State of Bulgarian Startup Ecosystem – Winter 2012

2012 was a wild year for the Bulgarian Startup Ecosystem.
While two years ago, we were just an outsourcing destination, for one year, i can proudly say, that the entrepreneurial wheel has been spun (For those of you who wonder – this is the 3rd from of spin)

Bulgarian Startup Ecosystem 2012

Bulgarian Startup Ecosystem 2012

Here is the article with the numbers and information, summarising it all for what happened in Bulgaria for a year.

Show me the money!

Lets begin with the people who said “We Believe !”
In the beginning of 2012, LAUNCHub and Eleven, the two VC funds emerged. Money was on the horizon (But not yet on the table) !
For one year, both funds, LAUNCHub and Eleven have made more than 1 million and 925 thousand euros worth of investments and having more than 35 companies on their portfolio !

If we put private and angel investments, the total sum goes above 2 million euros. It’s a nice way to start !

The Bulgarian company Clippings, raised 2 million dollars in funding, which is something big for Bulgaria !

Who are the investors ?

Besides LAUNCHub and Eleven, who are the key seed-round investors with ticket sizes of 25K and 200K EUR, other funds appeared:

Investors

Some of the faces behind the funds

Who are the companies ?

The companies on the portfolio employ more than 100 young people coming from 4 different countries (Romania, Croatia, Turkey).
From auto-tagging items in photos and crowdfunding farms, to party-discovery apps and HTML5 UI for games.
You can see the full list of LAUNCHub’s companies here!
You can see the full list of Eleven’s companies here (Cohort #1) and The list of to-be-expected Cohort #2 [In English] [In Bulgarian]!

The rise of the co-working spaces!

Along with the rise of the entrepreneurship, co-working spaces popped around Sofia to be the shelter for entrepreneurs.

The faces behid the co-working spaces in Sofia

The faces behid the co-working spaces in Sofia


Here is the map for all of them:

View Co-Working Sofia in a larger map

init Lab

The oldest one, initially a hackerspace – init Lab expanded with a co-working space.
Located in the center of Sofia, init Lab has more than 260 square meter of space, located on two floors in a public building.
The guy behind init Lab is Vadimir Vassilev, one of the best wordpress hackers you can find!

A design jam in init Lab

A design jam in init Lab

betahaus | Sofia

Of course, the boom started, when Lyuben Belov, Todor Breshkov, Svetozar Georgiev and Vassil Terziev (Telerik), Adel Zakout (OpenBuildings/Clippings), Superhosting and Novatel said “We Believe that we can do business here!” and made an investment in betahaus | Sofia.
And after a year-long fight, betahaus | Sofia emerged in the heart of Lozenetz, with a total of 1020 square meter space!
The guys behind betahaus | Sofia, Alexander Mihaylov and Alexander Kitov made an example. If you fight long enough for your idea/dream, it will happen.

betahaus | Sofia - Event Space

betahaus | Sofia – Event Space

SOHO

In June, thanks to the great efforts of Luba Hristova, SOHO emerged, putting some really good style and design into the co-working game.
SOHO is placed on more than 700 square meter of space – a large three-floors house in the center of Sofia.

SOHO

SOHO

The Roof

The Roof followed – the 600 square meter co-working space and accelerator space for Eleven, where the companies take place for their 3 months of acceleration.

Christmas party @ The Roof

Christmas party @ The Roof


With the four major co-working spaces on the map, office for entrepreneurs will no longer be a problem!

Events, events everywhere!

In order to nurture the ecosystem and entrepreneurship spirit, there must be some really good events and conferences!

Startup Weekends!, hackhathons and Design Jams!

SW Sofia

SW Sofia


In 2012, 2 crazy Startup Weekends took place in sofia. Here’s the data:
With more than 258 participants, who formed more than 30 teams with different ideas and managed to execute them !

You can watch an awesome video recap of the first startup weekend here!

WOWZAPP 2012:
Also, there was a big mobile hackathon, happening all around the world – WOWZAPP 2012!

Desjgn Jams!
A really interesting event, The Design Jam is like a hackathon but with designers (Yes, i admit it sounds strange ;))
Two Design Jams, organized by Vitaliy Filipov, took place in init Lab and they created some really interesting stuff 🙂
You can see a gallery here.

Monthly networking & educational events

OpenCoffe, SIStory, SISiety, 3Challenge, Monthly meetings with Eleven and LAUNCHUb was taking care that every month, there will be something interesting for the Bulgarian Startup Ecosystem.

For a year, the mentioned events managed to reach more than 5000 people and ignite the entrepreneurial spirit!

Most of the events were done by the two leading organizations, Start It Smart and StartUP Foundation.

Big Conferences and contests!

DigitalK, a conferences that is usually targeted for marketing people, for the first year they did a half-startup half-marketing event, which means, big media is starting to pay attention.

3Challenge, for its second year, gave chance to more than 50 early-stage companis to develop their business and pitching skills, which helped two of the participants being selected by Eleven (Meister+ and Eventyard).

StartUP Conference was the other big thing, where for two days, people gathered and networked about possible solutions, to the known problems in education, ecosystem and politics!

Big companies were not sleeping too!

The year was great for some of the big Bulgarian companies too.
Telerik managed to educate in programming and software engineering 1000 people offline and 3000 people online in their awesome Telerik Academy (I bet, you don’t have a such thing in your country!)

Also, they released a product, that is a startup in its nature – Icenium – a development tool and a framework for building cross-platform mobile apps.
Icenium even got featured on TechCrunch :

Think bigger!

The Bulgarian Entrepreneurship and Innovation Cluster (BEIC) was created, uniting every participant in the ecosystem to have a common voice for the big issues.

BEIC

BEIC


Sofia Tech Park is a go!
The 50 million euro project is aiming to be the largest Innovation center in Sofia, gathering startups and big companies under one roof.

The Startup Media and Startup Bloggers

An ecosystem, even in its beginning, can’t go nowhere without media and blog coverage.

Forbes Bulgaria started writing about entrepreneurship and new companies from Bulgaria!
They also included a category for startup companies in their annual business awards, which was won by iMediaShare (A LAUNCHUb investee).

Startup E-Bulgaria – a student project, inspired and created for Project Passion, e-Skills week 2012 aiming to create a community arround the digital and startup space.

Entrepreneur.bg emerged – a non-corrupted online media about startups.

The following bloggers became more active on the ecosystem:

* A disclaimer – if you are blogging about the ecosystem or about tech and startups, ping me in the comments to add you to the list *

There are a tons of other things!

It’s simple. If you want to add something to the overview to year 2012, just write a comment about it and i will research & add it.

I want you!

I want you!

A look at 2013

What 2013 will bring ? Only entrepreneurs and VCs can tell.
Get ready for an even wilder year!

I want to finish with a big thanks to Superhosting and Telerik for being such a supportive companies. You are awesome!

There can be an infographic!

This overview can turn into beautiful infographic by the awesome desginer, Stella Jivkova, who helps me with the graphics for this blog.
It all depends on you.
If there are 50 or more people, that subscribe with their email in the bottom-right corner or in the sidebar, we will start creating the infographic 🙂

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Write us your thoughts about this post. Be kind & Play nice.
  1. man0l says:

    Great post, Rado! Congrats!

    I didn’t now about Seed Capital Fund, but it is a little bit strange – 3600 EUR for 20% of the company 😀 But it is good to have competition even in the funding sphere.

    In 2013 we will be witnesses of realised and cash flowing projects 😉 This wil be the essence of the previous 2012 year.

    Reply
  2. LB says:

    Rado- tnx for mentioning. Svetozar Georgiev and Vassil Terziev, Telerik founders are investors in betahaus, tother with Adel Zakout.

    L

    Reply
  3. We are glad to be a part of the great bulgarian start up ecosystem. Squee loves you

    Reply
  4. You can add find some infomation about the Bulgarian startup ecosystem also in newtrend.bg/startup.

    Great article, Rado, congrats!

    Reply
  5. AM says:

    Rado, huge bravo for the summary! It is an amazing progress, when you put it like this..
    Just a tiny correction – betahaus has a total of 1020 sq m.

    Best and happy sliding in the new year!!

    Reply
  6. alex says:

    It would be nice to add Startup e-Bulgaria to blogs list; winning the Project passion award even brought Euronews to Sofia. The video coverage had many viewers not only from Europe; many people knew about our efforts in entrepreneurship and about the ecosystem. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Steve says:

    Awesome summary Rado!
    Great to see such growth and traction in just one short year!! 🙂
    I think this year we’ll see more conferences, like the Balkan Venture Forum, come to Sofia, as well as (hopefully) more VC influx (crossing fingers that the folks over at NEVEQ-II can close).
    Also, we’ve seen investment from outside Angel’s, like the investment in 60K by the original investor of AVG Anti-Virus.
    I really hope 2013 keeps the trend rolling!! 🙂
    Cheers,
    Steve

    Reply

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