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Romanian-made Software for Western Markets

08 Ian 2005 - 00:00

BUSINESS - January 8th 2004
The most visible Romanian web-sites are meant for an English speaking audience. They both offer IT information and software programs world-wide. They are softpedia.com and soft32.com, with 950,000 and 600,000 visitors so far, respectively.


Bogdan Gheorghe and Catalin Garmacea built the most popular Romanian web-site, softpedia.com
Bogdan Gheorghe and Catalin Garmacea started their softpedia.com web-site when they were still graduate students. The name of the web-site was then softnews.ro and targeted the Romanian market; it was hosted on the server of an Internet provider company as most web-sites presenting the companies structure and services were.
Their first advertisement strategy for promoting their web-site was to plaster posters on city electric poles.
They understood pretty quickly that targeting the Romanian public was not to bring them profit. So they dropped the domain .ro and went for the ending .com, which to international customers looks more reliable. Then they gave up on the Romanian version all together, with only discussion forums still kept for Romanian speakers.
They are coy about disclosing their company’s financial data. They reckoned though that the company falls under the small and medium size category, which means that their turnover stays under the 100,000 euros mark.
However, this is not to stay like this for long: 2005 should bring the two men’s company over that threshold.
One way is to make competitive software for sale over the Internet.
The two company owners use their week-ends to load up information on their web-site, when their employees are not at work, so as to keep the site up-to-date.
Gheorghe and Garmacea think their success is due to the fact that they built their site with the users’ needs in mind, and packaging information in a way suited for their needs.

The development of the runner-up in the popularity contest of Romanian web-sites was similar with that of the one at the top, with one difference though. Mihai Lucian Todea, the owner of soft32.com web-site wanted from the very beginning to promote Romanian-made software. One year later he understood that income from advertising was not enough. So he revamped his web-site for an English speaking readership. Some 60% of the income currently comes from advertising, with the rest coming from affiliations with foreign sites dealing in electronic trade. The company staffed by only two men exceeded 100,000 euros in turnover.
When Todea started his company he was still a student, and the fact that he has returned to his native Sibiu city, in central Romania, after university graduation did not impact on his business: his customers are foreign anyway. Todea’s plans for immediate development are to still cater to foreign customers. For 2005 Todea plans to buy a headquarters for his company and also hire three or four more people.

Translation: ANCA PADURARU
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