Wilfried Durand is a multi-hat web entrepreneur and startup advisor with a strong interest in building and growing global services. He discovered Sofia as a business destination five years ago while developing Mailjet, a French company he co-founded in 2010. Within the next two years Wilfried had hired a team of 25 people on 4 continents, including 10 in Sofia. The next company he founded – Onvey, is entirely based in Sofia.
Please tell us briefly about your investments in Sofia? What does your company do in Bulgaria and outside?
My main activities in Sofia are to participate in the local IT ecosystem as an entrepreneur, startup advisor, and business angel. Less than a year ago I registered in Sofia my latest company Onvey with the purpose of launching innovative SaaS products. We plan to release 2 products in 2017, dedicated to product owners who want to monitor and improve the user experience of their services. Beside that, I intend to bring my entrepreneurial experience to local startups and start investing in them. My first participation went into iGreet, whose founder Vicho and his amazing team developed an impressive AR technology.
What motivated you to start your business here, in Sofia?
I had the opportunity to discover Sofia when we opened an outsourced office for Mailjet, the previous company I co-founded, in partnership with Proxiad. Within two years the Proxiad team in Sofia grew up to 30+ people which I got to know better during my frequent visits from Paris, ten of them were in the team that I managed directly. Not only I got to work closely with nice minds, but also discovered a culture where individuals commit themselves to improving and learning new skills to progress. I enjoy this positive mindset, compared to my native western culture where the personal branding can sometimes overstep real achievements. Ultimately, that is what motivated me to invest in the people of Sofia.
When you look at the Bulgarian capital and the country as a whole, as a foreign investor, what attracts or surprises you most? What are the advantages of setting up your business in Sofia?
First of all, Sofia ranked as one of the best European city where to live. The city is dynamic, affordable, green & friendly. Then the young population is in my opinion bright, greatly educated and fully aware of leaving in a global