In the first half of 2023, the Bulgaria startup funding 2023 landscape displayed a mix of promise and hurdles. While investments spanned various sectors, VC funds highlighted a shortage of quality projects and the constraints of a small market. Economic headwinds and reduced private capital further complicated the funding process. Yet, amidst these obstacles, several startups stood out with notable investments.
Dronamics led the charge with a $40M Pre-Series A funding for its eco-friendly freight solution. AMPECO secured a $13M Series A funding for its electric vehicle charging solutions. This was closely followed by EnduroSat’s $10M investment for its nano-satellite ventures and Taylor & Hart’s $4.4M for its customized jewelry offerings.
The e-commerce sector marked its presence with notable M&A activity, especially with companies like euShipments expanding their market reach through strategic acquisitions. Overall, the top funding rounds in Bulgaria for H1 2023 amounted to nearly $77.71M. Investors such as BMW iVentures, LAUNCHub Ventures, CEECAT Capital, Freigeist Capital, and Active Partners played pivotal roles in these funding rounds.
Continue reading till the end to discover bonus notable milestones that some Bulgarian startup companies achieved in H1 2023, including Dronamics’ inaugural flight test.
The funding rounds listed below are arranged from the highest to the lowest sums, starting with rounds in dollars and then transitioning to those in euros.
9 biggest funding rounds in Bulgaria in H1 2023
Stage: Pre-Series A
Investors: Founders Factory, Speedinvest, Eleven Capital, the Strategic Development Fund (SDF) – the investment arm of the Tawazun Council
Total funding: $64.6M
Vertical: Cargo drones
About: Founded in 2014, Dronamics has expanded to become a scaleup with more than 150 experts in aircraft and engineering across 12 countries. Their core mission has always been to democratize same-day delivery, regardless of location. Over the past 9 years, Dronamics has evolved toward realizing this goal by developing an affordable, efficient, and eco-friendly freight solution. In May 2022, they became Europe’s first licensed cargo drone airline. This achievement was followed by strategic agreements for large-scale drone manufacturing, partnerships in medical distribution, and collaboration for sustainable fuel solutions.
Stage: Series A
Investors: BMW iVentures, LAUNCHub Ventures
Total funding: $16M
Vertical: EV charging and energy management
About: As a highlight of Bulgaria startup funding 2023, AMPECO offers a white-label EV charging management software. The company enables energy companies, charge point operators, EV charging, and e-mobility providers to establish their operations through customized and branded EV charging solutions.
Stage: Series A
Investors: CEECAT Capital, Freigeist Capital
Total funding: $28.6M
Founders: Raycho Raychev
Vertical: NanoSatellites and space services
About: A notable entrant in Bulgaria innovation funding 2023, EnduroSat provides software-flexible NanoSatellites and space services that facilitate swift access and transactions with space data via cloud services, tapping into insights from numerous sensors in orbit.
Taylor & Hart
Investors: Active Partners, Virgin Money, Seedrs
Total funding: $10.3M
About: Making its mark in Bulgaria startup funding 2023, Taylor & Hart offers handcrafted customized precious jewelry. The company leverages blockchain technology to guarantee the genuineness of its products and to grant customers the ability to trace every stage of their diamond’s trajectory. This practice offers insight into the gem’s source and fosters clarity within the worldwide diamond supply network.
Stage: Later Stage VC
Investors: Karoll, IMPETUS Capital, MFG Invest + angel investors
Total funding: N/A
Founders: Dragomir Ivanov
Vertical: Alternative Energy
About: A standout in Bulgaria startup funding 2023, Hydrogenera specializes in the development of modular products and systems that enable the production of green hydrogen through electrolysis.
Stage: Pre-series A
Investors: Capital Investment Fund, the growth equity investment arm of the Bulgarian Development Bank Group
Total funding: €2.5M
Vertical: Digital identity and trust services
About: Evrotrust provides a technology solution for remote identity verification and secure electronic signatures. Their platform facilitates efficient customer onboarding and service provision for organizations.
Investors: European Innovation Council Fund, Impetus Capital
Total funding: €7.5M
Vertical: AI platform for logistics
About: Transmetrics enhances transport planning using machine learning and predictive analytics. By merging human expertise with AI capabilities, Transmetrics maximizes operational efficiency and minimizes logistics’ environmental footprint. The company employs a distinctive method to analyze, model, and predict transport flows with exceptional precision.
Stage: Pre-seed + grant
Investors: Eleven Ventures, the European Innovation Council (EIC)
Total funding: €1.8M
Founders: Miroslav Zapryanov
Vertical: Edible coffee cups and stirrers
About: Gaining attention in Bulgaria startup funding 2023, Cupffee specializes in the production and commercialization of edible cups and stirrers. Currently, the company has a production capacity of 2.5 million cups per month and with the assistance of their distribution partners, the company has extended its reach to clients worldwide, spanning the EU, Middle East, the US, and Australia.
Investors: TechStars, angel investors
Funding prior to Seed Round: $420K
Vertical: B2B clinical trial planning
About: FindMeCure simplifies the process of finding and connecting patients with relevant clinical trials. The platform enables users to easily search for trials in their vicinity and apply. FindMeCure then contacts the trial team on behalf of the patient to facilitate connections and streamline the trial enrollment process.
Top tech M&As in Bulgaria in H1 2023
Bulgarian E-commerce Scaleup euShipments Acquires Croatian Startup Pick & Pack to Accelerate Growth in CEE
About: Bulgarian e-commerce logistics and fulfillment partner euShipments acquired a majority stake in Croatian startup Pick & Pack, marking its inaugural acquisition. The acquisition was facilitated with the support of growth equity fund BlackPeak Capital, which had previously invested €7.5M in euShipments in 2022, aiming to fuel its expansion across European markets through both strategic acquisitions and organic growth.
Bootstrapped E-Commerce Software Trackerbot Gets Acquired by Quadra Group to Grab the Shopify Market
About: Trackerbot, a Bulgarian e-commerce automation software catering to eBay and Amazon sellers, sold a significant stake to startup investment firm Quadra Group, led by financial entrepreneur Filip Prokopiev. This undisclosed leveraged buyout was facilitated with financing from a specialized US private equity lender. The software suite, currently operating as Trackerbot, will persist under this name within a new Quadra Group entity, aiming to expand its customer base in key markets, venture into Shopify integration, and develop complementary e-commerce applications within niche verticals.
Bulgarian Fintech Startup Phos Gets Acquired to Accelerate Point of Sale Innovation Globally
About: Bulgaria-based fintech startup Phos, specializing in software-only Point of Sale solutions (SoftPoS), has been fully acquired by global payments acceptance solutions leader Ingenico. This undisclosed acquisition expands Ingenico’s offerings for Merchant Payment Acceptance through smartphones and advances their transition to a software-driven service. The integration of Phos into Ingenico’s Payments Platform as a Service (PPaaS) is a significant aspect of the deal.
Bulgarian E-Commerce Specialist AIOPSGROUP Becomes Part of Software Powerhouse Valantic
About: Bulgarian e-commerce startup AIOPSGROUP has been acquired by digital solutions and software firm Valantic to enhance its standing in the European e-commerce sector. This strategic move establishes Bulgaria as Valantic’s center of excellence and aims to leverage AIOPSGROUP’s expertise in crafting and enhancing B2C and B2B shopping solutions for prominent global retailers using the Salesforce Commerce platform. The financial details of the acquisition remain undisclosed.
Chaos’ Acquisition of AXYZ Design: A Milestone for 4D Animation in Architecture
About: Chaos, a prominent player in 3D visualization acquired AXYZ design, an Italian firm renowned for its 3D/4D animation software. This strategic move further enriches Chaos’ array of real-time visualization tools, photorealistic renderers, and 3D asset libraries. The addition of AXYZ’s anima 5 software, trusted by industry giants like HOK and Gensler, introduces dynamic 3D/4D human figures to architectural visualizations.
Bonus: Other notable milestones in Bulgaria in H1 2023
The Black Swan Takes Off as Dronamics Makes Its First Cargo Drone Flight Test
About: Dronamics, the pioneering cargo drone airline, celebrated a significant milestone with the successful inaugural flight of its flagship aircraft, the Black Swan, at Bulgaria’s Balchik airport. This achievement highlights the transformative potential of Dronamics’ technology for global product transportation. After extensive ground testing and subscale flights, the remote piloting of the Black Swan marked a pivotal step forward, involving the expertise of two commercial airline pilots.
Variable Capital Company: A New Incentive for Bulgarian Startups to Grow Their Businesses Locally
About: Bulgaria has rolled out the Variable Capital Company (VCC), a significant move aimed at curbing the necessity for startups to register overseas. This change is expected to foster greater autonomy for startups, keeping them on home turf and bolstering the domestic economy. The VCC framework is projected to streamline fundraising and facilitate the implementation of incentive strategies like convertible debt or share options, all the while lending a more organized and secure structure to Bulgarian startups. This legislation stands as a crucial puzzle piece in unlocking the potential of Bulgaria’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
Beyond Traditional VC: Emerging AlfaStar Ventures Introduces the Evergreen Investment Approach
About: Sofia-based AlfaStar Capital unveiled the commencement of its operations as an open-ended early-stage alternative investment fund manager. Helmed by founders Desislava Gospodinova and Lyubomir Staykov, the EuVECA-registered AlfaStar Ventures will execute multiple investment cycles under one umbrella.
The fund’s total fundraising goal remains undisclosed as of now. AlfaStar Ventures is designed to operate within approximately 10-year investment cycles. During the initial 4-6 years of each cycle, the fund aims to establish a diverse portfolio of approximately 50 companies spanning various sectors and development stages. Around 35-40% of the fund’s size will be allocated for initial investments, while the remaining portion will be dedicated to follow-on investments.
The evergreen VC fund model is particularly suited for startups with extended R&D requirements and ambitious scaling plans. AlfaStar Ventures will primarily focus on B2B enterprises in Climate, Green, AgriTech, and Industry 4.0 (robotics/automation, IIoT), as well as B2C companies in Well Being (mental health) and Fintech verticals. The ticket size for investments has not been specified.
Riot Games Chooses Bulgarian Startup Augment to Define the Future of eSports Analysis Together
About: Bulgarian gaming startup Augment revealed its collaboration with Riot Games, the renowned game publisher behind League of Legends. Augment’s data-analytics platform, powered by machine learning, is employed by Riot Games’ VALORANT broadcasting teams to address game data constraints and enhance the gaming experience for players of this popular franchise.
Now that you know which were the biggest funding rounds in Bulgaria in H1 2023, see what the funding landscape looked like in other CEE countries as well: