“I would like to ask you to take out your checks, put them on the table, put out your pens, because what you’re going to see in a while is going to push you to write some very big numbers.” This is how Stanislav Sirakov, partner at LAUNCHub – a 9M seed and acceleration fund in Bulgaria, addressed the participating investors at the start of the accelerator’s first Investors Day on 14 March. (Watch the full opening speech here). With Bulgarian startups gradually making international headlines (i.e. iMediaShare – recently featured in the Amazon app store), it appears to be almost a necessary step to bring together the startup and investment communities from the country and beyond. Discovering how both sides can work together might potentially not only grow the CEE scene, but also highlight Bulgaria’s position on the startup map.
The event kicked off with a pitching session, in which all 13 participating startups took the floor to present their projects. About 2/3 of the teams belonged to LAUNCHub’s fall accelerator batch, Sirakov told inventures.eu, and the others were some of their earlier investees “able to attract bigger seed rounds – between 200,000 and 400,000 euros.” (A list of LAUNCHub’s investees can be found here). Perhaps, the highlight of the Investors Day, however, were the 1-on-1 discussions that startups had with theinvestors, some of whom were so involved that “we had to move and prolong the whole event into our office space,” said Sirakov.
What seems to have contributed to the dynamics of the event was the diversity on the investors panel. Represented were Europe-wide investment players such as Intel Capital, 3TS, and Early Bird, some regional ones like Slovenia-based RSG Capital, as well as another 40+ business angels. Sirakov explained the motivation behind that variety: “It is always interesting to see different points of view and different attitudes to different industries.”
The Investors Day, however, appears to have been more than just a mere networking event, as some preliminary results are already in place. “One of the pitching teams received a couple of offers and an invitation to travel to Turkey, Romania and the UK in the next week to negotiate a Series A round,” said Sirakov. In addition, another 4 or 5 startups entered serious talks with angel investors.
At the end of the day, however, one thing seems to have left a lasting impression: “The investors realize that there are a lot of interesting stories emerging in this part of Europe.”
For more insight into the Bulgarian startup scene, do follow this link.