The Revolution of AI in Businesses

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To say that we are facing an unusual situation would undermine the magnitude of the phenomenon that conquered every corner of the planet.

Economic crises have happened before and will happen again, but it is for the first time in the last hundred years that the enemy is invisible and affects the global economy as a whole – without discriminating between business sectors, levels of economic-social development, or geographical positioning.

We are facing fear, anxiety, panic, and, like in any extreme situation, the very essence of our being is put to the test: fight or flight? We can relate to this axiom on a personal level, where each of us manages their stress responses as good as they can, and also on a business level, where the actions of the companies are modeled by the spirit of the entrepreneur behind them. 

I’m fully confident that survival and well-being are reserved not only for the most prepared but also for the most adaptable individual.

Current state of affairs

In just three weeks, no less than 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment, according to the New York Times. The signal is clear for entrepreneurs around the world, even if not all countries provide the necessary statistics: the economic crisis is here for sure, with decline estimates varying from a few percentage points to as much as 15-20%, according to expert estimates.

Based on reports of newly registered unemployment claims in the US, some pundits have been anxiously stating that the $2 trillion (thousands of billions) state aid measures announced by Donald Trump will not have the expected effect. History will show us who’s right and who’s wrong.But, as a starting point, this incentive package has provided a period of relative stability for the stock exchanges, and in some cases, even a slight recovery for indices.

The bailout package devised by the FED (and most governments/central banks of the world) will not help the economy stay afloat forever. Fortunately, this is not the intended response. Its purpose is to encourage individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses to wake up from their slumber and fight for survival. Without any supportive reactions from the private sector, it won’t matter how much money the central banks print; the economy will still collapse eventually.

That is why it is absolutely essential that the economy – which is not an entity with a volatile form, but structured on businesses of all levels – will realize that the only desired direction is upwards. 

Action plan

Ever since I took my first steps in entrepreneurship, I focused on building a healthy, sustainable, anabolic type of business that can be developed and scaled, regardless of how the wind of change blows – nationally, regionally, and globally.

A critical factor in this philosophy was the “work-from-home concept", which, until a few weeks ago, was only seen as a "treat" reserved for the select few. Well, for the companies in my group, the employee activity carries on as usual, I’m even noticing an increase in productivity – with 99% of my staff working from home for over a month!

As for any top-performance analysis, the structure behind is much more important than the conclusion: I’m here now because I emphasized from the start significant investments in what I believe is the backbone of a fintech business: the IT department. Only thanks to an IT department that works flawlessly we’re able to talk about digitalization, digital transformation, cloud-businesses, increased autonomy, and increased immune response to any economic storm that may come our way. 

What I did

It is not my intention to deliver a crisis-response manual or to make an exhaustive list; I just want to detail some of the decisions I already took or will be taking in the following period:

1. Specific budgeting
No containing measure or reaction in this world, no matter how revolutionary and daring, will succeed unless it’s supported by money. Cash flow is king! Analyzing, sorting, and transforming the fixed and floating cash-flows are essential processes in times of crisis.

2. Infrastructure
I mentioned earlier that the IT department is the backbone of my business. I’ve set this mindset since 2018, a build-up year, and I enforced everything in 2019, not in anticipation of a crisis (which actually happened), but because this is the ideal flow for my business. 

Internal communication, advanced reporting services, tracking specific KPIs, analyzing business data, building a complete ecosystem that includes the entire business, cloud services, business intelligence, and the list can go on. All of these are just cogwheels which work in sync only when well-oiled by a cohesive and sound IT department. Infrastructure is key during this period of crisis. ?

3. Empowering
Key people now have the chance to benefit from all this and gain even more power and influence in my organization, when face-to-face communication is no longer an option. I’ve always been humble enough to surround myself with people who challenge me, people with a strong personality, and decision-making power - now is their time to shine and prove to me, once again, that the power of my business is in their hands.

4. Flows and procedures
Setting goals and pursuing them is no longer a novelty for any business of high standards. I have implemented a fixed schedule for evaluation, preparation, and goal-setting meetings that can be easily tracked. Every Monday, I surround myself (virtually, for now) with my top management to prepare and start-off the week, and each Friday finds us in a video session to conclude and evaluate the past five days of activity.

5. Reporting
Thanks to the IT systems mentioned before, it’s elementary for me to track the group's reporting activity, starting from macro to micro objectives – where the situation requires it.

6. Financial motivation
I have built a meritocratic culture around me; with one hand, I reward those who perform well, and with the other, I track, identify, and analyze the environments and the people who aren’t at their best yet. I believe in the people around me, which is why I invest the time and resources needed to listen and help those who need a boost – experience has shown me that some diamonds need to be polished more before they start shining.

7. Preparing the return to the office
In small but firm steps, our activity will be returning to normal. I have invested, and I’ll still be investing in the safety of my colleagues: I’ve acquired medical and protective equipment (masks, gloves, sanitizers...), we’re prepared to install a disinfection tunnel, all in order to be able to gradually start resuming our activity. I forecast that in a few months – although nothing will be the same in the post-Coronavirus era – the activity of my group will be resumed.


A crisis is an opportunity for reflection, development, and adaptation. There are still many things to improve; there are threats that have not yet made their presence felt, but, based on the above organizational structure, I am fully confident that the Coronavirus crisis era will be a huge opportunity for Key Way Group and myself. We have the right tools and attitude to take this chance and use it to evolve and progress!

You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn

After an extraordinary 2019 for the financial markets, many global companies had set unrealistic profit targets, with growth that would be hard to sustain.

Let’s not forget that, for the first time in history, the US technology sector recorded market capitalization that exceeded 1 trillion dollars. In such conditions of exacerbated optimism, it’s only natural to expect to see spectacular falls on the international stock exchanges this year. The bar was raised too high in 2019.

• Dow Jones 30 – a historical maximum of 28,500 points

• S&P 500 to 3200 points

• NASDAQ 100 to 9750 points

These were the optimistic figures when 2019 ended. Everyone, including most financial analysts, was expecting 2020 full of new records.

Only this time, the targets couldn’t be reached – the economy, like history, has a tendency to repeat itself. The longest bull market in history (from 2008 until a few days ago) has been ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic and, as many can state, popped the business bubble in which we used to live.


The history of global crises is spectacular but also cyclical, as in the most recent past we have the great oil crisis in the 70s, the infamous Black Friday of the 80s, a second oil crisis in the early 90s, the dot-com bubble of the 2000s and, more recently, the financial-real estate crisis from 2008.

We can see that roughly every 10 years, the capital markets go through a reestablishment process, resetting their values – an event which we’re in the middle of right now. 

* Since 1945, American blue-chip companies have experienced at least 25 years at an all-time high, 24 years within 10% of an all-time high,  and only 22 years in a declining market (bear market) *

The first signs of weakness started showing up at the end of 2019 – an important factor is one of the stars of the gig economy, WeWork, which was preparing for its primary listing. 

In less than a month, from an alleged market capitalization of about $ 47 billion, the company dropped to less than $ 10 billion, canceled listing plans, fired much of the workforce, and even removed its CEO from the company’s management, being rescued from bankruptcy only by one of the banking groups in the shareholding board. 

In the case of WeWork, the reason for the fall was the circumspection that investors began to have in the quality and stability of the company. But the WeWork case is not unique.


Phase 1 - FEAR

As in 2008, the capital markets and investors initially reacted emotionally, triggering what is called a sell-off panic. Right now, we have a reaction based on instinct, market expectations being that global stock exchanges will reach a general decrease of up to 20%.

After more than a decade of "pampering", a period when money was extremely cheap, friendly lending and market conditions were all favoring growth, the reality is coming down.

Many businesses will have their skills tested, (just as a heavy sea shapes a sailor’s skills, only a real market, built on healthy fundamentals, will train enduring entrepreneurs).

At the moment, the general feeling is one of uncertainty, nobody knowing what to expect, with postponed investments, and expansion and development plans put back in the drawer - all eyes are focused on the state, central banks, and global vectors.


After the first wave of decline, we’ll see the markets adapting to new conditions – this being the turning point that can make the difference in a medium to long timeframe between the economies that are recovering - and will even prosper in the post-Coronavirus era - and those that will slow down the economic recovery.

There are two extremely important evaluations:

  • Operational evaluation - production and sales figures will be put together (phones sold by Apple, electric cars produced by Tesla, etc.) 
  • Financial evaluation - financial reports that measure the returns of market shares, revenues, income, profits

I am afraid that once all the above figures reach the market, a second wave of the crisis will start, the one in which the global stock market decreases will rise by another 25-30%.

Overall, on the 2 stages described above, the world expects impairments of up to 50% (eg. DJIA going below 12,000 points).

Businesses are people-based, and when those people lose their jobs, we will start seeing the real dimensions of the crisis. That's why I always pay attention to the labor market figures (the famous US Jobless Claims report hit a record high last week, with about 3.3 million people going into unemployment in just one week).


The key movement is for central banks and national authorities to take monetary & fiscal measures, and also strengthen the labor market. Economies that will not adapt their structure to the new global conditions are risking a lot, as the rational sell-off, the one based on structural economic decisions and profitability calculations, has a longer life cycle and a much stronger influence than the one caused by initial panic.

Monetary/fiscal support packages have already been launched by all major economies (in the US alone, the Federal Bank announced a $ 3.3 trillion program to counteract the crisis effects), but it won’t be enough: businesses need to adapt their methods, plan everything out in advance, and invest more to add value to their work.

The global economy will recover, markets will reach historic highs again, and investors will regain their optimism. But before all this happens, a global sync with the new economic conditions is deeply needed.



There are 3 extremely important factors that have ruled my business philosophy so far:

• Longevity - I have to build something that will last through it’s added value 

• Liquidity - cash flow is essential; I must maintain a balance between savings and investments

• Legacy – ways of building my business to leave something valuable after me

The same 3 factors mentioned above are the ones that will push some companies to new records and others into bankruptcy.

I am deeply convinced that technology giants like Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook will recover quickly and hold onto the growing trend because their fundamentals are healthy, they have huge cash reserves and their business plans are built for the long run.

My predictions are that Amazon will be the first company to reach a market capitalization of 2 trillion dollars - the e-Commerce sector is booming right now.

However, others won’t be so lucky. 

I am more optimistic than in 2008 because I appreciate that the common individual’s level of financial education has increased, governments and central banks have much quicker reactions and are prepared to make any effort to minimize the effects of the crisis.


I want to leave you with a few recommendations on what’s to be done during a bear market:

Don’t panic! - crises aren’t pleasant, but they’re natural and temporary. History tells us that global stock exchanges spend more than two-thirds of the time close to historical highs)

Take care of your portfolio and finances! - we are all interested in discounts. What better time to buy, right? A global crisis is for the stock market what sales are for shops!

Be patient! - rethink your portfolio, lower your expenses, increase your savings and assets and wait for your return

Hunt opportunities! - moments of crisis create huge investment opportunities - be on the lookout and choose the ones that fit your profile


Panic is useless; add structure to your thoughts, plan strategically, be aware of the risks and act with caution.

We’re going through a natural phenomenon, don’t lose your cool, make smart investments and you will soon reap the fruits!

You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn

If there is someone who hasn’t heard the name Microsoft, then they must have not lived on planet Earth in the last 30-so years. The company has become ubiquitous and provides know-how in many different areas of technology solutions, therefore has now become a sine qua non ingredient in the success of many exciting startups and corporations. None more exciting, of course, than our own.

And we're very excited to say that now Microsoft has heard of the Key Way Group. This is my latest enterprise, which I'm developing as CEO. Key Way Group is an innovative FinTech company in the investments field. Active at a global level, and managing multi-departmental projects, the company needed the perspective that a mix of Microsoft solutions can provide. As such, we built its internal processes around Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory. We also benefit from the use of Azure Data Factory, while our different teams can make quick and efficient data-driven decisions through the help of Power BI.

Our setup and integration of Microsoft solutions has been the object of a best practice story published recently on the Microsoft global website.


We use a number of Microsoft solutions:

  • Microsoft 365 - the cloud-based Office suite
  • Azure Active Directory - the cloud-based identity and access management resource
  • Azure Data Factory - the cloud-based enterprise data integration service
  • Power BI - the business analytics service
  • Microsoft Planner - the planning app
  • Microsoft Teams - the communication platform
  • Microsoft Flow - the automated workflow creator
  • Power Apps - the app creator

Here’s how it works for us:

The integration of Microsoft solutions has allowed us to immediately streamline several of our processes and save an enormous amount of time at both the planning and the execution stages of several projects. For example, we now use Microsoft Teams for all internal communications, and Microsoft Planner to set up projects and assign responsibilities around our global teams. This is further helped by the use of single-sign-on, which allows every new employee onboarded to essentially hit the ground running. 

The tangible results? Here’s an example: a project that would take over one week and several meetings to set up we have now taken down to four hours and one meeting. Imagine all the business- and personal-orientated things you can achieve by finding a better use for that time.

We’re now at 1,500 successful Microsoft Flow run per month, which we use, together with Power Apps, to streamline and simplify all processes. We collect data that we can then structure with Azure Data Factory, use Power BI to visualise the results and can then make data-driven decisions on the go. 

Next steps? Client management (with Dynamics 365 CRM) and machine learning. We envision a future where automation allows us to use our time for the big things: strategy, networking, building new businesses, all while ensuring wellbeing for ourselves and our teams.

Over the last decade, I've built my professional life as an investor, focusing on 3 key areas: financial services, real estate and tech startups. I’ve participated in the setup and development of two major fintechs, and after those two successful exits I’m now directing my resources into building a new enterprise in this area – the Key Way group. 

I've started, participated in and developed companies in Romania, as well as Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, the UK, Mexico, Dubai and South East Asia. I'm constantly looking for new segments, new markets and new opportunities, and therefore I interact regularly with the regulator institutions and official agencies in various countries and  markets. 

The most recent example is the GCC area (Gulf Cooperation Council - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia).  I  started to research opportunities in that area at the end of 2018 -  more specifically, the United Arab Emirates, which are establishing themselves as one of the most dynamic markets in the world.

The whole experience of working with the official institutions there was a great example of how to attract and encourage investors! ADGM, the Abu Dhabi Global Markets regulator, was established quite recently and I was absolutely impressed with their professionalism.

To start off, I researched the local market regulators online. The information was clear and easily available: I contacted them online, via their website and LinkedIn accounts. They responded promptly, and in only a few days, we set up a series of meetings with the financial markets regulators in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai!

The ADGM gave me full support and very clear, detailed information on what and how I need to do to obtain a trading licence in financial services in the UAE. I met with representatives from both the ADGM registration department (where all new businesses have to register before they acquire a licence for online trading) and from the FSRA (Financial Services Regulatory Authority).

They were very clear on the procedure, steps to follow and criteria we need to meet, which is a fantastic help for an investor on a new, highly regulated financial market.

In a few days I started the onboarding procedure - everything happens online, everything is digital, everything is set up for maximum ease and transparency.

They set investors up for success, but they make sure they vet them thoroughly as well! A "user friendly" approach does not mean lower standards, quite the opposite - they made sure I meet all commercial and business criteria, they assessed my financial, capital and business status and previous experience, and checked references from markets in which I operated previously. 

We went through a process of  very rigorous assessment and due diligence, and several meetings where I detailed our business plan and long term vision. Professional but friendly - you feel welcome, encouraged and supported as an investor. 

Furthermore, their “enthusiasm”, or appetite for new business, equaled mine! They’re happy to welcome new businesses, they work hard to attract them and to set them up for success. I was very impressed that they genuinely appreciate the fact that investors, however big or small, choose their market to set up a company. 

I’d love to see this same level of energy, hard work and appetite for business in my home country, Romania.

While other jurisdictions welcome investors and work hard to create the framework for development and success, I often feel that the Romanian regulators, for financial markets and not only, start from a default position of suspicion or, at best, indifference. Investors are regarded with thinly veiled (if at all veiled!) suspicion and distrust and sometimes downright hostility, you almost feel guilty or embarrassed to be successful financially. 

I hope to see this mentality change in Romania, because I, as well as most Romanian entrepreneurs I know, really want to make our country a top choice for investments,  not just in outsourcing and services. We want to make Romania known for its know how and creativity.

I think Romanian regulators  should remember that their whole purpose of existence is to enable business, not hinder it. And as investors, especially once we see best practices from other jurisdictions, we need to remind them of this reality.



The quality and efficiency of an employee mainly depend on their professional qualifications, but the modern human resources theory refers to this only through a partial term, namely "hard skills". In terms of evaluations and professional management, these “hard skills” are supplemented by a range of different qualities defined as "soft skills", such as the motivation that an individual demonstrates or chooses to develop.

Hard Skills: Easy to identify, necessary, but not enough

The term "hard skills" applies especially to fundamental professional knowledge, skills, and abilities, but not only. For example, if a programmer has to write code in Java, he will obviously have to know the programming language. In the field of hard skills, however, complementary skills such as foreign languages ​​or driving licenses also come into play. If the job description is not IT-related, the computer skills - quasi-generalized today - are also in the same complementary category. Upon hiring, hard skills can be easily tested or proven. Basically, all the skills in this category can be certified through a diploma or a certificate of qualification. These skills are the basis for the future work of the employee, but in the vast majority of cases, they are not enough to ensure good performance at the workplace.

Soft Skills: harder to test, especially required for higher positions

These are somewhat social qualities, relating especially to people-interacting abilities. Soft skills include teamwork skills, communication skills, leadership qualities, and the ability to solve problems as they come. From simple politeness to a nonconflictual attitude, a whole range of attributes can be added here, including good time management or the desire to conform to strict professional ethics. If hard skills are easy to identify, in the case of soft skills, the stereotype enumerations present in CVs are never enough proof of their existence. They can somehow be felt when hiring, during their interview or, possibly, through psychological tests set up by human resources specialists. As they mostly focus on human interaction, soft skills are increasingly needed as the position of the employee in the hierarchy is higher, but the situation differs from one job description to another. If the programmer we had as an example earlier does not necessarily need soft skills when writing code, a sales or marketing specialist will interact with the top management and thus cannot work without them.

Motivation: differs from case to case

Motivation is a problem that concerned psychologists way before Maslow's Human Pyramid of Needs. There are many hypotheses and models that relate to this theory. I will just state that a first classification refers to financial and extra-financial motivations. The former refers to material compensation and are accepted unanimously. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, it has become clear that there is no direct link between payment and the efficiency of a person. 100 years ago, however, besides the famous $5-a-day salary, Henry Ford offered land lots, kindergartens for their children and, in the case of immigrants, English courses to help them integrate into the mass production processes. Today, large companies provide health insurance, relaxation areas, various educational classes, physical activity facilities. All of these include career plans and contract terms that offer job security and much more. Perhaps, the first thing to remember is that motivation differs greatly from one employee to another. Effective management should be as flexible as possible, in accordance with the needs and incentives of employees, beyond the standard packages.

The Employer’s Perspective

From what we described above it seems that that the employer will consider the three components as we’ve structured them. Hard skills are easy to identify and absolutely necessary to ensure performance in a particular position, so these are the first ones that will be tested. Soft skills can be identified to a certain extent in the midst of the employment process, but initial perceptions can be confirmed or denied later on. What’s more important is sustaining them at the workplace, often as a necessity for promotion on a higher hierarchy level. As final words, motivation has qualitative rather than quantitative aspects. Employers should be less concerned about the answer to the question "how motivated is an employee?", but rather show concern towards the type of motivation that employees are most responsive to. Schematically speaking, if hard skills are mainly the employee's concern, soft skills relate to a process that takes place between the employee and the company, and in the case of motivation, it should meet the needs of the employee. Only by paying attention to all the three components, the employer and the employee can have a mutually satisfactory and productive relationship.
“Angel investor” is one of the best names in the business literature. Maybe, too good a name, to the extent that startups tend to perceive this category of investors as a solution to all problems, which is not. That is why I've tried to place it in two ecosystems. You'll find out what an angel investor may and, especially, may not be. 

The Money Ecosystem

The first ecosystem is time-related and refers to the capitalization cycles of a startup. Briefly, an angel investor turns up, as financer, sometime after the founders, but before the capital that demands a completely quantifiable and repeatable Return on Investment. Using bullet points, the ecosystem looks like this:
  • Founders: Naturally, they are the ones who start the business, but from the point of view of the resources invested, the contribution in capital is small and this is compensated by work and ideas.
  • Angel Investor: It comes after the founders phase and takes a high degree of risk in exchange for a (minority) part of the business, which will be monetized only in case of success and only after a number of years.
  • Venture Capital: As different from the Angel Investor, it is an institutional form of financing, even if it includes taking risks for remote benefits. A Venture Capitalist will bring about financing from third parties, as compared to the Angel Investor, which risks their own money.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions/IPO:  In the exit phase (Mergers & Acquisitions) and/or during the phase of listing on the stock exchange (IPO - Initial Public Offering), the startup is on the brink of maturity, in the sense of a long term predictable profitability. The more available money, the stricter the financing conditions.
Ecosystem of the Organizations and People If the money ecosystem is time-related, the organizational one refers rather to a definite moment at the beginning of the evolution of a startup. From this point of view, the Angel Investor lives together with the founder among the following organizations and communities:
  • Incubators: (Profit or non-profit) organizations that ensure business trainings and work spaces for startups. Most frequently, they are governmental programs and financing.
  • Accelerators: These are similar to incubators, but are mainly focused on the growth process of a startup, than on facilities. In the USA, these are rather private than governmental, the same as in the case of incubators.
  • Other types of mentors/consultants: Together with the Angel Investors, founders also work together with other experience holders, such as mentors (pro bono or financed by third party organizations) or consultants (which work for a definite fee).
  • Communication/networking facilities: To more or less formal trade shows and clubs, you can add Web 2.0, groups ranging from specialized blogs to LinkedIn and other types of presence on social media.
As for financing, a successful entrepreneur will know to look for the appropriate kind of resources which match the growth moment of the business. As for people and organizations, a successful entrepreneur will be able to keep their eyes on the various opportunities available, irrespective of how much they would focus at a certain time on one of them.
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