Sketch Startup Space, a new coworking destination located in a building next to Business Park Sofia, is now officially open for entrepreneurs looking for venture funding and business mentoring. Founders who join will receive access to a network of international investors, support with the development of a VC-ready business model, as well as legal guidance.
New opportunity for the startup community
“Our main goal is to stimulate the startup ecosystem in Bulgaria, to support young entrepreneurs with good ideas. Many face the difficulty of getting funding for their startups and often give up. In my opinion, entrepreneurs should be able to focus on building solutions that improve people’s lives, rather than spending all of their time looking for capital,” shares Asen Levov, founder at Sketch Startup Space, who is also the person behind biometric authentication startup IRIS. He states that over 20 international investors interested in companies from Southeast Europe are already part of Sketch’s growing partner community. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of those funds.
|Cherry.vc||Germany||Led by former Zalando and Spotify executives, Flixbus as portfolio company|
|Rubio VC||The Netherlands||Impact-focused VC with investments across clean energy, lab-grown meat, and satellite tech|
|British Patient Capital||UK||British Business Bank spin-off that invests venture and growth capital funds|
|RBV Capital||Russia||Life sciences VC with 3 exits|
|SpeedUp Venture Capital||Poland||A group of funds investing in consumer internet, fintech, martech, IoT and hardware.|
|TS Ventures||Germany||Pre-seed to Series A investor with tree-planting searching engine Ecosia in its portfolio|
|Edge196||US||Has a blockchain-powered digital asset investment model|
During the official opening of Sketch on April 18th, Natanail Stefanov, board member at BESCO, the Bulgarian Startup Association echoed the need for another ecosystem player dedicated to bringing foreign investment. “While local companies often create great technology, it is difficult for them to commercialize their products and expand internationally. Despite the fact that lots of venture capital is currently available in Bulgaria, there are still no niche investors: for example, if you are involved in biotech, very few understand this vertical well enough to give you money or help with advice or connections,” elaborated Stefanov.
In the past decade or so, the number of people around the world who have become part of a coworking community has grown more than 100 times to over 2.6 million, and this figure is projected to double in the next three years.
During that period, shared offices have also turned into important elements of local innovation ecosystems globally, becoming the early-stage playgrounds for companies like Spotify, Uber, and Instagram. To be part of a coworking community means not only having a place to work from but also an opportunity for synergies with other entrepreneurs, a larger network, and an environment that stimulates creativity.
When designing the member experience and the space itself, it looks like Sketch Startup Space has put a lot of focus and effort into these areas. Even though the network is promoted as the main benefit of the space, a subscription also goes with a number of interesting perks to give entrepreneurs a mental boost. These range from a free fitness and spa in the gym next door – to either kick-off the day strong or relax after a long day in the office; through a personal concierge to let you better focus on your tasks, and..well, free beer, which is always nice to have around.
It’s still early days for Sketch Startup Space but the team has managed to put a solid starting foundation in terms of international community. Now, it remains for more local startups to join and for the whole concept to scale. “Our ambition is to ensure an international presence of the Sketch brand in the next few years. We’ll continue to create beautiful and high-quality workspaces, expanding our community and supporting the Bulgarian startup ecosystem, trying to stimulate good ideas and innovation,” tells us Levov.