Back in 2015, four friends gathered in Sofia to form the management team of a new company. They were all professionals in their respective fields – IT, Project Management and Sales. And they had an international background but decided to return to Sofia and launch Bulbera.
Bulbera already had a few products that were in TOP 10 at the Blackberry World online shop. The same year the company launched the parental control app Protect Your Kid which was made in cooperation with the German security company Netcos. In the following three years the app was downloaded over 100 000 times all over the world, including in high-tech countries like Japan and the USA. While working on the parental control app, the Bulbera team launched a CSR campaign in Sofia aiming to educate kids, parents and teachers on how to be safe online. The program became popular quickly and spread across the whole country. As a result, Bulbera became a trusted partner of the National Police Cybercrime Forces, SAFENET and the National Agency for Child Protection.
In the meantime, the company grew, reaching 17 Developers and 3 offices in 2019. Currently, Bulbera’s portfolio includes clients such as Nokia, Telenor, Takeaway, Caritas, Pleven Medical University and many more. The team works in three verticals – Healthcare, Telecoms and Leisure & Hospitality.
Deyan Blagoev, Business Development Manager at Bulbera, and a frequent guest of TV Shows, conferences, schools and all type of events related to child cyber security, shares with us what makes Sofia the place to launch a successful business and to develop local solutions with global application.
An outsourcing destination becoming a developer of local solutions with global application – is this a real trend here, in Sofia?
Sofia started as an outsourcing destination many years ago. Gradually, many new businesses and startups emerged, and currently they are offering a full range of innovative solutions. These businesses employ highly skilled professionals that change and improve the ecosystem and guarantee the quality of the products and services. For example, one of the biggest movie studios that shoots films for Hollywood is based in Sofia. And recently, a Sofia-based Bulgarian company won a technological Oscar award for its software for visual effects. There are numerous other examples in many sectors, such as the IT, Creative & Biotech sectors.
How do you evaluate the overall business climate in Sofia today?
I think Sofia is a great spot for business: it is EU-based, well-organized, with an international airport which is well-linked to the rest of the world; the city offers fast, cheap and secure internet connectivity, and everyone speaks foreign languages. This is a good base to start an international business and to attract partners. The city is attractive both for big companies and startups. The city Mayor created Invest Sofia – its activities support many local businesses grow and expand abroad. This is of great help to the companies. I am very happy to see that more and more new events are taking place in Sofia, that new co-working spaces are being opened, and that a new generation of entrepreneurs is being born.
What sort of challenges have you faced so far?
To be honest, we did not have any challenges related to the city. We found an office and the right people with the right skills quickly. The city offered us all we needed. All we had to do was focus on our growth. Invest Sofia has become a very good partner for us, offering us opportunities to grow and to find new business.
What do you find most useful in our partnership?
Our team is working with you to develop Sofia as a must-be city on the global map. It is a partnership that lasts for years now. The Agency supported Irish companies to open new offices in Sofia. Thanks to Invest Sofia, Bulbera managed to visit some of the biggest IT events in the world and to meet new partners. It is a win-win partnership where the common goal is to position Sofia as a leading business destination.
What needs to be improved in order to increase the number of new investors both from Bulgaria and abroad?
One of the key points for Sofia is to find its new talent. Everyone currently associates the city mainly with the IT & Outsourcing sectors. But Sofia needs to show the world its other faces. Biotech & Healthcare are a good opportunity that needs to be grabbed and developed. Sofia is home to some of the best hospitals, doctors and researchers in the region. This is a gold asset which is currently not advertised a lot. Health tourism, R&D, drug discovery – these are just a few examples of how the city can become the Biotech hub of the Balkans.
One important project which needs to be finalized is the construction of the Tech Park and all its facilities and laboratories. This will additionally boost the R&D sector and the innovation ecosystem.
When you look at Sofia and Bulgaria, what attracts or surprises you most?
Sofia is the innovation hub of Bulgaria. There are few others hubs spread across the country, but Sofia is the biggest and the fastest growing one. The city is full of young and educated innovators. I know the city for more than 30 years. And the change is enormous. It is a modern and vibrant city with trendy spots, high-end technologies and world disruptors.
Name your top 5 favorite things in Sofia?
– The startup ecosystem
– Vitosha mountain and all the green parks
– All the innovators in Sofia
– Gelato & Latte ice cream shop
– The spring and summer festivals
Bulbera’s latest achievements
In 2017, the company was awarded the title “Innovative company” by ARC Fund and the President of Bulgaria Mr. Rumen Radev. That same year Bulbera received another important recognition. The European Software Institute nominated Bulbera as one of the TOP world companies at the UN’s World Summit Awards. Each year WSA recognizes the companies that help the world to move forward and are game changers.
2018 followed with a new award “Excellence in Innovation” received in a ceremony by the President of Bulgaria Mr. Rumen Radev. A few months later came a “Seal of Excellence” from the EU.
Following its wish to position Sofia and Bulgaria as the place to be, Bulbera is an active member of the British Bulgarian Business Association helping to strengthen the economic links between the UK and Bulgaria. The company is also one of the founders of the Health & Life Sciences Cluster which is already making an impact on the ecosystem in Sofia and putting it on the global Biotech map as a city of innovators.
For the last 5 years the team of Bulbera managed to grow and to change the public opinion on a few important topics. The team is working hard to make Sofia and Bulgaria attractive for new foreign and local investors. 2020 comes with new projects and game changing partnerships. So stay tuned for more news from Bulbera over the coming months.