Brainstorming sessions, presentations, and business meetings – creative activities in the office that are happening on a daily basis. But how productive can we be if the working environment is not premised to allow us to unleash our creative potential?
The office productivity startup, Escreo, produces paint that turns every wall into a whiteboard in order to stimulate creative thinking and bridge the gap between the physical environment and the mind. Since the start of the company back in 2015, the Escreo team, which then consisted of Elena Nikolova, Yasen Rusev, Iskren Mitev, and Manol Novakov, has increased and was able to quickly equip its factory in Ruse and consolidate its position on the Bulgarian market.
So far the startup has raised €121К from the Bulgariаn capital fund Eleven Capital and business angels, and despite the hurdles they faced during the lockdown, being dependent on B2B sales and in-person sales meetings, it managed to adapt and introduce a new product focused on home-office productivity. Recently, Eleven Capital announced that it has decided to increase its investment in Escreo with additional €50k, after the fund raised around €1m in an IPO earlier this year with the goal to invest the money in 30 of the startups in its portfolio. The investment of Eleven Capital was matched by another €50k from 3P1, also known as Proptech.bg – the largest proptech community in Bulgaria, which increased the total investment in the startup to near €250k.
A new portfolio of products and operations automation
The investment will allow Escreo to restructure and transform the company entirely. According to Elena Nikolova, the Covid crisis was yet another stimulus to innovate and it helped their team to see the opportunities in this challenge. “We cannot scale if we develop only one product on the markets we target. The importance of this investment goes beyond helping us go through the difficult times – it helps us make a much-needed pivot to bring our business online, automate our operations and develop a portfolio of products,” shares Nikolova for Trending Topics.
With the money from the investment, Escreo plans to transform the company into a multiproduct one and to create a one-stop-shop for productivity and creativity solutions. Their goal is to become a platform as a marketplace, which will connect producers and customers. The idea is not only to sell their own products but also to partner with other manufacturers who produce and design innovative products and thus to stimulate the productivity and creativity process. In order to develop their e-commerce platform, the team of Escreo has decided to build upon their well-established relations with architects and interior designers and use their knowledge in the industry.
The Bulgarian productivity startup recently received another financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the purchase of an ERP system, which they are currently using to unify and integrate the processes of their warehouses in Ruse, Sofia, the UK, and the processes of Amazon. Elena Nikolova explains that the team aims to use Amazon Fulfillment for all their international logistics and that is why it is important that they optimize their warehouse capacity and obtain the necessary documentation and certifications so that they meet the standards of Amazon.
What does the future hold for Escreo?
Five years since it was launched Escreo has achieved significant progress in the domestic and international markets – it has been growing with 50% per year and has gained more than 3k customers worldwide. Up until now, the startup has concentrated on the markets in Bulgaria, Romania, and the UK but in the future, they aim to enter into the DACH markets as well – Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. “As we want to concentrate our efforts on e-commerce and B2C sales, it makes more sense for us to switch our focus from the local market to the foreign ones that are bigger and can meet our aspirations for scale and growth,” highlights Nikolova.
Moreover, in order to develop their e-commerce platform, apart from listing their paint and acoustic dividers, Escreo plans to conduct extensive market research to identify the companies with the best and most interesting products. They have already secured a partnership with an American producer of paint that purifies air and their product will soon be on the market. The team of Escreo has also expanded with one person responsible for the further development of their presence in Amazon, and for supporting them in planning to open new markets and add new products.