On Monday, February 21st, we hosted the Endeavor Insight Report – Announcement Event. It was a pleasure to meet with representatives from the Endeavor network, top entrepreneurs, policymakers, and executives.
Endeavor Insight is the research division of Endeavor that provides data-driven analysis and visualizations showing what makes entrepreneurial ecosystems thrive. Our research team of economists, data scientists, and policy analysts specializes in understanding the needs of high- impact entrepreneurs and evaluating the networks that enable them to scale up and pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Our data-backed thought leadership on global entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation provides partners with valuable strategies and practical recommendations. Data on more than 500 companies and their founders, as well as on more than 160 support organizations, investors, and mentors was collected. Endeavor also analyzed more than 100 entrepreneurship support programs in other European countries.
During the event Momchil Vassilev, Managing Director of Endeavor Bulgaria provided insight into the summary of the report and highlighted the accomplishments of the tech sector. The discussion was attended by Daniel Lorer, Minister of Innovation and Growth, Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia and our research partners from Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO), Bulgarian Development Bank, the Fund Manager of Financial Instruments in Bulgaria and the Sofia Municipality Privatization and Investment Agency.
Given the dynamic growth of the tech sector in Sofia, Bulgaria has an important role to play in Southeast Europe and can leverage its entrepreneurial ecosystem to bolster not only its own economy, but also those of neighboring countries, and thereby increase foreign investor interest in the region. The discussion led with Daniel Lorer and Yordanka touched on important topics such as government support for startups, the need of clarity in regulation or processes, which can significantly hinder companies that are growing and legal frameworks and policies that enable local entrepreneurship and innovation. Under the new structure of the government, entrepreneurship, innovation, and digitalization will be mainly supported through the newly formed Ministry of Innovation and Growth and the Ministry of E-government.
Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO) that acts as a convening body for the entrepreneurial ecosystem — is working with the Bulgarian government to update outdated legislation. On the ease of doing business front, the reforms will include the creation of a new type of legal entity, which will facilitate vesting, including employee stock options, and adding flexibility to corporate governance.
A panel discussion was held on the “Founder-to-founder connectivity” topic with Vassil Terziev, Endeavor Board Member and Hristo Borisov, Endeavor Entrepreneur and Founder of Payhawk, moderated by Irina Obushtarova, Co-founder & CEO at The Recursive. Of an estimated 524 entrepreneurial tech companies in the sector, data shows that 142 were connected to at least one other company through former employment, mentorship, and/or angel investment. Tech entrepreneurs in Sofia seem to appreciate the importance of building a strong network with one another. One of the largest differences between top performers and the rest of the sample was having a founder who previously worked for a local tech company that had scaled. Research suggests that previous employment at a scaling company offers founders important opportunities to learn how to navigate the challenges of building a local business.
As Bulgaria’s tech sector continues to evolve, it can serve as a model for other countries in the region. It is already positioned to share learning from growing a robust, founder-led ecosystem, as well as disseminating practices from support organizations that are offering services to growth-stage companies.
Special thank to our research partners from Bulgarian Development Bank, the Fund Manager of Financial Instruments in Bulgaria and the Sofia Municipality Privatization and Investment Agency who made this research possible!