Startup Culture 101 From 6 Female Founders in Southeast Europe – The Recursive

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As our team is getting more diverse, we are adding some testosterone weight to our scales, I was curious to find out how inclusive other SEE tech startups are. To say diversity matters is a cliche I want to stay away from. Instead, I am going to share what endless studies have shown. Diversity stirs up creativity, creates sustainable growth, and helps a company outperform financially on the market, to name a few.
So, I picked the brains of six female founders with Romanian and Bulgarian DNA to discover how they built their work environment, what they value inside their company, what makes a great culture these days, and what future leaders should know.
Continue reading to get insights from Xenia Muntean, co-founder of Planable; Alina Stefan, co-founder of Salarium Fintech; Ioana Surdu-Bob, co-founder of Konvi; Lubomila Jordanova, co-founder of Plan A; Gergana Stancheva, co-founder of LAM’ON; and Maya Zlatanova, co-founder of FindMeCure.
Looking over the numbers, although most of them showcase diverse teams, the scale favors a bit men to women in the tech workforce – an average of 55% men to 45% women. 
Yet, the six founders are aware of this and make it their business to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, Lubomila Jordanova from Plan A revealed they have a dedicated training program for this and a task force that ensures they evolve in the right direction.
Then, Ioana Surdu-Bob from Konvi tells me:
When it comes to nationalities, all the companies show an affinity to work with a wide variety of team members that bring value to their business culture and promote their mission.
And how about age? While most employees are Gen Zs and Millennials, each company has a few parents and seniors to keep the scale balanced.

Xenia Muntean, who is building a platform for marketers to connect with clients, shares right from the beginning that although they take their work seriously, with a focus on ownership, builder mentality, and growth – both personally and professionally, they also like to joke around and not take themselves too seriously.

Alina Stefan, who is developing a fintech product, reveals that Salarium’s startup culture makes them feel secure to grow even if building a startup isn’t a walk in the park. They keep an open mind and schedule, with each team member coming forward and asking for what they need, be it a day off to recharge or to accommodate kids, especially during long summer months out of school.
She shared that the core of their business is made up of:

Ioana Surdu-Bob from Konvi, a crowd investment platform democratizing access to high-yielding alternative assets, like jewelry, says they want to deliver impactful work as fast as possible. As a startup team, each person has to bring 10 times the value. This is why they iterate, learn from mistakes, and adapt quickly.

Lubomila Jordanova from Plan A is aiming to fight climate change, and this can sometimes be quite a challenge. So, she tells me that the core pillars of their startup culture are a positive and pioneering mindset, empowerment, collaboration, technical knowledge, and integrity.

Gergana Stancheva from LAM’ON, which has developed biodegradable packaging from corn, is in the process of growing her diverse team with clear communication, mutual respect, and care. She wants everybody that works with them to be fulfilled, as this will make them want to evolve. For this, she reveals she is working with an organizational psychologist to set up a code of conduct as part of the startup culture.

Maya Zlatanova from FindMeCure, a project bringing clinical trials closer to patients, says that what drives the team forward is the “give-first” mantra, followed by failing fast, and learning as you make things possible. They are known for their passion to walk the extra mile for each other, and their clients.
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