1. Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
I’m Andrei Stoica, an entrepreneur turned freelancer, turned entrepreneur. I’m born and raised in a small village but have spent most of the last 10 years in Bucharest. Professionally I mix marketing, design and development into a really wide range of projects. I like helping people, making friends and building systems that work for all individuals involved.
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?
I started doing graphic design in AIESEC while, worked as a marketer in an education NGO, Scoala de Valori, right after graduating from university but continued to work on desktop publishing and graphic design projects. I added web development later as a skill when I needed to implement the website designs I was creating. After Scoala de Valori I tried to build an advertising agency for a few years but didn’t work great and switched back to freelancing. I tried a few other projects for about 4 years but it was mostly freelancing work.
I started the current team, stoica.co, with my brother as a need to work in a larger team. We tried to collaborate with other people or join other teams but we didn’t seem to fit anywhere so we started to hire and build our own. We’re creating a place where we enjoy the liberty of a flexible work schedule and the understanding of our colleagues when we need help with anything. We learn together and build a better place every year.
3. What do you think or hope the future has in store for you and your business? Where do you see yourself or your organization five years from now?
I hope we grow every year and get to a point when we are unanimously recognized as a group of hard working, highly competent individuals that are together by choice (not lack of a better alternative) and choose to work together for long periods of time.
In 5 years we’ll probably have more than 40 people in the team, split in several groups led by some of the current team. An important part of our income will be generated by our digital products or reselling other products (some sort of “passive income”). We’ll still have a financial buffer to support the team for more than 4 months and we will build a substantial fund to invest in new projects proposed by anyone in the team.
I’m sure the future will look great because we work hard, we learn with each new project, we’re open to feedback and we ask for help. Plus, we’re transparent with our financial situation and team priorities so we can all contribute and make the right decisions in case we need to steer to a different direction.
4. How has lockdown been for you and for your business and what have you done that has helped you personally and professionally?
It was business as usual for us. We were used to working from home or other places than the office since before the lockdown so we had everything we needed. We tried to communicate a bit more with each other and daily phone calls started to become a thing.
Personally, I tried to spend more time with the family and have meaningful conversations so it was an opportunity for me to connect. I tried to focus only on “what I can do better in the current situation” and not consider previous plans.
5. What’s your take on Bucharest and Romania. What are the highs and the lows in your opinion?
Romania in general has a lot of untapped potential. You can find too many people that work really hard but don’t earn enough, are devoted to their employers but are not respected and are not able to contribute to the outcome of their work to make it their own.
Bucharest is crowded and has a really bad public administration but it is still affordable compared to other capitals of Europe and for a digital entrepreneur it can be a good place to build a main office because you can have access to many well educated people that could thrive in a healthy work environment.
6. What is your must do/must visit/favorite thing to do or show off to visitors here in Bucharest and Romania at large?
I don’t have a specific favorite thing. I like to show them the people and small places in Bucharest (like Bruno Wine Bar & Bistro in the city center – a place to drink good wine) more than Casa Poporului or other landmarks.
In Romania I like the life in the countryside and the air in the mountains (Bâlea Lake is a good place to visit – the view can inspire greatness) or in a less crowded place by the sea side (Vama Veche is still a place I like, constantly evolving).
7. What is your number 1 recommendation now for a book/film/series/app/ or gadget?
I started to watch Dark (a Netflix series) with my wife as one hour of spending more time just the two of us every few days. It’s interesting to watch if you’re into exploring alternative realities / possibilities. I recently finished listening to The Culture Code and it has a few really good ideas. It’s that kind of book that everyone should read.
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?
I don’t do restaurants that much in Bucharest but I like Casa Timis a lot, near Ploiesti (80 km away from Bucharest). You can drink a good wine there and eat really good food, right in the middle of the vineyard, away from anything but not too far. A proper half day retreat. I would have dinner there with Mihai Vasile from Ploiesti, Teatrul Equinox. I met him right when I needed guidance and a few words and his patience meant a lot.
Casa Timiș, copyright – https://casatimis.ro/
9. Sum up your business in one sentence, what it is and why should people engage with it.
We’re a group of highly competent individuals forming a digital marketing agency so we can help our clients achieve their business goals through marketing, design and development services.
10. Describe your Romania in one word.