Zornitsa Mitkova, managing director of Teenovator, impresses at first glance with inexhaustible energy and dedication to a cause that should be a priority for each of us – our children.

Since 2018, hundreds of young people in the 10th and 11th grades from different parts of Bulgaria have grown up before her eyes – literally and figuratively.

By following the path of a Teenovator, they have all, to varying degrees, developed their communication skills and creative thinking, discovered their strengths, and learned about their weaknesses and fears.

They all are winners in their way and embody persistence, perseverance, and responsibility. These qualities are so crucial for success!

Therefore, we do not doubt that every innovator has started their personal and professional realization much more confidently.

The most valuable messages of Zornitsa are that:

📜 regardless of background or environment, anything is achievable;

📜 things are solved not with grumbling but with action and proactivity, and often, business solutions emerge behind the problems;

📜 it is essential to work in a team and in a community to which we give back what we have been given. A value unquestionably shared by both the Startup Factory team and like-minded people.

What Zori and Teenovator have achieved so far indicates that not only does such causes make sense, but that the result is always worth it. And there is hardly anything more important than our joint responsibility towards children and to give wings to a more aware young generation of entrepreneurs and active citizens.

The Startup Factory team thanks you for the vote of trust to be mentors of the Teenovator Club in Ruse again.

Helping young people grow proactive and more socially sensitive is an honor and privilege entirely in sync with the association’s mission and values!

Hi Zori, thank you for agreeing to this interview. We met you recently and connected through the open call for mentors at Teenovator. Please tell us more about yourself.

 Hello, thank you very much for the invitation.

First, Teenovator introduced me to Startup Factory in 2020 when Emo and Teddy led our club in Ruse as mentors. And this year, they return as mentors, together with Ani. Those are excellent connections.

I am the managing director of Teenovator – the national program that connects teams of 10 students with two mentors each. They meet for eight months to build teamwork skills and bring their first startup to fruition.

I’m 36 years old. I was born with a mother from Byala, Ruse region, my father is from Pleven, and I graduated from the Mathematics High School in Pleven. I grew up in a Pleven village, where I have a strong connection with the land, nature, and everything innocent and genuine.

My degree in Public Relations reflects the fabric of my talent – connecting people and organizations of different sizes, communicating messages, and making things understandable and accessible. And my heart is in building communities.

Over the years, I have worked as a PR, marketing specialist, event organizer, and branding specialist for companies and employers. As a freelancer, I have worked at Economedia – the group behind Capital and Dnevnik, the events of Magazine One, bTV, TimeHeroes, etc., and for numerous public causes.

At Teenovator, I connected all the dots from my professional path to here and have been doing so for six years.


Зорница Миткова

As I mentioned, we met in connection with the new season of Teenovator, but some people may not know what Teenovator is. How would you explain it to them?


At Teenovator, we help students in the 10th and 11th grades discover their true strengths and apply them within a team.

We help them make a business out of their hobby, and learn that things are solved not by grumbling but by action, with proactivity, and often behind the problems, business solutions emerge.

We help them navigate what they want from life after school and understand that everything is possible, regardless of origin, type of school, or family situation.

On the other hand, mentors get the invaluable opportunity to return value to society, namely through young people. To be “refreshed” by their ideas and energy. The process is mutual and satisfying.

So far, about 1,600 students and 170 mentors have gone through the program. And with the new, sixth consecutive edition, we add another 700 students and 90+ mentors.

The program is eight months long and follows a unique learning framework with lots of practice and little theory. We have two significant events in Sofia – you can check them out here because pictures speak best.


In an interview for our blog, Galin Stefanov from Varnapreneurs mentioned that it’s great that today’s youth have access to programs like Teenovator. It gives them a different start in life and business. What, in your opinion, does Teenovator contribute? Does it change how young people think, or is it aimed at developing their strengths without seeking to change them?

We are honored that Galin is one of the benefactors of Teenovator and the people who believe in and support us.

Teennovator is definitely changing the youth. Thanks to the program, they sometimes I.e., change to understand what they are strong in and what direction they want to take professionally. I.e., changes their choices in the future.

It changes their mentality that you don’t have to have connections and wealthy parents to succeed.

Or it pushes them forward and enhances their potential.

➤  Galin Stefanov from Varnapreneurs

For example, Kaloyan Georgiev was accepted to the American University with a full scholarship and, among other things, participated in the charity edition of Get Rich, dedicated to Teenovator.

Teenovator shows students that they don’t have to be good at everything, and it’s much more important to understand the power of a team. And in the future, look for strong teams and join strong communities.

It opens them to the world outside school and family, makes them more sensitive to social causes, and makes them more willing to help as they are allowed.

By building on students’ strengths, Teenovator changes them because they believe in themselves.

Our motto is “The power is in me.”

Teenovator shows students they don’t have to be good at, everything. It opens them to the world outside school and family, makes them more sensitive to social causes, and makes them more willing to help as they are allowed.

How does it feel to work with young people?


Lovely, inspiring, invigorating – I feel lucky. And I wish everyone would tap into that potential.

We want to give every young person of this age the opportunity to find himself in Teenovator and feel his contribution to the whole.

How do you select young people to join Teenovator? Is there any casting, or do you require, for example, a cover letter?


The selection is based entirely on the fact that they entered the site, clicked the Become a Teenovator button, and filled out the entry form.

The only requirement is that the youth be in the 10th or 11th grade. They don’t even have to want to become entrepreneurs.

We want to give every young person of this age the opportunity to find himself in Teenovator and feel his contribution to the whole.


Is there a realized business idea in Teenovator? I mean one that is still working. And is that even the purpose of Teenovator?

I will immediately give the example of Alex with the protein ice cream IcePro.

Check this boy out on the internet.

This is an example of a person chasing his dream – he won the third year in Teenovator. Enter Teenvoator 4 to develop your business further to build your business further. And now he is reaping many successes and has business partners.

He sells his ice cream in locations such as Sofia Tech Park.

He also enters as an assistant mentor in the sixth year of Teenovator.

Ice pro

What is the most exciting or memorable business idea that Teennovator participants have developed?


I can’t pick one, really.

Plus, what I always look for is different from the idea itself and its potential to develop into success but the passion with which the students present it.

The jury of investors judges everything else on the Final.

However, what impresses me the most is that every year, there are ideas for watering houseplants while we are not at home, platforms for finding internships, and solutions to the problems with the so-called fast fashion.


Treasures are all over the path of the Teenovator. Every weekly meeting with the mentors, every extra lecture or workshop, every step on stage in front of 600 people.

I liked the description of one of the finalist teams for the 2022/2023 academic year – HomeBox, who says, “Teenovator is like a pirate map – there are many obstacles along the way and treasure in the Final.” What obstacles do the participants face, and what “treasure” awaits them at the end of the road?

These characters won second place on Teenvoator 5 – HomeBox Tea.

It is not a complex idea, but it is wonderfully executed, with a clear vision and a lot of desire.

The main obstacle is related to the duration of the program – eight months, from October to May. This tests their responsibility, perseverance, ability to hold on until the Finals, and ability to look hard to present their business in the best possible way.

Treasures are all over the path of Teenovator. As long as they want to take handfuls of the program – every weekly meeting with the mentors, every extra lecture or workshop, every step on stage in front of 600 people to imagine the idea.

However, I would describe the treasure with a capital letter as the hug with the mentors and the team when they come off the stage at the Final Competition.

Priceless – because they know how much work is behind it and how many times they have chosen Teenovator over traditional ways of spending their free time.

Зорница Миткова

Is being a mentor a responsibility or a title? How do you choose people to inspire the youth? And… have you made mistakes in your choices?


First, it’s a responsibility, then a title.

The responsibility lies first with our team – to select the mentors who will embark on the adventure – every year, a new Team.

We choose mentors mainly according to their personality qualities, willingness to take on this responsible task, and professional profile, with entrepreneurial skills and background a big plus.

Mistakes happen, of course. We deal with them in time.

The motivation of the mentors, their persistence and endurance set the tone for the whole club of students.


Where do mentors go wrong in their work?

I don’t know if I should call it a mistake, but I will say this:

Their motivation, perseverance, and endurance set the tone for the whole club of students because they look to their example. As well as their ability to overcome failure.


My favorite question for proactive and dedicated people like you is… why do you do what you do? What motivates you? What inspires you?


I am motivated by feedback and the real impact of what we do.

They are essential and reasonably sufficient.

But the recognition of our work also motivates me and makes me not feel that we are alone.

I’m talking about support in any form.




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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