Interview with Alex Negru

The Challenge

 “Minutizer is the PayPal for time”

Now that’s an ambitious statement from a young Romanian entrepreneur that started this project only a few months ago.

Read on to find out what are his plans and what sets him apart from his  peers in Western Europe. Interesting stuff. I promise.

Intro

I know Alex for maybe 6-7 years now. We first met during a blog meet in Iasi, our hometown. We were both there to find out other like-minded people and connect with the upcoming people in the Romanian online scene.

Even though we kind of lost the connection during the years, especially since I moved to the Netherlands, we still had Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with each other’s achievements.

This interview proved to be great opportunity to revive a dormant friendship and learn so many nee things about the Romanian startup scene.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Hi everyone, my name is Alex and I am an experienced marketeer that loves to work in Online.

Before starting my current project, I ran my own marketing agency in Iasi, providing online and offline marketing solutions to the local market. In 2012 I moved to Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, with only one thing on my mind: create a business that will bring me a passive income.

When I got here I started an online project, together with an ex-client of mine. We wanted to create a new market for the online services industry. After a few months of working and deep diving into this new area, I noticed a big need that wasn’t filled by anyone … so I decided to start a new company and solve it myself.

 Can you describe your new project for our readers? 

Minutizer is the PayPal for time. This is basically a tool that helps anybody to charge per minute an online conversation.

So for example, if you wanted to learn Spanish, Minutizer would allow you to pay per minute the video/audio call with the teacher instead of  paying him/her upfront.

You can imagine that as a buyer, you don’t want to pay upfront for a service that you didn’t receive and the teacher would not want to perform the service and hope the transfer will happen afterwards. This is a great solution as both parties are happy with this pay as you go solution.

For the moment Minutizer works only with Skype, but we are developing plugins for other VoIP apps like Google Hangouts, Viber and so on.

Alex Negru from Minutizer

So it’s basically real time payments through Skype. Correct?

Exactly. Another way you could think about Minutizer is to compare it to the paid/ premium number for GSM mobile phones but for Internet. So basically the 0900 numbers or whatever it is in your country.

How did you come up with this idea? 

As I mentioned, I moved to Bucharest to work on a project that was not related to online payments. We wanted to start an online market for people selling and buying online horoscope readings and tarot predictions. As I looked into this industry, I understood better both the market and the user behavior. And the idea evolved form there.

At first I wanted to embed Skype calls in a web page, but that is technically impossible. So… thinking about this I realized I don’t need to do that. Instead I could make a pay per minute tool for Skype that would simplify the process and free the user.

I bet you had a lot of ideas. What made you choose this project over other projects?

First, this idea made a lot of sense for me. I noticed that a lot of the horoscope readers that were providing services on the website were moving their clients to Skype after the first contact. So the need for an alternative solution was there.

Second, I believe that the time is right for a tool like Minutizer. Nowadays, many people understand concepts like e-wallet, e-payments and so on. Think about it, PayPal is already 11 year old and they did a good work educating the masses in this area.

Third, nowadays almost everybody is using video calling, and they even use on the go.

And last but not least, in the last two years the Bitcoin ecurrency has open the gates to the peer-to-peer, decentralized payments.

So yeah… basically I choose Minutizer because all of the above 🙂 .

Talking about ridding these waves. I imagine there are others ridding the same waves. So how do you feel about competition?

First of all I think is good to mention that Skype already tried this in 2007 but abandoned it after 1 -1.5 years or so. I guess that’s because they changed the CEO and they decided to focus on SkypeOut, their VoIP to operator solution, which I think is a much better revenue model for them. Also I had the opportunity to talk with some guys from Microsoft Europe (since Microsoft owns Skype) and from what I understand, their focus in a very different direction. So for the moment I am not worried about them.

So that is Skype. And the other players?

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