Galin Stefanov is one of those people who are convinced that people from a community naturally help each other.

This is among the central values ​we intuitively share at Startup Factory. Therefore, we can boldly state that, although the kilometers between us are not few, Galin is also part of our community.

As an organization focused on developing digital and entrepreneurial skills, we, like him, believe that it is precisely “the desire to learn, to make things happen, to be part of the process of change” that is part of the DNA of proactive people, regardless of whether they with business or social causes.

And to be part of the positive change is within the capabilities of each of us. What are the other distinguishing characteristics of the entrepreneur. And do the Bulgarians have an entrepreneurial spirit?

Is there a need for collaboration between the entrepreneurial and academic communities?

As an organization focused on developing digital and entrepreneurial skills, we, like him, believe that it is precisely “the desire to learn, to make things happen, to be part of the process of change” that is part of the DNA of proactive people, regardless of whether they have business or social causes.

And to be part of the positive change is within the capabilities of each of us. What are the other distinguishing characteristics of the entrepreneur, and is the Bulgarian enterprising?

Is there a need for collaboration between the entrepreneurial and academic communities?

Hi Galin, please introduce yourself to our readers.

 I am 32 years old, from Stara Zagora, and I have lived in Varna for the last six years.

I have a 7-year-old son. I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Veliko Tarnovo University.

Since 2012, I have been involved in online business in a different form. In 2018, my partner and I founded Perfomalis – a digital marketing agency focusing on affiliate marketing in the gaming industry. In almost five years, we have built a team of nearly 50 people, and at the end of 2021, we successfully sold to one of the most prominent players in our industry.

In the last six months, I have been involved in developing Varnapreneurs and the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Varna.

Галин Стефанов

I start with the uncomfortable questions… You are from Stara Zagora, but you chose to develop the entrepreneurial community of Varna – doesn’t Stara Zagora need your expertise and energy more?


Every city needs enterprising people, but as everyone knows, big cities strongly attract young people looking for development and opportunities.

Stara Zagora is not a small city by the scale of Bulgaria, but it was tough for me to stay there, and I moved because of my digital marketing agency.

One of the main problems of Stara Zagora is the lack of highly developed universities to feed the city with young people who, after graduating, stay and start families there. People aged 18 to 30 need to be included because after completing secondary education, they move to Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, or abroad to study, and only about 20-25% return to Stara Zagora.

Veliko Tarnovo is twice the size of Stara Zagora. However, it still has several universities, which makes it a center of attraction for the surrounding area and is full of young people.

I recently discovered that during and after the pandemic, a group has already formed in Stara Zagora, which also does events for people from the IT industry. Something that was missing in 2016/2017.

The pandemic has impeded people who can work remotely to return to Stara Zagora.

What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur? What did it teach you?


To humble yourself, to adapt, to not judge.

In life and business, nothing is black or white; there are many shades, and the hardest thing for me is to learn not to look at things 100% idealistically. Especially under the influence of affect to step into the shoes of the other and understand his motives so as not to judge him.

The lessons are many, but the most meaningful thing is to follow one’s moral compass both in life and in business and to be able to live with oneself.

Tell us about the Varnapreneurs initiative – what are you aiming for, and who is it aimed at?

Varnapreneurs is an initiative born from the fact that in Varna, many valuable people are enterprising but need an environment to communicate with their peers.

The concept of Varnapreneurs is to connect people from different industries and professions in Varna, improve the business environment, and help our city become a better place to live, work, and develop young people. Instead of relocating to Sofia or abroad, let’s take steps toward them staying here and creating jobs.

Naturally, the community’s people help each other and create new opportunities to support others. By setting this example to the younger members of the Varnapreneurs community, they will start to lengthy the more inexperienced ones in a few years. It is a slow and long process.


In your interview, you say that “live contact and feeling the energy of the person opposite” is significant. Didn’t digitalization change that? Aren’t you fighting windmills bucking the digital trend?

I run an online business, but if I have the choice to communicate with someone, I prefer it to be live.

Live contact makes it possible to feel the person and enter another depth of the conversation.

We are social beings, and as such, we need to communicate with others of our kind, and this is best achieved through face-to-face contact.

The pandemic has significantly boosted the use of all kinds of web tools and programs that facilitate remote work. I am not a supporter of 100% remote work.

The future will be the hybrid work model – 2-3 days in the office and 2-3 days remotely. If you want your employees to commit and belong to the company and its processes, they must also maintain live contact. Especially when new people are hired, they learn best in a natural environment.

During the pandemic, we hired ten new people to our PERFOMALIS team. We had grown to about 35 people, and these people had to be trained remotely precisely 1 to 2 weeks after we hired them. It was difficult, but our managers coped with a much more significant energy expenditure on both sides. I’m personally a big fan of regular office meetings. I feel much better when I can communicate with my team, feel their moods, and talk about what difficulties they have at work or in their personal lives. If you do not see them live, these nuances cannot be felt, and the work process suffers.

The future will be the hybrid work model – 2-3 days in the office and 2-3 days remotely.

The media pitches Varnapreneurs as a free initiative “aimed at young, enterprising people.” In this sense… does entrepreneurship have an age?


For me, an entrepreneur is anyone who takes any action to improve the environment around them in their development, whether in a health, mental or business aspect.

In this aspect, entrepreneurship doesn’t have an age.

Anyone can be an entrepreneur with the motivation.

For one, it’s money; for another, it’s a pain – physical or emotional; for a third, it’s a cause; for a fourth, the desire to emulate other successful people.



You communicate with entrepreneurs of different ages. What sets them apart?


All are distinguished in their way.

Older people who have done business from the 90s to today have struggled with bureaucracy and the need for someone to learn from or ask; they have learned on the move, which has cost them a lot of nerves, money, and time.

People doing business for the last 20 years have had the opportunity to take advantage of the Internet, read books on business topics, and attend training. I started around 2010, and there were already many established practices, and many people had begun to organize training or online courses where you can get synthesized experience.

Today’s young people who have started or are about to start a business have access to formats such as Hackathons, ABLE Startup Weekend, Networking events, Venture Capital Funds, “Share and Inspire,” Teenovator, Mentor The Young, Tuk-Tam, and countless other initiatives in which you can meet other entrepreneurs who are ready to help you.

The difference between these three conditionally distinct groups of entrepreneurs in Bulgaria is that each subsequent generation has to work in a different environment than the previous one and has challenges.

The positive thing is that each year, the number of people taking steps towards starting something of their own is increasing.

Do the Bulgarians have an entrepreneurial spirit?

I am convinced that the Bulgarians are entrepreneurs and differ from the image Aleko Konstantinov described.

The Bulgarian has many merits.

In the next 10-20 years, Bulgaria will develop positively thanks to human capital. Young people between the ages of 18 and 30 are the people who have the lowest risk-taking threshold.

There are currently countless initiatives that can support you with mentorship or capital to start a business, and the future has always belonged to the young.

In the next 10-20 years, Bulgaria will develop positively thanks to human capital.

You meet awake, initiative, proactive people – what, apart from entrepreneurship, of course, is their distinguishing characteristic? Is there anything else they have in common?


Vigilance and proactivity.

They desire to learn, make things happen, and be part of the change process.

These people know that something depends on them to live in a better environment.

We have a Bulgarian phrase: “I won’t mind, give me money!”. Is money enough to achieve business success? And if not, what knowledge and skills does one need to develop to succeed as an entrepreneur?


Money is not an unimportant factor, but there are cases where people with money fail to break through where people do not have such large budgets to spend but succeed.

When you don’t have a lot of capital, you have to think of ways to compensate for the lack of it, making you very inventive and involved in the process.

If you have a large amount of capital, you often relax and become lazy or careless about some aspects of your business.

For an entrepreneur to be successful, I need to keep learning, to try and not to lose that feeling of hunger, which is very specific, and only people who are entrepreneurs know what I’m talking about.

Here, I want to mention that one still needs to find the balance and not go to extremes by starting multiple businesses simultaneously or working 100% of the time.

A person must have activities and time not directly related to his business to get out of his social role as an entrepreneur.

At Varnapreneurs, in your words, what unites you is “a self-awareness to give back, not to first want to take, get, or sell your service or product.” Don’t you think that this self-awareness needs to become folk psychology? Isn’t this maxim a solution to many other problems – political, social, educational?


It is mandatory, but this natural and organic process cannot be forced on anyone.

He is brought up by example, and with the creation of Varnapreneurs, our idea was to have an environment where this is normal, and if you are part of this society, you know that these are the values ​​of the people there.


People who undertake such free initiatives to achieve a common and more significant than personal good are usually idealists. Society even calls them naive. Are you idealistic or naive? What are your values ​​- as an entrepreneur and as a person? Is there and should there be a difference between the two?


I would define myself as more of an idealist, which often gets in the way, and I find the golden mean where idealism meets realism to be helpful and healthy in relationships/business.

A key value for me is that words and actions are in sync.

Actions are a validator for me, and if someone gives me conflicting signals, I am careful in communicating with them.

For me, as a person is in his personal life, so is he in his business.

You cannot play one role in your business and be another in your personal life regarding morals.

➤ Why is emotional intelligence critical for the carrier?

Have you been a Mentor the Young Mentor? What motivated you to get involved?


The same reason I created Varnapreneurs as a format – the desire to give back to society.

To pass on knowledge and skills or help others succeed and get where they are headed.

I’m sure anyone looking for mentorship can find it, but Mentor The Young gives you effortless access to quality mentorship.

Young people should seek experience and contacts with people with the knowledge or skills for their industry.

Of course, this attempt to adapt it for them, not to take it as an algorithm and apply it 1 to 1. It should be tried and tested according to their needs.

Young people should seek experience and contacts with people with the knowledge or skills for their industry.

How important is the role of a mentor for a young person?


It is vast, but one can succeed without mentors, although it will take longer, cost more, and make many more mistakes.

Mentoring, however, can be very useful for you emotionally, and when you are on the verge of giving up, the person can help you cross the psychological border.

Can you say you’re a successful person? And what is success for you?


Everyone who has achieved something materially thinks they have succeeded, but for me, the definition of success is quite flexible and depends on which angle you look at it.

Success is not just a new car, multiple properties, expensive vacations, etc. For me, success is staying on the road to entrepreneurship. We tend to sacrifice many things to succeed. Still, in the end, our relationships with the closest people suffer, and from there, we try to compensate with “business successes” for the lack of close people or healthy relationships.

For me, it is more important to convey to all entrepreneurs that we must take care of ourselves and our loved ones along the way while doing business and not lose ourselves.

I am a massive supporter of psychotherapy. I always recommend that people find their person and work because we need to grow and work through the personal traumas we carry from early childhood and subsequently move into our whole life and communication at different levels.

At Startup Factory, we work with many young and old, enterprising people who are developing their startups or want to work in this direction. What would you advise them?


It will probably sound clichéd, but to see entrepreneurship as a road, a marathon, not a constant sprint.

To get involved in initiatives where they volunteer and are surrounded by people with more experience to learn from them.

To work on the soft skills to communicate.

Very often, this skill of knowing with whom and in what situation how to behave is critical.




Ana Todorova prepared the interview, part of our meetings with exciting and motivating personalities.

Ana Todorova develops the organization’s digital marketing. She maintains the Startup Factory website and the video course platform she created in 2022. She writes content on various topics such as decentralized technology, green and circular economy, emotional intelligence, leadership, and more.

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Startup Factory is a non-profit organization founded in March 2015 by a group of young entrepreneurs working in the IT sector. Startup Factory helps people develop their digital and business skills. Together, we build a supportive community.  Check out our platform with on-demand video courses and valuable free resources.


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