Only have 1 minute? Here are 3 takeaways from the piece:
- Bulgarian Expansion Bridge (BEX), a new non-profit initiative designed to help Bulgarian startups, has launched. BEX aims to simplify the startups’ international expansion, starting with London.
- Georgios Kolovos, the Founding Executive Director of BEX, gave us a peek at their organization’s strategy, emphasizing strategic support, operational guidance, and community building as key pillars.
- While London is the initial focus, BEX envisions creating more bridges globally, tapping into the potential of Bulgarian entrepreneurship on the international stage.
Supported by notable launch partners such as the British Bulgarian Business Association, the British Embassy in Sofia, and Eleven Ventures, BEX is a non-profit organization that unites private companies, public bodies, and individuals.
Their shared goal is to simplify the international expansion process, providing businesses with advisory services, structured programs, and community membership opportunities. This initiative mirrors the efforts of the Bulgaria Innovation Hub (BIH), a non-profit that has been instrumental in connecting Bulgarian companies to Silicon Valley, emphasizing the power of diaspora in aiding startups (BIH is another one of BEX’ partners and they are also part of their Visionary Council). But what does this mean for startups in the region, and how does BEX plan to support their growth?
The genesis of BEX
The inception of BEX was driven by a belief in the potential of Bulgarian entrepreneurship on the global stage. London, with its thriving tech ecosystem, diverse talent pool, and international presence, was chosen as the inaugural bridge for Bulgarian businesses.
Challenges and solutions
Bulgarian startups face several challenges when entering the London market.
“London is an incredibly dynamic and highly competitive market. Without careful planning, companies can often face challenges related to market positioning, establishing local networks, and ensuring sustainable operations”, Georgios Kolovos, Founding Executive Director at Bulgarian Expansion Bridge (BEX) says for The Recursive
BEX plans to address these challenges through:
- Tailored Advisory Services: Catering to the specific needs of individual companies.
- Structured Programs: Targeting specific areas of growth.
“In both cases, we collaborate with experts who possess in-depth knowledge of the London market and facilitate productive collaborations”, Kolovos explains.
BEX’s programs aim to position participants to capture the attention of the UK ecosystem. Collaborations extend beyond Bulgarian and London-based companies, involving organizations from other markets. The goal is to engage with key players in the London ecosystem, including investors, corporates, and government stakeholders.
BEX envisions its community membership as a robust connection of companies, individuals, and existing communities that share the mission of supporting Bulgarian companies abroad.
“A vital cornerstone of our community-building effort is tapping into the knowledge and expertise of the Bulgarian diaspora in London”, Kolovos comments.
Guidance on market positioning
BEX is dedicated to assisting Bulgarian startups in carving out their niche in the competitive London market. The organization emphasizes open and honest conversations with companies about their readiness for expansion. BEX’s approach involves forging partnerships to access resources typically beyond the reach of most Bulgarian entities.
“Within our advisory services, we have identified and developed six specific chapters, with a particular emphasis on key aspects such as positioning and product-market fit”, Kolovos explains.
Operational & Fundraising support
Navigating the operational intricacies of a new country can be daunting and BEX aims to simplify this transition by building a network of delivery partners and vetting them with local experts. Companies will receive introductions to legal, accounting, and recruitment providers, allowing them to focus on growth and commercial activities.
BEX offers strategic support during the fundraising process, providing profiling, pitch coaching, introductions to investors, and strategic advice on closing funding rounds. This support allows Bulgarian founders to tap into a well-established network in the London investor scene without starting from scratch.
While London is the starting point, BEX envisions creating more bridges globally.
“We are already witnessing significant interest from neighboring Bulgarian countries to collaborate and build the next one together, which can further accelerate our roadmap. Ultimately we will be guided by the demand and the interest of the ecosystem on where the next destinations will be”, Kolovos concludes.