Genesis: Founding a startup

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Publish date:

November 17, 2021

Updated on:

March 12, 2024

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Genesis: Founding a startup


Many successful businesses started out in a garage, from Apple’s first computer which was built in one—to Amazon, Google, and Hewlett-Packard. Our story didn’t start in a garage but in a small dorm kitchen, where Cristin Iosif and Adrian Botan met.

This is the story of two young adults moving to a new city and building a company, a team, an alternative school, and many products for clients worldwide.

Both students at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Cristin, and Adi were sharing more than just a dorm room, but a friendship and soon-to-be business.

Working together in the Students Union, they realized that they could actually partner up and do that for a living, as they were the go-to people in their organization for any and every tech-related issue. Does the Union need a new website or an application? No worries, there’s always this duo to save the day.

After a while, the two have picked up the opportunity of building something greater. As time passed, they ditched the dorm room, and the new company moved to…a kitchen. In time, the kitchen became an office and the office got bigger and bigger.

The initial HQs

Creating Salt&Pepper

For the first few months, that kitchen was the headquarters of what is known today as Salt&Pepper Digital. Naming the company Salt&Pepper was a bold choice, especially a bold choice of words. Cristin and Adrian were confident that the mix they brought to any project was unique, but there is a little more to this name.

While working together, they realized that they did not always agree on every aspect that came up, and their opinions differed a lot. For many, it could’ve meant a turning point, but they found strength in challenging each other every day. Instead of always agreeing, they would question, assess, and test every idea until the right one would unveil itself from all the possibilities.

The goal was clear—getting from one point to the other, from A to B, from B to C. But the interesting part is related to their dynamics, the how-to of getting there. One goal, two ways—the salt & the pepper that eventually come together and bring the right spice to all mixes.

The good ol’ days

Cristin’s a top-notch coder, passionate about technology, leadership, and business. He’s a builder driven by the desire to create things that matter, things that have a positive impact on society and can inspire others. From building Salt&Pepper and the team behind it, #defineSchool (a program that helps create the next generation of tech entrepreneurs in Romania), Cristin does not plan on stopping here.

Adrian’s a one in a million designer, passionate about UI/UX, a marketer, a growth hacker, and possessor of the keenest eye for everything that’s perfectly aligned. Whether we talk about a marketing strategy aligned with the business goals and brand identity or a button perfectly designed for action, Adrian ensures the highest quality of work.

The first who joined the team

It didn’t take long until the team started to grow organically. Cristin and Adrian were doing great, but the workload was slowly turning into something, well, let’s say it was bigger than anticipated. The kitchen became an office, and the two-men show became a team.

The first members of S&P!

Initially, Bogdan Zenecan joined the team as a full-time designer when the two founding members were just starting the look for the first S&P office.

Meanwhile, the newfound S&P team would tackle web development, design projects, and mobile applications, with the addition of a few important members that are still a vital part of the team.

We’re talking, of course, about Alexandru Ilovan and Mihai Dragomir, Mihai being the first intern that S&P ever had and Alexandru the first iOS engineer.

Building digital products that matter

It wouldn’t be a walk down memory lane without mentioning one of the biggest challenges that we’ve come across as a team.

Embr Labs is a Boston-based company in Massachusetts, USA. Their business idea came to the founders while they were at MIT working in over-air-conditioned, cold laboratories. They ultimately created a wrist-worn device, Embr Wave, that delivers localized temperature sensations in waves, both cooling and warming, that precisely stimulate the temperature-sensitive skin on your wrist. By changing the temperature you feel on your wrist, the Embr Wave triggers a natural response that can improve your overall comfort and help with stress management, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances.

The Embr Wave works by touching a button on the device or in the mobile app to start personalizable cooling or warming waves of temperature felt on your wrist. It’s just like having a personal, wearable, and stylish portable air conditioner or space heater. The Embr Wave's patented technology helps you harness your body's natural ability to use temperature as a means to create balance and feel better. It now helps tens of thousands of people manage stress and anxiety, hot flashes, symptoms across many medical conditions, and even help people get a better, more restful night’s sleep.

A few years after they launched the first Embr Wave wearable design, they decided that it was time for enhanced technology and an updated Wave device, both from a design and performance perspective. We’ve worked tirelessly ever since to help create their new mobile application from scratch for the Embr Wave 2 and work constantly to improve it.

Companion application for Embr Labs’s Wave® device


Fast forward almost six years later, Salt&Pepper is a team of 50 people made up of UI/UX designers, software engineers, testers, marketers, and project managers.

Today, Salt&Pepper is a full-service software development company that provides a complete range of services required for building great products: consulting, business analysis, UI/UX design, web & mobile development, and quality assurance.

The HQs have come a long way from the initial kitchen!

We’re a new generation company, a mix between the world of big organizations and the startup ecosystem. This gives us the required blend of professionalism and agility in getting challenging projects done at a fast pace but also at the highest quality.

As a team, we’re multi-skilled, curious, passionate, and always on the lookout for a challenge to solve.


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Flavia Mocan

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Free thinker, concept-driven individual who gives structure to creativity, living and working with empathy. Experienced Marketer with a knack for content and creative writing.

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