Ciprian Dudulea (Difrnt.)
Briefly describe your path as an entrepreneur since you started the university. What did you do in these almost 3/4 years?
My entrepreneurial journey started with a huge failure. I’ve spent my first year at EA trying to launch a business idea which aimed to bring healthy food in public schools using vending machines. What I didn’t acknowledge at that time was that the food business is tough, especially if you’re trying to handle all elements of the experience, like sourcing the food, cooking the food and delivering it. It was too much to handle at that point, so after 1 year of trying to execute the idea, I was not able to sell even 1 sandwich. No question, I was disappointed that the business idea did not work out, but I’ve learned a lot of things related to the operational side of the food delivery business and after some time for personal reflection, I was off to the next venture.
Difrnt. A full stack digital agency started at the end of year 2 with my colleague & business partner Horia, which has been growing exponentially over the last 3 years.
What milestones have you reached in the last 3/4 years? Please describe each of them individually and include relevant numbers.
Grew the digital agency business from 30k to 300k EUR in sales/year.
Built a full-stack digital team of 8 people
Made our first seed investment in another start-up (flip.ro) & helped them reach 2.5mil EUR in sales as their digital marketing agency
Signed a contract during the Learning Journey to Israel in Year 3 with one of the biggest mobile marketing agencies in the world and became their main SEO provider
Recently started a new venture (theoutfit.ro) which aims to reinvent the online shopping experience
What is the ROI (return on investment) when it comes to the cost of the university? Was it worth it? Why?
When I joined EA, I knew that I could not afford to pay the tuition fee by myself, and also didn’t want to burden my parents with loans they couldn’t payback.
So I was lucky enough to find sponsorships from people who believed in me and the entire amount of tuition fee for the 4 years was supported by them. One of the sponsors even became my mentor during the 4 years spent in university, one of our agency clients, and also a dear friend.
I would say that the biggest advantage I got from EA was the networking. Having the chance to meet world-class entrepreneurs & field experts during the workshops, boosted my knowledge, and also the speed with which I executed the second business.
How did the colleagues, experts or university staff influence your development as an entrepreneur?
One of my colleagues is also my business partner and I wouldn’t have been able to start Difrnt without him.
The courses with the field experts primarily taught me how to think and build a set of “mental frameworks” that can be used in various situations. Amongst many other learnings, that’s by far the most valuable thing I got from the university courses.
If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?
I would start Difrnt in year 1 without the blink of an eye and I would prepare more thoroughly for the Learning Journeys as they proved to be an incredible sales opportunity for signing international clients.
What piece of advice would you have for a young student looking for the ideal university/interested in studying business?
If you’re ready to hustle, this is the place where you should spend the next 4 years of your life.