Why Launch Your Startup In The Bulgarian City Varna

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Ever thought of founding your startup at the Northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast? Learn how in this guide of Varna, business and university center Bulgarias.

Don’t miss the infographic on How To Start A Startup In Varna!

Do you want to have a beach, sun and many awesome nights? What are you waiting for? Come and visit Varna! And Varna is also about startups. Lots of startups. This Guide will lead you through the main hotspots of the community. Find out more about startup events, co-working spaces, funding and mentor opportunities in a beautiful city of Varna.

On The Shore Of The Black Sea

Varna (Bulgarian: Варна, pronounced [ˈvarnɐ]) is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and the third largest city in Bulgaria. It is also the fourth largest city on the Black Sea.

Often referred to as the marine (or summer) capital of Bulgaria, Varna is a major tourist destination, a starting point for all the resorts in the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, business and university centre, seaport, and headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine.

Advantages Of Starting A Business In Varna:

  • Cost of living is lower comparing to the major startup capitals as Berlin, London, Amsterdam etc.
  • Office rents are cheap – you can rent a pretty awesome office for less than a 400 euro.
  • Corporate tax is 10%
  • Bulgaria is very good for testing the MVP, because investment resources are very low.
  • 2017 – Varna will be European Youth Capital. Website: http://varna2017.bg/
  • University taxes for foreign students are not high and really low for local students.
  • Education level can be compared with other cities in our region – Bucharest, Athens, Zagreb, Cluj, Istanbul, Belgrade, etc.
  • Possibility to start a one-person company.
  • Beautiful nature and delicious food – awesome places to take a few day off.
  • Many freelancers
  • Bulgaria is one of top outsourcing destinations. For more information, please visit the following guide
  • Lack of many competitors.
  • Open markets
  • Low barriers to entry
  • Many creative places
  • A solid startup community

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Our vat is 20 %
  • Most people / companies decide to replace Varna with Sofia (Sofia is our capital). There are several reasons:
    • Higher salaries
    • Better living conditions
    • Better Startup ecosystem
  • Bureaucracy
  • There are still only few great opportunities to get investments.
  • There are not so many companies to establish partnerships with

Check Varna’s Local Community

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The startup community in Varna is growing fastly. More and more people start being enthusiastic about new projects and innovations. Where can we find info about upcoming events, meetups and other occasions?

  • The main hub in Varna is the local co-working space – Beehive. Beehive provides lots of information about startups and educates the society. You can find many lectures, events and workshops there.
  • VarnaLab is a place where you can find information about the hacker space in Varna, IT news etc.
  • VarnaIT is a group, where you can find information about IT news, startup events etc.
  • You can find a list with all upcoming events here.

Regular Events & Meetups:

  • Startup Weekend Varna – the biggest Startup Event in Varna. There are over 100 participant in every edition and counting. This year (2015) there are 2 editions of Startup Weekend in Varna for the first time. The second one is about improving the city environment.
  • Startup Grind Varna – Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. Startup Grind is every month.
  • DevelopersBeach – Developer’s Beach is a casual monthly meetup of folks working in startups, IT or doing creative digital stuff in Varna.
  • Marketing talks – Marketing talks is a monthly edition for all marketers in the city. It’s more about networking.
  • Raster Minds – Raster Minds is a monthly edition for all designers in the city. It’s more about networking and sharing new ideas.
  • Pitch Thursday – Pitch Thursday is a monthly pitching tournament where entrepreneurs can present their ideas in front of an audience and receive feedback for their presentation and startup idea.

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • VarnaConf – the biggest IT conference in our region.
  • CloudConfVarna – IT conference for cloud infrastructures.
  • Google Developer Group – Google Developer Group Varna is a chapter of the GDG networks worldwide. We meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 19:00 in Beehive Co-working Space.
  • Europe Code Week – The event will take place in Beehive Co-working Space Varna. For 7 days there will be everyday lectures about programming covering subjects like Android and IOS development, project management, SEO and other.
  • SQL Saturday – SQLSaturday is a free training event for SQL Server professionals and those wanting to learn about SQL Server.
  • Lighting Talks – Every month there are discussions in different areas in the local hackerspace: VarnaLab.
  • e-manager – a training conference for eCommerce.
  • RailsGirlsVarna – an event that proves that programming is for everyone.

The startup ecosystem is still young, but thriving. As you can see there are many startup events and conferences. Their number is increasing annually. Make sure to constantly check the Facebook groups and Startup Digest for further updates.

Choose A Space To Be Productive In Varna

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Co-working Spaces In Varna:

  • Beehive – the only co-working space in Varna. Beehive is still young but it had visitors from Germany, Ukraine, UK, Romania and etc.  Prices begin from 25 euro. Beehive is the first in Varna and outside of Sofia co-working space. It is situated in the center of Varna – the Sea Capital of Bulgaria, not too far away from the beach and it is easily accessible. This is the only place in Northeastern Bulgaria where one can rent a desk without minimum lease period, deposit or any inconveniences of that kind. Beehive gathers a group of people who work independently but share commons values and interests and care for the synergy that comes out of working at the same place with other creative people. Join our team and meet with all the professionals in your sphere, who will give you all the necessary guidance and advice for success! Despite providing quiet and inspiring workplace, the other main goal of Beehive is to form a community of entrepreneurial people who develop innovative projects in Bulgaria. In order to achieve that we organize different educational and social events like workshops and networking gatherings.
  • VarnaLab – a hackerspace, but there is an option to rent a working space.
  • Cubo – Cubo is a beach bar which also works during winter. It’s a favourite place for freelancers and more alternative people.
  • Modera – “Modera” is a coffee store chain which is very popular among young people and students. Lots of them prefer to study exactly there.

Secure Your Startup’s Financing In Varna

Varna_guide_financing.

Unfortunately, all accelerators, incubators and startup angels are situated in Sofia. Anyway, there is a good connection with Varna and most of them participate during the main startup events. Beehive is cooperating with Segments Accelerator in Vienna and every month a shortlist with the most promising startups from the region is being sent to them.

Pre-Accelerators:

  • Start It Smart is an entrepreneurship organization created to spread and develop the entrepreneurial way of thinking, while supporting young people to start their own business.

Incubators & Accelerators:

  • Eleven: Eleven is an accelerator and venture capital fund for early-stage investments. It provides mentorship, support through its partners, and the critical first round of investment. With EUR 12 million of funding provided by the European Investment Fund (EIF) through the JEREMIE Program Eleven is one of the biggest early stage investors in CEE. We are building a vibrant new community – a fast-growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs who come together to change the world. Our 150+ mentors and partners bring practical, global experience, counsel and connections to the 50+ companies we accelerate each year.
  • Since 2012, LAUNCHub has invested and committed 6.7 million Euro in 58 startups from 10 countries in the SEE region, including Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Slovenia, Ukraine, Austria and Switzerland.
  • Chivas The Venture is a global initiative in more than 20 countries in the world giving $1 000 000 to an extraordinary start-ups that use business to create positive change. The Venture has a mission to inspire entrepreneurial thinkers to transform the world. Successful applicants will have the chance to pitch for a share of The Venture’s $ 1 000 000 fund and have access to the tools and mentorship to accelerate their growth. For more info about The Venture and the  application process in Bulgaria –
  • The Segments Accelerator provides tailored growth services for digital startups as well as innovation services for investors and corporates. The hands-on services, combined also in an accelerator program, include workshops and trainings, startup events, investor networks, mentoring, marketing, PR and media, internationalization, web and app development, office space and business development. The services for investors include market monitoring, startup scouting, consulting as well as workshops on product innovation. Additionally, the accelerator acts as a partner, supporter and network hub for governmental organisations as well as educational and research facilities.

Grants & Subventions:

Crowd Investing Platforms:

Angel Investors:

  • The Bulgarian Business Angels Network is an online platform, which is intended to help connect those that have ideas, a sense of entrepreneurial skills and lack financing with private investors that are interested in doing business in Bulgaria or other South East European countries.
  • Bulgarian Association of Business Angels (Bulgaria Angels) is an organization which main function is to provide a platform for connection and interaction between the entrepreneurs on the one hand and business angels on the other. Entrepreneurs are at start up stage, small or medium-sized companies who are looking for opportunities for financing their unique and innovative business ideas or already established market niche, but with great potential for growth. Business angels are individuals looking to invest their own funds in promising businesses.

Venture Capital Investors & Other Investment Opportunities:

Information for foreign direct investment for 2014 and prediction for this year:

According to preliminary data, foreign direct investment in Bulgaria compiled according to the directional principle amounted to EUR 799.6 million (1.9% of GDP) in January – June 2015, growing by EUR 49.7 million (1.9%) from January – June 2014 (EUR 749.9 million, 1.8% of GDP)2 . In June 2015 foreign direct investment in the country grew by EUR 178 million, compared with an increase of EUR 127.8 million in June 2014. Check the Bulgarian National Bank for additional information.

Keep On Going In Varna

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Most of the startup activities are situated around Beehive –  the local co-working space. Beehive provides pretty good network of mentors, facilities, know-how and resources. Most of the young and startup enthusiasts are situated there.

Varna is an exciting option for new investments and startup ideas. The city is growing fastly. Varna has won the competition for European Youth Capital, so now Varna 2017 – European Youth Capital is purpose for many european funds and investments in the city. The change is obvious and the local people are more than happy about it. At the same time, Varna is considered as a medical and marine center in Bulgaria.

Ready for your next adventure? Varna awaits!

 

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Photo Credit (Featured Image): volna80

Last updated: July 31st, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they contstantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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