15.08.2019

Why Sofia? with Boris Hristov, Founder at 356labs

356labs is a boutique presentation agency that helps their clients write, design and deliver truly effective presentations. They do that by either building those presentations for their customers or by training them how they can do all of the above three by themselves. 

The company is just 4 years old but has already worked on some of the most critical presentations on the market – ones that closed multimillion-dollar deals, got startup investment from people like Bill Clinton and even the 2018 IPO of the Bulgarian company Gradus that raised more than 40 Million Euro. 

They have trained companies like Uber, KPMG, Roche, Unicredit Bulbank, Kaufland, BIODERMA and many more in topics ranging from presentation skills and storytelling to slide design and data visualization and are the only presentation agency in the world to speak twice at the biggest yearly conference of Microsoft with more than 25 000 visitors – Ignite. 

 

Boris Hristov, founder at 356labs, tells us what makes Sofia a place to launch and develop a successful business.

Please tell us briefly about your investments in Sofia? What does your company do in Bulgaria and outside? 

The whole team of 356labs is based in Sofia. We are currently 6 people on the team and looking to grow to 10 in the next 6 – 8 months. The whole company is focused on one thing and one thing only – truly effective presentations. We do not do anything else – we do not do corporate identity projects, web design, social media, etc. None. Our expertise is in one field only and that is what differentiates us on the market. That being said, the services we provide both in Bulgaria and outside of it are related to it – we build presentations for our clients and we also train them how they can build and deliver them by themselves. 

What motivated you to invest in Sofia?
Well, even though I personally have delivered presentations and trainings in more than 30 countries now, Sofia is our home city. And home is home. Now, from the business side – it’s way easier and cheaper to start a business here than, let’s say in Germany. What’s more, Bulgaria could also be a great market for new companies to verify their idea and products or at least that is the case for us. 

Are there other local and foreign companies here doing

12.08.2019

Why Sofia? with Loic Le Pichoux, Co-Founder at Klear

 

Klear is a unique combination of Peer-to-Peer lending platform and a whole range of financial educational tools. It provides users with the opportunity to lend money and generate a return on investment or to borrow quickly and easily at reasonable interest rates.

Klear was founded in Sofia in 2015 by Loic Le Pichoux, Lukasz Lukaszewski and Nikolay Stanev, Since then, Klear has been named The Best FinTech Startup in Bulgaria at the Central European Startup Awards for two consecutive years  – in 2017 and 2018. Few months ago the p2p lending platform hit the milestone of 1000 credits given. 

 

 

Loic Le Pichoux, Co-founder and Chief Engagement Officer tells us what makes Sofia a place to launch and develop a successful FinTech company. 

 

Klear was founded 4 years ago by a team with solid experience in consumer finance. Why Sofia?

First, we were working together in Sofia for a leading consumer credit company in Bulgaria. So, it was logical to assemble a team with the best professionals and to start operating on the Bulgarian market, our domestic market indeed.

The second reason is that Sofia offers a very good option for startups who want to bootstrap. You have a good quality of life for a very reasonable cost of living.

The FinTech revolution is rapidly transforming the financial industry. What is the future of P2P lending?

Yes, traditional financial players are challenged by innovative FinTech companies on all their products: bank account, payments, investments and loans. P2P lending is a fantastic model. Everyone loves the idea. It takes however some time to reach a large audience, to convince people to switch. Trust is key. I believe that time will come when P2P lending will not only tickle existing banks but will take significant market share from them. Simply because it’s fair.

Judging from your business experience in the sector, how does the local FinTech startup ecosystem perform in the different FinTech domains?

I’ve witnessed a drastic change in the last 5 years. When we started working on Klear project, FinTech was not a very popular word (OK, now it’s the opposite and the hype is probably too much…) and I could count Sofia FinTech companies on the fingers of one hand. Today, I can’t know all of them as there are at least more than 50!

With a few other key players, we’ve created the Bulgarian FinTech Association. It’s

07.08.2019

“Why Sofia?” with Matthew Baird, Co-Founder and CTO at AtScale

 

Nine months ago, the US IT company AtScale formed its own team in Sofia. AtScale is focused on big data management solutions that help companies convert big datasets into business intelligence and intelligent analytics tool. The company’s flexible platform combines access to data from different locations where they are stored, as well as offers visualization and management of datasets.

The team in Sofia is the first for the company outside the USA. Matthew Baird, Co-Founder and CTO at AtScale tells us what makes Sofia a place to further develop a successful business in Big Data.

Please tell us briefly about your investments in Sofia? What does your company do in Bulgaria and outside? 

AtScale is expanding its team internationally and is planning to invest over $25M USD in Sofia, Bulgaria. AtScale’s software virtualizes data that allows Global 2000 enterprises to scale enterprise analytics.

What motivated you to invest in Sofia?

There were a couple of key reasons. Our Vice President of Worldwide Engineering and R&D, General Manager Europe, Momchil Michailov grew up in Sofia and has access to a highly skilled professional network in Bulgaria. Secondly, Bulgaria is known for computer software engineering top talent.

What are the advantages of investing in Sofia?

Loyal, smart and genuinely excited software engineers! We looked to Sofia as not an extension of our engineering team, but a completely viable software development unit that can spearhead new product initiatives from inception through to delivery and support. It takes a special kind of person and team to be able to keep innovating and pushing to deliver and we’ve found that the Bulgarian people are fighters! They have a strong pride in craftsmanship and a desire to win. The culture is actually similar in many respects to Silicon Valley.

What sort of challenges have you faced so far?

The challenges are expected and completely typical to expanding engineering teams in other continents and time zones. All can be easily overcome and the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

How do you estimate the overall business climate in Sofia today?

There is a growing realization within Bulgaria that global high tech industry leadership is within their grasp and a key to improving the lives of Bulgarian citizens. As such, Sofia is a very vibrant and friendly place to do business. As a result, AtScale could move quickly—from idea inception to an operating office took on the order

24.07.2019

æternity Ventures announces $400К funding in 4 blockchain projects 

Тhe second edition of the Starfleet accelerator aims to provide $100К venture funding for each of the four selected projects: the event ticketing provider by Abend from Germany, the blockchain game Cryptic Legends (Malta/Serbia), the Croatian decentralized freelancing platform Cryptotask, and the Bulgarian satellite data marketplace Homeport.

 

æternity Ventures, the investment arm of the æternity Blockchain, has officially announced the funding in the 4 seed-stage startups from the second edition of the Starfleet accelerator program.

Each of the 4 teams will receive a funding of $100 000, the maximum amount offered, a certain sign for the excellent quality of the selected projects and the level of their experience. Every seed investment is connected to a set of milestones that are discussed and agreed with the teams. On top that each team will receive legal and marketing aid, as well as heads-on business development guidance through all stages of their growth. 

“Since its foundation, the mission of æternity Ventures is to enrich the blockchain space constantly and ensure that the ideas worth hearing will be heard”, said Nikola Stojanow, CBO of æternity Blockchain and CEO of æternity Ventures. “It is exciting to follow the growth of these four high-quality projects with the potential to disrupt industries on a global scale! They would have a meaningful impact on the entire æternity ecosystem – the ultimate reward for me and the whole æternity Ventures team.”

The second edition of Starfleet accelerator started in March 2019 with 14 blockchain startups from all over the world, from which only 8 were invited to pitch on the final Demo day in April. In the end, 4 teams were selected for an investment offer. Тhe 4 startups receiving investment from æternity Ventures include event ticketing provider, satellite data marketplace, blockchain game, and decentralized freelancing platform. 

Abend

Abend from Germany is a cashless, user-friendly, on-site payment platform whose prototype is already running on æternity blockchain.

The team behind the project engages to create “own little economy” for the music events segment internationally.

Cryptotask 

The Croatian Cryptotask is urging the long-awaited freelancing revolution by creating a task-oriented, easy to use, decentralized freelancing task market with advanced dispute resolution system built in (something like Upwork but much better and on æternity blockchain).

Cryptic Legend

Cryptic Legends (Malta/Serbia) is blockchain-based hero management, battle simulation game set in an ancient fantasy world.

Aside from selling legends/heroes directly to the players, Cryptic

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