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Ex-Telerik Vesko Kolev on a Mission to Smooth the Transition to Entrepreneurship

Image credit: The founding team of Icanpreneur
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By no coincidence, renaissance entrepreneurs – those who have rich business experience and are now using it to build tech hubs, are praised for having a catalyst effect on the growth of startup ecosystems. A case in point are the tech founders, angel investors, and ecosystem builders who sprung from the software company Telerik, after it was acquired by American company Progress in 2014. Since then, the ex-Telerik employees, which are often dubbed “Telerik Mafia” went on to found almost 40 tech companies locally, including the unicorn Payhawk, the soonicorn Gtmhub, OfficeRnD, and SMSBump. 

The latest venture built by ex-Telerik engineers aims to advance the renaissance entrepreneurs trend by helping aspiring founders to make a smooth transition from a paid job to becoming entrepreneurs. Icanpreneur is a digital accelerator SaaS platform and online community that guides aspiring tech entrepreneurs from idea, through investment to product-market fit. The idea is to de-risk the leap to launching a new business and digitize the traditional accelerator program.

 “Entrepreneurship, as predominantly practiced today, relies a lot on gut-feel and luck and the success rate demonstrates that clearly. Only 1 in 10 companies succeed and typically the failure happens before reaching product-market fit. Our goal is to change that and provide a guided experience where the tech entrepreneurs will be able to follow actionable steps and achieve systematic instead of accidental success,” Vesko Kolev, founder and CEO of Icanpreneur, shares about the purpose of his startup. 

Today, the company announces the closing of their €200K angel round, which is joined by some of their ex-employers and colleagues at Telerik, including Svetozar Georgiev (Co-Founder of Telerik, Telerik Academy & Campus X), Mihail Stoychev and Georgi Petrov (Co-Founders of SMSBump), Zoran Arsovski (Founder of VertoDigital), Faris Sweis (Co-Founder of Sentur), Georgi Atanasov (Head of AR/VR at Progress), and Emil Tabakov (Senior Product Manager at Coursera)

“It is amazing how many business processes are smoothly facilitated and automated by software today. At the same time, the critical journey of a startup – from idea to Product-Market fit – still lives in books, articles and TEDx videos. We are here to change that. Icanpreneur will guide the process for entrepreneurs, giving them in-context insights, and thus helping them focus on innovation and market validation,” Svetozar Georgiev comments on his reasons for joining the angel round.

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Improving the odds of success for tech entrepreneurs

Icanpreneur is founded in September 2021, by the four ex-Telerik members – Vesko Kolev (Founder & CEO), Katelina Boykova (Chief Design Officer), Kristian Kirov (Chief Technology Officer), and Andrey Mladenov (Chief Information Officer). Each of them brought in 15 years of experience in building and scaling products and business systems. Up until now, the team has worked on clarifying its vision and validating its business model.  

“The statistics show that there’s clearly a problem with the venture building and new product development path. Most new startups and product initiatives fail. The success rate is about 10%. We believe that the solution to this problem lies in the invention of a more systematic approach to becoming a founder. Icanpreneur aims to become a digital and interactive representation of the Founder’s Playbook that is universal to every aspiring entrepreneur,” Kolev highlights. 

The platform will digitize the entire venture building roadmap and would provide beginner founders not just with interactive knowledge, but also with the tools they need to get their idea off the ground.

“We did lots of interviews with senior employees who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. But the biggest validation that we got is the team of senior specialists that we built the angel investors who got on board given their extensive experience in serial entrepreneurship and product development,” Kolev explains.

Icanpreneur has introduced an Insiders Program that would grant exclusive access to 100 early adopters. In the next 6-12 months, the company will aim to bring the initial version of the platform to the market. 

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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.