Romanian IT in San Francisco – 2019 retrospective

Later edit: Thanks Andrei for the extra info I missed!

After I set up the Mailchimp list earlier this month, time to complete 2/2 of my Romanian IT in San Francisco bucket list for this year. It’s been a great 2019 and I think it’s worth going through it month by month and seeing what happened in the local community, our events, hikes and announcements, and how the group has grown to 454 members to date.

January 2019

It was a quiet month, with no official events. We helped the Cassiopeia – Zero Robotics high school team connect with a few Romanians in the Bay Area, as they were visiting the US for a robotics competition. We also announced our first meetup of the year, and a visit from one of the Romanian IT founders.

Oana, and the Find My Mentor team, kick-started the 3rd (or 4th?) edition of their program in mid-January. Find My Mentor is a 3-month mentorship program, designed to connect entrepreneurs and tech professionals with mentors, in order to accelerate their personal and professional growth. It featured 30 mentors, and more than 360 mentorship sessions, in over 20 countries. We had several mentors that participated from the Bay Area, including me and Andrei.

February 2019

We had our 1st meetup of the year, thanks for those who showed up. We had a few people traveling in the Bay Area and we were happy to host them at our usual venue, in the Mission District.

Later that month, a few members decided to celebrate Valentine’s day together in San Francisco, at the Emporium SF – no pics.

UiPath also hosted their first meetup in the Bay Area, in Mountain View, which we helped promote via the group. There were three more events we announced in February – Google’s Cloud conference in April (we got free tickets for the community, thanks Victor), a South Bay Romanian IT meetup organized by Ionut and Adrian, and the European Chamber of Commerce May 9 cruise to celebrate Europe day.

Last but not least, Oana, one of the Romanian IT co-founders, decided we should expand to be Romanian IT in USA. Let’s just say the local community wasn’t very happy about the change, but we had to live with it for 30 days, due to Facebook Groups rules

March 2019

This month, we held the first San Jose meetup at the Three Sisters bar (in San Pedro Square Market) and it had a pretty good turnout. We announced our April meetup for San Francisco. I was away in Utah for a few weeks, so things had to be scheduled around that.

We also promoted

  • The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce 2019 Spring European Pitch Night, where Romania was to have one startup. I’m not sure if anyone from our community attended.
  • A Don Lothrop meetup about his Romanian projects, organized by the Romanian America Business Networking group

This month we were able to go back to our Romanian IT in San Francisco name. Business as usual.

April 2019

We met again at El Rio, but I didn’t take any pics of that meetup. I’m sure we had a blast and that’s why :). We also met at the Easter picnic, so overall it was a pretty busy month.

We also started planning hikes again, since the rain/snow season was coming to an end. With Easter and elections coming up, there were a few more things to promote:

  • Easter picnic in the South Bay, as usual (see pic, via Oleg)
  • Two projects via Alin Zainescu – Teleleu and Code for Romania HackDay in SF
  • Alina spoke at StemEd SF, where a few community members got together
  • Volunteers for the voting precinct & the polling station location for the May European Parliament voting session
  • A Declic / Mircea Bravo GOTV campaign for the May elections

May 2019

May was all about hiking and elections. We went to Berry Creek Falls (12mi), Stinson Beach/Cataract Falls (~8mi) and we also got together to vote and catch up afterwards in the East Bay.

This month, a lot of the focus was on elections, volunteers and the Code For Romania hack day that was to be held on June 1st.

June 2019

We started off the month with pics and videos from the hack day. I couldn’t make it, but a few of members did. We also connected with RoMADE – Romanian Mobile Apps Developers and Experts, an action financed by the Romanian Government and organized together with Romanian Creative Industries Business Federation. They were in San Jose to explore the business opportunities in Silicon Valley.

We then met for drinks again, at El Rio, and afterwards we headed out to the traditional El Farolito. Good turnout, fun night.

Later that month, a few of us connected with Cristian, one of the Meetin VR founders, who was visiting the Bay Area looking to network and potentially raise capital.

July 2019

This month was all about meetups again, with South Bay members getting their second event, with Adrian and Ionut hosting again in the San Pedro Square Market, Downtown San Jose. There was no SF meetup this month, but we promoted more Romanians doing cool things in tech and also kicked off Presidential elections voter registrations.

I had been organizing meetups by myself for a few months now. It was time for a change.

August 2019

The month kicked off with great news, Andrei joined me as co-host and organizer for the Romanian IT community in San Francisco. It was a few months after Mihai had left town and I had been looking for people to help out with event hosting, moderation and other responsibilities.

In August we organized a hike to Rodeo Beach (4.8mi) and the monthly El Rio meetup, which we had to move to the next-door bar, due to a wedding taking place at El Rio! Still great fun and good turnout.

This was the month where we decided we needed a WhatsApp group, so we can include people who went off Facebook. The group link is on the Facebook page, had to remove it from the blog due to spammers coming in. We also started promoting events for a very busy September.

September 2019

This month, besides elections updates and voter registration, we met and hiked not once, but twice each – Angel Island early in the month (6mi), then Coastal and Fox Trails Loop (6.3mi), plus 2x El Rio meetups.

I think by this time we found that everyone’s sweet spot with hiking is around 6 miles. I tried not to go over that so we don’t exhaust everyone after a full day on the trails. Love the feedback!

We also promoted Alianta‘s event in Washington DC, that was organized in October, the 7th edition of the Romanian Film Festival at Stanford University, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, also in October and more voter registration for the November elections.

Towards the end of the month we met with with Tudor, founder of Floating Dots and Studhub, who was visiting the US to look for new partnerships, and grow their development outsourcing business based in Cluj-Napoca.

October 2019

We took a bit of a break in October, with only one meetup at the end of the month, after the 4 events in September. It was great to see everyone again at El Rio.

We continued to help with the elections volunteer recruitment and posting regular updates for the community, as well as promoting the film festival.

We also met with Bogdan and Alex, the founders of Plant an App – a low code development platform for custom business applications. They’re spending some time in the Bay Area, as their company is part of the 500 Startups program (early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator).

November 2019

November was again very busy, with 4 events, 3 meetups and 1 hack day. 2 of the meetups were all about the Presidential elections, that take place in 2 rounds in Romania, usually.

We met twice in South Bay, where for the first time since I had arrived in the Bay Area, we had another polling station. Both were fun, thanks everyone for coming out to vote and chat afterwards!

This time elections lasted for 3 days outside of Romania and almost 1 million Romanians in the diaspora came out to vote.

In November, Code for Romania hosted their second Hack Day in San Francisco, which I managed to miss, again, due to business travels.

December 2019

We hosted a last meetup in mid-December, wishing everyone happy holidays and promising to see each other in the new year

(It poured, so we had a smaller turnout, and Adelina was our host, since El Rio was taken over by some office party with increasingly drunk people).

This month, we also promoted a Romanian night in the South Bay, and a few more movies in Berkeley. Unfortunately, due to rain and cold weather, I had to cancel the last hike of the year, much to the disappointment of a few of us.

Overall, we had a great year, with 19 events, two elections and the bar is high for 2020. Looking forward to more meetups, hikes and more people getting involved in the community. If you know someone who’s looking for likeminded Romanians to hang out with, Romanian IT in San Francisco is a welcoming group, granted we share the same values.

My commitment for next year is that we’ll do at least 1 event in January 2020, #promise! Happy new year!

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