Vitosha Venture Partners, the €26M early-stage VC based in Sofia, completes its first investment round for 2022. It invests over €3.3M in 17 Bulgarian startups, 5 out of which are part of the new season of the accelerator program of the fund, Vitosha Accelerate. Being industry-agnostic, the fund backed startups with various solutions for the e-mobility, 3D, flexible work, and pettech industries, among many others.
The news comes only a couple of months after the VC firm announced its latest €1.6M in December 2021. Now, counting in the latest investments, Vitosha Ventures has 42 startups in its portfolio. It is expected to support around 60 more by the end of its mandate in 2023. Considering the large dealflow that the VC goes through, here is what the partners share as ecosystem and industry insights and observations:
‘We notice that the incoming founders present more and more structured opportunities, with the investor’s perspective in mind, which shows that the VC growth model becomes more intuitive for local entrepreneurs. In terms of verticals, we continue to see a lot of interesting projects outside ingenious information technologies. Innovative products in the green and sustainability fields are becoming more common and lucrative from an investment perspective. That works great for us as we find ourselves doing more impact investments without this being in the genesis of our investment thesis. In this batch, for example, we have electric bike batteries producer, platform empowering farmers, good cause discount platform, green energy solutions to name a few. We are yet to see whether the returns will be more satisfactory than the positive impact Stoyan Nedin, Venture Partner at Vitosha Venture Partners, shares with The Recursive.
Find out more about the products and future plans of the new portfolio companies.
The rising tech and non-tech early-stage startups
Voltrax is a custom Li-Ion battery producer, specialized in batteries for e-bikes. The startup which was founded in 2016 offers tailor-made battery packs and BMS solutions for e-bikes, e-scooters, and for other customer applications. The company was backed with €700K.
The startup develops a platform for easy selection of utility service providers that enables customers to find the best deals and save money. It received a €600K investment.
AECO Space is a platform providing a range of technologies and solutions, helping the digitalization of the architecture and construction industries and the professionals working in them. It distributes some of the most popular 3D modeling software in Eastern Europe – SketchUp, V-Ray, Thea Render, and Twinmotion, and is an authorized partner of SketchUp for Southеast Europe (SEE). The company was backed with €450K.
Multispace is an online platform that connects owners of underutilized office space with employers and individuals looking for flexible work locations. The subscription-based service which was supported with €400K, would allow workers and businesses to find available short-term office space and use it on demand.
A subscription-based platform for pet owners which provides medicine, healthy food, and high-end accessories to the customer’s door. The startup received €200K from Vitosha Venture Partners.
The vegan chocolate startup produces a variety of vegan chocolates which are made in Bulgaria and distributed in EU, US, and Asian markets. The company raised a €200K investment.
A one-stop provider of rooftop solar panel design, development, installation, and financing for homes, businesses, and institutions. The startup received €200K from Vitosha Venture Partners.
- Preo Now
Preo Now is a platform for pre-ordering goods and services. It was supported with €200K. The solution of Preo Now allows for a more predictable cash flow and better working capital management for vendors as well as for discounts for frequent customers.
Arctic fox supply is a collaborative project founded by the Bulgarian Hristo Petkov (CEO) and a group of artists and athletes. Vitosha Venture Partners supports the independent, sustainable and vegan-friendly activewear apparel brand with €150K. The socks are intended to be used for sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, hiking, and running and provide all the necessary comfort for all extreme sports fans.
Sheetly develops smart product spreadsheet solution for the e-commerce market. It helps small and medium-sized online store owners with their back-office needs of cross-channel processing and management of their product information. Founded by Jan B. Andersen and Ivelina Nikolova, the startup received a €100K investment.
“In line with our mission, this new investment will help us capture the untouched small and medium e-commerce market. Most solutions are tailored for the bigger e-commerce companies and these solutions are out of reach for the broader segment of companies that desperately need technical solutions like Sheetly to scale and grow their operations. Our mission is to provide an easy to use and affordable solution that keeps pace with advancing technology and industry demands. We are here to build a powerful and scalable product that any non-tech-savvy person can use with ease,” Ivelina Nikolova, co-founder of Sheetly, comments.
WeHugit connects corporations, consumers, influencers, and charity initiatives in a unified social platform, which offers mutual benefits. The platform, which was supported with €100K, has a transparent distribution of funds to charity as it is based on blockchain technology.
The startup develops a voice-based social media app that aims to connect listeners to their favorite artists and podcast hosts. The project which is expected to launch later in 2022 allows “voice” influencers and regular users to create profiles, upload short voice clips, and interact with one another. The voice-first app does not support visual and text-based content and enables influencers to monetize their community of followers. The startup received a €75K investment from Vitosha Ventures.
The 5 companies, part of Vitosha Accelerate
Marin Iliev, Managing Partner at Vitosha Venture Partners, shared some insights about the ways in which the fund supports such a great number of companies in a meaningful way.
“Our team consists of 8 experienced and committed investment professionals and each of them can rely for additional support on their own network of founders, operators, executives, investors, etc., so the total pool of resources is considerable. We also apply division of labor and specialization so that everyone contributes in areas where they’re strong like hiring or technology, business development in the States or the DACH countries, sales strategy and partnerships, etc. and we all join forces in preparing and fundraising for next rounds where we have the most contacts and expertise like we’re doing right now with 6 of our early investments. All of this doesn’t need to take too much time when done right, as long as one has the passion and commitment we have,” he highlighted.
Here are the five very early-stage companies that participate in the accelerator program of the fund.
Monoyer is a subscription-based e-commerce platform for contact lenses that received €50K.
“MONOYER will start with offering daily silicone-hydrogel contact lenses. The company plans to diversify the product portfolio by introducing weekly and monthly contact lenses, as well as supplementary products, such as contact lens solutions and rewetting eye drops. The current VVP investment will be used primarily for making the final payment to the lens manufacturer for the first batch of MONOYER contact lenses. The funds will also help towards covering marketing expenses for raising brand awareness and acquiring new subscribers,” Lyubomir Tsarev, co-founder of MONOYER, shares.
The online marketplace for online tutoring for students from 1-12 grade received €30.6K from Vitosha Venture Partners and entered their acceleration program.
“We will use the raised funds to finish the development of DAcademy marketplace, to create on-demand content for students who need support with exams at the end of the school year, and to market our services. Our plan is to become the go-to marketplace for students and parents who value knowledge and high-quality out of school education – private lessons, masterclasses, interactive exam practice, and live support are just a few of the services we will offer to our customers,” Ekaterina Tangalova, founder of DAcademy, shares.
The startup develops the first liquid thermometer that is applied directly on the skin. The product was backed with a €30,4K investment.
“For TOM Thermochromic this investment allows the spread of our innovative liquid thermometer across Europe and unlocks the next step towards our success as a pioneer in the field,” Georgi Mutafchiev, founder of TOM, comments.
The B2B digital local food marketplace that enables free trade without a middleman received €30K.
“At this stage, we’re sort of in an “advanced MVP phase” which pretty much turned out to be beta testing of a ready and complex platform. We are focused on using the new investment for scaling our technology and building up a modern and intuitive UI during our UAT(user acceptance testing) as well as simplifying the user experience as much as possible and gaining more traction which is crucial for our future launch in other Balkan countries,” Stefan Zhelyazkov, founder of FoxCrop, comments.
A marketplace for refurbished smartphones that received a €25K acceleration investment.