The selection for the most impactful actors and builders of the local startup ecosystem, who have been recognized by The Central European Startup Awards, part of the Global Startup Awards, as regional finalists in the competition is now publicly available. With the mission to find, recognize and connect future shapers of the digital age from all around the world, the Global Startup Awards are held annually since 2012 to recognize regional tech and web industries that have achieved remarkable progress in business and service to the community.
Last year, among the national winners, were OfficeRnD which received the big Startup of the Year Award, LogSentinel which was awarded for the Best Newcomer and the Best AI/Machine Learning Startup as well as Endeavor’s Dare to Scale which received the recognition for the Best Accelerator or Incubator Program. As the format of this year’s competition has been altered a bit by removing the national voting round and sending the shortlisted national candidates directly to regional finals, The Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO) is organizing a parallel voting to recognize the remarkable progress achieved by the Bulgarian startup ecosystem heroes. Being the national partner of the competition, BESCO is allowing the local community to vote for the best Bulgarian future-shapers up until 15 November 2020. The national public voting aims to bring symbolic recognition and its results will not have an impact on the Central European Startup Awards, which will announce its winners on 10 December 2020 when the Finalist Day and The Grand Finale will be held virtually. So, which are the game-changing Bulgarian startups that have been shortlisted in the ten different categories of the competition and sent to regional finals?
And the regional finalists are…
The Startup of the Year category recognizes high growth potential startups not older than five years.
- Worddio: Vocabulary builder – an easy to use tool for collecting and learning new words.
- LogSentinel – an information security company that keeps critical data safe at scale. Their innovative solutions keep all logs, data, and documents protected by blockchain technology.
- Develiot – a startup that specializes in the development of Industrial IoT products and solutions that help customers deal with challenges related to water management and air quality.
- ProsFit Technologies JSC – a startup that develops below-knee 3D printed prosthetic sockets.
- QuarkXR – ultra-fast software solution that provides low-latency wireless transmission for cloud applications.
The Best Newcomer award goes to a startup with up to two years of age that has shown the greatest development over the last year based on growth, innovation, and impact with the product/service.
- Cintelly – a customer asset analysis software tool.
- Association “Students in Action” – the first of its kind space for shared learning in Sofia.
- Meteo Rocks – a project focused on the development of a network of high precision weather stations.
- Cheese the Queen / Vera Tinkova – vegan cheese made from fermented and aged cashews enriched with vitamins, enzymes, and probiotics.
The Founder of the Year category praises founders of high growth potential startups that have shown notable achievements over the last year in terms of great customer growth and sales, funds raised, uniqueness, and impact of the product/service and leadership.
- The team of Association “Students in Action”
- The founding team (Vladislav Christov, Kristiyan Lozanov, Natalia Shirshova, Viktor Viktorov, Hristo Piyankov) of REINNO – financial technology company offering a new solution for real estate tokenization, lending, and investing with a focus on providing liquidity.
- Andreas Maier, the founder of CodeCoda Ltd – a custom software development provider of IT solutions for online e-businesses.
- Ivo Hristov, the founder of DEV Bulgaria – the biggest IT community and IT portal in Bulgaria
- Sabina Gyosheva – co-founder and CEO of the fashion brand BY FAR
The Best FinTech Startup award goes to a startup that has shown the greatest development, innovation, and impact with a product/service/technology in the delivery and/or infrastructure of financial services.
- phyre – a startup that has developed a mobile wallet that allows users to pay at any POS terminal around the world via smartphone.
- Payhawk – develops a smart company card that does your expense reports. Companies can issue and manage cards for employees while staying in control with real-time expense reports and flexible spendings and budget controls.
- iuvo – a P2P investing platform that offers high returns by connecting investors with loan companies
The Investor of the Year category awards an individual or company that has displayed the best investment acumen over the last year. This could be for example as an exit, early investment of a notable startup, or realization of an earlier investment.
- Neo Ventures – the first open-ended early-stage VC in Europe which has invested in innovative companies such as EnduroSat, which earlier in 2020 raised over €1m from Frank Thelen’s Freigeist and has been steadily growing its nanosatellite business as well as NEXD, and Precious Payload
- LAUNCHub Ventures – an early-stage VC which invests in companies and founders from the SEE and CEE regions. Some of the startups in the portfolio of the VC are ProsFit, QuarkXR, Gtmhub, and the Romanian FintechOS.
Best Co-working Space category appraises co-working spaces that deserve recognition for its services, support, and resources to fast-growth tech startups, and for creating a culture and environment that fosters innovation.
- SOHO – Sofia Holistic Coworking Company – an equipped space that combines practical coworking space with a programme of cultural and social events
- Work & Share Coworking Space – a sustainable, dynamic, creative, and productive environment of like-minded professionals.
- Association “Students in Action”
- Networking Premium Coworking Space – an elegant coworking space with 5 different locations in Sofia and Plovdiv.
- Campus X – a tech hub created by the Telerik founding team
The Best Accelerator/Incubator Program recognizes fixed-term, cohort-based, mentorship-driven programs that support and empower entrepreneurs to foster the growth of their innovative companies by providing tools, resources, connections, knowledge, and expertise.
- Dare to Scale by Endeavor – an industry-agnostic accelerator for entrepreneurs who need the mentorship and network to scale their already profitable businesses.
- Visa Innovation Program – a collaborative platform where fintech and Visa’s business partners work together to address market challenges through tangible propositions.
- SOinventure – Local corporate accelerator for digital health innovation
- Founder Institute – a business incubator that provides a step-by-step comprehensive program for launching companies.
The Ecosystem Hero of the Year Award goes to an individual known for the passion for entrepreneurship and ability and willingness to use experience and/or ability to help.
- Boyko Iaramov – co-founder of Telerik and Telerik Academy and Campus X.
- Svetozar Georgiev – co-founder of Telerik, Telerik Academy, and Campus X.
- Vassil Terziev -an active angel investor and Managing Partner at Eleven Ventures, and the co-founder of Telerik, Telerik Academy, and Campus X
- Ivelina Atanasova – Genchev – the founder of the DigitalKidZ programme for improving computer literacy by providing access to technology and innovative educational tools.
- CMYK Ingredients – eco technological and commercial development for organic food.
The nomination for The Best Virtual Teamwork Solution goes to Ivelina Atanasova – Genchev’s DigitalKidZ. The prize is awarded to a startup with a product or service that solves connectivity between people, companies, or teams in a smart, engaging way, with the potential to shape the future of connectivity, especially in times of crisis and social isolation.
The Best Social Impact Startup appraises startups that have implemented solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.
- LAM’ON – a startup that develops biodegradable laminating film for the printing industry.
- Association “Students in Action”
- ProsFit Technologies JSC
- DEV Bulgaria
More about the Global Startup Awards and the perks of participating
Each year the competition sources the most outstanding and impactful ecosystem players such as investors, acceleration programs, and coworking spaces. For example, in 2019, three Bulgarian winners – LAUNCHub Ventures, I Rise Mechanics, and Develiot emerged as the best in the categories for Investor of the Year, Social Impact Startup, and People’s Choice respectively. The process starts with opening up public nominations on the national level, shortlisting nominations together with national and regional advisors, followed by public voting by national communities, after which comes the regional jury selection and concluded with the announcement of the Regional winners and the Global Grand Finale winners. The ecosystem heroes who participate in the competition gain recognition nationally, regionally, and globally and receive access to the Global Startup Awards Network which helps them to connect better to other regional and global stakeholders such as finalists, winners, juries, partners, and ambassadors. The participants also benefit from the opportunity to engage in matchmaking with active investors, successful startups, accelerator and incubator programs, and governmental initiatives.