Welcome to Season 4 of The Recursive podcast. We kick off the season with an in-depth conversation with one of the most influential ecosystem builders in Bulgaria. Vassil Terziev is the biggest angel investor in the country and among the most active ones in the whole region. He’s a managing partner at the early-stage fund Eleven Ventures.
Vassil Terziev is the co-founder of one of the most successful tech companies in Bulgaria Telerik. The company’s sale to Progress in 2014 is still the largest for Bulgaria to this date. More than 40 companies were created by former Telerik employees.
Moreover, Vassil and his co-founders have invested in the education of the next generation of tech talent through the Telerik Academy Foundation. They also created the startup incubator Campus X which hosts a plethora of innovative Bulgarian companies.
In his conversation with Irina Obushtarova, we get an insider view of how Vassil has formed his mindset. He talks about how his understanding of success has evolved over the last 20 years.
Spread your knowledge
Vassil Terziev believes in the importance of giving back and replicating success outside the tech ecosystem. His philosophy is that spreading your knowledge leads to a healthier society. “The battle is how do we get more people to understand how much power they have as individuals who can create value and change the world around them every day. The key to achieve that is education”, Vassil Terziev shares. He adds: “You need to care about others and their success because this leads to a healthier society.”
The way to achieve that is through proactive community work, because seeing success around you builds up and eventually changes peoples’ perceptions.
“I see entrepreneurship as the desire and ability to create value. And it all stems from being a free individual. Entrepreneurship for me is more of a state of mind rather than a cap table representation. And it goes down to the fundamental view that you have to be a free person, you have to take responsibility for your actions and to understand that you do control so many things in your surroundings, and you better use that time to make some meaningful impact“, Vassil Terziev explains.
His biggest learning experience
Reflecting on his journey with his co-founders from Telerik, Vassil shares that one of his toughest learning experiences was that building a great company is a team effort. “It’s all about working on yourself to expose your strengths and mitigate the weaknesses and doing the same in a team environment where you collectively help each other to make the most out of your talents”, he says on the show.
As for the factors that determined their success, Vassil Terziev shares: “We were not extremely knowledgeable. You could argue that we were not also extremely smart. But we were extremely focused on capturing knowledge. Wherever there was a small bite that could become the knowledge of everyone, every single team, every manager and all the good practices. This helped us to really up our game.”
How to raise a unicorn
In the episode, Vassil shares that as much as he enjoys the success of the first Bulgarian unicorn Payhawk (as he was one of its first investors), he thinks we should use it as a stepping stone to be more ambitious about what we can do looking forward. “I am thinking about how to get to 10 unicorns in the next 7-8 years. What we need to do. What’s missing. Is it just a matter of waiting it out or are there things that we can proactively do to expand the opportunity?”, he adds.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to watch the previous episode to see why the fundamentals of value creation never change with serial entrepreneur and investor Hristo Hristov.