From Start-up to Dentsu and Beyond: Radu Ionescu’s Story

The Dentsu Aegis Network has been quite present on the news section of our Savate Intel homepage with a seemingly endless series of acquisitions in the US, Europe, and Asia. We connected with Radu Ionescu, Dentsu’s COO in Romania, to learn a bit more about both his unique background (from journalist, to start-up, to joining Dentsu) but also to gain a bit of insight into the Groups strategy and buying patterns in Romania and beyond.

S: To get things started, please tell us a bit about your career leading up to your current role within Dentsu Aegis Network

RI: Long story short: I started my own digital agency in 2002, which got acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network in 2013 and I decided to stay with the group since we have a common vison and values (this was actually part of my decision to join the group in the first place).

S: Early in your career, you were a journalist with one of the leading financial publications. What prompted you to switch towards the digital agency world?

RI: It was a set of fortunate unplanned happenings. I got deep into something I liked but was clearly not my career call and, as Steve Jobs said, I connected the dots later. Basically the publisher I worked for as a business journalists ventured onto digital publishing (and creative and production services) – and it appeared this was something I both loved and was good at. 

S: Tell us about your early days in setting up Kinecto. How was the digital landscape in Romania different at the time from what it is today?

RI: In the early days of Kinecto Romania had 5 times less internet users but, maybe more dramatic, registered up to 250 times smaller spend on digital marketing. Looking back, it makes absolutely no sense to start a business in such a non-market. With that came of course all the evangelising needed to get people to at least consider the channel – back then I had to dress in a suit and wear ties to do it!

S: Dentsu Aegis Network has been on a buying spree globally. How, if at all does that influence your role as a COO in Romania?

RI: What sets us apart from other groups is how well we collaborate within the Dentsu Aegis Network – and this goes from within a market to a regional and global approach. This means we have fast access to capabilities that our group adds either organically or via acquisitions, regardless of where those capabilities are geographically. From Bucharest we currently work with experts in London or Singapore or New York to deliver such capabilities to local clients.

S: Is that push towards incorporating new businesses reflected in the Romanian market?

RI: All I can say is that is our policy to continuously scan the market for opportunities.

S: That said, looking out for potential investments in the tech start-up scene is key to your role. How is the market in Romania these days and how do you expect it to evolve in the near- and mid-term?

RI: The good part is that there are many talented entrepreneurs and we have a clear startup vibe going on. The not so good part is that I see more people focused on the technical side and not on the product side.

S: Looking at the market overall, what are some of the most promising start-ups you are seeing? And what areas do you foresee will also see most growth in the upcoming years? 

RI: There are lots of adtech and marketing automation initiatives that I like and there’s also an ecommerce tech movement going on. My hope is that we’ll see more and more initiatives around IoT and integration – the “third wave of Internet” as Steve Case named it that will be very, very interesting.

S: On the lighter side, if you could hit the “reset” button on your career, what other profession could you see yourself taking up?

RI: Tough one! Probably something around adtech…

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