Dear members, partners and friends,

The over exceptional year of  2020 is at it’s very end. We all have witnessed a historical moment mainly adherent to the unprecedented global pandemia. It was a year of hardship, indeed, but it was also a year of opportunities. 

Globally, we are witnessing the expansion of technology, harvesting the necessities posed by mankind and the more our civilization grows, the higher the demand for innovation is. We have now begun to address issues as satellite mega constellations because of the urge of global internet coverage, or the integration of “tiny AI”, based on knowledge distillation, quantum supremacy, anti-aging drugs and AI-discovered molecules all seemed fictional only until this year.  

When we started BESCO – The Bulgarian Startup Association, just a little over 3 years from now, our great ambition was to position Bulgaria as a leading game-changer in the field of high-impact technology that can and will change the world. And despite the fact that there are astonishing technological companies here in Bulgaria, the true global impact is only delivered through a profound bi-lateral government-to-business bond where the ultimate goal is the birth of the fist Bulgarian Unicorn. We all have to agree that the only way of accelerating the economy of our country is through technological innovation followed by economic leapfrogging – and we need the role models to follow! 

In our ambition to position Bulgaria as a regional technological leader (the least) we have quickly come to the conclusion that a series of legislative, normative and sub-normative changes need to be in act so that business and technological excellence can be achieved. We dreamed of legislation that will regulate and enable the testing and integration of autonomous cars, airspace for drones or legislation that sets the tone of 3D printing of tissue and organs. But let’s be honest – we are still far away. However,  we have started with the small steps to confidently walk towards our vision. 

This year we have put tremendous efforts towards the creation of a new type of legal entity that will solve problems as the creation of option pools, vesting procedures, regulate convertible loans – all that in an easy and affordable fashion. We also believe that the easy access to talent and people with passion and drive should be granted. Our efforts towards the creation of a startup Visa have been in that direction – a fast track for entrepreneurs that want to make a change. Also, the so-called Blue card, needs to be reworked and reduce the operational time for highly skilled labour force to be entitled a work permit. 

We have also been working on a reform in the pension system where pension funds can invest in alternative funds such as Venture capital funds, to redirect capital investments in technology and progress. Moreover, angel investing incentives were and are in our pipeline, functional e-government based on established rules concerning e-identity, facilitate ease of doing business in the form of an easy and quick closure of companies, regulating personal bankruptcy and many other minor steps.

In essence, last year was all about 3 main pillars – access to capital, access to skilled labour and ease of doing business. If we, as a community, manage to secure those intrinsic economic necessities – then we can really dream big. Those pillars are the A, B and C of what should one day become a knowledge based economy. 

Here is the moment where we at BESCO take a deep bow and thank you all for the continuous support! We have managed to build a community with over 500 members, 12 000 people and one shared vision for the future of our country. We have managed to get in touch and collaborate with the biggest political players in Bulgaria, expanding our horizons towards Brussels. Over the last year we have participated in over 40 different media sources (including national radio and television), we have carried over 1200 one-on-one meetings creating awareness about our vision, mission and specific goals. 3 years ago it all started as a game, but now we can proudly say that the voice of the startup, scaleup and entrepreneurial community is getting stronger and stronger. 

We still have a long way to go but together we shall succeed. 

Stay healthy, stay positive and see you next year! 

Ned Dervenkov, CEO