Founder’s Journey

Ever since I started thinking of what I want to do for a living, I had one thing clear. I wanted to make impact with my work. I did not know how, what I would be doing and where I would be based, but I knew that I would not be happy doing it, unless it was contributing to a greater cause. The idea of doing work just for the money always sounded to me like being in a prison.

“Why should I spend most of my time awake doing something that I do not feel proud of and does not align with my values?”

This has been my guiding principal anytime I was choosing an employer or a project to work on.

Even though this was clear to me from the very beginning, I did not live entirely up to this premise. Having started my work-life in a corporate environment, I got used to following rules and principles that were set from the top. I painfully realized that my values and principles of work-ethics and impact did not matter much in this context and if I really wanted to make a contribution, I had to move on and build everything from the ground up.

This is how, by early-2016, my entrepreneurial journey began. I certainly did not know what to begin with, I was overwhelmed with so many options and it all looked so different from what I was doing up to this point in the corporate world. I quickly came to realize that through entrepreneurship, there were no limits in one’s dreams and certainly no day looked the same.

I was inundated by new ideas every day, hundreds of them in a matter of few months, which I ended up recording daily in an Excel sheet. I did not know how to make sense of all of them, it was hard to decide what path to take. If I had to summarize what all these ideas had in common, that was certainly impact.

I remember going to a start-up incubator event in Madrid, called Greenweekend. It was so inspiring to get to work together with other fellow impact-driven entrepreneurs, seeking to make a greater contribution to environmental challenges through innovation. What drove me even more, were the societal implications of these solutions, generating meaningful jobs, improving people’s livelihood, creating a better living conditions for entire communities.
With this inspiration in mind and with the idea of breaking with everything I learned in the past, I decided to start a hands-on entrepreneurial program on the other side of the world, in MnM Institute (Sydney, Australia). One year later, after getting valuable practical knowledge about how to bring ideas to action through testing and experimentation, guided by mentors, I felt I was ready to embark into my own founder’s journey.

This is how, in mid-2018, after 15 years studying and working abroad, I was back to my home-country, Bulgaria, to launch my first impact business, Insaiders, a marketplace for authentic travel experiences. I had a great drive for making a contribution to local communities, connecting independent creators (tour guides, culinary artists, craftsmen, farm owners..) to curious travelers, with the aim to bring awareness of our culture. It was all going well, with one big exception: it wasn’t financially sustainable.

It wasn’t until I was forced to quit on my dreamed project, that I realized that my failure to execute was due to my unhealthy relationship with money.

A legacy from the Communist past, as many Bulgarians, I grew up with the unconscious belief that money only creates greed and selfishness and the Haves are the ones exploiting the Have-Nots. This limiting belief was preventing me from seeking ways to get funding for my business and eventually condemned it to extinction.

I realized that if I wanted to bring any successful business to life, I had to reshape my beliefs about money. This is how, in 2019, I started educating myself about the topics of investing, personal finance and early-stage funding. I was astounded to see how money can be deployed for building some bold innovative impact solutions, which wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for a few early investors, be it Angels, VCs or other type of risk capital investors, that believed in them and took the risk to support them. 

I realized that money can be a force for good.

Thrilled with my new realization, I started diving deeper into the topic of startup investing and thanks to Equity Crowdfunding platforms such as Seedrs and Crowdcube, I became an impact investor myself. 

Supporting the next mission-driven startup, accompanying it through its journey to profitability and learning from its mistakes and successes turned into a hobby for me.

Fast-forward to today, having spent thousands of hours into it, after investing in +100 companies and having evaluated +1000s pitches, helping impact businesses succeed is certainly a passion for me.

In the last few years, I have been blessed to co-found and work on another impactful business, Nomad Balkans, where we are among the pioneers in facilitating a new way of travel, empowered by the freedom of working remotely. It is our mission to make travel more sustainable, bringing people to less known destinations and away from the busy Summer periods, allowing them to stay longer, embrace slow life, while contributing to the local economy.
Even though this new business venture has been fulfilling, as a generalist, I am also aware of my curious mind and interest in a wide range of topics and industries, such as clean energy and sustainability, education or healthcare, as well as technology and its applications to bring positive impact on people’s lives.
There are lots of purpose-driven founders out there, standing firmly behind a vision to solve big societal and environmental problems. They do however also often struggle to bring economic sense to their proposition. It is very unfortunate to see impact startups fail due to not being able to properly present their value proposition and not being able to fuel their ideas with the right capital.

If I could help even one impact founder succeed in its journey, it would be worth it.

With this premise in mind, Impact Prosper is born.

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