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The 2016 edition of the InnoApps competition is open for entries. Besides the prize money, what’s in it for the young contestants? We talked to last year’s finalists to find out how InnoApps has helped them start careers, dream up new projects and further develop their winning app concepts.


A leg-up for budding developers: Andrei provides training for beginners as part of his successful Android developer community

After picking up third prize for his team’s app project at the 2015 InnoApps finals, Andrei Diaconu decides it’s all about passing knowledge on and follows in the footsteps of his innovation mentors

When it comes to defining the recipe for a successful new tech company, Andrei is taking a rather down-to-earth view: “Trial and error are the actual business start-ups are in,” he says. While he believes there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all model for start-up success, he thinks there are a few prerequisites to getting a successful project off the ground. Learning – including from setbacks –, exchanging and adapting are key.

Participating in the InnoApps challenge has clearly contributed to shaping this view, and putting him on the path he is pursuing today.

Andrei, from Iasi, Romania, was part of the team that presented the winning app project AudioCity, which aimed at allowing museums to make their audio guides available in one single app.

Since then, he has started Android Iasi, a developer community that soon became the biggest Android developer community in the country. “Founding it came naturally as developers feel the need to get together to talk about technology,” Andrei says, explaining that the project helps to develop skills through online exchanges, events with invited speakers, collaborations with NGOs as well as training sessions for beginners.

The AudioCity app idea has been integrated into Android Iasi to form the basis of a training programme with a very practical focus, and a promising challenge – turning the winning project into a functioning app and bringing it to the market.

A team of ten people is currently working on this project. Andrei helps the young developers by providing mentoring, helping with the organisation and providing strategic advice on how to get the project off the ground. The app project has already reached implementation stage, with the launch planned for mid-September.

Looking back at his own experience of being coached and mentored at InnoApps, Andrei says: “Be open-minded. Your idea will be modified a lot and that is a good thing. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime – so come prepared to learn, as there are plenty of mentors to teach you.”

The developer platform is just one of the projects Andrei is currently working on. Having worked as an Android app developer for six years, he combines consultancy services for a company developing successful home automation with freelance work for various start-ups.

As he explains in a blog post on his website, he encourages all young developers to try their luck at this year’s InnoApps challenge: “As long as you can make your app stand out as far as innovation and sustainability go, you have a very good chance of winning,” he writes. “Don’t stick to your guns too much, though, because the mentors will most probably steer your idea towards a better path than you originally imagined. You might not even recognise it in the end. You are there to learn, so listen up!”

The third edition of the InnoApps competition, organised jointly by Huawei and EYIF, will take place over the coming months, culminating in a 2-day hackathon in early 2017.