Odelo Farba, the subsidiary of Odelo Group in Bulgaria opened a development centre in Sofia. The company is a key supplier to Mercedes and the team in the capital will work on the design of the taillights of automobiles, which should go into production two years after the initial design phase.
The centre starts with 10 highly-qualified engineers and plans to increase their number to 20 by the end of the year, and to employ 40 people within three years. They will work in several disciplines, including engineering, optics, electronics, and testing, Odelo Farba said.
The development centre in Sofia is part of the 40 million-еuro investment in Bulgaria announced by odelo last year. The other project of the group is the construction of a production base near Plovdiv. The company received a Class A Investor Certificate from the Ministry of Economy for its investment in the country.
About the company
Odelo Bulgaria Ltd is part of the Turkish Bayraktarlar Holding. The company is a leading supplier of automotive lights and works with major car manufacturers such as Daimler, BMW, Audi, VW, Renault, Toyota and others. The holding also includes companies in the insurance, construction and tourism sectors.
The company has factories in Germany, Slovenia, Turkey and China, as well as development centres in Stuttgart (Germany) and Bursa (Turkey). The group employs nearly 4,000 professionals.
Germany-based Varengold Bank opened a branch in Sofia at the end of 2018, following its strategy to expand its business in the fast-growing economies in Southeast Europe (SEE). The branch in Sofia will serve as a hub from which Varengold will operate across the entire SEE region. The bank’s mission is to support and finance online marketplaces, predominantly Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending platforms, that provide consumers and companies with faster, easier and more affordable loans and financial solutions than those offered by established banks. As such, Varengold Bank’s goal is to become the preferred partner of Fintechs in the area of Marketplace Banking. Additionally, it supports foreign trade-oriented companies in niche markets by providing transaction/commercial banking services.
The team of Varengold Bank’s Sofia Branch is comprised of experts in the field of banking and technology. Its General Manager, Sergey Panteleev, has 12-year’s experience in corporate and investment banking and structured finance.
Sergey Panteleev tells us what makes Sofia a place to establish a successful SEE regional center.
Varengold opened its office in Sofia nine months ago as part of the Bank’s expansion in Southeastern Europe. Why Sofia?
I could mention more than a dozen reasons, but let me give you three: Firstly, Sofia boasts a wide range of highly-educated professionals across almost every sector of the economy, but especially in the fields of IT, ICT, Tech and Finance. Secondly, as international rankings confirm, the city is among the most business-friendly in Europe thanks to an ecosystem that is entrepreneurial, startup-friendly, innovative, and generally strong in R&D. Last, but not least, Sofia is very competitive in terms of cost effectiveness. Also, let’s not forget the advantages that almost everyone takes for granted: The EU membership and the low currency risk. At Varengold Bank, we believe that with its strategic location, Sofia is the perfect starting point for our expansion in Southeast Europe (SEE). The city will serve as a hub for our operations across the whole region, which in our view will continue to outperform the average growth rate in the EU. We are happy that we are here and we are looking forward to accelerating the development of the region further with our projects.
In June, Varengold acquired 20% of the Sofia-based peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform Klear. What do you expect from the investment and how do you see the Fintech sector in Sofia and the region?
ARC Academy – the first multidisciplinary creative academy of its kind – opens in Sofia Tech Park this autumn. Students of the Academy will be able to study in four areas: game development, brand building, film production and space design.
ARC Academy has attracted business partners to teach the disciplines. The training process will involve companies that are leaders in their respective industries. They will give students the opportunity to participate in joint projects, in a real business environment and with latest material base, which the standard university environment lacks, thus slowing down employee development compared to the pace of development and business needs. In this way, the Academy will realise its concept of being a practical educational platform in which businesses find and train their future staff.
ARC Academy is supported by the Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Center (BEC) and Sofia Tech Park. For the Advertising and Brand Management specialty, the Academy is in partnership with the Varna University of Management (VUM) and students will be able to graduate with a Master’s degree.
The creators of the project are Anthony Christov and Milin Dzhaliev. Anthony Christov returned to Sofia after 30 years working in Hollywood in positions including Art Director at Pixar productions like Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Incredibles 2, and others. Milin Dzhalaliev is an expert in advertising and branding and has worked in various management positions, including 10 years as manager of Saatchi & Saatchi at Publicis Groupe Bulgaria.
The Academy’s plans include standard training formats and online courses. The first classes start in October and the call for applications is already open.
Imperia Online JSC is one of the biggest game developer and publisher companies in Southeastern Europe with 25 released games. The company’s flagship titles are medieval MMO strategy games, available on mobile, browsers, social networks and Steam. For almost a year, the company is part of Stillfront Group. The Sweden-based group of independent game creators has acquired the Bulgarian games studio for €10 million ($11.8 million), enabling it to expand its portfolio of online games.
Imperia Online – the game
The idea for the eponymous game – the real-time strategy Imperia Online – was born back in 2005, when Dobroslav Dimitrov – the designer of the gameplay – and Moni Dochev – freelance programmer (at the time) – crossed paths. Back then Dobroslav, in his role as the then owner of one of the largest chains of Internet cafes ‘Xaoc’, bought license for time tracking software, developed by Moni. Hopping from one business meeting to another, it became clear that they both are fans of Age of Empires. Soon after that the detailed survey and the extensive groundwork laid for the gameplay mechanics took shape in a prominent way – Dobroslav’s business plan. Moni and Dobroslav launch the project with the clear aim in mind to create the number one browser title of all MMO games on the market.
Today, Imperia Online has over 45 million users worldwide who appreciate the efforts to offer only superior products and reward Imperia Online JSC with loyalty, high ratings and flattering comments on all platforms. For almost a year, the company is part of Stillfront Group. Over 70 professionals work in the team in Sofia, almost half of them are women.