Day 2 Wrap Up: Techsylvania’s 2023 10th Anniversary Edition came to an end, see you in 2024, June 26–27!
Techsylvania 2023 concluded with resounding success, leaving a lasting impact on its 3500 participants from around the world. Over the course of the event, a remarkable lineup of 60 speakers shared their expertise and insights, while attendees immersed themselves in a diverse range of topics discussed during 60 engaging sessions on stage. Techsylvania 2023 offered an unparalleled experience to all those involved and extended its reach through 27 satellite events and 2 dedicated events for startups, further enhancing the impact and collaboration within the tech community.
Day 2 on Center Stage: Embracing Innovation and Diversity
The second day of the anniversary edition of Techsylvania kicked off with a captivating talk on the future of programming in an AI-powered world. Scott Chacon, co-founder of GitButler, took the stage to discuss the impact of AI on workflow and the importance of continuous learning. He emphasized the need to address real needs and contribute to open-source solutions for global challenges. Chacon stressed the value of building great teams and products by eliminating redundancy and maintaining a sense of fun.
In a thought-provoking session titled Getting Past 93 VC Rejections, Slava Rubin, co-founder of Indiegogo and Humbition, shared his entrepreneurial insights and highlighted the importance of perseverance in the face of rejection. He encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to follow their passion, be persistent, and learn from failure. Rubin recounted his own journey, which involved countless rejections before ultimately raising millions of dollars.
Later in the day, Chris Leacock, also known as Jillionaire, delivered an inspiring talk on embracing diversity through interdisciplinary exchange. Leacock emphasized that diversity and inclusion lead to better business outcomes by fostering innovation, diverse thought, and a culture of competence and ownership. He discussed the power of collaborative exchange, combining knowledge, music, food, and technology to unlock untapped potential and maximise team performance.
JP Castlin, esteemed author and entrepreneur, challenged conventional wisdom in his session titled “Delusions of Determinism: Why Planning for Success So Often Leads to Failure.” He questioned the effectiveness of rigid planning and emphasized the need for practical and flexible strategies. He encouraged attendees to embrace uncertainty and adapt to changing circumstances, highlighting that innovation often stems from iteration and reevaluation. Castlin urged the audience to prioritise success over adherence to a predefined plan: „There is no right answer to be found. Planning is the answer for that perfect path that doesn’t exist.”
Jean-Marc Denis, a prominent figure in the tech industry, engaged in a conversation about designing for impact. As a product designer for Meta, Denis has worked on platforms such as Instagram and Messenger, serving billions of users. He talked about the importance of data-driven decision-making and the power of feedback to shape user experiences. Denis shared his insights on designing for international markets, highlighting the significance of understanding cultural nuances and optimising products accordingly.
In this thought-provoking talk, Bradford Cross, the AI expert with over 20 years of experience from Two Lions, discussed the impending disruptions and transformations brought about by AI and crypto: AI, Crypto, and Future of State: Why the World Is About to Change Way More and Way Faster Than You Think. He emphasized the need to innovate governments as an industry, suggesting that they should be treated like any other sector. Cross highlighted the potential for radical solutions to global problems through technological advancements and AI models. „Governments will fight like hell, they will try to shut down ChatGPT and outlaw crypto, and this is stupid, because they are trying to shut down progress, because they can’t control it and don’t know what to do about it. We will see thousands of decentralized city states. The monolithics states will break apart — and this is as radical as it gets. Governments must be run as a profitable business — as now, they are all failing.” also concluding ”You should be prepared, the future will look a lot different than what you expect.
Asif Makhani and Marco Eylert, founders of Handshake, along with moderator Andreas Cser, engaged in a conversation about their platform’s global expansion and its impact on democratizing opportunities. They discussed how Handshake aims to connect students and young professionals, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to educational and career opportunities worldwide. The speakers highlighted the importance of community-building, researching individual aspirations, and providing more opportunities for early talent professionals. They also emphasized the role of AI as a tool to leverage and enhance human potential.
Donald Sumbry from Upbound focused on the utilization of AI, specifically ChatGPT, to overcome writer’s block and enhance engineering managers’ performance, in the Unleashing the Power of AI: How Engineering Managers Can 10X Their Performance with ChatGPT talk. He emphasized the importance of prompt engineering, providing context and examples, and knowing what to ask to achieve desired results. Sumbry referred to ChatGPT as a process accelerator that assists with heavy lifting and offers a live demo of its capabilities. He cautioned against using ChatGPT for purposes beyond its intended scope, highlighting its effectiveness as a specialized tool.
Zeinab Ardeshir, the founder of PillSorted, shared her journey from being a pharmacist to a tech specialist and discussed the challenges of navigating the startup roller coaster in the health industry, in a discussion with Hussein Kanji (Hoxton Ventures) as moderator. She talked about the importance of skill improvement, optimization, continuous learning, and integration to create rapid solutions in healthcare. Ardeshir highlighted the significance of word-of-mouth promotion, ambassadors, and leveraging technology to improve medicine sorting and overall health systems. She also stated the need for a motivated and driven team, feedback culture, and the impact of treating people well in building a thriving culture.
Tom Mason delved into the topic of computing large foundational models, focusing on the value of platforms and open-source technology. He discussed the advancements in image generation and talked about the continuous improvement of AI models. Mason highlighted the need for infrastructure optimization and educated the audience on the benefits of AI models, emphasizing the expertise and collaboration of his team at Stability AI to advance the field of artificial intelligence.
Andrew O’Neal, one of the brilliant minds behind Clearbit shared his insights on building and scaling product teams while fostering a world-class team culture. He discussed the challenges of transitioning from building great products to building and managing teams effectively. O’Neal emphasized the significance of clarity in product vision, hiring for willpower and drive, and avoiding excessive processes that hinder progress. He stressed the importance of feedback and maintaining motivation within the team for continuous growth.
Andrei Stamatian, the UniCredit Bank representative & expert in the banking industry, provided insights into digital transformation and its impact on the banking sector. He discussed the key drivers of digital transformation in a regulated industry and highlighted conversational AI with natural language as a transformative technology. Stamatian showcased UniCredit Bank’s use of conversational AI and introduced Ioana, their AI service consultant, stating the enhancement of customer experiences.
Levi King from Nav Technologies shared his entrepreneurial journey, from starting with limited resources to building and scaling eight successful companies: From Zero to Unicorn: A Deep Dive into Building and Scaling 8 Companies. He was the true model of will power, ambition, and overcoming failures in pursuing meaningful solutions. King discussed the importance of addressing critical problems, securing funding, and maintaining a strong foundation. He highlighted the value of a growth-minded culture, honest leadership, and the lessons learned from failures in achieving sustainable growth and success.
Ryan Sarver provided insights into leadership, continuous adaptation, and investing in the closing Lessons in Scaling as Employee #30 at Twitter & 10 Years of Investing session of Techsylvania 2023. He shared his experiences as an angel investor and discussed the constant need for reinvention in the face of changing circumstances. Sarver emphasized the importance of creating a culture by openly discussing core values and actively seeking feedback to drive progress. He encouraged deep exploration within teams to identify areas for improvement and highlighted the dynamic nature of the investment landscape.
Day 2 on Impact Stage: Mastering Determination, Adaptability, and Scaling
On the Impact Stage, the day started with Angus Keck, COO of AgUnity, delivering a compelling talk on the roadmap to impact. Keck emphasized the importance of determination for entrepreneurs, stating, “If the market doesn’t want it, you’re doomed.” He shared insights on how to cultivate determination, including the use of positive affirmations. Keck also discussed the significance of adaptability and storytelling, emphasising the need to create a compelling narrative that resonates with customers.
Efi Dahan from PayPal took the stage next to discuss tips and trends for scaling businesses from local to global. Dahan emphasized the need to dream big from day one and understand the target market. He shared insights into PayPal’s comprehensive solutions and highlighted the importance of collaborating when you want to grow on multiple markets, while stressing the value of investing in mobile apps and providing customers with a localised experience.
Sandi Conroy shared valuable insights on selecting metrics aligned with the mission and user value. She emphasized the need for a clear mission that reflects user value and highlighted the importance of team alignment with the mission. Conroy reminded the audience not to develop metrics before having a clear mission, stating, “Develop a clear mission that reflects user value.”
Aarik Mudgal from METRO.Digital introduced attendees to Google Cloud Armor, a powerful tool for ensuring the availability of applications and protecting against security attacks. He explained how Google Cloud Armor Threat Intelligence helps users secure their traffic by identifying and blocking threats based on various categories of threat intelligence data. Mudgal conducted demonstrations and provided insights on managing security attacks effectively.
Patrick Poels from Snyk focused on the importance of building globally distributed teams. He shared his experiences and highlighted the value of brilliant, driven engineers with diverse backgrounds, emphasising the need to hire great leaders and give them autonomy, as well as the significance of meaningful work in retaining talent. He stated “Nobody wants to do unimportant work.” Poels also revealed that Snyk has expanded its presence to Cluj, talking about the company’s commitment to the Romanian ecosystem.
Eduard Varvara from MassMutual had a nice presentation about all teams in MassMutual. Eduard was one of the first employees in Cluj. It was a great experience for him to work in a team that emphasized the need of digitalization. The Data Team from MassMutual has built an amazing system that provides a consistent way of interpreting data. One of their goals is to check if the data they are reading makes sense for the business.
Andrew Davies from Paddle has talked about Market-fit, how to find your efficient & scalable growth method. When defining a target market we have to be big enough to matter and small enough to win. He has shared with us a piece of advice: “Whatever method you use in demand generation, you should test it. Drive customer growth having a multi-product strategy.vThe truth is, even at the highest growth companies, this is a process of constant learning. Everything is always breaking and it’s your job to fix it. “
Sharon Gai shed light on the remarkable growth of ecommerce in China and the lessons it offers for brands worldwide. Gai emphasized the importance of looking at China as a market, given its rising middle-class population. She introduced the audience to Singles’ Day, a shopping festival in China that dwarfs Black Friday in scale. Gai highlighted the cashless nature of Chinese society and the significance of live streams and personalization in driving consumer engagement. She shared compelling statistics, stating, “89% of consumers report that watching a video has led to a purchase,” and “84% of consumers expect personalization in their shopping experience or won’t make a purchase.”
Reuven Azar from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, in conversation with Andrei Pitis from genezio, discussed how Israel supports the scaling of Romanian companies, in Following the Steps of the Start-Up Nation: How to Scale-Up the Romanian Ecosystem talk. Azar highlighted the importance of thinking globally, analysing global competitors, and creating a marketing strategy. He emphasized the role of the government and venture capital in fostering the growth of startups, revealing that Israel has had more unicorns in recent years than all of Europe.
Moderated by Will Sternlicht from NFX, the Fundraising from the East to West: Best Practices in Raising Funds and Leveraging VC for International Expansion panel featured Masha Bucher from Day One Ventures and Francois-Xavier Cope from First Bridges Ventures. The panel described best practices in raising funds and leveraging venture capital for international expansion. They focused on the need to understand your strengths, create a culture of efficient communication, and quickly pursue international expansion. They also encouraged attendees to stay informed about global trends and maintain connections with international networks.
Opportunities of Networking and Q&A Sessions
Apart from the inspiring talks on the Impact Stage, attendees had the chance to engage in valuable networking opportunities, book meetings with peers, and participate in Q&A sessions. These sessions provided a platform for exchanging ideas, seeking advice, and building meaningful connections with industry experts, speakers, and fellow participants. Attendees took full advantage of these interactive sessions to expand their networks and gain insights from experienced professionals.
Until we meet again, let’s keep pushing the boundaries of technology, driving progress, and creating a future that surpasses our wildest imaginations.
Thank you for being a part of Techsylvania 2023, and we eagerly await your return for an even more remarkable Techsylvania next year.