1. Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
I am Claudiu. A self-made-not-there-yet billionaire. A curious person who always looked for new ways to challenge the status quo and understand how things work. Ex-musician who went from Brahms on cello to bass player who opened for Blaze Bayley (ex Iron Maiden) & Manowar. Sometimes an entrepreneur. ROTAC race driver and speed junky. Jack of all trades and some other stuff. All of these led me to have no other option than to be a decent brand & communication strategist. Because the role of a strategist is to take chaotic “all over the place” data, analyse them, infuse them with empathy and find the most efficient and effective way to propagate a brand’s message, while keeping it real and relevant for the customers.
2. Share your backstory with us. How did your business or organisation come about and what was it that switched you on to this area in the first place?
It’s a bit of this, a bit of that. Starting my entrepreneurial was somewhere at the intersection of frustration, ego, burnout, arrogance, madness and a bit of (maybe) stupidity. After a tough period in a media sales job that I kind of hated, I discovered the advertising agencies. A new opulent and fancy world, with cool offices, big chandeliers and paintings on the wall, fun and (oh little I knew) laid back people. So I said I want in. But I got a lot of refusals. I was too senior in online media sales, but too junior for advertising. And I got a lot of rejections from a lot of agencies. So I said to myself: “Well, I can do this thing better”. So I started my first agency. Which failed big time. So I took the lesson, reinvented myself and started viatadefreelancer.ro and Milk & Cookies Studio, a digital branding & digital communication studio, together with Cristina Tupita & Irina Botnari.
3. What do you think or hope the future has in store for you and your business? Where do you see yourself or your organisation five years from now?
Tough question. And I really don’t know. I started this projects (the digital agency & the “Viata de freelancer” community) because I wanted to work with the right clients for me, doing relevant projects for my clients, while being able to have financial and location independence. That’s the reason the whole business model is built around remote teams and a core team that manages the strategy, creative, client relationship and the quality. Hopefully in 5 years from now I will be able to travel and spend winters somewhere with hot weather and have as many experiences as possible, in order to become better professionals, better strategists and better partners for our clients.
4. How has lockdown been for you and for your business and what have you done that has helped you personally and professionally?
One word: Sport. And a bit of yoga, a bit of meditation. That’s how I kept myself sane. And also I understood that all this is a temporary. Better times will come, and then bed times will come again and the good times. This is the nature of things, especially under the current financial and political model.
5. What’s your take on Bucharest and Romania. What are the highs and the lows in your opinion?
The highs? The people.The lows? The people. It’s very interesting to see how the social, economical, educational segregation works. Sometimes I love Bucharest (I am born and raised here). But daaaaamn sometimes I hate it. And unfortunately, all of us are part of the problem, part of the solution. And until we do not understand this, things will not change.
6. What is your must do/must visit/favorite thing to do or show off to visitors here in Bucharest and Romania at large?
It depends on what kind of experience a visitor wants. There are a lot of restaurants with traditional food, we have the National Village Museum, the King Michel I park, the old city center, Calea Victoriei and so on and so forth.But for the real deal I will always go for Maramures. And I went there with a lot of friends from outside Romania and they loved it. Highly recommend it.
7. What is your number 1 recommendation now for a book/film/series/app/ or gadget?
Obviously Viata de freelancer Romania – The Facebook group. Over 5000 freelancers and small entrepreneurs sharing experiences, know-how and helping each other. But moving away from shameless self-promo, I love Abstract, the Netflix series. EPICNESS OVERLOAD.
8. If you could eat in any restaurant in all of Romania and have dinner with anyone in the world (not a husband/wife/relative) which restaurant would that be and with which person?
Tricky question. Coftale with Robin Williams as Sean in Good Will Hunting.
9. Sum up your business in one sentence, what it is and why should people engage with it.
Milk & Cookies Studio: Homemade digital branding.
10. Describe your Romania in one word.