The creators of Delishu, Nikolai Todorov, Stilyana Todorova and Maria Dimitrova, launched their activities in 2013 by creating their own unique recipe for a revolutionary probiotic “cheese” made of cashew, called Delishu. The product was successfully accepted in restaurants and shops in Sofia. In 2016 the team won a place in the Rinker’s Challenge training program for young entrepreneurs. During the training period, they created a business plan and chose a plant to produce the product in larger quantities by renting production facilities. Last year the team won a prize worth BGN 20 000 with their business plan, which will be used to form the current packaging and branding of the product.
Thus, five years after the creation of the recipe the company has industrial production and distribution in all major cities of the country. The team aims to have its own production plant for its unique product, to develop new recipes for a larger portfolio, and to enter new markets. Delishu is prepared with a plant-based starter with live probiotic bacteria (with already filed patent application), raw cashew, non-hydrogenated bio coconut oil and Himalayan salt. In addition to its undeniable taste and health benefits, the product is suitable for lactose and gluten intolerant people as well.
Nikolay Todorov, co-founder and CEO of Delishu, 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 abroad?
Our investment amounts to some BGN 100 000 so far and is used for the production and development of our innovative product Delishu – a probiotic delicacy of sour cashew.
What motivated you to invest in Sofia?
I was born in Sofia. I grew up here and have decided to develop professionally here. I love the unique vibe of the city.
What are the advantages of investing in Sofia?
Delishu is a unique product at a global level as it uses our natural resources by benefiting from the lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus Bulgaricus that are good for the stomach. This is only possible here, so our choice was brought to local production in Sofia, Bulgaria. Like any major city, Sofia offers a well-developed demand and supply market, which is a great advantage for a niche product like Delishu. In addition, Sofia is also known as a place of modern open-minded people and the standard here is the highest for the country. All these are key factors for the successful start of my business.
What sort of disadvantages have you faced so far?
The biggest challenges I have faced so far have been the heavy traffic and the constantly decreasing number of qualified staff, which hinder rapid growth and development. On the other hand this motivates me to optimize and improve production processes, relying on their future partial automation.
How do you estimate the overall business climate in Sofia today?
I believe it’s the best possible if you want to produce and create food products of high quality, like our Delishu products.
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?
I consider the business environment here as quite homogeneous given the huge number of foreign companies operating in all spheres.
What would you point out specifically in terms of business climate improvement for investors who are already operating in Sofia?
I dream of the day when we will have a working e-government and a modern tax and social security system that will rather help, than hinder the standard business management procedures here. Government agencies, administration and controlling authorities need to be more efficient and flexible in their work on projects with new investors in order to make it as easy as possible for them to launch a new business.
What needs to be improved in order to increase the number of new investors both from Bulgaria and abroad?
We need to invest in raising the professional qualification of people of all ages here. Today it is absolutely necessary to be able to use a computer, mobile devices, to speak at least one foreign language. It is extremely important for schools and universities to develop the so-called “soft skills” that are key to successful teamwork and the development of every professional.
How much does the investment climate in Bulgaria stand out in comparison with the progress made in other countries in the region?
I’m not aware enough of the investment climate in the neighboring countries yet, but I would only mention Romania as a country offering similar prospects for a start-up business.
When you look at Sofia and the country as a whole, as a Bulgarian investor, what attracts or surprises you most?
The huge opportunities here, the low level of competition, as well as the fast-growing market.
How do you feel about Sofia and Bulgaria as a place to live – transportation, food, travel, prices, education, medical services?
There is much to be done, especially when it comes to ecology and ergonomics in our lives (noise and dust pollution, not enough green areas), but I like the direction we are moving towards. Every year I can see positive changes and that makes me happy and full of hope.
Name your top 5 favourite things in Sofia?
More about Delishu