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Vlad Sarca joins forces with Workathlon to innovate the HRTech landscape

"I believe that potential and creativity are borderless and that we shall be open to investing in startups from all over the world."

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Besides being a partner at Sparking Capital, Vlad Sarca is looking forward to supporting promising startups with his skills. He has over 15 years of experience in developing and exiting various companies.

Vlad became interested in strategic management during his undergraduate years and after graduation continued his education at Oxford University's Said Business School, where he earned a degree in Strategy and Innovation.

He recently joined Workathlon's investment opportunity through SeedBlink. We wanted to know what were his reasons to support the vision of HRTech, a Greek startup led by Katerina Santikou.


Why have you invested in Workathlon? What has convinced you to bet on their vision?

There are several reasons that have convinced me to invest in Workathlon.

Firstly, I got to know a lot about the European recruitment market – in which I was active for over 15 years. I owned EGV Recruitment, a company that recruited and placed candidates in 14 European countries. I have exited the company in 2018 but I’m still on the board of the newly formed company.

I have observed several trends in the markets we have been active in, and I believe that the solution that Workathlon offers, solves a real pain point. Personnel is the most important asset in hospitality, and businesses are very keen to find a solution for their recruitment problems in an efficient manner; by offering exactly this, Workathlon creates value for their customers.

Another reason is the team. From the first meeting I had with Katerina Santikou, she convinced me that she knows her business well, as she always came prepared to our meetings and gave me convincing answers to all my questions. She also gave me the confidence that she can grow this business significantly using her skills and experience. The company has come a long way since its inception, and they have gained traction of over 200,000 euro per year.

Katerina also managed to convince several investors to join the team’s endeavor, and that is what I want to see in a founder.

You are also a partner at Sparking Capital. How come you didn’t join Workathlon through the VC fund?

At Sparking Capital we have an investment thesis related to investments in Romanian tech companies. Even if I believe a lot in Workathlon, Sparking Capital could not have invested in the company because we have to respect our investment strategy.

What do you think of the specialization Workathlon has chosen, HRTech in Hospitality Services?

I really like that they have focused on this sector – in which Katerina has a lot of experience (founder/market fit) – and that they have understood their customers’ pain points well. By doing so, they have reached a product/market fit and are ready to scale to other geographies.

The results till now prove that this strategy has worked, even though the hospitality sector was affected by the pandemic.

For me, as an investor, this is an opportunity because once the pandemic will be over – and I’m optimistic that this will happen in 2022 – this company has good chances to register much higher revenues from their by-then existing customers, but also to attract significantly more customers for their products.

What potential growth paths do you see for Workathlon?

There are several paths to growth: the first one is increasing the sales to their existing customers, also via the synergies they are building with several types of companies towards increasing their sales. Workathlon has already almost 400 customers that use their services, and they are developing this customer base continuously. I strongly believe that, with sustained efforts, the company can reach the 1,000 customers milestone by 2023.

A second growth path is an expansion to the United Arab Emirates and other key markets in Europe. They can make use of their already existing database that consists of 60,000 candidates, and this will help the company gain traction very fast.

Other markets will be also tackled in 2023, and there is a lot of room for growth during the next years because the industry needs to innovate and be more and more efficient.

A third possible growth path is to look at other verticals that can be addressed and to become a leading platform in the HR Tech vertical. The technical solution is built to support also processes related to other verticals, and tackling new markets will be easy once the hospitality solution will expand.

Is this a smart money investment? How do you plan to contribute to the growth and success of the company?

When I started to talk to the team, I had a déjà vu feeling. Their path is similar to what I have experienced over 10 years ago, and I felt that I want to be part of a new success story, in the recruitment sector.

They have also recognized that I can be a valuable asset for the company, and have offered me an advisory board position for supporting them in their international expansion, refining their strategy, and also making sure they are on the path toward series A.

I’m very motivated to take on this assignment, and I will do my best to support them on the path to success.

Are investments borderless? Why does a Romanian investor choose a Greek team to support?

I believe that potential and creativity are borderless and that we shall be open to investing in startups from all over the world. It’s also important to be focused, and that’s why I invest abroad only in sectors that I understand very well.

It’s not my first investment in a foreign company; I have invested a few years ago in a startup from California, and I have set up companies in different countries during the last 15 years, too.

What I found out during this time is that even if there are cultural differences, even if we perceive people to be different because of their appearance, we shall always look at the traits that we have in common, and never forget that all of us are led by the beating of our hearts.

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Katerina Santikou founded the award-winning hospitality recruitment platform, Workathlon, in 2015. Since 2012, she has been involved in innovative projects aimed at improving the efficiency of the hospitality industry, with a particular focus on recruitment and hiring. Read a full interview with her here, or explore Workathlon's investment opportunity.

SeedBlink is a full-service investment platform that enables everyday and accredited investors to access curated European tech startups through equity crowdinvesting and angel syndicates. To learn more about startup investing and tech opportunities, sign up now.__

By Bianca Iulia Simion

PublishedFebruary 02, 2022


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