One of the most important decisions young people are faced with is which university to choose for continuing their education. A mixture of factors from quality of education, through price and location, are evaluated each year by thousands of people on their way to pursuing higher education.
In this series, The Recursive explores the educational hotspots for entrepreneurs in SEE. We trace the roots of some of the best-known startup founders, investors, and entrepreneurs from the ecosystem back to the educational institutions that nurtured and developed the knowledge and skills of the leaders who create innovative solutions and products in the region and abroad.
The Technical University of Sofia (TU Sofia) is the largest technical university in Bulgaria. An independent institution since 1953, the university offers a wide range of technical specialties, focused on automation, electronic and space engineering, and renewable energy technologies. According to a LinkedIn survey, over 40 000 Bulgarians have completed their bachelor’s or master’s degrees at the university. Out of them, over 820 have listed themselves as co-founders of a company.
Here is our collection of 5 founders and serial entrepreneurs that started their journey in the world of tech at TU Sofia.
TU Sofia Alumni
Name: Hristo Kosev
Position: Co-founder of Healee
Market specialty: Telehealth
The story in a nutshell: Hristo Kosev is one of the co-founders and CTO of Bulgarian software company Telerik, acquired by the American software corporation Progress in 2014 for $262.5M. After the acquisition, Kosev and his co-founder and former R&D director of Dynamo Software Josif Dishliev started working on a new venture – telehealth startup Healee. The company was founded in 2016 with the goal of solving an important everyday problem – receiving adequate medical advice online. The platform of Healee is designed to help both physicians, who achieve higher patient satisfaction through serving people faster, and patients, who have a direct online connection to their doctor and can keep the data of their medical condition, health tests, and prescribed treatment on the platform. The system is already in use in the UK. In 2020, Healee raised a £700K round by Bulgarian VCs Eleven Ventures and HR Capital.
Name: Dobromir Todorov
Position: CEO and Co-Founder
Market specialty: Cloud-native consulting, software architecture, and engineering
The story in a nutshell: Dobromir Todorov started HeleCloud, a company specializing in technology consultancy, engineering, and cloud-based services, back in 2016. Based in England, HeleCloud operates as an end-to-end cloud services provider, offering its clients one of the largest independent AWS-only System Integrators in the EMEA region. The integrator enables the communication between separate components within microservices, distributed systems, and serverless applications in an organization. In 2020, HeleCloud acquired DataStork, a Bulgarian IT company, specializing in the area of AI/ML following its strategy of expanding its presence in the SEE region and enhancing its solutions portfolio. Earlier in September 2021, HeleCloud was acquired by Switzerland-based cloud solutions provider SoftwareONE for an undisclosed sum.
Name: George Spasov
Market field: Blockchain, decentralized database managed
The story in a nutshell: LimeChain is a Bulgarian development and consulting startup for blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions. The company was founded in 2017 by Nick Todorov, Chris Veselinov, George Spasov, and Vladislav Ivanov and became the first core developer for one of the most popular blockchain networks, Hedera Hashgraph. It built one of the first smart contracts frameworks over Ethereum. LimeChain specializes in the development of decentralized applications (dapps), the development of blockchain and blockchain-like networks. It consults enterprise clients on how blockchain can help them solve problems and optimize processes. Among its clients are well-known brands, such as Procter & Gamble, Raiffеisen Bank, as well as local proptech startup Propy. LimeChain is also working with AllianceBlock, a company building the first globally compliant decentralized capital market, and with Universe XYZ, which aims to enable the monetization of digital.
Name: Ilia Iordanov
Position: Co-Founder and CEO
Market specialty: Agritech
The story in a nutshell: Ilia Iordanov and his co-founders Ivan Dragoev and Ivaylo Enev established ONDO in 2019. The startup offers end-to-end services to small and medium agribusinesses. The modular system of the company is used for monitoring and control of plants in real-time. This helps farmers decrease the costs that arise from water, energy, and fertilization and the inefficient use of those resources. The startup received a pre-seed investment from Eleven in 2020, and moved on to close another financing round of €1M from a group of Bulgarian VCs and business angels.
Prior to ONDO, Iordanov and Dragoev ran their software development and consultancy company, IndigoVerge for 16 years.
Name: Ivan Alexandrov
Position: Founder & CEO
Market specialty: E-commerce
The story in a nutshell: Ivan Alexandrov is the founder and CEO of the online supermarket eBag.bg, which delivers groceries in the Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Plovdiv. The online grocery company was founded in 2014 to help consumers in the Bulgarian capital city Sofia save time. After a three-year-long partnership with the local food chain Fantastico, eBag.bg started its independent activity in 2018. At the end of June 2020, the biggest online retailer in the Chech Republik, Rohlik.cz, invested around €1M in eBag for a close to 5% stake in the company. With its valuation exceeding €10M, the company is currently serving over 35K households in and around Sofia, and has previously stated it aims to expand operations in other Bulgarian cities as soon as 2022.