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Start-up nation – the pre-workout we used

As you already know from the previous article The Box opened doors in August 2018. An important player in this was the funding got from the Start-up nation 2017 program. Although we probably would have managed without the funding, the program brought a handful of benefits. Therefore the aim with this article is to share some the important elements from our experience, especially as the 2019 program was just launched.

The experience we have been through was very useful and probably less complicated than we have expected. To be entirely honest there were some moments when we felt we were buried in documents and bureaucracy, but overall it wasn’t rocket science.

I consider that applying and implementing the project was very important for:

  • Validating that our plan is achievable

Fist of all, when the applications period opened was the moment that motivated us to start laying on paper our ideas around the gym. This induced a sense of urgency to move from idea to something more concrete.

Most of the discussion that the application document has generated are the basis for what you see today in our box. Moreover, the approval of the project was a validation for our plan and a confirmation that the whole thing might actually work.

  • Bringing some financial comfort

The fact that we managed to avoid paying around 30K from our pocket certainly brought at least mental comfort and allowed us to direct funds to other investments. The start-up nation funding in the end covered around 40% of the entire investment.

  • Building a relation with the bank

For us, being at our very first experience with entrepreneurship, it was very important to get close with the bank institution and start understanding its processes. We got lucky and we found the right persons there that helped us through the process with guidance and consultancy.

Drawing a line after the Start up Nation 2017 experience, I would say it’s worth highlighting 5 aspects that would help maximizing the benefits for this program:

1. Hiring a consultant

When considering to write the application our initial thinking was that neither of us have applied to something similar previously, so we should hire a consultant. At this moment I think we would do the same again. The cost for a consultant is not small at all, but the time you save just because he has the ‘know how’ is tremendous.

Theoretically you would say that it shouldn’t take more than a couple of days to write the application, but the truth is .. that you get to the point where you lose much more time for documentation and correcting errors.

2. Taking the bank credit option

Another key aspect and a happy call we made in the beginning was to go with the option of accessing a bank credit that would be covered by the project funding. Besides the kick-off of the relation with the bank, this also helped us to mitigate the risk of delays with receiving the payment from the authority.

There were 3 options that we could have followed:

30 days payment – the provider would have to send us the equipment’s and then after the paperwork is done FNGCIMM (state authority) would send the money directly to them. This in theory is the best option as it moves the entire risk on the provider side, but no provider would agree to it.

Using our own money – to buy everything and then wait for FNGCIMM to pay us back. With the risk that there might be delays and the invested money could be blocked for several months (this happened with some applicants)

Bank credit– you can apply for a credit that is guaranteed by FNGCIMM. With this option the bank does the payment to the provider and you pay a rate of interest of 3.9% yearly until the state authority makes the payment to the bank. All the details and numbers for this approach are below.

  • The maximum period for the financing is 18 months and cannot extend over the date when the funds are reimbursed by the authority.

  • 0.75% commission payable when the first payment is made

  • 3,9 % fixer yearly interest

  • Monthly management commission – 0.08%

You can find out more details following the below link: (only in Romanian)

3. Creating the acquisition list

One thing that we could’ve have done better was the acquisition list. Unfortunately, some of the items in our list were not eligible therefore we have lost some of the funding. One example would be the rubber floor that was interpreted by the authority as venue refurbishment and was not approved, even though its just like any other equipment.

Probably taking more time to speak with FNGCIMM would have helped, either by making sure they understand our point of view or investing those funds in something else.

In the end we managed to recover some of the loss by thoroughly negotiating with the vendor from where we have purchased most of the equipment.

4. Hiring

The second aspect where we did not benefit as much as we could was the funding for paying 6 months’ worth of salaries. Due to the delays we encountered with refurbishing the venue and get everything ready for the grand opening we delayed hiring staff to the last moment and thus we lost the funding for 5 months salaries.

Better planning and a bit more confidence that in the end we will make it through and open, would have helped.

5. Submitting the closure file to FNGCIMM

The part that scares most of the people, was not that difficult either. We only had to go back with some clarifications – pure bureaucracy – that didn’t take more than a couple of days. The remaining funds were in our account in a couple of days after everything was clear.

As a conclusion, the project was very helpful for us and we’ll definitely look for other similar options in the future. Even though in the beginning everything looks so complicated, as long as you find the right persons to help, you only need some courage.

The 2019 startup nation program was just launched so it’s the right time to move from dreaming to doing.


Dupa cum stiti deja visul nostru a prins aripi in August 2018, iar un factor determinant a fost finantarea pe care am reusit sa o accesam: Start-up nation 2017. Nu zic ca fara ea nu am fi reusit sa ne descurcam din perspectiva financiara, dar, pe langa bani, ne-a mai ajutat cu bifarea catorva aspecte importante. Asadar imi propun ca mai jos sa impartasesc cateva aspecte pe care le consider importante, cu atat mai mult cu cat programul pentru 2019 doar ce s-a lansat.

Experienta start-up nation a fost cu siguranta utila si mai putin complicata decat ne asteptam. Intr-adevar au fost cateva momente in care am crezut ca nu mai scoatem capul la suprafata dintre dosare, dar uitandu-ma per ansamblu nu a fost ceva extrem de complicat.

Consider ca acest program ne-a ajutat cu urmatoarele:

  • Confirmarea ca planul nostru este realizabil

In primul rand, lansarea perioadei de aplicatii a fost imboldul de care aveam nevoie pentru a incepe sa punem pe hartie ideile despre The Box. Ne-a urgentat sa trecem de la o idee la ceva mai palpabil.

Discutiile pe care procesul de aplicare le-a generat intre noi, au fost bazele a ceea ce vedeti azi. Mai mult, aprobarea proiectului a fost o validare a ideii noastre, o prima confirmare ca ar putea sa functioneze.

  • Relaxare financiara

Faptul ca am reusit sa evitam sa scoatem din buzunarul nostru 30K euro cu siguranta ne-a dat un confort in plus si am putut directiona acei bani in alte investitii. Ca si proportie aceasta suma a insemnat undeva la 40% din investitia necesara pentru The Box.

  • Crearea unei relatii cu banca

Pentru niste persoane aflate la inceputul lor in antreprenoriat, start-up nation-ul a reusit sa ne apropie de instutia bancara si de procesele sale. Am invatat multe si am avut noroc sa gasim sprijin si consultanta de la persoanele pe care le-am intalnit acolo.

Tragand linie, dupa experienta Start-up Nation 2017, sunt cinci aspecte care consider ca trebuie scoase in evidenta pentru a maximiza beneficiile programului:

1. Colaborarea cu un consultant

Desi initial motivul pentru care am apelat la un consultant a fost faptul ca niciunul dintre noi nu mai facuse asta, in acest moment as merge pe aceeasi optiune. Desi costul acestuia nu este de neglijat, timpul pe care il economisesti datorita faptului ca exista deja know how-ul este substantial.

Teoretic ai zice ca nu ar trebui sa dureze mai mult de cateva zile petru a scrie un proiect, de fapt... ajungi sa pierzi mult mai mult timp pentru documentare sau corectarea greselilor inevitabile.

2. Accesarea creditului punte

Un alt aspect cheie si o decizie fericita pe care am luat-o de la inceput, a fost optiunea de a merge pe un credit punte. Pe langa faptul ca a insemnat inceputul relatiei noastre cu banca, aceasta decizie ne-a ajutat si sa mitigam riscul intarzierii decontarii achizitiilor de catre stat.

Practic existau 3 optiuni:

Plata la termen – ceea ce inseamna ca distribuitorul sa ne trimita echipamentele si apoi FNGCIMM (autoritatea statala) sa vireze banii ulterior direct catre comerciant. – optiune ideala pentru noi intrucat muta tot riscul pe distribuitor, dar evident neacceptata de niciun provider.

Achizitia pe banii nostri - urmand sa decontam achizitiile la FNGCIMM cu riscul ca acest proces se poate intinde si banii respectivi raman blocati pana la solutionare (ceea ce s-a si intamplat in cazul mai multor aplicanti).

Credit punte cu banca – se acceseaza un credit, plata catre comerciant se face de catre banca iar tu esti obligat la plata unei dobanzi pana cand creditul este stins de catre FNGCIMM. Toate detaliile referitoare la costurile cu banca sunt prezentate mai jos:

  • Perioada de finanțare de maxim 18 luni, nu mai târziu de data încasării sprijinului financiar nerambursabil de la minister;

  • Comision de acordare: 0,75 % din valoarea creditului, perceput la data efectuării primei trageri din credit;

  • Dobândă fixă: 3,9 %/an;

  • Comision de gestiune lunară: 0,08% din valoarea creditului.

Mai multe aici:

3. Crearea listei de achizitii

Un aspect pe care trebuia sa il tratam cu mai mare atentie si mai din timp este lista de achizitii pe care le doream finantate. Din pacate o parte din echipamentele de pe lista noastra nu au fost eligibile, si am pierdut cateva mii de euro din aceasta cauza. Un exemplu ar fi suprafata de cauciuc din sala – aceasta a fost interpretata de catre FNGCIMM ca si cost de renovare a spatiului (ne-eligibil)...

Ce puteam face aici mai bine, era sa luam legatura cu FNGCIMM si sa validam acea lista din timp.

Am reusit totusi sa recuperam o parte din pierdere negociind la sange cu distributorul de la care am facut majoritatea achizitiilor si reusind sa obtinem cateva discount-uri substantiale.

4. Angajarea personalului

Alt aspect pe care trebuia sa il tratam cu mai multa atentie a fost angajarea persoanelor conform cerintelor proiectului. Datorita intarzierilor cu deschiderea si cu renovarea spatiului, am fost pusi in situatia de a nu putea angaja persoanele respective in timp util pentru a putea deconta toate salariile eligibile. Astfel am pierdut finantarea salariilor pe aproape 5 luni. O mai buna planificare si ceva mai multa incredere in implementarea proiectului ar fi ajutat cu siguranta.

5. Clarificari post depunere dosar

In final, partea de care majoritatea lumii este speriata - depunerea dosarului final la FNGCIMM- nu a fost atat de dificila. Am avut de mers doar cu un set limitat de clarificari, majoritatea fiind doar birocratie pura. Acest proces a durat mai putin de o saptamana, iar fondurile au fost virate catre banca si catre noi in mai putin de 10 zile.

Ca si concluzie, pentru noi acest sprijin a fost foarte important si vom mai cauta pe viitor astfel de optiuni de finantare. Desi la inceput pare complicat, atata timp cat gasiti persoanele potrivite care va pot ajuta, mai aveti nevoie doar de un pic de curaj.

Programul start-up nation 2019 tocmai s-a lansat, asa ca e momentul sa va puneti visele in practica.


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