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Even though business angels usually stay behind the scenes and more attention is paid to venture capital funds and corporate investors, their financial and advisory role in the very early stages of startups often bridges the gap between a business idea and a fundable venture. And with the rise of innovative regional startups, in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the activity of angel investors across South-Eastern Europe. To assist early-stage SEE founders in their efforts find the right angel investor, we built this list of 30+ angels from Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania.
- Svetozar Georgiev – Svetozar is one of the co-founders of Telerik and played a pivotal role in establishing the Marketing and Financial organizations within the company. He is also the co-founder of Campus X and a Board Member of Teach for Bulgaria. As a marketing executive, Georgiev has extensive expertise in product positioning, communications, and marketing research. He graduated from the American University in Bulgaria with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration and Journalism. Some of his angel investments were made in Printivo, LAM’ON, Payhawk, Reloyalty, and Cloudpipes.
- Vassil Terziev – Managing Partner at Eleven Ventures and a Founding Board Member of Endeavor Bulgaria, Terziev is also one of the co-founders of Telerik and Campus X. He graduated with Bachelors in Business Administration from the American University in Bulgaria, where he is currently serving as a Trustee on the Chair of the Finance and Property Committee. He mentors founders from all stages of a company’s life since he started his own company, went through fast growth, made an exit, and worked for a US public company. He is passionate about community building and education. Some of his over 40+ angel investments include Gtmhub, OfficeRnD, and Payhawk.
- Sasha Bezuhanova – The Founder and Chairperson of MOVE.BG, the platform for collaboration and social innovation, is also the Chairperson of WWF for Central and Eastern Europe, and the Chairperson of the Bulgarian Center of Women in Technology. Before devoting herself to philanthropy and social development, Bezuhanova had a 20-year executive business career in Hewlett-Packard. She is especially passionate about supporting prosperity through innovation, collaboration in the field of education and civic engagement, as well as sustainability. She is an angel investor in PlanA and Lam’on.
- Stanimir Vassilev – The co-founder of the holding company Management Financial Group (MFG) which unites fintech startups with interesting business models from the Central and Eastern European region. He is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the financial company Easy Asset Management and a co-founder of the marketplace for high-class wines Seewines. Having an affinity towards fintech solutions, he is an angel investor in Payhawk. Vassilev also participated in the latest seed round of the agritech startup Ondo.
- Boyko Iaramov – Co-founder of Telerik, Telerik Academy, and a co-founder and current CEO of Campus X. He is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and mentor. He is also a graduate of the American University in Bulgaria and holds a degree in Business Administration. He is an angel investor in Dronamics.
- Lyuben Belov – Currently a Managing Partner at LAUNCHub Ventures, he is one of the partners who founded the fund back in 2012. A couple of years earlier, in 1998 he co-founded the pioneering Bulgarian digital media company, Net Info and served as its CEO until 2007 when it was acquired by the European publisher Sanoma Magazines International. Since then Belov has been an active angel investor in digital and DeFi-focused companies, among which Leanplum and Zerion.
- Hristo Hristov – The CEO of Darik Radio, the first Bulgarian private national radio, and a Venture Partner at Eleven Ventures, Hristov is also a Board Member at Endeavor Bulgaria. He is the founder of Darik Web, one of the first local news sites, and was the CEO of NetInfo, the biggest Bulgarian digital publisher. He is interested in businesses in the digital media industry, and everything connected to the digital economy – from IoT and online groceries to telehealth. Some of his angel investments were made in eBag, Healee, BIODIT, and ONDO.
- Lyubomir Minchev – the co-founder of Telelink and founder of the dedicated investment vehicle of the Telelink Group, TelelinkInvestments. He is a Member of the BoD of AmCham in Bulgaria, an ex-Chairman and current Board Member of Endeavor Bulgaria, and a startup mentor, investor, and co-investor. Some of his angel investments were made in Develiot and SoftGroup,
- Todor Breshkov – The co-Founder and Managing Partner at LAUNCHub Ventures, he is a founder and Chairman of the Board of Bulgarian Real Estate Fund (BREF), and has been a Member of the Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange. Breshkov is a Mentor at Endeavor Bulgaria and serves as a Board Member at the Bulgarian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA). His expertise ranges from banking and finance to business development, venture capital, and entrepreneurship.
- Pressian Karakostov – the Founder and Chairman at PubGalaxy, a fast-growing company that helps digital publishers monetize their businesses, and a Board Member at Endeavor Bulgaria. Karakostov is also a Member of the Board of Advisors of the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO). He is also the founder of the mobile technology media PhoneArena. He holds a degree in Computer Sciences from the Florida Metropolitan University as well as an MBA.
- Mihail Stoychev and Georgi Petrov – the founders of SMSBump which is now part of Yotpo. Mihail Stoychev and Georgi Petrov have made three angel investments in e-commerce businesses so far, the last one being in the Bulgarian e-commerce startup Rush. The founders of SMSBump tell The Recursive that even though their main responsibilities remain the same within SMSBump and Yotpo, they would be glad to enable and become part of the success stories of more startups.
- Milen Ivanov – Managing Partner at Sofia Angel Ventures, the Sofia venture capital fund that co-invests alongside angels, and the co-founder and Chairman of CEO Angels Club which targets scalable early-stage startups. Ivanov is also a Member of the Board of Advisors at BESCO, and a Board Member at The Bulgarian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA). He is the founder and currently a shareholder at the recruitment company Horizons Bulgaria and has served as the Managing Director of The Founder Institute. Some of his angel investments were wade in Reloyalty, Dronamics, and QuarkVR.
- Apostolos Apostolakis – A serial entrepreneur who turned investor, he is a co-founder and currently a Partner at VentureFriends, the first 100% private venture capital fund in Greece. Previously he has worked for Boston Consulting Group. Apostolakis has co-founded e-shop.gr, Openfund, e-food, and is a key investor in Taxibeat. His investment focus is on e-marketplaces and SaaS startups. Some of his individual investments include Blueground, doctoranytime, and Packhelp.
- George Dimopoulos – The other co-founder and Partner of VentureFriends, George has been an angel investor for the last 5 years. He has years-long experience in accounting and finance, and international economics as he has previously worked for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in London. George holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School. Dimopoulos is an angel investor in Taxibeat.
- Stergios Anastasiadis – Startup advisor, investor, and a Board Member of the Sea and Sand Foundation. He holds Masters in Computer Science and has been a Senior Engineering Manager at Google, a Director of Engineering at Shopify, and a Board Member of Accelerate Greece which organizes an acceleration program for Greek startups in California. He is a mentor and an angel investor in 5 technology startups, among which is the AI-driven KnowledgeBot for seamless workplace learning and development Soffos. The investment focus of Anastasiadis is Deep Tech, Clean Energy, Shipping, and EdTech.
- Niko Bonatsos – Managing Director at General Catalyst, a US venture capital firm that has around $5B in capital raised. He is a Mentor at Endeavor Greece and has extensive expertise in product strategy, tech team building, customer strategies, and business development. His focus as an angel investor is in the sectors of Consumer Internet, E-commerce, Digital Media, and Education.
- Myrto Papathanou – A Founding Partner at Metavallon VC and a Kaufmann Fellow, she is a Member of The Board of Advisors of Women on Top. Papathanou is also a Member of The Board of Advisors of the Hellenic Innovation Network which aims to build a bridge between the Greek and US startup ecosystems. She holds an MSc in Finance from the Imperial College of London and an MBA from INSEAD.
- Jason Manolopoulos – the co-founder of Dromeus Capital Group and currently a member of Outlier Ventures, the early-stage UK accelerator that supports the development of an open data economy. He holds a Master of Science in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science and is an active mentor at Endeavor Greece. He has been investing in start-ups since 2010 and some of his angel investments were made in the Greek startups Blueground, Spotawheel, and Easyhero.
- Manos Moschous – the co-founder and the CTO of AbZorba Games which exited to Greentube Entertainment Studios in 2015. He has a Master’s degree in Computer Sciences from the University of Crete and is one of the business angels who invested in Marathon VC I.
- Marco Veremis – the co-founder and CEO of the mobile marketing platform Upstream and a Partner at the Greek VC Big Pi Ventures. Additionally, he is a Chairman of The Board of Junior Achievement Greece and a Board Member at Endeavor Greece. His main expertise is in marketing strategies but his educational background is in Politics and Society. He is an angel investor and board advisor in the hiring platform Workable HR.
- Michalis Gkontas – a serial entrepreneur who has founded three successful businesses – the men’s healthcare platform Manual. Co, the foodtech company Forky, and the first peer-to-peer marketplace for homemade meals in Greece Cookisto. He is currently working on the setting of Lateralus, a venture builder identifying, launching, and scaling real businesses. He is an angel investor in Scape Technologies which got acquired by Facebook.
- Mircea Vadan – An ecosystem builder, startup advisor, Managing Partner at Activize.Tech and Founding Board Member and Investor at Transylvania Angels Network (Т.А.N). His main focus is on acceleration programs, startups, consultancy for corporates, and VC funds. Mircea helps startups team with idea validation, product shaping, go-to-market strategy, business development, and investment. He is also a serial entrepreneur and has participated in the setting and scaling of multiple startups and forums such as FreshBlood.Health, Spherik Accelerator, Fintech.Camp, and others.
- Emmett King – an American serial entrepreneur and angel investor who has nearly 20 experience in the Romanian startup ecosystem who is the other co-founder of Transylvania Angels Network (Т.А.N). Currently living in the Cluj-Napoca region, he is the COO of the software solutions provider Wirtek. His expertise includes business creation and scaling, strategic planning, sales and negotiations, client relations, marketing and branding, and tech team development.
- Florin M. Pop – a startup advisor, business mentor, and the founder and Managing Partner of the investment, wealth management, and angel investing company in Cluj-Napoca, Primainvest Capital Management. He is also a Board Member at Transylvania Angels Network (Т.А.N) and serves as a Board Advisor to a number of startups in which he has made an angel investment. Some of them include BOOKR, Telios Care S.A, Daveo Studios, ROTSA, Unicorn Booking, and more.
- Laura Tabus – a financial advisor and a member of TechAngels Romania, she has extensive experience in the financial corporate world. Laura has occupied managerial positions at BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions and has been a Country Manager at Scania Financial Services. Her focus and industry expertise covers wholesale and consumer corporate finance and insurance and she has an affinity towards themes such as growth strategies, market entry, regional expansion, fintech, model optimization, and strategic management.
- Malin-Iulian Stefanescu – the founder of EEU Software, a software development company, and the Chairman of TechAngels, the Romanian business angels network that finances fintech startups. He has corporate experience as a PM in IBM and has participated and organized multiple community-building and technology initiatives such as CoderDojo. Some of his angel investments were made in Tokinomo, TypingDNA, SymphoPay, and Green House Games.
- Cosmin Curticapean is the Vice President of TechAngels and the CEO of iFactor, the first official invoice trading, and SME multi-financing Platform in Romania. He has vast financial expertise and has earned multiple accreditations from CFTE and the Oxford Fintech Program. He has an affinity towards tech startups, AI-powered fintech solutions, and networking initiatives, and is serving as a Board Member at the Romanian Fintech Association as well as a Menor at the Founder Institute.
- Andrei Dudoiu – the co-founder and CEO of SeedBlink, the Romanian crowd investment platform for tech startups. He has two decades of experience, leading teams in the Romanian banking system. In 2018, he started a new business journey as an entrepreneur and investor. He is a Board Member at the Romanian Fintech Association and he is passionate about tech startups and business ideas that aim to achieve a sportive social change.
- Matei Dumitrescu – Senior Partner at the early-stage Romanian angel fund ROXA X, Founder of Commons Accel, an independent and equity-free accelerator, and a Vice President at TechAngels Romania. He is a venture capitalist, community-builder, startup mentor, and expert in entrepreneurship and corporate innovation. He has served as a Jury Member at the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, as well as the Local Leader of Founder Institute Romania.
- Mihai Guran – the CEO and Managing Partner of Guran Consulting Global, a professional management consulting company for startups that eye international scaling. He is also the co-founder of RepsMate, an AI and data analytics for customer behavior startup, and the co-founder of the early-stage VC focused on growing impactful startups Smart Impact Capital. Guran holds an MBA and has a degree in Electrical Engineering. He is passionate about tech startups from the SaaS, cybersecurity, and services sectors, and has previously invested in VOXI KIDS and PROCESIO.
- Bogdan Iordache – the founder of the How to Web Conference which is one of the leading regional events for innovation and startups. Iordache is the co-founder of TechAngels and TechHub Bucharest and has previously been a Partner at Gecad Ventures He is also a startup advisor and has expertise in raising capital, building useful products, and developing pitch decks. Being an entrepreneur himself, he founded and exited the enterprise and marketing service Conectoo.
- Gregoire Vigroux – a serial entrepreneur and investor who has founded and co-invested in 20 startups across Europe out of which 4 have made an exit. He is the co-founder and currently a Board Member at the outsourcing company TELUS International Europe. Vigroux is the co-founder and President of the Frech Tech Global community in Romania and as a philanthropist who believes in the potetial of businesses to make a meaningful impact, he supports several NGOs.
- Mihaela Mitroi – the former Tax & Law Leader CESA South Cluster of EY Romania, former director at PwC where she was in charge of the Retail and Consumer industry network covering Europe, Africa, and Asia. Currently, Mitroi is a Managing Partner at Global Tax Advice and has expertise in international taxation, compliance, tax optimization, due diligence, and personal tax matters.
Overview of the European angel investors ecosystem
According to the latest report of the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds, and Early Stage Market Players (EBAN) the total European early-stage investment market is worth around €13B. Business angels represent the biggest share with more than €8B of annual investment which equates to nearly 60% of the total market. (according to visible market statistics)
In 2019 alone, across Europe, there were around 34500 active angel investors who got involved in over 3600 funding rounds using primarily their networks or ecosystem business angels clubs. When it comes to the sectors which attracted the highest interest from the business angel community, these were enterprise software (16.3% of total angel investments), fintech (11.8%), marketing (11.4%), and health (9.9%).
And what does qualitative data show about the market sentiment of business angels and their value added to the regional innovation ecosystem? According to the EIF Business Angels Survey 2019, the biggest challenge in business angles activity in 2019 were the high investee company valuations. When it comes to the selection criteria, the surveyed business angels report that the most important decision factor for them is the quality of the management team. And finally, an important sentiment to keep in mind is that European business angels find it easier to co-invest with their peers instead of co-invest with VCs or corporates.
Do you know of more active angel investors in the SEE innovation ecosystem? Feel encouraged to share them with us.