I started SILK Ventures with support from the Chinese Government because there was a need for a VC firm that entrepreneurs would trust to partner with when seeking to expand to China.
My goal was to create something entirely different; a company that learns from the future not from the past, that makes decisions based on vision not only experience.
Those who have partnered with us did it because, in a market which they were hesitant to approach by themselves, our people’s unique insight was vital. We did it because we were confident we could create long-term competitive advantage.
When hiring, we search for 3 virtues: integrity, intelligence and a deeply-rooted commitment to succeed. If the person you hire lacks the first, the other two will hit you.
My road so far has involved many chasms and I always jumped without looking back. I’ve come to realise that each chasm was not as wide as I thought.
I never feared challenge but always had a phobia of being average.
The best part about meeting the Chinese President and having him personally approve our mission was the journey that led there and the journey that followed.
Obsession with the future is part of my brain’s processes – technologies that will shape our cities, address biggest challenges, change people’s lives. When I was 18 I worked on a space station design project for NASA for a year. I never stopped thinking that the systems we designed for that station could one day be used by all of us.
I studied Maths and Computer Science for 4 years in Romania; they were telling us that the second most spoken language at Microsoft was Romanian. I didn’t get the job. So I went to Business school.
I moved to China in 2012 and have kept going back there once a month even after moving back to London. “It was fascination, I know, and it might have ended right then, at the start…”
Working in the Chinese Government as an Investment Advisor and the only foreign national in the building was totally immersive. My role was to help CEOs of large foreign companies navigate the complexities of the Chinese business environment.
When Oxford offered me a scholarship for postgraduate studies in China’s political economy, I thought I knew something that others didn’t. But as school started, I experienced the painfully awesome feeling of not being the smartest person in the room and I learnt to speak less and listen more.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise that closing a deal in China is like a scientist’s work with chemical reactions – you have to make sure each element is in the right amount and at the right time or you might get burnt.
I always set myself goals that seem slightly unachievable. As a teenager, I wanted to compete in the finals of the national piano competition which meant compressing 6 years of practice in 6 months. I did it and that was a lesson early in life that “whether you think you can or you think you cannot – you’re right ”.
I believe perhaps naively in people’s abilities to move mountains.
What excites me most is the idea of creation. I wish I’d carved out a bit of time each day to create. Making something that hasn’t existed before is my equivalent to Vitamin B.
I own a small art collection which reminds me every day that different people see the world though different perspectives. It is important to appreciate other people’s views even when you believe that yours is the centrepiece.
My parents still live in Romania but have made every effort for their children to live in a world where everyone has an opportunity. Being here today is the result of love and sacrifice.
I speak English, Romanian, French, Russian, Italian and Chinese yi dian dian.