Panel 2: Financial instruments for innovations

DGGiuseppe Gramigna,
Chief Economist, US Small Business Administration

Giuseppe’s academic research focused on how changes in the financial markets affect small business lending. Giuseppe’s other academic research focused on labor migration during periods of economic transition. He later worked in the Equity Research Department of a major investment bank, where he focused on natural resource industries. At the SBA, Giuseppe advises the Agency on economic trends affecting small businesses, and leads research on strategic planning for the Agency’s various programs. He also serves as the U.S. Permanent Delegate to the OECD Working Party on SMEs and Entrepreneurship. He severs on the scientific committees of several academic institutions and publications, and is a frequent speaker on the domestic and international arena. Before joining the U.S. Small Business Administration, Giuseppe headed the consulting firm, DASSI Corp. His other areas of interest include the construction industries, tourism, information services, and regional economic development. Giuseppe earned a BA in economics from The State University of New York at Purchase, and a graduate degree in economics from The New School For Social Research. During 1996 to 2001 Giuseppe served as vice president and then president of the SUNY Purchase College Alumni Association. He also served as Alumni Representative to the Purchase College Council, a gubernatorial appointed oversight body.

HSHristo Stoyanov,
Manager of business development activities in Bulgaria of the European Investment Fund

He joined the EIF office in Sofia as mandate manager in 2011 responsible for the operations of a Bulgarian holding fund providing EU Structural Funds through SME-focused financial instruments including guarantees, start-up accelerators and venture capital. He is member of the Board of Directors of JEREMIE Bulgaria – company, acting as an umbrella fund with diversified portfolio of private equity funds and risk-sharing commitments to local credit institutions. Prior to joining the EIF, Hristo managed M&A advisory projects at Forem Consulting in Sofia. He holds a MBA degree from University of Notre Dame in the USA.

hGavin Hill,
Financial Advisory Services Partner Deloitte Bulgaria

Gavin Hill is starting his 34th year in the profession, including 5 years in Industry at a senior level, then becoming a partner in 1991. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, member of the Corporate Finance Institute and Member of the Institute of Management. He now lives in Sofia having lived (with his family) and worked in Central Europe since 1999, working with clients in more than 15 countries during that time, covering most industries with an emphasis on Financial Services, Real Estate & TMT Sectors. He has also been involved in most major M&A banking transactions in Central Europe either for a potential buyer or seller. He is responsible for the leadership development programme for Senior managers in Deloitte Central Europe. Gavin Hill joins the partners in Sofia to lead Deloitte’s advisory practice.

zmZlatolina Mukova,
Managing Partner, New Europe Venture Capital (NEVEQ)

Zlatolina is an experienced investment executive with background in private equity, start-ups, turnarounds and financial management. She holds an ACCA certified diploma in addition to master degrees in engineering and accounting. Prior to joining NEVEQ, she was the  CEO of Euroins Insurance Group, an insurance holding acquiring companies and operating in the region of the Balkans. She also worked for the government as a Deputy Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, handling financial management and capital transactions of the portfolio companies affiliated with theMinistry. Prior to this, she worked as a senior investment executive with Europa Capital Management, a private equity fund set up by EBRD. She speaks English and Russian.

egElvin Guri,
CEO of EMPOWER Capital Advisors

Elvin Guri is an investor and entrepreneur with a successful track record in financial services. He is currently CEO of River Styxx Capital, an investment and advisory firm. With a BA cum laude in Applied Economics and History from the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), he started his career as Auditor at Price Waterhouse in Sofia. Starting from October 1996, he spent more than five years with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), both in London and in Sofia. Mr. Guri co-founded JetFinance International (JetFinance), a consumer finance institution, in 2001-2002. By the time of its sale to BNP Paribas Personal Finance in July 2007, JetFinance had become the largest independent consumer finance lender in South East Europe, having lent more than 1.5 million loans for around EUR 500 million to more than 700’000 Bulgarian individuals. Post JetFinance, Mr. Guri has been involved, as an investor and as a mentor, in financial services and in technology ventures. Additionally, Mr. Guri actively supports several educational initiatives in Bulgaria and Albania, including AUBG, Teach for Bulgaria (“Zaedno v Chas”), Junior Achievement Albania and Bulgaria, and American Research Center Sofia.

sStanislav Sirakov,
Partner at LAUNCHub seed fund

Stanislav has more than 10 years experience in the financial industry, managing project and building new businesses inside the corporate world. In 2008 he left his fast growing career at Allianz Financial Holding, raised an angel round to build his own startup – market place for small business lending. Learning some lessons the hard way, he ended up managing the biggest business plan competition for innovative ideas in Bulgaria – Empower Award for Young Entrepreneurial Excellence, wherefrom joining the LAUNCHub team at the start. Stanislav is a big fan of data driven decisions and happy to be a connector for LAUNCHub portfolio companies. He has graduated with honors his Master in Insurance and Risk Management from MIB School of Management in Italy and a bachelor degree from UWNE in Sofia. Beside the office he is either in the swimming pool or playing with his 10 year old son.

DTDaniel Tomov,
Founding partner at Eleven Accelerator Venture Fund

Daniel Tomov is a founding partner at Eleven Accelerator Venture Fund which is focused on early investments in some of the most promising and exciting tech startups throughout Southeastern Europe. Daniel has been involved in startups since 2000 as early stage investor and funded entrepreneur in diverse fields from software, mobile and consumer goods to renewable energy. Daniel has met and befriended some of the greatest tech entrepreneurs in the region and continues to support the innovative young minds.

PYPolina Yancheva,
CEO of Nova Idea Foundation

Polina Yancheva is an expert in the sphere of entrepreneurship. Since 2006 she has been specializing in elaborating programs and managing projects designed to provide practical education and know-how on starting and managing a business. In 2007 she co-founded StartUP Foundation that is organizing the biggest annual forum for entrepreneurship in Bulgaria and so far the Foundation has organized more than 120 events. In 2011 StartUP foundation became the first Local institute of CISCO Entrepreneurship Institute in Bulgaria. Polina started her career in 2006 and since then she has worked on projects in the sphere of innovation, entrepreneurship and education in both – private and public sector. In 2011 Polina graduated from an MBA Program at the University of National and World Economy, Sofia, where she received her Bachelor Degree in Political Studies in 2009. Polina spent two years at International University College, following the franchised programme of the University of Portsmouth, UK.

KSKrassimir Stoyanov,
CEO of ORAK Global Group

Krasimir Stoyanov is the founder of Orak global group with 18 years of global experience in vertical software solutions. As managing Orak Krasimir is awarded with Bulgarian and international (European and American) prizes  for sustainable innovative development for his contribution to the creation of a revolutionary cloud -based technology platform ORAK R6. In his role as a board member of the Bulgarian Association of Software Companies and ICT cluster Plovdiv Krasimir leads CEO groups of  innovation and entrepreneurship , working together with the greatest tech entrepreneurs in the development of software industry and IT talent in the region. 

EEProf. Evgeni Evgeniev,
VUZF University

Professor Evgeni Evgeniev leads the Innovation Research Unit at VUZF University. He teaches BA/MA courses in areas global strategic management, financial consumer protection, business development, public policies and international financial institutions. Besides his academic engagements, Mr. Evgeniev works as Economist in the Private and Financial Sectors Development Department at the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank. Since joining the World Bank Sofia Office in February 2007, Mr. Evgeniev has taken part in lending operations and analytical and advisory work in Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan, among others. He has collaborated in dozen World Bank studies. For example, he co-authored “Going for Smart Growth: How to Make Research and Innovation Work for Bulgaria” (World Bank, 2012). He has also contributed to an OECD study on regulatory regimes in 2010 and has participated as international expert in the development of UNIDO Global Value Chain analysis tool in 2009-2011. He has published in international journals on issues related to globalized trade, industrial and firm upgrading, regulatory reform, innovation, and industrial competitiveness.

Mr. Evgeniev holds a PhD from the Central European University in Budapest. He has specialized in European Studies at the European College of Parma (October 2003-June 2004) and has been a visiting researcher at Bosphorus University (Sept.-October 2003) in Istanbul and the European University Institute (August 2004-March 2005) in Florence.

RVRadostin Vazov,
Executive Director of VUZF University

Chief assistant professor Radostin Vazov is the CEO of VUZF university. He is a lecturer in the courses: Fundamentals of Finance and Public Finance and participates in the Innovation Research Unit of VUZF. He is an expert in financial analysis at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and founder of the “Foundation for Quality Management.”

Mr. Radostin Vazov studied at South Bank University London and London School of Economics and Political Science. He has Master’s degree in Economics, Theory of Finance, Finance of the Enterprise, Insurance and Investment.