We had members in different countries and had several online programs and coordinations, but not as often as today.
As for the programme, we changed our accelerator program: we made it a bit longer and moved to an online model and, where possible, to a hybrid model. We already had experience with online accelerator programmes, which we had started to run fully online in 2017. This experience helped us to transform our programme almost overnight.
Which digital solutions, tools, and formats have you used for you and your program so far? What works well, and what is needed in addition?
In our activities, we use Zoom, Google, Hangouts or Meets. We also use Slack as a communication tool and – of course – email. For programme management, we work with Hubspot and Asana. Airtable and Notions come into play for the programme itself. For the pre-accelerator programs, we set up key2platform to run and deliver them.
We use the tools in a complementary way: Each has a specific purpose. With Airtable, for example, we collect feedback from the start-ups and the mentoring sessions. It’s a good database. The advantage of Notion is that it is very visual: you have a good overview of the programme you want to do. It introduces different resources.
What are the current challenges of program managers from your point of view?
For me, tracking possibilities are very important in many details. We need to follow what people are doing when we are having many startups at the same time in a program.
We always need to check whether all tools are bulletproof in terms of GDPR. Every time someone uses a platform, it needs to be a smooth process to comply with GDPR.
Last but not least, any calendar synchronisation is very important, as well as good usability for program managers and startups.
What would make life easier for you and program managers in your daily life when it comes to features?
Connection with the audience is sometimes a hassle and often it is a technical challenge.
The start-ups may have technical problems, depending on where the programme is offered. Maybe the internet connection is poor for some in some regions. They can’t see the videos or fully participate in a call. That is a technical aspect where we need more tools and alternatives to serve all participants.