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Empowering Bulgaria’s tech ecosystem with exceptional teams (Interview)

Growing and empowering Bulgaria's tech ecosystem has always been Campus X's mission. And we know from experience that tech companies need great talent to power their success.

Today we speak with Momchil Ivanov, Co-Founder of our strategic Human Capital Partners Bica & Anthill. Momchil tells us why more and more international companies set up their first offices in Bulgaria and what's the secret to building exceptional teams with Bulgaria-based talent.

Let's dive right in.

First, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the company?

Momchil Invanov, Campus X office space, Sofia
Momchil Ivanov, Co-Founder of Bica & Anthill

My professional journey started back in 2009 motivated by interests and passion for building, developing, and expanding businesses. Driven by innovations and technologies, today I am a Co-Founder of several companies, including Bica and Anthill which are focused on building exceptional product teams.

In day-to-day activities, anything related to the business development, compliance, and financial setup within our businesses is usually on me and in my personal life, I am a happy father of two male beasts, a devastated Arsenal fan, and ale admirer.

Is Bulgaria a good place to set up a tech company in terms of high-quality talent availability?

Availability of talent and quality of work are two crucial factors all investors are evaluating before an investment decision is taken. Back in the day, their first question in 90% of the cases we faced was about the cost of talent. Nowadays we are focusing more on market capabilities, quality, and delivery speed.

“High-quality” talent is a complex mixture of tech skills, culture fit, and professional attitude. Combining these elements is where Bulgaria classifies as one of the hottest destinations in Eastern Europe for any tech or product-oriented investor in terms of high-quality talent in tech and beyond.

Based on your experience, what kind of international companies consider expanding or setting up their first operations in Bulgaria?

When it comes to technologies, there is a huge variety of businesses that are opening their offices in Bulgaria which is great. Bringing differences together helps any community grow further. Imagine the Campus X coworking community on a country level. That is what our country is achieving today in my opinion – a mix of diversified minds focusing on mutual goals. To be specific - we see interest coming from both startups and mid-sized tech businesses to already established corporations with 300-400+ employees spread all over the world.

In terms of products and technologies, I will not even try guessing any numbers. We see companies focused on Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and Cloud solutions to such, developing products in sectors like Media, Insurance, Transportation, or Retail for example.

What are the key challenges for tech companies setting up their first R&D operations in Bulgaria?

Imagine you are a media company, planning to invest in digitalization - you need to scale fast without compromising your own quality, processes, and culture. In case you choose to do it with your own team, that means you need to attract highly skilled IT talent while competing as a media brand employer with already popular ones, pioneers in product development. The brand awareness challenge that comes in place is something we pay a lot of attention to in our Build-Operate-Transfer model when we set the operations for our clients in Bulgaria.

Tell us more about Anthill’s Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) approach and how can it help?

Anthill’s main goal is to serve as a natural bridge that links businesses with the innovative, highly-skilled, and creative IT ecosystem in Eastern Europe. We offer tech companies superior product and software engineering talent, within reasonable budget expectations compared to what they usually pay. Clients can comfortably combine the flexibility of service-based contracts with complete ownership of the operation on their side. We build a team of highly skilled IT professionals providing the proven governance, processes, and culture required for the successful operation of software development teams distributed across multiple locations.

Could you give us an example?

Considering the usual confidentially we follow, I will not be sharing any names here but would love to refer to a quick story about a brand that was not popular and attractive as an IT employer at all. Securing an established team of core IT seniors for a quick start and providing the necessary governance, compliance, internal processes, and brand awareness initiatives, for a year and a half, we managed to establish a fully dedicated operational team of 60 people in Sofia. Now the brand is fully represented and recognizable within our community and further growth is also planned.

In our B.O.T. model, there is an acquisition option for our clients to buy the IT operation whenever convenient for the purpose of complete control and added comfort of creating core IT competencies within the structure we create. This is also something we are working on in this case.

Why did you join Campus X and become our strategic Human Capital Partner?

We are here to bring and share the good practices and experience we have in building and growing human capital. We strongly believe that assisting our partners, making them a stronger brand, a better employer, will bring positives to the whole Bulgarian community (tech and beyond) which will be followed by future investments, expansions, and innovations. That would be beneficial to all of us, wouldn’t it?

Last but not the least, during the first couple of discussions with the Campus X Team representatives, we met people who are sharing the same passion, attitude, and ambition just like us, united by a single mutual goal – achieving and being helpful in style. Once we saw it, we could not skip this opportunity and today we are more than happy to be a Campus X member for almost a year.

Are there any successful recent collaborations within our coworking community you’d like to tell us about?

We have already been in touch with most of the community members, started a couple of initiatives related to their growth, hiring, and onboarding, and internal HR practices among others.

In general, with the support of the Campus X Team, at the end of February, we organized our first virtual HR event for the community called "Winning the race for talent". We have shared good practices from our expertise regarding recruitment strategy, market research, onboarding, interviews, and some of our use cases. Happily, the participants expressed high interest in the presented topics, so we ended up having an insightful discussion, which we later decided to turn into a series of regular events called "Talent Talks with Bica," each with a different focus and a more interactive manner.

Our next members-exclusive webinar is already planned out and will take place on May 20. Hope to see most of the Campus X community members there.

Bica's team, Campus X, Sofia

Campus X: more than flexible offices. Better than a coworking hub

Curious to learn more about Campus X’s flexible offices and our end-to-end ecosystem, where great companies form a powerful coworking community? Our members share common values, succeed together, and have access to capital, great talent, and world-class onsite partners like Bica.


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