Interview: Ionuț Munteanu (Co-founder Urby & Eventya, IT)

Why are you doing what you do?

I love building stuff that helps people and makes their life simpler. I think building technology can be overcomplicated, but that should not be also the case with how we use it. Each of us is a different kind of social animal. Developing products and services is just the way in which tech people and engineers express their social needs as do artists in their work.

Two things you’ve learned from technology:

a) Technology is, in its essence, abstract. Neither good or bad. It is our own judgments, definitions and actions on it that are making technology one way or the other. We should always keep our ultimate goals in mind while building it and make sure it serves our highest interests as human kind.

b) Technology is just a reflection of our understanding of this universe – with us, conscious entities, included. And since imagination and intuition constantly create more and deeper understanding of it, I think we’re going to see amazing new technologies in the near future.

What was the first soft/program you created?

Few lines of code, on a Commodore computer, that were drawing some lines on a TV screen. It blew my mind at that time. Since then, I tried to spend as much time as I could near computers and learn how to code.



How would you describe to an 85-year-old man URBY application?

Urby is a kind of newspaper, but on your phone, with news about all your favorite events. You don’t even need to bother to open it, because it will daily report to you if something interesting is happening in the city or nearby.

What distinguishes Urby from other mobile applications?

I will only consider apps with similar content, events-related. The first differentiator is the high volume of content. Many of the similar apps limit their content to mainstream events or paid advertising. Urby is using several social media sources to collect and structure all the events from a city. It then intersects this content with the user’s interests, so that the user will see only the content that is relevant to him. Secondly, other apps don’t allow you to follow your favourite event organisers, or event hosts and get news from them when they announce something new. Urby enables a “Follow” type of connection between these event managers or marketers and their audience.

At the end of the day, Facebook is still the biggest platform where people are promoting their events, because most of the people are there already. Obviously, we do not compete with Facebook, but we try to offer a better experience for people who are choosing a social life outside their computers or mobile devices, by offering structured and organised information about local events and activities in their city or nearby.

Why was the app rated to be funded last year at MVP Academy?

Both our efforts to get financed and participating at the MVP Academy worked and helped us, simultaneously. We got the money and the opportunity to enter the MVP Academy programme because we demonstrated we can build products with traction and that we had a strong team behind us, plus a strong will to succeed. Looking behind now, it was a tough year with hard work. We inevitably made some mistakes, took some wrong approaches, but we’re still here and the Urby platform delivers event recommendations to more than 20,000 users everyday through its apps and the widgets, installed on partners websites.

How do you see the Urby expansion?

Our first priority now is to scale inside Romania, to a national level, which means that we must reach a certain level of active users and events managers that are using the Urby platform. The first monetisation model we tried was not scalable, so we’re now trying something new. If our new approach is correct, we can start to scale in a foreign country next summer. Our objective is to be a major platform for events in Europe in the next 3-4 years.

What was the biggest challenge that the team had in creating the concept Eventya?

To figure out a sustainable business model, based on which to be able to finance the company. We were pretty good on developing stuff, but we had to learn a lot about customer development process, marketisation and, of course, sales.

What is creativity for you?

For me, it is a mix of things: intuition, ideea, work, fun, patience, perseverance. It’s all about mixing things together, kind of an assembly process. What helps me a lot in the creation process is my knowledge (but I’m really not consider myself a wide range expert) in several different areas. But I think being creative without delivering that creativity in a form or another is just talking. We talk too much and accomplish/create to little.

What does it mean to find solutions in your field?

It means to correctly identify problems or find better ways to help people. Then make a plan and start doing it. As long as you’re helping others, you’ll be fine.

How do creative thinking apply to software development?

You can’t develop useful software if you don’t combine creative thinking with analytical thinking. Also, you will probably not solve too many problems if you don’t pay attention to people. A large part of programming applications for end users is in fact a ‘people business’. In this context, being creative  is about finding new mixes between technologies, in order to deliver something useful and nice for people.

How are new ideas generated in your team stimulated?

I don’t know if we’re doing anything particular or as a process to have that. We’re just open to anyone who has an idea and we involve as many as we can in the creation process for new features.

What’s your biggest dream as a programmer?

To be able to program a machine while running or hiking in mountains. Some kind of device would translate into code processes, flows or connections I imagine.

What was your biggest failure and how did you overcome it?

I can’t tell. I’m not really looking behind or considering failures. There were a lot of things I have tried and didn’t worked out as I wanted or I had just gave up doing them, but none of them died without offering me a good lesson.

Tell me something learned from a member of your team.

The ability to keep focused on long periods of time.

What do you appreciate for the people you have near you in the projects you are working on?

We do good things together when we are committed, focused and have fun while working. I especially appreciate those who know that they can do something that have never been done before and push themselves forward.

What does a creative business mean from your point of view?

You can be creative in business as much as you are creative as an artist. All great artists have a set of common attributes and approaches when they put things together in new forms. For me to be creative in business means keep your eyes wide open, observe and talk to people and figure out ways in which you can help them.

Who is your mentor?

I do not have a personal mentor or someone to do 1-1 but I am grateful to a lot of smart people I have met in the last 4-5 years here in Romania who offered me valuable advice.  Generally, I read books and listen other people’s talks. At the moment, I’m very fond of Simon Sinek and Ben Horowitz. And I’m always inspired by Elon Musk, especially when I get the feeling that I’m doing too many things, that I’m overwhelmed and can’t work anymore.

How do you see the development of artificial intelligence?

Inevitable. There are many risks in this area, as they always were for the human race since we have started to assemble things to make our life easier, safer and more pleasant. I think we reached a level of consciousness where there are small chances that we will be destroyed by the very machines or weapons we’ve created. I choose to be optimistic here, though I agree that AI can be extremely dangerous if one’s goals is to harm others.

How would an app for children look like?

It should teach them something using slow motion animations and transitions. There are too many apps or games out there and they’re all trying to keep the kids trapped. I love how my kids are still playing with a narrow stick, though they’re surrounded with laptops, iphones and tablets.

How could the medical field inspire you?

I’m very interested in DNA research. I believe there is huge potential in us, but it is yet unexplored. If there are animals that can regrow their body parts, why would humans not be able to do the same? We are gonna probably see a lot of new developments in medicine and healthcare, all of which will be supported by software teams. Not now, but later on I would probably take a challenge in this area.

If artificial intelligence would be a 12-year-old girl, how would she look like a 35-year-old woman? 

12 is an age with a lot of moods and uncertainties. I would expect maturity, predictability and confidence in output from a 35 years old entity. 70 will probably deliver a whole different set of values. I guess the future will be awesome in this area.

Tell me a problem you are still looking for a solution. 

Data input through keyboards is something that bothers me. We must find better ways to communicate our input to the machines.

Where can we find you online?


Thank you for your time and for the fact that you keep people updated with most interesting events in the city!


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