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“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 of weeks. 

Judging from your business experience, do you think that local and foreign investors see our capital as a more or less homogeneous business area, or are there still a lot of hurdles?

From the perspective of a high tech business, it’s largely homogenous. The hurdles are similar to what we experience in the United States. If you are looking for the best talent you have to offer something compelling (beyond just compensation). At AtScale, we are disruptive by nature and as a result, we create interesting challenges that result in rewarding opportunities to learn. We’re also competitive on salary to make sure it’s an easy choice for the best engineers to work with us.

What needs to be improved in order to increase the number of new investors both from Bulgaria and abroad?

I would love to see more English-language friendly recruiting and business service websites. 

When you look at Sofia and the country as a whole, as a Bulgarian investor, what attracts or surprises you most?

It’s definitely the people. The importance of having a culture that is compatible with the art & science of software engineering is critical. We’ve found the people of Bulgaria to have a beautiful spirit, desire to fight for what is right, and the manners and politeness to round out the complete package.

How do you feel about Sofia and Bulgaria as a place to live?

Sofia has a lot of charm, friendly people, fantastic food and a temperate climate. The cities have a lot to offer in the way of culture and food with places like Plovdiv which has been likened to Rome. 

Name your top 5 favorite things in Sofia?

  •         Our Bulgarian teammates!
  •         Bulgarian Food (the pastries, pizzas, salads, and yogurts are amazing)
  •         The architecture of the historical buildings is stellar
  •         Getting a haircut and shave at Old School barbershop in Sofia
  •         Accidentally walking on to a movie set

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