Bulgarian tech startups have been on the rise for a few years now. And with new ones coming every day, it’s hard not to be excited about the future.
Over the last decade, Bulgarian companies have entered growing markets like AI, healthcare (e.g., Imagga, Kelvin Health), fintech (e.g., Payhawk, Phyre) and eCommerce (e.g., SMSBump, eBag).
Their success is definitely not random. In fact, it shows an underlying trend of Bulgaria becoming an important hub for tech entrepreneurs.
There are a lot of reasons for that, but let’s start with the most important one.
One of the hardest things with startups is to (excuse the pun) get started.
Setting a product strategy, getting an office and equipment, deciding who to hire and when are just some of the difficult choices entrepreneurs have to make. And without experience, these early issues can sink a startup.
That’s why one of the biggest reasons for Bulgarian startups’ success is the compounding experience of founders and VCs.
On the one hand, we now have a lot more businesses to learn from than we did 10 years ago. Companies like Telerik showed how a Bulgarian business can start out small and can scale globally.
Fortunately, the people involved with some of the most successful startups take the time to help other entrepreneurs via organizations like Bulgaria Innovation Hub and BESCO. This is a prime example of experience compounding.
On the other hand, VCs are now pushing Bulgarian founders to think globally.
We’ve seen examples of businesses starting out with a small product here, building on it and succeeding all over the world. VCs know that’s possible and want to help Bulgarian entrepreneurs get there.
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Small, But Rapidly Growing Ecosystem
Another unique advantage of working in Bulgaria is the small ecosystem.
While it may not sound like a benefit, a smaller group of founders, VCs and investors in general makes it easier for new entrepreneurs to get involved. You can quickly reach people with years of experience in building products and investing in businesses.
Again, that experience is invaluable. And you can benefit from it without jumping through thousands of hoops like you would in a larger system.
This probably won’t always be the case, as more and more people get involved. However, right now, the time is ripe as entrepreneurs with innovative ideas can easily get in touch with experienced founders and VCs.
One final point I’d like to discuss is COVID’s impact on tech businesses.
While the pandemic made things incredibly hard, the tech sector showed resilience and perseverance. Some businesses not only survived but expanded globally during these crazy times.
I can speak from experience here, as we grew NitroPack’s customer base over 10x and more than quadrupled our staff since the start of 2020.
Another example is SMSBump, which scaled its business massively and got acquired by Yotpo in early 2020.
Other exciting Bulgarian startups like Kelvin Health were even born in response to the pandemic.
I can go on and on, but the point is this:
A lot of businesses took the challenges that COVID threw their way and turned them into opportunities. And with experience compounding and founders and VCs thinking globally, it’s hard not to be optimistic about the future of Bulgaria as a tech hub.
Written by Deyan Georgiev, CEO and Co-Founder at NitroPack & Forbes 30U30 Winner