Only have 1 minute? Here are 3 key takeaways from the piece:
• Capital Investments VC invested €1.2M in Bulgarian B2B SaaS company UPASS, whose main product URBO Studio aims to digitize service businesses.
• URBO Studio serves clients in tourism, attractions, sports, leisure, and event management industries, with a focus on markets like Bulgaria and the CEE region.
• Key functionalities include reservation modules, channel management, online concierge, online payments, e-ticketing, box office solutions, access control, and various marketing tools for business growth.
According to the Bulgarian company, the latest investment is seen as a game changer since it will help them to tap into new markets across the CEE and the Middle East.
For Capital Investments VC, which is a part of the Bulgarian Development Bank, investing into the company was a no-brainer due to many factors.
“It was down to the potential and the product that they have, and the team has worked together on this for a long time. They’ve built up the company from scratch since 2016 and with the main product we see potential for growth since it seeks to completely digitalize service businesses which are still very much analogue in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. There is some good competition in Western Europe and in the US, but not so much in Eastern Europe. The market is quite difficult for external players, and the team believes they can crack it, first starting from expanding in Bulgaria and then going abroad,” says Kristiyan Begazhev, investment partner at Capital Investments.
The investment in URBO Studio is the fund’s eight one. Their portfolio consists of tech companies and traditional “brick and mortar” companies.
“Our focus is to invest in Bulgarian companies with great growth prospects. We look very favorably at growing abroad, and in URBO Studio we recognized this potential,” Begazhev added.
Transforming the experience economy with digital innovation
URBO Studio specializes in providing booking and management software, tailor-made for businesses in the experience economy, and verticals such as events, attractions, activities, spas, and sports venues.
They already have a presence on the market in Bulgaria, and are now looking to expand across Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the company’s co-founder and COO, Ekaterina Borisova tells The Recursive.
“In an industry known for its lack of digital presence and complex challenges, we’ve focused on a key issue: the high costs of attracting new customers and the struggle to keep them coming back. Right now, lots of businesses mainly rely on third-party marketplaces, which limits their access to valuable customer data and makes it tough to secure repeat sales,” Borisova points out.
And here’s where URBO Studio comes along, allowing businesses to make the most out of their solutions.
“Through our platform, businesses can also develop into new distribution channels while keeping their current customers engaged and looking for more,” she tells The Recursive.
Impact and B2G partnerships
The impact of URBO Studio’s solutions is illustrated through real-world applications, such as the Stara Zagora Zoo, which leveraged URBO Studio to up their sales game.
“They started with our online booking system and quickly saw how our kiosk solutions could boost their box office sales. This move not only amped up their sales and improved their customer experience but also saved them a bunch on staffing costs, especially during the busy season,” Borisova tells The Recursive.
Furthermore, the company and its product impact extends beyond the private sector, as it actively collaborates with government entities through B2G (Business-to-Government) partnerships. With a presence in over 20 municipalities across Bulgaria, URBO Studio is providing solutions that look to enhance public services, particularly in the tourism industry.
“One standout example is Burgas, a city that’s really taking the lead in embracing innovation to make tourism even better. They’ve been organizing concerts, festivals, creating cool new attractions, and offering boat trips to make visitors’ experiences top-notch. And to make all this happen smoothly, they’ve brought in URBO Studio’s tech, which helps them manage everything – from city attractions to sightseeing tours, both online and offline,” Borisova concludes.