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The Power of Connecting People With Pavlina Yanakieva from Bulgaria Innovation Hub

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Our next guest on The Recursive podcast is the co-founder of the connecting bridge between Silicon Valley and the Bulgarian tech ecosystem – Bulgaria Innovation Hub. Following her inner drive to give back to society and her true talent – to connect people and ideas, Pavlina Yanakieva is joining us to talk about changing cultural narratives, making an impact, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.

Pavlina Yanakieva is a true community builder and is trying to set an example for the future women in tech. She was born in Burgas but later moved to the US to study International Relations at San Jose University in California.

But ironically, her first lessons in entrepreneurship were in communist Bulgaria. Her grandfather, an insurance agent by profession, but a true entrepreneur at heart, raised his vegetables and fruits which he used to sell at the farmer’s market.

Pavlina gained experience in product management and marketing, in companies like Google and AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cingular Wireless. But later she followed the urge to contribute to the development of the Bulgarian ecosystem and help local startups accelerate and seek funding from investors in the US. Her passion to support the improvement of education in Bulgaria led her to Teach for Bulgaria. Through this network, she met with Bogomil Balkansky, Ivan Dimov, and Vassil Terziev and their friendship soon led to the creation of Bulgaria Innovation Hub.

“It’s a purpose for me. I want to see more and more young people embracing entrepreneurship. More and more young people in places outside of Sofia, spreading their wings, dreaming, and not only dreaming but achieving their dreams while they’re here, with their families”, Pavlina shares.

In the episode, Pavlina talks about the gap between the cultural context of Bulgaria and Silicon Valley when it comes to confidence to pursue global ambitions. This is an issue she and her colleagues try to solve through the BIH’s program – to encourage Bulgarian entrepreneurs to think big and keep moving forward.

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“We have a long way to go, but only in terms of mindset.”

Pavlina believes that Southeast Europe has all the factors for success – talent, capital, and motivation, but it still needs to work on cultivating a growth mindset and overcoming the fear of failing.

Tune in for more insights on Silicon Valley’s secret sauce, what is her own biggest failure, and the power of networks.

Watch the previous episode with the guru of Greek startups Apostolos Apostolakis, partner at Venture Friends, who shares how to spot a future unicorn.

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