From grants to investments

Making the case for Bulgarian venture and growth capital. Interview with Evgeny Angelov, Chairman of BVCA and Partner at PostScriptum Ventures.
By Asen Nedyalkov

How did you get into the world of venture capital and how did you embark upon setting up BVCA?
I have been working in finance most of my life and have gradually moved into investing over the past several years. I began my career at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, where I structured, negotiated and executed debt and equity transactions in the financial services, pharmaceutical, cement, real estate and chemical industries in ten Central and Eastern European countries. I am currently a partner in a venture capital fund, focused on energy and technology.
In the public sector, I served as the Economic Advisor to the President of Bulgaria and as Deputy Minister of Economy. During this time, together with the European Investment Fund, we designed and implemented an ambitious fund of funds programme to provide equity and debt financing to start-ups and growth companies. Its overall size was €350mn and we created five investment funds, where the government was an arms-length, LP investor in those funds. This was the foundation of the local investment ecosystem, which subsequently led to the formation of the Bulgarian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA).

How do you evaluate the current investment and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and what’s next for venture and private equity investing?
With BVCA, we have given a voice to the investor community to engage with government on policy initiatives and popularise private investment in general. In the past few years, our members have invested in over 250 companies and there have been more than €400mn in technology company in Bulgaria. The good news is that capital for innovation and growth in Bulgaria will very likely treble over the next 24 months. At the same time the number of fund managers will double. This is excellent news for entrepreneurs and the community. Public money will continue to be an essential factor, but private fundraising is becoming increasingly important. The next big step for the local fund management teams will be to become the preferred capital providers in the region.

What are some of the notable projects you achieved in the association and what’s next on your agenda?
We are very active in popularising private investment and the great work our members do in finding and supporting entrepreneurs. From organising various educational events and seminars, to producing industry materials, including standardised documents, such as term sheets and convertible note agreements. BVCA is also active in engaging the Bulgarian diaspora in Europe and the US. A few years ago, we started the ambitious initiative “BVCA on Tour” and organised events in different cities around the world, promoting entrepreneurship and investment opportunities in Bulgaria. Topics for discussion include entrepreneurship, investment, innovation and community engagement of Bulgarians at home and abroad. Conferences have already been held in Vienna, London, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam. Next year we will head to the US to engage the diaspora on the West and East coasts, in a series of events with top investors and entrepreneurs, sharing their experiences and presenting compelling opportunities. Increasingly, we are attracting new partners in these initiatives and are collaborating closely with the European Commission, and next year, with the America for Bulgaria Foundation.

IBA Strategic Partner.
Connect with BVCA: https://ibaconnect.com/bvca

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