In the last three years, the SEE has seen an increase in the number of startups founded or co-founded by female entrepreneurs. Often associated with being a hub for emerging tech talents, SEE is less known for its high proportion of female tech leaders. Facts speak for themselves, back in 2016 Bulgaria ranked number 1 in female ICT specialists among all EU countries, as almost a third of all ICT talents in Bulgaria are female.
Today, The Recursive takes a look at the Bulgarian women tackling various verticals with technology and business skills. Explore who are the women shaping up niches like MedTech, EduTech, FinTech, TravelTech, FashionTech, e-Commerce Tech, AI, Software, and GreenTech.
Below you will see 30+ women in tech in Bulgaria from around 10 different verticals. Find out what business problems the Bulgarian Women in Tech solve, what their journey has been like, and what are their plans for the upcoming year.
SeedBlink is a tech specialized venture investment platform that enables individual investors to fund top-tier European tech startups and scale-ups alongside established institutional investors.
Elitza (Elly) Stoilova is the founder and CEO of Umni.bg (2018) – $150K investment (VC, angel)
Umni is a no-code platform that helps businesses of any size and industry create, manage and train an AI chatbot for their website on their own to gain the benefits of this technology. Various companies from service industries, hospitality, entertainment, non-profit organizations, and others are using the platform – already a working solution, for their AI chatbots to provide information to customers 24/7, performing sales & marketing and customer care tasks. The company began as a chatbot agency with focus on hospitality and pivoted before COVID-19 to a no-code AI chatbot platform to serve the needs of businesses in various industries.
Goals for 2023: By the end 2022, Umni.bg will release an optimized version of its platform with more key features for customer service, support, sales and marketing. Umni.bg will focus on boosting sales in Bulgaria and making first steps in going international. The company has plans to fundraise at the end of 2022.
Iva Gumnishka is the founder and CEO of Humans in the Loop (2017) – around $280K investment
Humans in the Loop is a social tech startup that offers human input and training data for the ML industry and supports refugees to find their place in the digital labor market at the same time. Humans in the Loop is specialized in data annotation for the computer vision industry. Their employees perform manual labeling and verification to train machine learning models. The social enterprise collaborates with projects in the field of autonomous driving and flights, medical AI, Agri-tech, robotic vision, and others.
Goals for 2023: In the upcoming year, Humans in the Loop will focus on working with Ukrainian refugees and supporting Ukrainians who are affected by the conflict and are still residing in Ukraine. The startup is also currently looking to raise a seed round.
Lubomila Jordanova is the co-founder and CEO of Plan A (2017) – over €10M investment.
Plan A is a startup that develops an end-to-end platform to allow businesses to measure and reduce their negative environmental impact. The startup builds science-based digital tools that assist companies with implementing automated carbon accounting, decarbonizing their businesses, as well as managing ESG standards and reporting progress. The company’s SaaS platform uses machine learning to collect, process, and analyze carbon emissions and ESG data.
Goals for 2023: Plan A plans to continue its international expansion, with the goal of becoming a fully global company by 2024. They intend to open new offices in Paris and Munich and grow their teams in Bulgaria.
Gergana Stancheva and Angela Ivanova are the co-founders of LAM’ON (2020) – a total of €1.45M investment, made up of a €225K angel investment from Sasha Bezuhanova and Svetozar Georgiev, and a €1.2M grant from EIC.
LAM’ON disrupts the printing and packaging market with its two products – a 100% biodegradable laminating film and a packaging foil made from corn. Both products offer the same results as the currently used laminating films, they look and feel the same and use the same machinery for production. However, unlike plastic film, they are based on PLA and therefore compostable.
Goals for 2023: The co-founders will use the fresh capital from the EIC to expand their team and establish production activities in Sofia. They aim to officially release their first product on the market by 2023 and release 2 more products by the middle of 2023.
Radina Popova is the co-founder of DiFOLD (2018) – investment of €230K + $190K from crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
DiFOLD is a company producing reusable origami bottles. At the core of the company stays a design technology that consists of a wide range of collapsible geometrical patterns that allow different tubular containers to be folded to a minimum while being very stable when unfolded. It’s a “platform technology” that works with different materials and offers many collapsible design options for new products to be created.
Goals for 2023: In the coming month, they will send the bottles to all of their crowdfunding supporters who outnumber 3400 people from more than 70 counties. They will be focused on manufacturing and organizing the logistics around the shipping. Parallel to that, they will aim to develop their e-commerce strategy focused on the US as well as their B2B strategy for which they already have inquiries from the Asian market. The team has also started working on expanding its product portfolio of foldable containers as products for the packaging, logistics, and transportation industries.
Jane Dimitrova is the founder of FoodObox (2021) – investment N/A.
FoodObox is one of the first mobile applications in Bulgaria that connects environmentally conscious foodies with local restaurants and shops that have meal surplus. The startup already serves more than 250 businesses and 25000 clients.
Goals for 2023: FoodObox will aim to increase its B2B clients to 1500 and its B2C clients to 300K in Bulgaria by expanding to new cities. Additionally, the team targets to hit 150K made transactions on its platform by the end of 2022. In the longer term, they eye market expansion across SEE.
Denitza Daverova is the founder and CEO of Travel by Electric (2020) – investment N/A
Travel by Electric provides a solution for a zero-emission journey planning from A to Z. The company researches and develops thematic e-routes for alternative local tourism around the most intriguing tourist sites, carefully selected and combined into routes lined with charging infrastructure.
Svetoslava Simeonova is the co-founder and CEO of Foody.to – seed round of €50К investment
Foody.to is a platform that offers restaurants, hotels, and supermarket chains an independently managed marketplace where to sell food that was not sold during popular lunch/ dinner hours. At the same time, users could pick up discounted meals from their preferred locations during unpopular times and reduce their personal carbon footprint.
Maya Zlatanova is the co-founder and CEO of FindMeCure (2015) – $420K seed investment.
FindMeCure is a clinical trials search engine startup that is dubbed the “Google for clinical trials”. Its mission is to bring research closer to patients and its clinical trial search engine has so far served close to a million people worldwide. In 2019 FindMeCure launched TrialHub – a data intelligence platform that helps CROs and Sponsors plan clinical trials on budget and on time. TrialHub has evolved a lot since its launch and is now the preferred data platform of top 10 CROs and big pharma companies.
Desislava Mihaylova is the co-Founder of Sqilline Health – investment N/A
Sqilline is a software and consulting company that provides technology and implementation services of the highest quality with a focus on Data Analytics Platforms, Machine Learning Algorithms & AI in Healthcare, and SAP Solutions. The company delivers solutions to oncologists, patients, and customers. Sqilline Ltd. Recently, Sqilline transformed into a Clinical Research Organization with a focus on digital clinical trials.
Boryana Gerasimova is the founder of Re:Gena (2018) and NutriGen (2014). Bootstrapped
Re:Gena is a company offering white label personalized medicine solutions, focusing on early disease prevention and improvement of the quality of life. The solution helps people improve their lifestyle and health by making informed decisions while taking into consideration their unique genetic makeup. The startup targets the early prevention of lifestyle-related diseases including types of cancer, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, and many others.
Goals 2023: By the end of 2023, she aims to develop more B2B partnerships, streamline the development of Re:Gena’s biotech software, expand the R&D and administrative teams, and focus on the further digitalization of business processes.
Victoria Victorova is the co-founder and CEO of MindFit (2021) – investment N/A.
MindFit is a mental health employee benefit that provides access to a curated network of psychologists and psychotherapists. The service aims to make mental health care more accessible and at the same time decrease the high turnover and sick leave due to stress and burnout.
Goals for 2023: Continue establishing the brand on the Bulgarian market, start EU expansion, and further grow the network of mental health experts.
Ivelina Nikolova is the co-founder of Sheetly (2014) – around €400K investment.
Sheetly develops smart product spreadsheet solutions for the e-commerce market by organizing the product data that exists in all webshops and all businesses. It helps small and medium-sized online store owners with their back-office needs of cross-channel processing and management of their product information. The platform allows customers to import their products to Shopify in a few simple clicks.
Goals for 2023: Sheetly aims to service more Shopify stores, grow the team and attract talented and passionate people. Currently, they are raising a bridge round of $75-100K as their last angel round.
Polly Yankova is the founder and CEO of MindHub (2015) – investment N/A.
MindHub is a network of coding schools for kids aged 6 up to 18 years old. It combines a model of franchise and an IT platform with ready-made courses. The methodology Mindhub uses to teach children computer programming is based on gamification and working in small teams on a variety of projects and games.
Elitsa Kostova is the founder and CEO of Voca Academy (2018), investment of around €40K from 3 private investors.
Voca Academy is an online platform for career and personal development, which is developed by a team with 15 years of experience in the field of corporate consulting and career development.
Goals for 2023: Voca Academy aims to release its Voca Token on Bitcoincash and to scale its B2B sales by focusing on gamification. The team is actively participating in investment forums but has not closed the second round of investment yet.
Mina Kostova is the co-founder of SmallTalk.bg (2020) – investment N/A
SmallTalk.bg is a platform that connects digital professionals and people seeking new opportunities for a mentoring session.
Boryana Uzunova is the co-founder of NOLD (2020) – around €100K investment.
NOLD offers a platform where users may find a new and one-of-a-kind outfit with a past that can tell a new tale and take them on a trip. NOLD is the first p-2-p platform for curated pre-loved fashion, empowering any seller to monetize quickly on whatever they no longer wear while providing unparalleled convenience, aesthetics, and purpose.
Eva Vucheva is the co-founder of CONTENTO.tech (2016) and Impakt_ID (2020) – bootstrapped and one of the founders of Fashion Days (exited to Naspers in 2012)
CONTENTO.tech is an outsourcing company that specializes in e-commerce and data management solutions.
Impakt ID is the first business-intelligence tool providing real-time impact data to help companies understand, measure, and act upon their environmental footprint. The startup is based on patent-pending technology.
Sabina Gyosheva is the co-founder and CEO of By Far (2016) – investment N/A
Kremena Stoyanova is the founder of elca.bg (2021), investment of around €200K.
Elca.bg is an electricity price comparison platform that allows customers to compare prices, choose a supplier, and save money. Elca.bg works with publicly available information and uses analytical technologies and algorithms to compare the offers of electricity trading companies. The company aims to enable its users to make an objective and data-based decision regarding the choice of electrical supplier.
Goals for 2023: By the end of this year, Elca.bg plans to release the first version of its solution in the market and to focus on brand positioning.
Sonya Bonova is the co-founder and CEO of Rilla (2020) – investment N/A
Rilla is a mobile application for personal finance management. Rilla is a digital alternative to traditional banking services that allows its users to easily manage their money via the Rilla mobile app.
Goals for 2023: The company is looking to hire more talent in 2022. In the long term, the team plans to upgrade their offering with new features, which are not entirely financial but would rather add value to their everyday lifestyle. They also aim to quickly expand beyond the local market and they have already started researching potential new markets for entry.
Valentina Milanova, is the founder of Daye (2017) – investment of around $5.5M
Daye is a female health research and development company on a mission to bridge the gender gap in product innovation. The startup has gone through clinical validation, regulatory approvals, and proprietary in-house manufacturing, to the launch of its tampons in D2C and retail. The product portfolio of the company covers period care, vaginal health screening, and improved contraception.
Karina Karagaeva is the founder and CEO of Mindset Design (2020), investment of around $30K.
Mindset Design is a mental workout platform for high-achievers in competitive sports who aim to tap into their full mindset potential. Backed up by neuroscience and behavioral psychology, the platform offers a variety of tools, an AI self-coaching chatbot, and a vibrant community.
Goals for 2023: Currently, the team reaches customers in more than 15 countries. The company will focus on the onboarding of a key segment – tennis players – in the upcoming months, together with closing their seed round.
Gergana Gruncharova is the co-founder and CEO of Incineration Production (2018) – investment N/A
Incineration Productions is a fast-expanding independent game development studio in Bulgaria. The team of Incineration Production is working on both our own video games and high-tech innovative outsourcing software projects.
Natalia Karayaneva and Denitza Tyufekchieva are the co-founders of Propy (2016). Around $1.2M investment.
Propy is a real estate transaction automation for homebuyers, brokerages, and title companies. The company built the world’s settlement on smart contracts that covers the entire transaction process from offer to close. Propy’s proptech SaaS platform offers automated notifications, e-signatures, analytics, and compliance tracking.
Galia Jordanova is the co-founder and CEO of Gaida.ai (2017), around €250K seed round from angel investors.
Gaida.ai is the umbrella brand on top of two platforms. Enoti.bg is a real estate marketplace that collects, analyzes, and enriches accurate information on all listings on the Bulgarian real estate market. In 2020, upon raising their seed round, the team launched its extension – musketari.bg, aiming to help home owners never pay a penny more than they should on their property purchase. In its core musketari.bg utilizes data and technology to boost actual mortgage experts that work with buyers to find the best financing options and once they lock the best rates to always stay on them for the life of the mortgage.
Goals for 2023: By the end of this year, the team of Gaida.ai aims to become one of the top 3 preferred mortgage brokers in the Bulgarian market while piloting a second market.
Yana Vlatchkova is the founder of Question Base (2021), bootstrapped and self-funded with an investment of €250K.
Question Base is a platform for remote team collaboration and peer learning. The solution works like Quora but for knowledge exchange between teams.
Goals for 2023: The startup aims to successfully implement its solution in 10 fast-growing tech companies and scaleups in Europe.
Blagovesta Pugyova is the founder of Childish Software Development Company (2021), bootstrapped with financing from the service company.
Childish Ltd. is a software development company focused on Python solutions. It provides end-to-end software development services and designs, builds, and manages dedicated teams. The company is 50% owned by one of the most meaningful NGOs in Bulgaria in recent years – Podarete kniga / Give a Book Foundation. Half of the profits of the company will be supporting the initiative Podari vreme / Give Time.
Goals for 2023: Pugyova aims to keep up the momentum she has built together with the 25 engineers of the company.
Polly Desheva is the founder and CEO of Webdesh (2018) – under $1K personal investment, bootstrapped.
Webdesh is a service-based company that creates user-friendly WordPress websites. The startup offers monthly website maintenance and support, WordPress training, and other complimenting services. The company is bootstrapped, with no investment, and founded by a single female founder with an all-female core team to date.
Goals for 2023: Break-even from monthly subscriptions for website maintenance and support.
Silyana Bojilova is the co-founder and CEO of Dexycon (2021), pre-seed investment of €200K.
Dexycon is a startup that enables the digitalization of small and mid-sized businesses with various modular solutions such as chatbots, ERP systems, digital business cards, mobile apps, and other communication tools that shorten the distance between enterprises and customers. The team was part of Endeavor Bulgaria’s Dare to Scale Program 2021.
Goals for 2023: By the end of 2022, Dexycon plans to close another investment round of around €2M and is currently actively communicating with venture capital funds in Bulgaria and abroad.
Bilyana Freye is the co-Founder and CEO at Orbiit (2018), investment of around $2.7M.
Orbiit is a matchmaking engine powering curated 1:1 community connections at scale. Members can opt into regular, topic-based 1:1 virtual connections and Orbiit handles all comms, matching, scheduling, feedback collection, and analytics.
Tina Ruseva is the co-founder and CEO of Mentessa (2019) – seed investment of €1M.
Mentessa is an AI platform for workplace collaboration that connects organizations for learning and collaboration based on skills. The platform empowers people at work to find and share skills with their community, not only communicate with each other. The startup aims to differentiate itself from the widely-used tool for decentralized collaboration Slack and develop a new way of collaboration that is more inclusive and purpose-driven.
Goals for 2023: The company is currently trying to grow its team and plans to expand internationally. The team might build an engineering and product team in Bulgaria.
Tatiana Mitkova is the founder of ClaimCompass (2015) – investment of around $1.8М.
ClaimCompass helps air passengers receive their deserved compensation for delayed, canceled, or overbooked flights. The company enforces claims by combining legal and technical expertise in order to help passengers who lack the time or know-how to fight for their compensation on their own.
SeedBlink is a tech specialized venture investment platform. It enables individual investors to fund top-tier European tech startups and scale-ups alongside established institutional investors.