NEWS Regio Reporter EN

REGIO – an engine for small business

Reporter REGIO: episode 4

REGIO - an engine for small business

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

Very passionate about cars, with studies in the food industry, she wears her high heels with femininity in a men`s world. Larisa Corniciuc is a strong woman who turned her passion into a business. She opened, in 2021, in Botoșani City, a workshop for the production of car parts and engine repairs with the support of European funds and hopes that one day, she will learn to repair with her own hands the engines. At 33 years old, a mother of two children, she is a very active person and she strongly believes that everything in life is learned, no matter how difficult it may be.

Moto Dalv achieved, through the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020, 12 pieces of high-performance equipment, necessary for a car workshop, worth 250k euros. The company is at the beginning of the road, but Larisa considers that without the help of European funds it would never have managed to fulfill this dream and offer unique services in Botoșani City with some state-of-the-art equipment.

From the multinational to her workshop

Larisa’s passion for cars comes from childhood, being surrounded by a brother and a father passionate about this field. And since nothing is accidental in life, although she had studied in the food industry, 8 years ago, she was hired by a multinational company where she sold car parts. She is still grateful to the director who hired her because he trusted her and saw a woman who could do more in her. „He gave me a lot of courage. When a man trusts you in such a masculine field, then it makes you feel very good. I remember that the European director of the company came here and after a meeting, he said to the local manager: «This girl has to do more! She has to go to meet the client, talk about car parts and you have to teach her about car parts! », Larisa remembers. She admits that it took her a while to learn the technical part, but it helped that she was curious and asked many questions.

Then, after 4 years of multinational, she decided it was time to open an auto parts store on her own. And because she is a very ambitious person, she wanted more. She wanted something that did not exist in Botoșani City: a workshop dedicated to engines and car parts. She looked for information, studied the open calls from different European programs, and then, with the help of a consultant, she submitted a project within the ROP 2014-2020, Axis 2-Support for micro-enterprises, entitled “Establishment of spare parts production unit for vehicles and engines ”. „I was scared that I wouldn’t know. But I trusted myself and realized that I could learn anything. After making the business plan, I said that there are two possibilities: either to access European funds, or on our own, with the help of the bank, but in the current conditions I don’t think we could have done that. And then I successfully accessed European funds. I said it was a lottery, we had no way of knowing if we would win or not”.

12 types of equipment achieved through ROP 2014-2020

Through the project, she achieved 12 high-performance, high-precision workshop equipment. For connoisseurs, these are crankshaft grinding machines, cylinder head plan grinders, connecting rod boring, honing, valve seat boring, crack testing, and a hydraulic press. Then she tried to find people willing to work with it. But she didn’t find any. Neither local nor regional. So she proposed to the team that came from Turkey to make the equipment settings to … stay in Romania and work with it. Larisa now has in her team two people of Turkish nationality, with experience in the field, and two apprentice Romanian employees. „We tried to find people to work with, here in Romania. I looked for qualified people in metalworking, but I did not find any, it was very difficult. For example, whoever is a lathe professional has a lathe at home and is not looking to be hired. The company from which I took the equipment, by auction, is Romanian, but the equipment is Turkish. It also helped us find the right people. Someone had to help us set them up so they sent a team from there. We talked and they decided to stay”. Now, Larisa explains what needs to be done or repaired in English, with specific terms, and she is also learning Turkish.

A broken engine does not mean junk

Moto Dalv is the only workshop in Botosani City focused on this type of engine repairs and car parts production and because it is at the beginning of the road, Larisa relies heavily on recommendations. Although she could open a car service department, she did not. „Then the services would have considered me a competitor, and I don’t want that, I want to work with everyone. So, now, anyone in Botosani City recommends me. Actually, we recommend each other. If you do a good job, they recommend you. Even if a crack in the engine for a lot of people can mean scrap metal, people who care about their cars, choose to repair the engine”, says the young woman. Even she did that.


Plans for the future? Development also through European funds

The young entrepreneur does not like to sit in the office and says that she would get bored just telling someone what to do. „I want to work with my colleagues, side by side, I like that. I don’t just sit at the office, I go to clients. Sometimes I want to learn to repair engines by myself, but all of a sudden I’m afraid I won’t ruin anything there. I know the operations, I see them, I know their order, but how it is set … no. Yet. I am constantly learning ”. Asked about plans, Larisa Corniciuc says that she would like to expand and buy more high-performance equipment with European funding. She waits to see what calls are opened and which is the one for her. She is in continuous research, she keeps informed about all the opportunities that appear and she knows that only with the support of European funds she could fulfill her dream of expanding her business.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

NEWS Regio Reporter EN

Puzzle pieces put together with European support and local creativity at Gura Humorului City

Reporter REGIO: episode 3

Puzzle pieces put together with European support and local creativity at Gura Humorului City

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020


With over 56 projects funded by European funds, Gura Humorului City has become a landmark in the Northeast region, and a destination for tourists. The city administration has built, over time, a place where every generation finds attractive places to spend their free time, whether they are locals or tourists. From the outdoor and indoor pool to the ski slope, the children’s town, and the artesian fountain with lights, Gura Humorului has relied on tourism and EU funding to grow in the long term.

Marius Ursaciuc, the 18-year-old mayor of the city, is the one who wants to leave a place for future generations to be proud of. He decided to run for the city administration, together with a handful of people, to change the „gray” image of his birthplace and to make it a place where everybody wants to invest. He recalls that in 2004 when Romania was in the pre-accession period, he made the development strategy of the city, in the short and medium-term, together with the World Bank and discovered that tourism is a sustainable and real option for the development of this town. At that time, only resorts of national interest benefited from certain funds. So the first thing he did when he became mayor was to set up an office for European projects and then all the documentation needed to get that status that offered certain financial benefits. The following year, with this status in the documents, it was possible to access funds for large tourist infrastructure. This is how an indoor pool, outdoor pool, ski slope, and cable installation were built. „All this was done to attract private investment in tourism. If in 2004 we had 84 accommodation places in 5 units, now there are 170 units with over 3 thousand accommodation places. And if the population has reached from 13 thousand inhabitants to 20 thousand, it means that we have reached our goal and we have managed to make the city attractive „, says the mayor.

Economic development through tourism

It was the tourism developed with the help of European funds that saved Gura Humorului. Formerly a mining town, 80% of the population was unemployed when the mines closed. Now, through the European projects implemented, smaller or larger, the city has become a destination, regardless of the season. „This is the niche I found and exploited. I have seen many places that can live exclusively from tourism. I am a member of the European Committee of the Regions and I have seen that if you do not have an alternative to economic development as others have, tourism is the only economic development that we can stimulate through investment. We have been present in all major European projects. The development of this city is a puzzle because European funds do not necessarily allow you to be coherent, but you do them one by one. Your needs and the financing possibilities launched on the axes do not always overlap„, says Marius Ursaciuc.

Two large-scale projects, designed to support tourism and provide leisure options for people of all ages, were funded by the Regional Operational Program 2014-2020 and brought 7.5 million euros to this area. The first project was the T.U.R.I.S.T. (Revitalized Urban Territory with Tourism Support Infrastructure), and the second, which has recently been completed, is O.A.Z.A. (Active City with Landscaped Areas). Through the two projects, almost 9 hectares of land in an advanced stage of degradation have been transformed into areas of attraction for locals and tourists. „O.A.Z.A. and T.U.R.I.S.T. mean puzzle pieces that are added to existing projects so that everything has coherence. The two projects only expand this park, which has 23 hectares, with another 9 hectares „, says Marius Ursaciuc.


The O.A.Z.A. is designed for activities for all ages. There are play areas for children inspired by well-known movies or books, adapted to the local specifics. Elve`s Park with 5 houses covered with earth, a play castle, but also a natural labyrinth in which children can get lost at will. The houses are connected by winding paths, and the park is crossed by roller and bicycle tracks. Those who are passionate about such activities also have at their disposal a skatepark, located in Fountain`s Park, and the activity of the children in this area can be easily monitored by the parents from the adjacent wooden steps. The central element of the park is the artesian fountain with water play, music, and color, but also the gazebos built as a meeting place for young people are very popular.


Near this park, next to the indoor swimming pool and the Ariniș swimming pool, a bowling alley was built, as an alternative to bowling, respecting the local tradition. The elderly or people with disabilities were not omitted by the placement of specific fitness equipment. For fans of movement, there are two trails arranged through the forest. The 30 m high panoramic tower from the upper base of the Falcon slope offers visitors the opportunity to observe nature and the city from a height through the telescopes. Picnic areas, but also for jogging are other options for all tourists.

The office in the park and the inspiration

Mayor Ursaciuc is very proud of the project team and the achievements made so far. The team’s office is located in Ariniș Park, in a disused building also rehabilitated with European funds. The mayor considered that good ideas and inspiration come when there is peace around you and the view is amazing. „They work there, in the woods, in the park where there are 8 families of squirrels. They have the right environment to be creative and to come up with ideas for what we can finance. We discuss the topics together, but creativity cannot be formally stimulated. That’s why the environment in which you work matters a lot. If I look at the lines of financing, it’s not poetry. If I look in the park, I see poetry. Because most of the time there is no overlap of my needs on what is financed, here come the squirrels that give ideas, that adapt the rigors to the needs. We have to adapt chameleonically so that we meet certain criteria to receive funding. That is the reality „, says Marius Ursaciuc.

``I made them believe that impossible things do not exist``

So far, Mayor Ursaciuc has achieved what he set out to do a few years ago, Gura Humorului is no longer a gray city, but that does not mean he stops here. He is very happy when he hears that people from other areas are moving to Gura Humorului and commuting to Suceava or other nearby towns. They saw that a city is a place where it is good to live, to raise your children. „When I was a student, I was asked where I was from, and when I said Gura Humorului, they asked me in which county it was. Today … I meet people from Suceava who say they are from Gura Humorului „, says the mayor.

Mayor Ursaciuc and his team have already prepared a portfolio of projects awaiting funding for the next session. A spectacular project awaiting funding is the installation of a 2.2 km bobsleigh that can be used in both summer and winter. Recently, they signed another financing project through ROP 2014-2020, for investments in the educational infrastructure at the Gymnasium School no. 1 from Gura Humorului, which is a big challenge considering that the deadline is December 2023. Given the current situation, inflation, and rising prices for materials, this project is emotional, but not for the team. „We are in the bidding process for the school that we have to finish in a year and a half. From the beginning, I said we would win this project. I didn’t win it. It was the second project on the reserve list. Even so, owning one is still beyond the average person’s reach. It turned out we were visionaries. 3 weeks ago I signed a financing contract. I gained valuable time designing ahead. We took some risks, but they were controllable risks. I think things are not impossible and I made them, the team, believe the same. We tried to make Gura Humorului a destination and I think we succeeded „, says Marius Ursaciuc.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro

NEWS Regio Reporter EN

European funds in the creative industry: the international success of TraLaLa

Reporter REGIO: episodul 2

European funds in the creative industry: the international success of TraLaLa

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020

„I’m TraLaLa, I’m TraLaLa
I always listen to and sing music
And everything I do and when I do
Music is all around me! ”


If you have small kids, it’s impossible not to know these lyrics. Cici the Elephant or the Zigaloo song are also very well known not only among children but also among adults. The lyrics are catchy and you end up singing them without realizing it.

This month’s Reporter Regio episode brings up a couple from Iași, husband and wife, Alexandru and Cristina Badan, who managed to put Romania on the performance map in creating educational content for children on YouTube. The channels set up by the two spouses, under the umbrella of Mora TV SRL, with exclusive content for children, have millions of views. TraLaLa ranks first in national views, and the international channel LooLoo Kids is in the top 5 internationally. Three years ago, they received the „Diamond Button” offered by YouTube for a large number of subscribers, and now they are waiting for the „Ruby ​Button”.

From engineering and dental technique to children's music animation

It all started in 2012, when Alex and Cristina, with two small children, wanted to find something suitable and educational on YouTube for their children, in Romania. Alexandru was a mechanical engineer, but he worked in sales, and Cristina was a dental technician, but she also had an online store for accessories and evening dresses. They had nothing to do with music, but they had an idea: to create songs accompanied by animation for their own children and all children in Romania. They opened a YouTube channel, TraLaLa, and uploaded the first animated song made with the help of collaborators. The feedback received from the parent community was extraordinary and they were always asked when the next episode came out. This encouraged them and gave them the confidence to do other episodes so that in the next two years, they reached 50 episodes. They worked in the evening after the children fell asleep. When they saw that these animations caught the audience so well, Cristina came up with the idea of ​​launching an international channel in English. That’s how „LooLoo Kids” was born.

REGIO European funds for high-performance equipment

For the international channel, which was in a visible expansion, the two spouses realized that the quality level had to be different, which meant money invested in high-performance equipment. „One of the production stages requires the rendering process, or that meant a very high computing power. From 2014 to 2018, the collaborators we worked with complained to us about the limited rendering capacity. For example, there were one or two episodes a month of 2 minutes each. When we requested certain changes, for 10 seconds of changed animation we had to wait 3-4 days due to the slow rendering process. And that slowed down the production process. Then we knew we need very high computing power so I decided to submit a project for European funds for this equipment. We already had a very large volume of data, with our online activity, and the equipment had two components: the rendering part (calculation) and the information storage part ”, says Alexandru Badan. The total value of the project was 245k euros, and the non-reimbursable financial assistance was 183k euros.

Since then, in addition to LooLoo Kids, they have opened channels in more than 10 international languages ​​and distributed content to other global platforms such as Netflix, mobile applications, and television. „We are in all places and on all platforms where there are children. And on planes. There are few places where children consume animation or songs where we are not, ”says Cristina proudly.

Vali Pintilescu, who has been with them since 2017 as development manager, says that they wanted to get to all those places where, usually, only the recognized international brands were present, Disney, Marvel, “brands that do not leave from countries like Romania and whose take-off is easier ”.

The „critical eye”

Alexandru, Cristina, and Vali have collaborators all over the world. They work with creative studios from Spain, and Canada and composers from the USA or Serbia, but the main idea starts in Iași City. It was very important for them to create a unitary note, for the collaborators to understand the concept, not to compromise, to have the same educational principles, from the first episode to the last, until a series closes. And that’s what Cristina does. She is a creative and critical eye at the same time. „No one has been able to develop the level of exigency and the power to constructively analyze each part like her. Because there are many partners, there are strong cultural differences. She knows exactly if a sequence is good or not for children, because first of all she is a mother, everything goes through the mother filter. For us men, everything is ok, but she immediately sees an animation in which the animated character holds a child in her arms in an unnatural way. She feels the emotion that needs to be conveyed. Cristina is the „enemy” of the animators because they often work up to 5 times the same sequence until it comes out well „, says Alexandru about his wife.

From Diamond to Ruby, 50 million subscribers

YouTube has a performance rating system that rewards you with buttons. For 100k subscribers it offers the silver button, for one million – the gold button, for 10 million subscribers – the diamond button, and the ruby ​​is offered for 50 million subscribers. 3 years ago Mora TV received the diamond button and it was the first button of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. It was an event that marked not only their performance but also the commitment of YouTube to support content creators around the world, not just those in London, Los Angeles, or New York, who populate this area. Currently, through LooLoo Kids, Mora TV is in the top 5 content creators in ​​the kid’s area worldwide. „With the Looloo Kids project, we have almost 49 million subscribers. At 50 million it means we’ll get the ruby ​​button. Only 39 content creators worldwide in YouTube’s history have reached over 50 million subscribers. It’s a performance and we hope to celebrate as soon as possible. We estimate that it will come in the next 2-3 months and we hope to have an event at least as sumptuous as the diamond „, says Vali.

Involvement… the secret ingredient!

The general audience on all channels has reached 300 million families per month, which is an impressive number of views. Even if financially speaking, international channels are the most successful, this does not mean that TraLaLa is left behind. The couple says there are times when the whole team only works for TraLaLa because both Cristina and Alexandru are emotionally attached to it. And even if the impact is somewhere between 5-8% in business, they say that you can’t leave behind a project in which you put so much soul and they want to have the same quality as the international ones.

Cristina and Alexandru are 100% present in their business. Filter all stages, from ideas to feedback. But at the same time, they kept their simplicity and work side by side. Vali Pintilescu says about the two spouses, with admiration, that they are atypical entrepreneurs. „They are very involved in this work, more than hundreds of entrepreneurs I know. When you see that the business is on an upward trend, you let it grow. But they are still here, working every day and I think that could be the secret ingredient, the recipe for success „.

``We are up to date with all the information about European funds``

With a turnover of 796k euros, a profit of 265k euros, registered in 2020, and 12 employees, Mora TV entrepreneurs focus on international growth in the future, but not only. They want to increase the number of channels, develop the productions they have engaged in, such as the project related to classic stories in a 3D format similar to Disney, and bring to Romania successful productions for children. Recently, in November 2021, TraLaLa also became a television station. After obtaining a TV license in 2020, TraLaLa can now reach all children, not just those with internet access. They are constantly evolving and they say they want to have the time to put into practice all the plans and projects they have. At the same time, because they have many dreams of expansion, they are pursuing everything related to open calls for European funding. „We are constantly scanning everything that means information about European funds. We are up to date with them. In animation, where we invest enormously financially, we have a very long payback period. A full season for a project budget should exceed 800k euros. It is difficult to invest in a new project, given the payback period. That is why we need European funds „, says Vali Pintilescu.

The need for funding for intangible assets

The Mora TV entrepreneurs want the intellectual property to become eligible for European funding, given the specifics of their business. „We are atypical, exotic for the Romanian market. We need money for licenses, software creation, and ideas. And that is not funded. The state does not support this area at all. We have a lot of projects in mind that we would implement if we had financial support. The international market has taught us a lot about the level of demand. You are in a race with players who have behind them either some companies that have huge resources, or some responsible states that invest in promoting the actors in this area for children. But I am still optimistic and with every call, we see if we can finance intangible assets. It hasn’t appeared yet. We demand a more open vision related to the area of ​​funds for licenses, for intellectual property, I believe that the added value is not only given by technology, it is also given by activities in the area of ​​the creative industry. Because we have proven that the creative industries can bring added value, generate profit, jobs, and a product that can be exported to several markets „, concludes Alexandru Badan.

Reporter REGIO is a new North-East RDA initiative, which focuses on promoting the successful projects of our beneficiaries, projects that have managed to stand out by bringing added value and impact to the community. At a time when negative news predominates, we offer you beautiful but true stories for reading, meant to strengthen the belief that „it is possible”! Be part of the story!

Are you a Regio beneficiary? Let us tell you the story.

Contact us for details at info@adrnordest.ro


NEWS Regio Reporter EN

The road of the wool, from Piatra Neamț to America, via REGIO

REGIO Reporter: episode 1

The road of the wool, from Piatra Neamț to America, via REGIO

Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020


Oana and Cătălin Tatu built a family business in which they raised wool products to the level of art with a lot of passion, dedication and … European funds. The idea of ​​entrepreneurship has been around for a long time, but they have not been able to agree on a project. On the principle „everything happens for a reason”, they discovered wool, its benefits and its untapped potential exactly when they needed it. It is the kind of success story of some people who started from the bottom and managed, together, to build a sustainable business, with 100% natural materials, locally manufactured, in Piatra Neamț and with great prospects for the future.

How did it all start?

Cătălin and Oana were at that point in their lives without too many financial possibilities, with a small child and a recent bank loan for an apartment. Their little girl was sleeping on a mattress they were not very happy with, so they decided to put a woolen „grandmother’s” blanket on top. The inconvenience was that the blanket was very slippery. So, they decided to take it to a local tailor shop to put cotton on it. It turned out so good and the baby was sleeping so well that they decided to make another blanket. In the meantime, the local tailor shop had closed due to a lack of orders. Then, Cătălin decided to make one himself, what could be so difficult?

It turned out to be difficult. Because there was no … wool, a product that is so traditional in Romania and used by generations for years. He began to search, to study, to learn as much as he could about wool. This is how he discovered a very competitive and growing market abroad. In Romania … not at all. That’s when they both said, „That’s it!”. Until then, they were both looking for ideas to do something on their own, but neither of them was embracing the other’s idea. „We bought wool that filled our pantry with moth. It wasn’t good, we realized that not all kind of wool is good. And we started studying. We kept reading and reading and when we found out about the American market, we said that we can do it too”, says Oana. Cătălin saw the potential and went to the closed companies due to the crisis of 2009-2010 and bought a second-hand sewing machine and a cutting table. It was happening somewhere around 2011.

``We shaped the wool in a modern way``

Both entrepreneurs grew up with grandparents who raised sheep, who scolded wool, who had a loom in the house. Cătălin, a textile engineer and Oana, with a marketing history, complemented each other very well in the rebirth of a culture. Somehow, all bonded, because not only did they know how to sew, but they knew how to create a story behind the wool. Until the Revolution, the Romanians used wool, but everything was thrown away when the imported products arrived on the market. „It’s like an axiom that you don’t have to prove, that wool is good compared to synthetic materials. Synthetic products develop allergies. Children who used to sleep in a kneading-trough, in lambskin, with woven socks did not have allergies. We believed in ourselves that we could, and we realized that we would succeed if we revived the need for wool. Why did the world run away from the old woolen blankets? Because are heavy, it stings, it smells, so we had to reinvent the wool, to dress it up in a modern way. My dream was that there would not be a difference between a light, steamy quilt and a wool quilt. We have developed a product that has wool, but is modern. And it could only be made with merino wool, which is soft and fine „, says Cătălin.

With the second-hand sewing machine and the cutting table on the ground floor of the block where they lived, Cătălin started sewing, after his main job. At the beginning, they made a PFA, an online store and a Facebook page, Confort Merino, which brought them around 7-8 orders per month.

He found an UK entrepreneur online who wanted to start a business, but didn’t want much volume and needed flexibility. He asked for some samples, he liked it and offered them a collaboration. When they saw that the partnership was materializing, Oana and Cătălin looked for a stable wool supplier and took care of all the necessary documents for export. They set up SANODOR SRL, they entered the list of exporters, so that when they sent the first order, on Good Friday in 2014, all the documents were ready. „Together with our collaborator from Great Britain, we have developed our products a lot in a year, we have brought them to a quality level so that there was no difference between our products and those on the UK market. In the UK the world is very open to wool products, there are many NGOs, there is a wool culture. Even Prince Charles has an NGO called The Campaign for Wool, which has grown worldwide. The wool market is encouraged from sheep breeding to the store that sells the final product, blankets, clothing, quilts „, says Oana.

The need for more

For more than 4 years, the two moved near Târgu Neamț, in a village named Vânători, to a clothing company to use their quilting machine. They started this collaboration because they did not own such a machine and the orders were increasing. If the company had many orders, they had to wait. Sometimes they asked employees to stay after schedule to do their quilts as well. Because the quilting machine was an old, second-hand machine, it made mistakes, sewed wrong, and they had to unpack the whole product. It happened quite often to stain with oil, so they had become specialists in cleaning the edges of the quilts. One of three was stained with black from the fastening system, no matter how carefully it was done. But that’s how they grew up and learned, with the company from Târgu Neamț. „It was a beautiful collaboration, but I knew that if we want more, we have to do something„, says Oana.

In 2016, they went for the first time at an expo fair abroad as exhibitors. That was their chance, they say, looking back. Although it was very expensive to attend such a fair, it was necessary to be present in order for the suppliers to take them seriously and to meet new customers. There, they acquired knowledge, exchanged know-how and learned how to make their products better. They came from fairs with their eyes wide open. So, after attending a fair in Germany, Cătălin returned home thinking that their business had a fantastic potential and could grow. But they needed their own quilting machine. This is where European funds came into discussions and how much the company will develop with these funds. They found out that there was an open call on the Regional Operational Programme. “I said this is our chance! A machine like those costs, in Europe, around 100 thousand euros, and those in China around 20 thousand. I thought that if it works, is fine, if not, with our contribution which was supposed to be 20 thousand euros, we would buy the machine from China and that’s it. At least let’s try! At that time, I was pregnant and I had to stop working and stay home, in bed. I put my laptop on my pregnant belly and started making the business plan. I received the outline of the business plan from the consultant and put all our thoughts on paper, from development to customers and competition. 80% of what I wrote there then is still valid. I will never forget how I wrote that business plan, with the laptop table on my growing belly. And I kept writing, until May, until I gave birth „, Oana remembers, with joy in her eyes. In November 2016, the project was submitted, in November 2017 the contract was signed and in August 2018 they had the quilting equipment. These are data that they both remember with great precision because they lived each stage with emotion until the end of the project. „When the experts from the North-East Regional Development Agency started to visit, we realized that it was being approved and we felt we were getting closer. I will never forget the astonishment of the expert who first came to visit. I had arranged all the space, calculated, according to the quilting machine. I put the rest of the sewing machines around, but that space was empty. „And what’s here?” „The quilting machine that is to come„, we were that confident „, says Oana.

The two entrepreneurs say that European funds have helped them a lot to develop, it has given them wings. That quilting machine was vital to them, and although many friends discouraged them, they applied for funding. The total value of the project was 144.000 euro and the non-reimbursable financial assistance was 100.000 euro. They took their desired quilting machine and another high-performance sewing machine. „The information we received from outside about European funding was discouraging. But it went very well. We had to make a bunch of files, but as long as you respect what is written there and you do everything right, everything goes smoothly. Everything was ok and correct. The people from North-East RDA helped us a lot with advice, we had a very good communication with them and we had constructive discussions. They were patient and understanding and explained to us when we needed it. They always wanted to help. All the teams that came in control were nice „, says Oana.

From Romania to America, via Piatra Neamț

They have recently moved to a new, much larger and more spacious production space. They went from „one-man show” to 12 employees and they say it`s a complete team. The exports have materialized in America, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands,  they are negotiating with a large Canadian company and they dream the Arab areas, Asia and Japan market. The revenues are constantly growing, from 260.000 euro in 2019 to 800.000 euro in 2021. The Romanian market is doing surprisingly well. They have created a beautiful community on Confort Merino and every year it has exceeded expectations on the sales side. In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, they created a new brand, Valeria Home, an online store available worldwide. Confort Merino targets directly merino wool products, under the Valeria Home brand there are bedding products made of natural materials, linen, hemp, silk. On Valeria Home orders come from Greece, Germany, France and America.

Thanks to the quilting machine, they have everything „in house”, from the concept to the creative workshop. They have so much confidence in the quality of their products that they offer a 30-day period in which the products can be tested, and if they are not as expected, they are replaced or refunded.

The Tatu couple says they would apply again to a European-funded project. „European funds are extremely useful. Whoever gave up or did not apply was either afraid or unprepared. There is a bunch of paper to be made, indeed, but the final goal matters. We really needed that equipment, it was our only chance and we could only get it with European funds „, confesses Oana. Cătălin says that “many good businesses do not have the ability and capacity to think a project with EU funding. They could scale the business very easily by accessing the funds. They are very good family business, with very good quality products, but which are in a latent state of development. These businesses need to be identified and attracted to European funds„.

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