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
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:
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
Here is the map for all of them:
View Co-Working Sofia in a larger map
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
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
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.
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
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!
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!
Also, there was a big mobile hackathon, happening all around the world – WOWZAPP 2012!
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 :
The Bulgarian Entrepreneurship and Innovation Cluster (BEIC) was created, uniting every participant in the ecosystem to have a common voice for the big issues.
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!
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