Before a week I mention you about the one of the biggest digital event in the world – Innowave 2017 Business & Startup. It was held and the result it was great! The forum confirms my optimistic opinion about digital progress in Bulgaria. I can’t wait to tell you what’s happened during the forum.
It was the largest conference of its kind in Varna on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria – Innowave 2017 Business & Startup Forum, which took place on 20-21 October 2017. It is supposed to have a great impact on the big vision – to make Varna not only a regional but also an international digital & start-up hub. Around 750 attendees, 38 speakers from 23 countries, and many exhibitors have been part of this great event. All keynotes and talks have been held in English and split into two tracks: Business track and Start-up track. It was a good mixture of keynotes, personal coaching, start-up competition, podium discussions, and exhibition. Started as an idea of a few talented and smart young people, it has been supported by state representatives, local authorities and the European Commission.
The Business track started with a keynote by the Marketing Guru Dryton Bird, who how spoke about the difficulty to write simple marketing texts that everyone understands. Vesselin Popov from the Cambridge Psychometrics Centre presented a large academic study about the behavior of two groups of people (introverted vs. extroverted) according to their surfing and social media signals. And the result is: behavior is predictable! Stiliyan Zaporozhanov claimed that direct marketing is dead and presented the possibilities to promote a business on Facebook. Miroslav Bogdantsaliev, Co-founder of International Business Alliance Bulgaria, showed how to use the quantum computing in growing a business and not limit the decisions to a simple binary algorithm. Manuela Krull-Mancinelli explained what is Blockchain and its impact on society, by describing interesting examples for how can Blockchain be combined with Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things to facilitate our daily life. Cüneyt Erpolat from Alibaba spoke about the need for a ready-to-use ecosystem for B2B companies, so they can focus on what they can best: their business. Bojidar Krapchev presented the growing possibilities that Amazon gives to small and mid-sized retailers.
Matt Brooke-Smith shared his experience as a founder of many companies and pointed out, that failure is not always a bad thing. First Online Solutions is a company that operates mainly in the UK but moved its office to Varna. Besides the lower taxes and salaries in Bulgaria, the Managing Director Rune Sovndahl mentioned the attitude of the employees to learn and work hard, the good weather and wine.
The Start-up track was full of ideas and pieces of advice how to start and grow a company, whom to trust and whom not. The lawyer Biliyana Dimitrova pointed out that not only the investor chooses a project to invest in, but also the start-up should carefully choose its funder. It should be someone who will not only bring money but also know-how and experience. Kamelia Allow’s main statement was to never lose sight of the numbers while starting a business and suggested to use free CRM and accounts software. During a talk with representatives of venture capital companies the advantages of testing a new idea/product in a low-cost and small country like Bulgaria have been highlighted and the main criteria for an investor to choose a start-up named: the personality of the founder. Crowdfunding was the topic of Sarah Meister from Indiegogo. Marcin Olender from Google illustrated how its company supports start-ups by providing free software (g.e. the Digital Garage) and launching free co-working spaces in several European cities.
14 Start-ups had the opportunity to present their ideas on stage and win funding for their projects. Every visitor got a fake 10 Euro note that can be used for voting. The award got to SpeakyABC – an interactive English learning platform, customized for the needs of the Chinese market.
My personal highlight was the presentation of Bas Lansdorp – CEO and co-founder of Mars One. He has a very ambitious goal to collect money for a Mars expedition! This would be the biggest event of the 21st century, he said. He plans to complete the mission in 2032. The idea is to make Mars reachable for tourists and make people appreciate the earth more. More than 12.000 people already applied to be part of the 4-man-team to be sent first – and this without a guarantee that they will ever return! I wish Mr. Lansdorp good luck with this project!
I want to thank Cvetan Mihaylov for the overview!