Within the framework of its Program for election reform, which started in 2014, MoveBG initiated the creation of analytical-informational publication on the status of the election system in Bulgaria
Pavlina Desheva has been dealing actively with entrepreneurship for the last six years being the Vice-President of Start It Smart accelerator. She has also developed a number of her own ideas. Pavlina graduated Sofia University with a B.A. in Mathematics and Informatics and a Master`s in Business Administration. She is alumna of the Summer Entrepreneurship Program in Babson College, USA.
Bilyana Slaveykova`s calling is journalism which she also has degree in.
She has worked as an editor of popular urban media. In the last years she has been part of the PR team for a great number of Bulgarian musicians and socially oriented projects such as educational classical concerts for children. .
Pavlina wraps up a few innovative projects and Bilyana leaves the editorial in order to start the mobile application DOGLAR together. The app connects dog owners and helps them look after their pets. The Software Studio DigiMark is a partner during the development phase. The idea comes to life in late spring 2015 and the iOS app debuts on Dcemeber 15th of the same year.
Pavlina and Bilyana are among our partners in EDIT – the coalition of small and medium digital companies, aiming to make more connected and supportive environment for the digital business. Together we aim to encourage the communication between the active players in the field and stimulate its development and exchange of ideas. If your business is digital and innovative, take part in our survey!
Does your application have an equivalent worldwide?
Pavlina: It is almost unthinkable to consider that one idea is unique as they are born as a result of the necessities of the society and the people. If you have an innovative idea you can be sure there are another100 people who have come up with it already. The only difference that matters is how quick and smart you are at developing it. I believe this shouldn’t stop anyone from sharing their innovation with the world. By sharing one can find the much needed starting push, find partners and helpers. Of course, like every startup, we are trying to provide more adequate solutions to a certain problem than the ones of our partners. And we are successful in doing so for now! One of our goals is to have happier and healthier pets and owners. We found out that this is achieved by making the walks more exciting through developing social contacts. We create environment for the dog owners, one in which they could meet similar people, find friends for their dogs, discuss their difficulties with other owners and find out more about good (or bad and threatening) dog walks. Our focus is on better, easier and quicker communication between dog owners about the things that matter for their pet friends.
Bilyana: DOGLAR is a unique non-profit platform helping dog owners educate each other and raise overall awareness on topics, related to raising dogs. Questions such as “Where (not) to get a dog from?, adoption, castration and reproduction, hygiene, healthcare. We believe that there is definitely need for such type of information. Luckily, there are enough intelligent people ready to talk about these things. We are happy we can work in this direction both with the app and with our offline activities and partnerships.
Are you aiming mostly at the Bulgarian market or worldwide?
Pavlina: We started from Bulgaria as we are aware of the environment and its specifics. Of course, our dreams and targets are oriented towards the global market like every startup which tries to solve a problem for a wider group of people worldwide.
Bilyana: Sofia is our territory now and my French bulldog is the best ambassador of the idea. We test different ideas here, collect feedback from owners – what do they find useful and what not. We have inquiries for mutual work and partnerships from organizations and companies in the field. We are gradually expanding the DOGLAR territory.
What do you think of all the application development startups targeting wider audience? Do you think that the Bulgarian startup scene could provide worldwide leaders?
Pavlina: The good thing about entrepreneurship nowadays is that there are no borders. Bulgaria is a great place to start a business and I think it has proven this on more than a few occasions. Here you have the network of people who can provide you with help and contacts, there is organized infrastructure for the startups in order to acquire the needed knowledge and skills by paying only with their time and energy. This is what we do with Start It Smart Pre-Accelerator – we provide opportunities for the startups to gain experience and learn how to validate their idea`s potential with minimum loss. The good thing is that we are not the only organization doing this. With that said, I do not see any obstacles in producing worldwide leaders.
Bilyana: I am convinced that Bulgaria has great concentration of talent. It is important, though, to rise above the ego. The rest is a lot of work.
To what extent are good ideas born in Bulgaria and to what extent are they professionally brought to practice?
Pavlina: I don`t think that we, the Bulgarian entrepreneurs, are more different than the others, respectively, the rule of 1% success of all startups applies to us, too. There is an abundance of good ideas in Bulgaria and our openness to other cultures and travelling enriches us, it helps us see more potential for business development. Still, there are some areas that we can improve in order to increase our competitiveness. In my opinion they are: quick decision making, readiness to make mistakes – the more prepared and open we are to make them, the sooner we will be able to find the best way towards development, devote and focus on the project. And never lose the momentum.
Does Bulgaria need EDIT and similar initiatives to support the digital ecosystem?
Pavlina: Unity creates power. We say that, it is written above the entrance of our Parliament, and I believe in it. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is very closely interconnected, but this sometimes results in omitting people outside of it that also create interesting digital projects. Objective analysis of the problems and the challenges before the digital business in Bulgaria can point out the proper direction for many entrepreneurs and will position us among the innovative centres of Europe. Truth is that every business owner can get help and digital industry people could speed up this process being united.
Bilyana: One of the humans’ primary necessities is the one of belonging and, for better or for worse, satisfying most of our human needs depends on someone else than ourselves. The next step is the willingness for reaffirmation and acceptance by those w value. Consequently, it is important to feel understood and supported by your group, to feel there are others like you, to identify problems and solutions together. With these specifics, the digital ecosystem is alike the traditional sub-cultures and the union makes sense.
What kind of measures could be applied by the government in order to stimulate the digital startup business?
Pavlina: I have always said that politics is doing its best by not interfering. We slowly see an accumulation of people with knowledge and objective views on innovations in the government - people, who wish to develop the innovations in Bulgaria. , until they become a majority which will take time, it is best for them not to obstruct and leave it to those experienced people with good intentions. I certainly believe that if politics starts influencing entrepreneurship, it will take into account the network suggestions – only this way it will be helpful. Judicial system is something important for every business owner and it is the government`s responsibility to make it transparent, quick and objective. When it comes to the country – for a lot of people, me included, the country is the people and the place, the piece of land we consider unique, charged with special energy, making us proud to be part of it. It is, therefore, the reason for us to believe, stay here and develop ourselves, live and draw positive attention to Bulgaria, improve its image as a beautiful place - centre for innovations. Every ugly political scandal hinders our efforts in this direction. I hope this will changes with time.