The summer edition of the tech and innovation forum Webit focused on two hottest themes for the region and beyond – Artificial Intelligence and Investments. The event included a conference program on “AI Future to Share” and the first InvestX Investment Forum aiming to give an opportunity to Bulgaria to showcase its potential and attract the attention of world leaders in the investment sphere.
The conference brought attention to the development of AI and raised concerns that some professions will cease to be executed by people in the future. Discussions on the future of work, business, health, education, impact and entertainment posed questions on how we can adapt to the new world of coexistence of people and machines and make the best of this technological development. Stay tuned for our interview with WeTransfer’s CEO Alexander Vassilev in the coming week.
At InvestX, a selected group of investors was invited with the aim to establish Bulgaria as a bridge for meetings, discussions, and investment cooperation between key players in the financial sector of Europe and the Middle East. The investment forum gathered investors from Blackrock, the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund, Mercer, Adams Street Partners, Citi Ventures, J.P Morgan, and others.
Here are 4 key takeaways from the InvestX discussions on different opportunities for co-investments and market trends with a focus on Bulgaria and the region.
#1 Whenever you join the market cycle, it is a good time
Markets operate in cycles. The current phase we’re at presents a unique window to join the market and capitalise on undervalued assets. Underdeveloped regions have emerged as enticing investment prospects as they’re often untapped and ripe with potential, offering beneficial conditions for enterprising individuals and companies seeking to expand their portfolios. By venturing into these underdeveloped areas, investors can take advantage of lower acquisition costs, favourable regulatory environments, and untapped consumer bases.
“To be a VC, you have to be a pathological optimist.” Daniel Keiper-Knorr, Founding Partner of Speedinvest outlined.
#2 The vital role of public institutions in promoting entrepreneurship
The success of any economy lies in its ability to adapt and capitalise on emerging opportunities, which often arise from the entrepreneurial spirit. By providing a supportive framework that fosters entrepreneurship, public institutions can unlock the potential for groundbreaking developments and attract both local and international investment. Rather than enforcing narrow regulations that dictate specific directions, these institutions should embrace a broader approach that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation. Empowering entrepreneurs with access to resources, mentorship programs, and favourable business environments can pave the way for transformative ventures that fuel economic progress.
“The role of public institutions in shaping the direction of the economy is pretty important. I think they should encourage entrepreneurship rather than showing specific direction. Regulations often are quite narrow and can break great things. Everything that is supporting this ecosystem is ultimately going to benefit everyone.” emphasised Marcin Hejka, Co-founder & General Partner of OTB Ventures.
#3 Entwining profits and purpose with impact investing opportunities
Though some can argue, our world is grappling with quite environmental and social challenges. Impact investing has emerged as a powerful approach that allows investors to align their financial goals with their values. It acknowledges that long-term value creation goes hand in hand with responsible business practices. The notion that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations are only relevant if they generate profits is being challenged. Impact investors that sustainable investing not only addresses global issues but also presents lucrative opportunities for financial returns. As the world shifts towards a more conscious and sustainable future, impact investing allows investors to do well by doing good, demonstrating that profitability and positive impact can go hand in hand.
“The main concern is you’re not getting any less returns only because it’s an ESG investment. The question is, what is the direction of ESG, how can we make its impact more visible to investors and market participants? We increase and understand what input these investments are having on the real world economy while we’re still in discussions why climate change is important and time is not really on our side.” shared Angelika Delen, Global Head of Impact Investing & Europe Strategic Research Director at Mercer
#4 Bulgaria in focus
The Bulgarian capital Sofia has already established itself as a tech hub. Despite the government in many cases, the ecosystem is very resilient in its development. More equity is being raised not only in venture but also in growth equity. Starting out with four funds, now there are already eighteen providing a greater variety of LPs looking into opportunities in the ecosystem.
“The Bulgarian ecosystem is the most advanced one in the region due to a number of reasons and said that Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, and others might need 2-4 years to catch up to this pipeline.” predicted Ivailo Gospodinov, Managing Partner at BlackPeak Capital
Find out more about the event and watch on-demand here.