10 promising Bulgarian startups to watch in 2021

Bulgaria is well-known for its sublime beaches at the Black Sea, natural diversity and hospitality. Alongside its natural beauty, the Bulgarian digital and innovation ecosystem continues to grow, and Sofia is becoming one of the best places to build a startup with various local tech resources available.

Bulgarian startups specialize in platform building, big data analytics, machine learning, automation, and fintech. In fact, the city’s affinity to fintech is so impressive that fDi ranked the country’s capital as the most cost-effective fintech city worldwide for 2019/20 — beating the likes of Vilnius (Lithuania) and nearby Bucharest (Romania).

Zooming into an analysis of Bulgarian startups, here are the companies launched in the past few years, and working on innovative solutions, that we will be watching in 2021.

Nasekomo – Launched in 2017, this agro biotech startup is revolutionizing the human food chain by producing animal feeds from organic waste using bioconverting insects. Aiming to reduce food waste, greenhouse gas emissions and depletion of such resources as water, arable lands and marine life stocks, Nasekomo introduces insects to the food life cycle unleashing their beneficial potential for tomorrow’s sustainable world. Financially backed with €4 million in July 2020, representing the largest early-stage agtech funding in emerging Europe – the startup plans to deploy its proprietary robotized insect rearing technology.

Payhawk – Founded in 2018, Payhawk simplifies expenses for businesses offering a paperless corporate card. The startup’s unique platform enables business owners to manage the entire spending lifecycle, including loading corporate employee cards with funds, paying and collecting invoices, reconciling all transactions in the company accounting software, and finally generating reports, closing the gap between corporate cards and expense management. The startup currently serves customers in 14 EU countries, is based in Sofia and London, and has recently opened its third office in Berlin. Amid the pandemic, in March 2020, the company announced closing a €3 million seed funding round aiming to use the new funds to increase its presence in the German market.

Evedo – The winner of the “Best Blockchain StartUp” from Bulgaria in the latest edition of the Central European StartUp Awards in 2019, Evedo is a blockchain-based platform that unifies all businesses and participants involved in organizing events. The company offers a decentralized marketplace and ecosystem for performers, event organizers, venues, attendees and sponsors, enabling them to improve their work, have a high level of security and eliminate any middlemen along the chain.

Phos – This UK and Bulgaria-based fintech startup created the first-ever softwarePoS, allowing merchants to accept payments directly on their phones without additional hardware. Launched in 2018, Phos raised €1.3 million in 2020 in funding to grow the development team and introduce new features such as ‘PIN on Phone,’ a Software Development Kit (SDK), and a new integrated loyalty system.

Humans in the Loop – Headquartered in Sofia, this digital startup with a social mission provides model training and validation services for Machine Learning. Founded by Iva Gumnishka in 2017, Humans in the Loop offers companies with continuous model improvement, from dataset collection to output verification, edge case handling, and insights on performance.

SEPA Cyber Technologies – This fintech company from Varna was started in 2018. Powered by human and machine intelligence, SEPA Cyber Technologies offers various innovative, modular and scalable IT solutions to the banking & financial, governmental and retail sectors. The company boasts its own data centres in five countries and aims to give advanced companies worldwide access to scalable IT solutions and consulting to develop their business potential.

Соlіbrа – Did you know that in the EU, airlines are required to compensate any passenger for delays of three hours or more? To make the compensation process easier, Colibra created an app to receive compensation – including in crypto. Founded in 2018 and currently operating in Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, the UK, Poland, Czech, Greece, and Romania, the startup is planning to launch in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Nordics. In February 2020, Colibra closed its €2 million seed round to use for ‘aggressive’ marketing and further product development.

LimeChain – This Blockchain development and consulting company from Sofia, which is also operational now in London, helps startups and corporate clients build secure, trusted and decentralized solutions and adopt the latest technologies to optimize processes, remove bottlenecks, adapt, innovate and lead. Driven by the desire to pioneer blockchain development, LimeChain focuses on public and private blockchain development, smart contract development to provide complete and user-friendly solutions and boasts one of the top blockchain technology companies in Bulgaria.

HyperAspect – HyperAspect is an AI software development and consultancy company that offers technological solutions and consulting to customers who seek to leverage unfiltered data for better business decisions. Since its launch in 2017, HyperAspect has grown to over 75 employees, gained more than 45 clients, and built up more than 85 successful cases across various industries.

Noble Hire – This Sofia-based startup developed a referral-based job board connecting the world’s most promising tech talent with cutting-edge product companies. With 90+ companies, 250+ job opportunities to choose from and 4000 registered users, Noble Hire’s platform empowers people with a vast network of tech specialists, such as community leaders, event organizers, recruiters, or senior IT professionals, to monetize their contacts and knowledge of the sector. In 2018 Noble Hire raised €250K to develop their product further and expand the user base.

By the way: If you’re a corporate or investor looking for exciting startups in a specific market for a potential investment or acquisition, check out our Startup Sourcing Service!