Taking Bulgaria’s homegrown tech hub global
Bulgaria’s tech scene is thriving – but how can it overcome its obstacles and finally receive the global recognition it deserves
It’s a story worthy of celebration, of great national pride – Bulgaria is shifting from an industrial based economy to a nation where tech has grown from almost zero to 7% of GDP in less than 20 years.
It’s a country with one of the fastest economic growths on the globe – up an incredible 500% from $13bn to $84bn in the last two decades.
But, and there is a but, it still sits around the foot of the EU GDP table.
Its tech sector has the potential to re-model and reposition the country in the eyes of the world while generating wealth to get the country closer to the average EU salary.
The question is how can it overcome its obstacles?
01. Be distinctive to stand out in a competitive marketplace
The Bulgarian technology market simply does not achieve anywhere near the global exposure as some other ‘high profile’ markets.
In other words, while one area of East London can attract headlines in the global press with taglines around ‘Silicon roundabout’ in a short period of time – and often with very little evidence – Bulgaria struggles to command the headlines despite 20 years of consistent growth.
The unfair reality is that a relatively small Eastern European country needs to work harder to ensure it succeeds. When battling against those established major players, differentiation will be the decisive factor.
02. Brand building, inside and out
To find the solution, first you need to understand the problem.
Working with our client Econt on their new e-wallet brand, the problem was trust within Bulgaria.
The insight highlighted that as a rule, Bulgarians lacked trust in the existing financial institutions. Facing this cultural challenge and understanding the faith that Bulgarians put in the parent Econt it made sense to leverage that trust and build the brand from there.
In contrast, our work with Chaos Group was about positioning the business for a global audience as the company prepared for an intense period of growth – this was about shifting the equity, the value, from their most famous product to the parent business Chaos.
03 International partnerships to increase resources
Bulgarian tech companies have more limited resources compared to their global competitors and it’s more challenging to develop and promote innovative products and services. Rewriting the rules, reaching out, and partnering with like-minded companies will help homegrown firms reach the scale needed.
04. Strategically owning the narrative during political and economic instability
Previous political and economic instability may have deterred foreign investors and hindered the growth of the technology industry.
Yet in terms of stability, Bulgaria is one of the most stable.
Compared to its Western European counterparts.
The government debt ratio in the EU is 85%, making Bulgaria’s 23% look minimal.
This message needs to be told without sounding defensive.
When it comes to challenging embedded, cultural stereotypes there’s always a balance between playing the ‘long game’ and not being too passive.
The long game could allow other competitive countries to enter the fray.
Bulgaria owning that story is vital.
05. Leaning into a more global language of business
Bulgarian is not a widely spoken language globally making it more challenging for Bulgarian technology companies to reach a wider audience.
In the Netherlands, for example, English is the accepted language of business.
Leaning into this shift, especially in the business hub of Sofia, could lead to wider access to the global market.
In essence, it’s about turning businesses into brands equipped to override the challenges of perception and awareness.
It’s about masterfully communicating to international investors – and ultimately consumers – your business's role in the story of modern Bulgaria.
The story of a nation that has evolved from a low cost base outsource economy to a flourishing community of breakaways, start-ups, and a highly skilled workforce.
When you build your business into a brand, you build more equity around your offer; carve a narrative that engages your consumer on a deeper, emotional level; leverage your value, and unlock real potential to finally take the global market by storm.
Our brand agency, Continuous, has helped to build brands including Chaos Group and Ekoht. Click here to learn more about what we do for our clients or if you’d like to get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When uncertainty and shifting expectations are the new normal, brands no longer need radical transformation. What’s needed is long-term thinking and the ability to adapt quickly.
Start with an email, and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours to organise a phone call, video chat, or face-to-face coffee – whatever works best for you.