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Develiot CEO Miroslav Getchev on rejoining Telelink and the different worlds of entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship

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The business journey of Develiot, the Bulgarian IoT startup for water systems and air quality management, recently became even more interesting. Develiot started as a corporate spin-off of the well-known telecommunication company Telelink Business Services in 2019, then operated as a separate venture for three years, and recently became part of Telelink Business Services again. 

Now, the team of the spin-off startup will become a core part of the newly established brand of Telelink Business Services,  IoT Technology Group. The goal is to enable Develiot to fast-track its development and enhance its position on the IoT market. In addition, the team will continue their work in the areas of Smart Water, Air Quality, and Smart Environment management.

“What’s intrapreneurship? It all sounds great – you have the freedom to be an entrepreneur and build your own startup, but at the same time to be part of an established brand, with a large client base, and financial resources. What could go wrong?  Well…,” Miroslav Gechev, co-founder and CEO of Develiot shares in a guest article he wrote a couple of years ago. 

To find out more about the years-long experience of Gechev and understand his perspective on the pros and cons of intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship, read the interview below. 

The Recursive: You have seen both sides of the coin – intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship. What are the pros and cons of each?

Miroslav Gechev: The setup is very different. As an intrapreneur, you usually have a strong brand behind you, larger resources, and experts from different departments that do work for you. The part they do not tell you is that as an intrapreneur you can make a lot of people unhappy. A big company is an efficient machine, and you go there with your internal startup disrupting it by experimenting, pivoting, changing your mind, and asking for things that are not a standard operating procedure so you can figure out quickly if this startup is going to fly at all.

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Entrepreneurship is the opposite. You are not only an entrepreneur. You are also legal, HR, and a finance manager. You do not have a strong brand behind you, and you have limited resources. However, these conditions make you very adaptable and very well-rounded to tackle different problems. And you are free to experiment more, pivot quicker, build simple processes and change them often, and make faster decisions.

If you can try both, you should definitely go for it.

Why was now the time to rejoin Telelink Business Services?

To become a leader in the maturing IoT market and grow faster. Both Develiot and Telelink focus on B2B and B2G. To deliver a successful end-to-end IoT project there, you need to excel at three things.

First, to have the capability to provide the right set of sensors to ensure high data quality. And at the same time to make sure this sensor network will operate uninterruptedly for long periods of time – it’s the so-called industrial-grade technology. Second, to get this data somewhere, do something with it, make it usable, and integrate it with existing systems or with additional data sources. And third, to have the capacity to deliver and support such projects at scale.

Develiot excels at point one, TBS at points two and three. So, each of the units had to build what it didn’t have or join forces. And we decided to join forces.

How will the deal impact the processes, product plans, and the team of Develiot?

It has a positive impact as it enlarges our field of play. Our team joins in full at TBS and we will expand with a few more roles in the coming months. This team forms a new IoT Technology Group here at TBS.

Process-wise we are to align Develiot’s processes to TBS’s as fully as possible. Of course, TBS is also adapting to us. For example, there was never a process for manufacturing devices at TBS and now there is. Everyone is very cooperative with us here and the integration is happening quickly. I think we will be fully integrated by the beginning of May.

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Product-wise we will continue to develop and further improve our products in the water and environmental domains. There is great market potential in these domains, and we have a strong competitive advantage to get it. We are also keeping the Develiot brand on all our products under Telelink and we will continue to develop partnerships with telecoms and other system integrators to get to markets faster.

On what products and services you will be working as part of TBS?

We will continue our focus on water and environmental solutions – that’s for sure. What changes is that we will look to other industries as well. There we won’t be necessarily developing our own hardware every time but rather use our hardware expertise to choose the right vendor to work with and if necessary, improve it, customize it or integrate it with something else. Of course, if we decide there is no right vendor and we can make it better, we will definitely go for it.

How will the rejoining of Develiot into Telelink Business Services bring value-added to both companies?

TBS now is maybe the only solution provider with deep know-how and experience in IoT in this part of the world. I mean – real, hands-on experience. Moreover, there is an entity at TBS – Develiot, the IoT Technology Group, whatever you call it – that is focused fully on developing, delivering, and supporting end-to-end IoT solutions. One integrated team that understands sensors, platforms, and analytics and has complete control over the offering.

This gives Telelink an immediate competitive advantage in all markets it operates in. And for Develiot this means gaining immediate access to these markets with its existing solutions.

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.