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Startup Cities in SEE: Who Is Who in the Еmerging Sofia Еcosystem

Sofia Startup Ecosystem
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While Sofia is yet to transform into a major European tech hub, the startup community in the city has been developing rapidly in the past couple of years and next to a number of fast-growing startups that are expanding internationally, it now has plenty of VCs which focus on pre-seed and series A rounds as well as a growing number of angel investors.

Looking at the available tech talent, Sofia is home to 23 universities with more 42 000 students in science, technology, and engineering, as well as 63 research centers and a couple of independent IT academies. The city is making big steps in the fields of fintech and has been recognized by the international community as the most cost-effective fintech city in the world for 2019/2020.

  • Dronamics — is a middle-mile cargo drone developer and operator. In December, it announced the world’s first cargo droneport network and partnerships with 5 airports across Europe.
  • EnduroSat — provides NanoSats and space services to business, exploration, and science teams with the goal to contribute to the improvement in space operations at a fraction of the cost. In 2020, the company raised €2M from Freigeist — Frank Thelen’s deep tech fund at a €20M valuation.
  • Nasekomo: а biotech startup that upscales organic waste streams into animal feed by harnessing the power of the black soldier fly. Raised €4M in 2020 and is about to open a bioconversion R&D center next to Sofia.
  • Gtmhub — an OKR tool for aligning employees with corporate objectives. It recently completed a $30M Series B round.
  • Payhawk — an expenses management startup that in 2020 closed a €3M seed round, led by top-tier German VC Earlybird.
  • ProsFit — the company’s products enable the fast, accurate, and cost-effective provision of prosthetics sockets. In 2020, ProsFit won the first edition of Toyota‘s inclusive mobility awards and reached a valuation of €15.9m.
  • CourseDot — a marketplace for tailor-made IT training solutions and freelance IT instructors. It was recently ranked under number 13 in Deloitte’s list of fastest-growing companies in CEE.
  • FITE — a digital entertainment startup that allows users to cast a video to connected TVs without the need to setup additional software. It has ranked as the number 1 top-grossing mobile application across all categories, worldwide.
  • QuarkVR — a deep tech company that builds AR/VR cloud platforms for 5G and Edge Computing that has collaborated with Deutsche Telekom and Orange.
  • EvroTrust — a solution for e‑Identification that uses 3D machine-learning technology for automated face recognition and ID document processing.
  • Paynetics — a regulated e-money company that is passported to provide comprehensive payment solutions such as card acquiring and issuing, account management, bank transfers, and e-wallets. After closing a €2.45M investment in early 2020, the fintech acquired Wirecard UK and Ireland’s corporate card portfolio.
  • Kanbanize — Kanban Software that enables teams and companies to use Lean Management and has over 700 customers all over the world
  • Allterco — a developer of IoT products and solutions in various verticals such as smart homes, health tech, and wearable devices. After going public in Bulgaria a few years ago, it recently started preparing for listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
  • CloudCart — an e-Commerce platform that has been designed to help merchants easily build an online store and generate more sales. In 2020, it closed two investment rounds and also made Deloitte’s ranking for the fastest-growing companies in CEE.
  • Leanplum — mobile engagement platform that transforms data into an understanding of users’ needs and wants and optimizes engagement campaigns. It has its technical headquarters in Sofia and in 2020, it raised $27M Series D round, with which its total funding reached $125M
  • PubGalaxy — a fast-growing adtech company that offers website monetization solutions for publishers to allow them to maximize ad revenue, achieve and exceed their monetization goals.
  • SMSBump — has built a SMS marketing & automation platform for Shopify. In 2020, it was acquired by Yotpo, in the biggest exit for a local company backed only by Bulgarian venture capital.
  • OfficeRnD — a coworking and community management software that automates administrative processes. Back in 2019, it raised a $3M Series A round.
  • Propy — A platform for end-to-end real estate transaction management that enables safe, fast & simple real estate transactions entirely online. In 2020, it was backed by the top-tier US VC Tim Draper.
  • FindMeCure — clinical trial search engine is being used on a daily basis by people searching for clinical trials and so far has served close to a million people worldwide.
  • Healee — a telehealth platform for online consultations that connects patients with their doctors digitally.
  • Printivo — a startup for 3D bioprinting, which specializes in the creation of human tissues.
  • Biodit — develops smart biometric technology for access control, time attendance monitoring, and management of operations. It recently raised over €500k in an IPO on the BEAM growth market, created by the Bulgarian Stock Exchange
  • LogSentinel — delivers robust and reliable cybersecurity solutions designed to protect against data breaches.
  • ClaimCompass — allows air passengers receive their compensation for delayed, canceled, or overbooked flights. In 2020, it acquired US app Service.
  • Documaster — the leading document management system for public sector organizations in Scandinavia. It develops products for records management and long-term documents preservation
  • HyperScience — Founded in Sofia, AI-centered enterprise solutions for automating work and document digitization. In 2020, it closed two funding rounds, totaling $140M.
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  • AE Ventures — an investment company, focusing on funding early-stage projects, as well as driving collaboration and growth of the entire blockchain ecosystem.
  • Blackpeak Capital — a private equity co-investment fund focused on investing growth equity in fast-growing Southeast European SMEs.
  • BrightCap Ventures — an early-stage venture capital firm investing in companies with defensible technology and significant global growth potential
  • CEO Angels Club — a group of senior executives and entrepreneurs related to Bulgaria investing their own money in early-stage startups in return for equity.
  • Eleven Ventures — a pre-seed and seed VC with a focus on entrepreneurs from SouthEastern Europe, that has 300+ mentors as well as 300+ startup founders coming from more than 20 countries as part of its alumni network.
  • Empower Capital — a €21m fund financed by the European Investment Fund with the mandate to provide unique access to equity and quasi-equity funding to growing Bulgarian companies.
  • Impetus Capital — a privately held investment company, specialized in private equity, which is specialized in pre IPO investments with €2.5M under management.
  • Innovation Starter Accelerator — a financing acceleration program, with a mandate to provide access to equity and quasi-equity financing to Bulgarian start-up companies with entirely private capital.
  • Innovation Capital — a €15.6m venture capital fund with the mandate to provide access to equity and quasi-equity funding to Bulgarian companies.
  • LAUNCHub Ventures — an early VC actively investing in SEE and CEE tech startups in Seed and Series A stages that recently announced €44m first closing for a new fund.
  • Morningside Hill Fund — a €38.5m fund managed by the Funds of Funds that invests in equity (or equivalent) minority positions.
  • NeoVentures — an open-ended investment company with entrepreneurial capital that invests in early and later stage space, AI, and health startups.
  • New Vision 3 — a €23m fund that invests in the fields of Fin-Tech, AI, Blockchain Technologies, and Shared Economy.
  • Sofia Angels Ventures: a €13m VC fund backed up by the European Investment Fund, focusing on seed-stage startups from Bulgaria, SEE, and CEE, and aiming to co-invest alongside angels.
  • PostScriptum Ventures — a VC with a broad portfolio of sustainable investments in the energy sector.
  • Urban Impact Ventures a new Bulgarian-Dutch impact investing fund focusing on urban tech startups
  • Vitosha Venture Partners — a €26m early-stage VC fund investing in innovative businesses in Bulgaria.
  • Silverline Capital: A new mezzanine fund that will manage over €42m
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  • AI Cluster Bulgaria — Aims to bring together local companies in the ML, NLP, IoT, AR, VR, Computer Vision & Pattern Recognition, Big Data & Analytics vertical and develop the potential of the country as an AI research and innovation destination.
  • BattlePass Studio — a startup studio focusing mainly on co-building ventures in the Gaming, Entertainment, Travel & Marketplaces verticals.
  • BESCO, the Bulgarian Startup Association — aims to create a between bridge entrepreneurship and the government — advocating for innovative legislation.
  • Bulgarian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) — unites the investment community in Bulgaria and works on behalf of the industry to ensure sound public policy.
  • Bulgarian Fintech Association — represents the interest of the FinTech industry in Bulgaria and works to stimulate financial innovation.
  • Bulgaria Innovation Hub — promotes knowledge exchange and cross-cultural collaboration between the entrepreneurial communities in the US and Bulgaria.
  • Climate-KIC Accelerator — Europe’s largest green-tech accelerator for early-stage startups. In Sofia, it’s managed by Cleantech.bg
  • Endeavor — its Dare to Scale program is an industry-agnostic accelerator for entrepreneurs who need the mentorship and network to scale their already profitable businesses.
  • Founder Institute Sofia — the Bulgarian branch of the global pre-seed startup accelerator community. It recently started a virtual program open to founders all across the Balkans.
  • Innovative Sofia — the Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development department of Sofia Municipality.
  • Sofia Tech Park — The first science and technology park in Bulgaria. It provides an incubator for startups, access to 11 high-tech modern laboratories, an events center, and a coworking space.
  • Visa Innovation Program — an acceleration program that provides local fintech startups with support from top payment experts, as well as access to Visa’s clients and Eleven Ventures’ network.
  • Vitosha Accelerate — a revolving, year-round accelerator program that takes place four times per year.
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  • Betahaus — the first coworking space in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the region with 2 locations in downtown Sofia.
  • CampusX — founded by the people behind Telerik (the $262M Bulgarian startup exit), it hosts digital and tech startups, IT Academy, and two VC funds.
  • Puzl CowOrKing — the biggest IT coworking space in Sofia. Since it opened in 2015, it has attracted over 800 people to its community and continues to expand.
  • Coworking by MOVE.BG — brings together entrepreneurs from digital businesses, projects of young artists, green businesses, and educational organizations.
  • Missia23 — a community, a coworking, and an event center that wants to bridge the gap between the tech and creative sectors.
  • Networking Premium Co-Working Space — coworking and private office spaces with 3 locations in Sofia.
  • Work and Share — it brings together freelancers, startups, small companies, and corporations from the tech world.

Lists are never complete, if you’re part of the Sofia startup ecosystem, fill in this form and we’ll add your organization to the listicle as soon as possible.

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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.
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