Bulgaria: Start-up nation comes of age
January 9, 2017 | Sofia
By Yoana Hristova - Sustain Europe Senior Writer
IMAGE: Melissa Climate
Since joining the European Union, hundreds of tech start-ups have helped turn Bulgaria into something of a prominent hub for technology and innovation. A highly-educated workforce, low taxes, low operating costs and one of Europe’s fastest broadband internet speeds are some of the reasons why the country has proved to be an attractive starter home for many young entrepreneurs. One such luminary is the 21 year old Bulgarian inventor and founder of Melissa Climate, Lyubomir Yanchev.
Yanchev developed hardware which provides monitoring and remote control capabilities for all brands of air conditioners through the help of a smartphone app. The gadget can learn consumers` habits and change temperature and humidity accordingly, even when they are away from home. This technology could be an important step towards minimising the vast amount of energy wastage in Bulgaria. In 2014, the south-east European nation’s levels of electric consumption accounted for 30.46 % of all energy waste. Melissa Climate is promising to cut energy consumption by up to a staggering 25%.
“Melissa drastically reduces electric consumption. In this respect, it is a socially-oriented product which reduces bills and makes peoples’ lives easier”, commented Teodora Mircheva, a member of the business accelerator and venture capital fund Eleven; which was initially responsible for financing the project. She also pointed out that the Melissa Climate has been registered in Bulgaria and is therefore playing its part in stimulating the Bulgarian economy.
“I have many ideas, but one has to stay focused”, Melissa’s founder admitted. Lyubomir’s work on the Melissa project started at the tender age of 17. Initially, his idea was to create ‘a smart steward’ system which makes it possible to control all home appliances through voice control. “My judo teacher gave me the idea to narrow it down to air conditioners as he had direct experience with them,’’ said Yanchev. With that in mind, Lyubomir tried to get in touch with big distributors in the field in order to create a scalable business model.
And it’s certainly paid off. Today Melissa Climate is proving to be a real hit on the smart appliance market, and many are lauding the product for its low-entry price, ease of use and advanced geo-location tracking feature. The young entrepreneur was present at this year`s European Researcher`s Night, where he spoke about the future of his business. His plans include new gadgets designed to turn on and off the water heater, as well as the central heating, at home. The technology is inspired by the movie “Iron Man”, and can be applicable for people of all walks of life, although he sees it as being particularly beneficial to the visually impaired and other disabled people.
Lyubomir’s certainly come a long way from humble beginnings, which he chalks up to hard work, vision and Bulgaria’s burgeoning start-up sector. “A growing number of Bulgarians are becoming aware of the fact that it is not difficult to follow your dreams”, concluded Yanchev: himself living proof that hard work and good ideas might go beyond the status quo, even here in this poorest member state of the EU.
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