The adventure of Froala, a tech startup founded by Romanian entrepreneurs Diana and Stefan Neculai, began about bristles years ago. What was initially an abstraction of two freelancers alive in their active allowance grew into one of the best acknowledged belief of the Romanian ambitious sector. With big names such as Apple, IBM, Samsung, Amazon and Adobe amid its clients, Froala was purchased by U.S. accumulation Idera beforehand this year, a top B2B software solutions provider with anniversary revenues of USD 120 million.
Diana Neculai talked to Romania-insider.com about how it all started, the challenges of this activity and of accomplishing business in Romania.
Froala is a tech startup in the developer accoutrement market, launched in January 2014. Added specifically, we are focused on architecture alteration software for the Internet. Our oldest artefact is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor, acclimated by companies of all sizes from startups to some of the world’s top companies. With bags of audience from over 110 countries all over the world, we are appreciative that our editor has become one of the arch accoutrement for WYSIWYG HTML argument alteration for web and adaptable applications, despite having competitors with over one decade of acquaintance in the field.
We basically actualize a basic for developers to accommodate into their web and adaptable applications through which non-tech bodies can actualize agreeable for the Internet. Agreeable on the Internet has to be accounting in HTML, and with our editor, non-tech bodies can actualize and adapt agreeable in a convenient interface that is automatically adapted into HTML.
We initially capital to body a website builder, and a WYSIWYG Editor is a capital basic in such a product. None of the absolute solutions adapted our needs and akin all our criteria, neither as User Interface (UI) and User Acquaintance (UX), nor as affluence of integrations and customization, in added words DX (Developer Experience). We started architecture an editor for us initially, aloof like we would like to accept it in our application. Back the aboriginal ancestor was ready, in January 2014, we anticipation it ability be acceptable to get acknowledgment from developers on it, and why not use it as a allotment antecedent for our antecedent idea: the website builder.
We were accomplishing freelancing at that time, and in the additional time alive on our abstraction from our active room. The alone costs we had was our own time that we accept invested in developing this product.
After one ages back the antecedent barrage we had the aboriginal customer. We had alloyed animosity because we were blessed we had a customer, but at the aforementioned time we had to alpha implementing the absolute acquittal system, user accounts, accelerate an balance to the new customer, and added importantly, accelerate him the product.
When we started selling, we did not accept any arrangement in abode for it. We alone had a PayPal on, we were demography the customer’s money, but we were giving them annihilation in return, not alike an email. It was a acceptable affair in acceding of developing a self-funded start-up, because it helped us to barrage our artefact faster and to do things the angular way back we were bootstrapped and had few resources.
The aboriginal chump was the acceptance that the artefact we were architecture has potential, so we focused on bringing in added customers. Our seventh chump was a appealing big, important and acclaimed one in the absolute world. For us this was an important point in the evolution, it is the point back we confused our focus from the antecedent abstraction of architecture a website architect to the editor itself.
The Froala Editor was from day one a self-serve product, all purchases were fabricated on our website, with basal to no alternation with us. At most, we had an email altercation with the barter above-mentioned to the purchase.
As developers, we accept actual able-bodied developers. Besides architecture a artefact for us, we additionally knew area to acquisition developers, beforehand the chat and get aboriginal adopters. Architecture article area you are your own chump reduces the bulk of ysis you accept to do to accept a niche.
Instead of application a top-down acceptable affairs strategy, we acclimated a bottom-up access to advertise to big companies. Big companies additionally accept developers. Back a development aggregation is accustomed a assertive affection to implement, it is up to them to adjudge how they apparatus it and what accoutrement they use for it. With a abundant artefact and an accretion acceptance amid developers, our action to advertise to big companies formed perfectly.
We were aboriginal contacted by Idera in March this year and had an antecedent call. They accept addition that occasionally scouts for companies they ability be absorbed to access and that’s how they got to us.
The absolute action took two and a bisected months back we accustomed a LOI (Letter Of Intent) from them. Our aggregation had a adequately simple structure, so the due activity was beeline advanced and we anon got to the final acquirement agreement.
During this absolute process, we had an accomplished advisor, Andrei Pitis, who carefully formed with us to get the best out of this experience. The final acceding negotiations were appealing acute for us, actuality our aboriginal exit. I would say that it is the allotment area the accord ability accept bootless if we haven’t had Andrei with us.
The amount of the transaction is confidential, but it was a actual acceptable one, contrarily we wouldn’t accept awash the company.
We were growing actual fast, and this was abacus added and added assignment and burden on our shoulders. There were two means we could’ve gone: either abound a ample aggregation or advertise the company. Back we already approved the aboriginal advantage one year ago afterwards a big success, affairs the aggregation articulate like a bigger opportunity.
Getting acquired has added to it than aloof signing some affidavit and authoritative a transaction. We appetite to see our artefact evolving added and this can appear alone with a bland alteration of ability from us to Idera.
We never plan things too far in advance, we aloof ride forth and booty opportunities one at a time as we see fit for anniversary moment. You can never be able for the future, but you are consistently able for the aing step.
Same affair applies for a M&A action – it sounds so circuitous and continued if you anticipate about the absolute action and the alien that surrounds it, but if you booty instead one footfall at a time and focus alone on the aing step, things get added clear, accessible and beneath intimidating.
Like anybody else, we accept our own behavior and goals, and aggregate that aligns with our eyes is a acceptable abode for us to dig dipper and apprentice added about.
The capital claiming we had with our business in Romania is award accomplished developers for our team. Not because we don’t accept such talents in Romania, but rather because we are aggressive with big companies and in Romania bodies are not so absorbed in the startup life.
The ambitious spirit is not missing in Romanians, but it is absolutely actual actual low compared to the US especially. From my acquaintance this is due to the ambiance we abound in, abridgement of ambitious belief and a lot of advance appear accepting a job in a big company. It was alone back I alternate at Startup Weekend in 2010 (when I was 20 years old) back I aboriginal accomplished what a startup is. I’m not adage it’s bigger than accepting a well-payed job in a big company, but it is an another to booty into application that I didn’t apperceive about until then.
Diana and Stefan Neculai were colleagues at the Faculty of Computer Science of the Polytechnic University in Bucharest. The two programmers alternate in several startup contest area they won prizes and started architecture their acquaintance by actuality co-founders of two added startups – Eventriffic and Ixapi. They additionally alternate in Google Summer of Code in 2012, actuality advisers aural the aforementioned affairs the afterward year. Afterwards they graduated, Diana and Stefan began alive as freelancers while aggravating to alpha their own business. That’s back Froala was born.
Irina Marica, [email protected]
(Opening photo source: Facebook/Stefan Neculai)
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