Behind the Scenes of a Romanian Startup

You always hear the same story about successful startup entrepreneurs and their million dollar ideas.

We all have ideas we believe in, but way too often we don't follow them, thinking that these don't matter or won't work. Well, that's precisely the difference that makes entrepreneurs so special.

They don't just dream! They are not afraid to risk it all or make mistakes, as they know that there is no chance without risk, as well as no innovation without change. And I am proud to say I am one of them.

So, my name is Alex and as you might have guessed, I am a Romanian entrepreneur, the co-founder and owner of PixTeller.

Before PixTeller, I launched one of the first web templates store in the world: GecoTemplates (2006). I also had some ambitious projects like Niuzer.com and Sunlize.com. Although not successful in all their details, these opened new pathways for my future ideas.

Now let's go back in 2013, in Iasi. Located in the eastern part of Romania (Moldavia), Iasi has traditionally been one of the leading centres of the country social, cultural, academic and artistic life. It is a thriving university city and was, before Bucharest, Romania's cultural and economic capital.

Probably one of the largest IT Business Services and Office Factories from Eastern Europe

It was just a normal day at home, a day like any other. While navigating through the web on a social platform, I got impressed of people's increasing wish to express themselves through images. Suddenly, all the pieces fit together in one moment of inspiration: developing an app that will make design easier for everyone.

After launching the first version of PixTeller in September 2014, I was amazed by the large number of people around the globe, who were using my app, creating thousands of quote pictures every day.

As a startup entrepreneur, I am always searching for new and innovative methods to engage with the users and customers of my product. Their impressions about the service I deliver on a real time basis are crucial and help me improve my strategy and constantly grow.

Therefore, my new PixTeller's idea is quite simple: to improve and simplify the design process from start to end, so that our service can be used by any marketer from the digital industry, any blogger or website owner, as well as anyone who needs designs for personal or commercial use.

But it's not all milk and honey! While developing the new PixTeller platform, we had to overcome many challenges. There were fun, as well as hard and exhausting moments, when we burned our brains on getting the best results.

The lack of finance was the biggest challenge we had to face. Romania is not a country with a strong economy and doesn't have an infrastructure for shared resources, support and guidance for struggling entrepreneurs to start their business. Besides the lack of resources, the government doesn't understand the specific challenges that the entrepreneurs are facing.

Another key challenge was trying to source talented people to join the team. I had to face many difficulties, as the idea of a startup, with no external funding or guarantee of expected results, is not that appealing to many.

If you live in an emergent country where the IT industry is growing every year, you will face the competition of multinationals, that have financial power and offer many benefits to their employees, from bonuses to health insurances. As a startup with no external funding, you cannot offer the benefits, business environment, or salary level as multinationals.

Also, when working on a startup, you don't usually have a daily 8 hours work schedule. There are times when you need to work even more than 12 hours per day. Therefore, it is essential to have the right people by your side, who understand the concept of your project and believe in your idea and on whom you can count every day. But you always have to look on the bright side of life!

One of the best things startups can offer to their team members is the freedom to express their creativity, to develop their ideas and to learn new things from different areas of their interest. We don't necessarily believe in office jobs and work schedules. You can work anytime and from anywhere, as long as you are doing your job. For example, we have a team member who is always travelling and working from his laptop, from different continents.

Silvia at The Grape - Why You'll Never Succeed Unless You Take A Break
The only coworking space from Iasi and Andra is on it
Alex Roznovat working hard on PixTeller
Alex, Silvia, Ovidiu and Irina working on first PixTeller pitch
Florin working on PixTeller

For years, I've been struggling to find the right people and worked with many developers. From my experience, I think that only few have the strength and patience to work on a startup.

I came to the conclusion that the best team relationships are the ones built on trust and loyalty. Encouraging communication and cooperation between the members of your team, value their ideas and performance is one of the best approach for startups.

I am happy to say that in the end it was all worth it. We at PixTeller, crave friendship and positive interactions, as the better our team relationship is, the happier and more productive we are going to be.

Even though we do have giant competitors as Adobe or Autodesk, as well as a few startups like Canva, Fotor or BeFunky, our app is distinguished by our different approach.

Anyway, we do like to think that in a world where thousands of new images are created every day, there is room for every great product on the market.

PixTeller is unique starting from its awesome design Editor and functionality to the great variety of Public designs and Templates that anyone can use to create new personalised designs just in seconds.

Actually, the technology we used for PixTeller Editor makes our product a major player in the design field, allowing us to move fast in different areas of step by step products, like SaaS business, B2B for printing companies, B2B for site builder services, mobile devices and more.

To provide an overall picture of our product, we can compare it to a human being.
The Body is represented by all the users and customers and as we all know, this can only function with a Heart - the Editor. The heart also needs air to beat, as people need ideas to design. Yes, you got it right! The templates represent the Lungs.

You can use the graphic images designed with PixTeller for social media to impress the audience, create photo albums, banners, posters or anything you can imagine and save it as PDF, JPEG, PNG.

Why choosing PixTeller instead of other design app? Here are some specific benefits of using our product:

  • Time saving – no software installation. You can create any design you want directly from your browser, without using additional software to edit them.
  • Money saving. You can use our app for free with the PixTeller watermark, or you can easily upgrade your account to Pro at the lowest cost on the market and copyright your images. Just imagine how much money you can save by using PixTeller, instead of hiring a designer for your business project. We can all agree that some designers charge too much and you can end up paying lots of money on designs that don't meet your expectations.
  • Easy to use. The key features of our service combines our Editor performance and easy to use functions. We have a great variety of templates and public graphic images that you can use to create your unique designs.
  • No technical or design skills. Anyone can benefit from our product and service, either they have the technical and design skills or not. You can use and customizing any template or public design with PixTeller Editor to create engaging images, from social media covers, banners to graphics for print.
  • Fun. Use funny quotes, pictures, the fonts and colours you want in order to customize your designs according to your preferences and needs.

What I wanted to point out in this article was a clear picture and better insight of a startup, considering my experience on PixTeller.

Of course the new PixTeller version could have been finished in less than a year, but we had to overcome the challenges mentioned above, as well as many other obstacles. The idea is that I never gave up on my dream, even if it took me around 2 long years to finish it.

Time can dissolve anything or make things develop.
Therefore, as a friendly piece of advice, I would encourage any entrepreneur to fight for their beliefs and not be discouraged by the obstacles waiting around the corner. PixTeller, as many other startups around the globe proved it's possible!

To end my "speech", here are some of the plans I have for PixTeller in the near future.

  • Get feedback from all our users and customers, so that we can update and improve our Editor and Platform features;
  • Build great connections all over the globe;
  • Hire creative designers to make amazing templates that can't be found nowhere else;
  • Promote our service and increase the number of our users;
  • Make tutorials about PixTeller and how you can design as a specialist in a fun and easy way;
  • Maintain a great team.

If I had to draw a picture of PixTeller five years from now, I would be elusive and say that the best way to succeed in business is to stay in business.

Grow your business and go viral! It can be surprising, as things in startups can move fast.