Momchil Vassilev, Managing Director of Endeavor Bulgaria, on coping with and overcoming the current crisis
Momchil Vassilev is the Managing Director of Endeavor Bulgaria. He has over 20 years of extensive managerial and business development experience across a wide range of industries. In these turbulent times, Momchil shared his perspective on the current crisis and the way it would impact the different strata of business once the world settles down again.
Last week, Momchil Vassilev – Managing Director of Endeavor Bulgaria, took part in the pilot edition of a webinar series, organized by Sofia Tech Park and SME Webinars. He shared his perspective on the imminent restructuring of the global economic order and the way the world would look like “the day after tomorrow”.
As Sun Tzu, a military general, strategist and philosopher, teaches us in “The Art of War”, the first prerequisite of winning a battle is knowing your enemy and the battlefield. That is why all 37 offices of Endeavor, including Endeavor Bulgaria, compiled a detailed database containing information from credible primary sources. The rationale behind that is to help the Endeavor entrepreneurs to critically evaluate the ongoing situation and thus take the necessary measures to reduce the negative impact of it.
We need to be aware, however, that the current crisis is not as unprecedented as it might seem at first glance. During the talk, Momchil reminded that the modern American history has witnessed 12 recessions since 1945. On average, each one lasted for a year and was followed by a 5-year period of growth. As the last major world recession ended 11 years ago and many economies did not experience any significant disturbance since then, it is safe to assume that if we adhere to Foucault’s law, we might expect that the current crisis would have an impact twice as powerful as the previous adjustments. Therefore, given the lessons that the history has taught us so far, the best piece of advice nowadays would be “Don’t panic!”. Arthur C. Clarke said Douglas Adams’ use of these words was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity – and this is especially valid today.
Momchil also reminded us that the most successful business models are the ones that solve real needs and problems for the largest number of people. In the light of the recent event, however, we can observe several trends which are gaining momentum and are likely to become the new normal:
- Digitalization – the successful management of processes that have increasingly larger volumes and complexity leads to the generation of larger amounts of data. This data, in turn, needs to be stored, analyzed and used efficiently, which inevitably creates cyber risks. The ongoing crisis further highlighted the critical importance of that trend. As a result, many companies and institutions that up until now have been resistant to undergoing digital transformations, saw the need to employ such changes. An example for that is the rapid development of a mobile application aimed at the needs of the Bulgarian healthcare system. It has been developed by a number of leading Bulgarian software companies, including Software Group which is part of Endeavor Bulgaria’s network. The purpose of the application is to provide better visibility of the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
- Virtualization – the restrictions of free movement and travel are likely to be lifted within the next few months, but these limitations accelerated many virtualization-related processes. They also proved that the physical presence is not always essential for the conduct of high-profile international events. An example for that could be pioneer edition of the first ever virtual International Selection Panel (ISP), organized by Endeavor Global and held entirely over Zoom – the first ever virtual ISP in the organization’s 20+ years of existence.
- Shorter supply chains – the ongoing crisis showcased the white elephant in the room – at least when it comes to the huge dependence and concentration of the production industries on China. This will certainly change and in that respect, Bulgaria is well-positioned to take advantage of this upcoming shift of the status quo. This is due to the certain sectors’ need for more flexibility and shorter delivery times. Such potential switch would of course come at the expense of the serial production volumes.
- Decentralization – the widespread lockdowns impacted various industries and spheres of society thus leading to the decentralization of education and the rapid increase of home-office work. This trend also changed consumer behavior and brought telemedicine into a new light. These are only a few examples and the effects of decentralization are likely to impact the way we communicate, shop and entertain ourselves.
According to Momchil, any prolonged period of economic upturn can blunt the self-preservation instinct of most businesses. It is essential, however, for the business leaders to realize that the current crisis is likely to be followed by even more radical and tougher ones in the future. Therefore, as we are constantly being taught by the historical cycles, those businesses that are capable of adopting a constant change mentality will have the highest chance for survival and future success, irrespective of the potential challenges. The constant growth mentality which is a defining trait of some of the modern tech giants is likely to prove to be non-viable in the future as the investors will be looking for well-defined strategies for short to medium-term profitability.
Momchil also spoke about the importance to observe carefully the economic and social micro factors – as those are quite telling and might often serve as an indicator for the upcoming major global changes and shifts of power. He also expressed the opinion that it is highly likely that in the near future, the individual and corporate clients will make their purchasing decisions based on the practical characteristics of the product, instead of being drawn simply by the brand name. This opens up possibilities for the Bulgarian companies that can offer both high quality and innovative products and thus gain new market share. Examples for such companies can also be found in Endeavor Bulgaria’s portfolio.
As a conclusion, Momchil brought up the topic of developing partner business modes. He exemplified his point with the game theory in the sense that one player’s winnings equal the other player’s losses which ultimately hinders the development of all players. In the current context of events, the formation of cooperative business models is vital for the survival and growth of all parties involved. Thus, the benefits would spread across a significantly larger number of recipients, instead of being concentrated in the hands of the few. This model lies at the root of Endeavor as the organization has been uniting thousands of entrepreneurs with a strong “give-back” mentality for over 20 years. And this mindset is exactly what is needed for overcoming wide-spread crisis, such as the current one.