#WER Sofia

Discover more about the Event

16th and 17th May 2019

Ceremony Hall – University of World and National Economy

The Women in Entrepreneurship Roadshow is a project conceived by the European Young Innovators Forum, one of the leading organisation for youth innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe. WER is a non-profit project powered by the United States Mission to the European Union, Startup Europe, the European Commission and Amazon and its aim is to support and empower women entrepreneurs. The Roadshow consists of a series of 10 events across Europe with the goal of connecting 300 women entrepreneurs with 30 VCs and top players in the European and the US ecosystem in order to facilitate access to finance. The short term goal is to connect entrepreneurs with VCs and ecosystem builders and business angels and identify the main challenges women entrepreneurs face when accessing finance through workshops. The long term goal is to produce a report with our findings to present to the European Union with policy recommendations.

The aim of the workshops is to connect women entrepreneurs with VCs and business angels. During the workshops, VCs will have a chance to share some insights into the venture capital world, share advice and create connections with the WER entrepreneurs. For the WER entrepreneurs, this is a chance to meet the local, European and US entrepreneurial ecosystem, an opportunity to network with mentors, pose questions about your challenges and present your projects. For more information please see the agenda below.

This is an invitation only event


Move.bg // 20 Serdika Str, 1000 Sofia (Bulgaria)

19:00 – 21:00 Networking cocktail.

Drake Weisert // Counselor for Public Affairs US Embassy in Sofia


Ceremony Hall – University of World and National Economy

ul. “8-mi dekemvri”, 1700 Studentski Kompleks, Sofia (Bulgaria)

9.30-10:00 | Welcome and overview of the agenda.

10:00-11:00 |  VC Panel on Women Entrepreneurship.

Rossen Ivanov // Co-founder BlackPeak Capital

Maria Marinova // Director of the Bulgarian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association

Milen Ivanov // CEO Angels Club

Zlatolina Mukova // Managing Partner at NEVEQ

Nikola Yanev // Marketing Manager, Eleven Ventures

Moderated by: Nicholas Zylberglajt // President, EYIF

Fourth VC: TBC

11:00- 11:30 | Coffee Break

11.30-12:30 | Conversation between entrepreneurs and VCs

12.30- 13:00 | Transatlantic collaboration: YTILI & GES

Matt Hagengruber // Counselor for Public Affairs US Embassy in Sofia

Liubov Kirilova // Founder, GoodWorky

Elena Nikolova // Co-founder and CMO, ESCREO

Moderated by: Nicholas Zylberglajt // President, EYIF

13.00- 14.00 | Lunch

14.00- 16.30  | Speed Mentoring Sessions/ Networking.

Nicole Muise-Kielkucki // Director of Economic Innovation at Fourth Economy Consulting

Srebrina Efremova // Executive Director Foundation Generation

Sasha Bezuhanova // Founder of Move.BG

Zarena Kancheva // Marketing and PR Director, Rakuten Viber CEE

Daniela Ivanova // Business Development Director, Rakuten Viber CEE

Yavor Gochev // Programme Director of “Rinker Center”

Milena Stoycheva // CEO of JA Bulgaria and The Edge

Irena Komitova // Managing Partner, Creative Solutions Ltd

Paris Childress // Founder of Hop Online

Jorge Muñoz // Digital Marketing Expert

Maria Oprenova // Managing Director, Opremedia

Albert Pashov // Business Consultant, Brighthive

Elina Halatcheva // Co-founder and Managing Partner, BrightCap Venture

Tsarina Ruskova // Legal Consultant, Ruskova & Partners

16.30 – 17:00 l Closing Remarks.


The #WER events in Sofia is organized with the support of the US Embassy and in collaboration with the local partners.

As a main parner in the project, Amazon will offer to each confirmed participant:

$10.000 of AWS promotional credits valid for 2 years

$5.000 of AWS Business Support

$1.600 of AWS Training

Application timeline

Until 10th May

Application period

Not Confirmed

Application evaluation

Not Confirmed

Confirmation of final participants


Rossen Ivanov // Co-founder BlackPeak Capital

Rossen is co-founder and managing partner of BlackPeak Capital, a co-investment growth equity fund focused on investing in Southeast Europe. To-date, BlackPeak Capital has invested €25 million in twelve companies and has attracted more than €50 million in additional co-investments.Prior to establishing BlackPeak Capital, Rossen co-founded Entrea Capital, аn independent Bulgarian investment banking firm and an affiliate of Rothschild for Bulgaria. Prior to Entrea, Rossen worked at McKinsey, the EBRD, and Procter & Gamble. Rossen holds an MBA degree from the Harvard Business School and a BA degree in Economics from the American University in Bulgaria. Rossen is a member of the Board of Directors of Walltopia, Bulpros, Resalta, and the Trust for Social Achievement.

Maria S. Marinova //  Director of the Bulgarian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association

Director of BVCA and in charge of the overall organisation and strategy of the association. Previously, she was part of the team at the European Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, Invest Europe, based in Brussels. She worked on industry promotion and member relations with more than 600 member firms and 600 affiliate members – from seed and venture capital funds to mid-market and large-buyout.  Maria holds MSc in Communication Studies and BА in Business Administration.

Milen Emilov Ivanov //  CEO Angels Club

Serial entrepreneur founded variety of startups including HR, b2B services, online retail and digital marketing and advertising.Some of the companies still run successfully, some of them exited, some of them failed. Awarded as Young Entrepreneur of the Year & Award for Creativity and Innovation in Global Finals of WYBA, Istanbul. One of the winners in 40 under 40 visionary game changers in Bulgaria for 2013. Personal angel investor experience; worked with financial plans, term sheets, lawyers, accountant and institutions. Since January 2017, Milen founded the largest angels group in Bulgaria – CEO Angels Club currently including 30+ members encompassing top executives and entrepreneurs from the local ecosystem.

Zlatolina Mukova // Managing Partner at NEVEQ

Zlatolina is an experienced senior 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 venture capital fund as partner back in 2012, she was the CEO of an insurance holding acquiring companies and operating in the region of the Balkans. Previously she turned a green field project for a call centre into a leading business process outsourcing company, later acquired by TeleTech (TTEC). She also worked for the government as a Deputy Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, responsible for European integration, financial management and transformational transactions of the Ministry and its affiliated portfolio companies. Prior to this, she worked as a senior investment executive with Europa Capital Management, a manager of a private equity fund set up by EBRD, and a manager at Mobikom, the first mobile operator in Bulgaria. Zlatolina is among the founders of European women in VC and strongly supports initiatives involving women in technology and entrepreneurship.

Liubov Kirilova // Founder at Goodworky

Liubov Kirilova has a 22-years business experience as an entrepreneur and a C-Level professional. She has been working in fin-tech industry, telecommunications, payments industry (mobile payments in particular), employee training and development area. Liubov started her own company Crystal Water in 2009. In mid-2017, she has launched the innovative product Goodworky – an employee engagement and retention platform. In late 2018 Liubov has started with partners a new company Happiness Academy and has launched a mobile app called Happiness Accelerator in early 2019. Liubov participated in GES 2016 in Palo Alto, USA and GES 2017 in Hyderabad, India, being selected as a woman entrepreneur. Liubov holds a Master’s degree in International Economy and Business from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Elena Nikolova // co-founder and CMO of ESCREO

Elena is co-founder and CMO of ESCREO, company which helps people be more creative and productive in the office. Her education is in International relations (bachelor) and European projects management (Master). In 2013 she has been part of Summer entrepreneurship а mini-MBA program in the US (Babson University, New York, Boston and Silicon Valley). Until 2019 she was co-organizer of Rails Girls Sofia (free workshop for ladies to promote ICT skills). She is Forbes #30under30 fellow and 2018 YTILI alumni (Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative, program of the US State Department). Currently she is mentor of “Teenovator” project which aims to building start up clubs in high-schools. In March 2019 she has been part of Entrepreneur in Residence program spending a month in Vietnam working with local incubators and start-ups. She likes to write, read and travel, tennis fan and tango dancer.

Nicholas Zylberglajt // President of EYIF

Nicholas is the Co-Founder of the European Young Innovators Forum, the leading foundation for Youth Innovation in Europe. He also co-founded EU Startup Services, EYIF’s consulting company aimed at supporting European startups to secure EU funding having supported more than 1350 Startups in more than 20 EU countries.

Nikola Yanev // Marketing Manager at Eleven Ventures

Nikola grew up around startup companies building ecosystem pillars since the age of 17. One of them being the online media Entrepreneur.bg, which was instrumental for the early days of the Bulgarian startup community. Nik is currently Marketing manager of the venture capital fund – Eleven Ventures and former President of the Bulgarian entrepreneurship organization – Start It Smart. As side hobbies, he loves facilitating and hosting events on the topics of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation. He also works with accelerators on pitching preparation for graduating startup companies. In 2014 he dropped out of university and build his own life-long educational program matching his interests and goals.

Drake Weisert// Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia

Drake Weisert is the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria. He has worked for the U.S. Department of State since 2002, including assignments in Mexico, China, Burma, Malaysia, and Washington, DC. Prior to the State Department he worked for Voice of America and the U.S.-China Business Council. He has an M.A. from the University of Colorado. He is from Northern Virginia.

Matt Hagengruber // Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Sofia

Matt Hagengruber is the Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria. He has worked for the State Department since 2011, and his previous assignments include Moscow, Russia and Hermosillo, Mexico. Before joining the Foreign Service, he was a newspaper reporter and spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in biology. He is from Montana.


Paris Childress// Founder of Hop Online

Paris is the founder of Hop Online, a digital marketing agency based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since arriving in Bulgaria in 2005, Paris has co-founded a financial services start-up, led the market’s leading group buying brand, and served for 2 years as Country Manager for Google in Bulgaria. Throughout this time, he has mentored dozens of startup companies in Bulgaria and the region. Paris is currently the CEO of Hop Online, where he helps clients around the globe grow their businesses through digital marketing.

Yavor Gochev // Programme Director of “Rinker Center”

Yavor Gochev is the Programme Director of “Rinker Center”, where various programs are developed in order to support entrepreneurs in their early days of setting up and developing their companies. Over the past 5 years, Rinker has supported 21 projects with over BGN 400,000. Outside the office, Yavor is actively engaged in social causes. ‘Treatment without Borders’ – organization that helps Bulgarians during their treatment abroad and ‘Bulgarian Careers Fair’ – career fairs for students and young professionals in UK and Germany are two of the organisations that Yavor has co-founded and most engaged with. Yavor is always ready to support new ideas and projects and provide them with advice and guidance.

Irena Komitova // Managing Partner, Creative Solutions Ltd

A seasoned corporate professional and Board member with specialization in strategic planning, sales & marketing, human resource development, motivation and growth; management & financial consulting; public relations, lobbying and negotiations, advertising and publishing; branding and support.‘With her enthusiasm she can bring back to live a dinosaur.’

Milena Stoycheva // CEO of JA Bulgaria and The Edge

Milena Stoycheva is the CEO of JA Bulgaria and The Edge: R&BD and Visiting Professor with the EIT Digital Master School in I&E (Innovation and Entrepreneurship). Entrepreneur and educator, she is passionate about the importance of education and the opportunity for young people to develop their talents and discover their future as entrepreneurs. In the last five years, she has been delivering courses in innovation, business development and digital transformation for some of the EIT Digital master and doctoral school programs in Europe. She likes to pursue and develop new ventures and feels confident that there is a place for crazy dreamers and “fire” starters in our society. She has degrees from Bulgarian and US universities.

Daniela Ivanova // Business Development Director, Rakuten Viber CEE

Daniela Ivanova is a Business Development expert with over 6 years of experience in the start-up and tech industries. Currently, she works as BD Director for Central and Eastern Europe at Viber, working to develop a holistic ecosystem of partners across the region to serve millions of users with the best content and valuable services they love. Previously, Daniela worked as Marketing Manager for SoundCloud’s global operations in Berlin. Heavily influenced by the start-up community and entrepreneurial spirit, Daniela returned to Bulgaria to support the development of local businesses. As a young professional, she participated in different projects about innovation in the digital space, the last one in South Korea in 2012: New Media in Youth Culture. Daniela has graduated with honors from The Hague University in the Netherlands, with a degree in International Business and Management, and later she specializes in Digital Strategies for Marketing at New York University in the USA.

Zarena Kancheva // Marketing and PR Director, Rakuten Viber CEE

Zarena Kancheva is Marketing and PR Director CEE in Viber. She is a specialist with over 10 years of experience in marketing, communications, event management, advertising and public relations. In the last three years, she worked as Brand Manager for Fashion Days, where she was responsible for developing marketing activities of the company in Bulgaria. Previously, she worked as a marketing manager at a global level, in Walltopia, PR specialist at ING / NN Insurance, Senior Account Manager at MAG Communications and Account Manager at PR agency United Partners. Zarena has a master’s degree in marketing from World Economy and bachelor in Public Relations from the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

Jorge Muñoz // Digital Marketing Expert

He has a strong background in Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations having worked in different European countries such as the UK, France, Belgium and Spain. He is the current Director for Marketing and Communications at Unmanned Life, Jorge was a Key Account Manager at one of the world leading advertising agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi, from Publicis Media Group, where he was responsible for key accounts across different B2C and B2B fields coordinating the work of different departments such as Art Direction, Design, Finance and Executive. He has managed multi-million euro and international campaigns for top Brands such as Nestlé, Nespresso, Perrier, San Pellegrino, Lexus, among others.

Nicole Muise-Kielkucki // Director of Economic Innovation at Fourth Economy Consulting

Nicole is Director of Economic Innovation at Fourth Economy Consulting, a mission-driven firm that seeks to equip change agents across the United States with the tools they need to build better communities and stronger economies. This often includes developing strong local entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems. Prior to joining Fourth Economy, Nicole served for 6 years as Director of Impact Innovations, at Idea Foundry, a regional accelerator and pre-seed investor for early stage startups. There she led the organization’s initiatives to support entrepreneurs building impact-driven companies, helping them assess market opportunities, prove their concept, and test assumptions. Nicole enjoys spending time in the great outdoors, exploring new cities and cultures, and supporting the arts. She currently serves as co-chair of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council’s Regional Food Economy Working Group.

Sasha Bezuhanova // Founder of Move.BG

Sasha Bezuhanova is a senior executive, angel investor and philanthropist with a 20-years executive business career in HP and a multi-dimensional track record of service to society. Her long list of business achievements and social development engagements throughout the years involve positioning Bulgaria as an ICT center of global significance, boosting the entrepreneurial culture and women empowerment in Bulgaria and at European level. In 2013 she left her business career and devoted herself to supporting social prosperity trough innovation, education and collaboration. Sasha is the founder of MOVE.BG – non-partisan platform for collaboration in finding sustainable solutions for the state, economy and society via innovation, participation and co-creation and the initiator of EDIT.BG – open network initiative for digital innovation and The ChangeM.

Srebrina Efremova // Executive Director Foundation Generation

Srebrina is a trainer and mentor of beginner entrepreneurs since 2011. Part of the mentoring team of Youth Entrepreneurial Marketplace – program for training and promotion of business and social ideas and meeting them with their potential investors. Co-creator of wENTPower – initiative for empowering women from poor and remote regions in Bulgaria through entrepreneurship. In 2018 ten young women from northwest part of Bulgaria got access to professional business services and two of them will participate in Entrepreneurial Marketplace in 2019. She is interested in social entrepreneurship and her inspiration is the creative way the social entrepreneurs find solutions in challenging situations. Srebrina is an EU and other funding programs consultant and develops and manages projects for SMEs and NGOs. Co-author of two manuals supporting business planning, starting business and management.

Albert Pashov // Business Consultant at Brighthive

Albert has more than 8 years of sales experience in various family- owned and affiliated business ventures. In addition, he worked for multinational companies in Bulgaria and several small enterprises abroad on Business Analysis, Marketing, Operations and Event planning. Besides being a consultant, Albert is working on two projects in the health and sports sector. He obtained his Master’s in Organisational Behaviour with focus on Performance Management from The University of Leeds, graduating with excellent thesis on the topic of performance feedback. During his Bachelor studies in Economics at The UNWE with a semester abroad in Czech Republic he focused on International Business and Culture. Albert became a member of the Association of the Bulgarian Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE) as part of the top scoring startup team during the ABLE Activator programme and is currently part of the Fundraising team of the National round of the Central European Startup Awards. Passionate about volunteering, he is a member of The Erasmus Student Network Bulgaria where he held 3 leadership roles in their executive body and was awarded among the most distinguished volunteers in Bulgaria for 2018 by The Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Maria Oprenova // Managing Director at Opremedia

Maria Oprenova – an out of the box thinker and a diverse marketing professional with 20+ years in advertising and branding, media and telco on a multinational level. A producer of large format events and digital content, a branding consultant through OPREMEDIA. An entrepreneur by heart, currently active on supporting women’s start-ups, driven by the idea of empowering women to pursue their business dreams. Social entrepreneur who believes in boosting national morale through culture and arts. Just kicked off a new start-up (brand) where she acts as a founder and creative director and is crazy about unleashing her designing skills. Believer and doer in giving back to society by helping young talent (artistic and entrepreneurial). A mother, doing her best to raise a daughter as a good, happy and fulfilled person. With a BA degree from AUBG in Bulgaria and MBA from IMD, Switzerland

Tsarina Ruskova // Legal Consultant at Ruskova & Partners Law firm

Tsarina is Head Of International relations and business development department at Ruskova & Partners Law firm and Initiator of the creation of the “Starting businesses Pro Bono consulting Project” (Union of young Bulgarian legal consultants who studied abroad). She is a Member of the LexLegal International Lawyers Network and the sole representative for Bulgaria. She has one Master in Bulgarian law from the New Bulgarian University, one in International Economic Law at the Sorbonne Law School as well as a Master Degree from the DULA Common Law in a joint program with the King’s College in London. Tsarina’s mother tongue is Bulgarian, and fluently speaks French, German, Russian and English.

Elina Halatcheva // co-founder and Managing Partner at BrightCap Ventures

Elina is a co-founder and Managing Partner at BrightCap Ventures with significant experience in investment banking, private equity and new business ventures in New York, London and Sofia. Prior to establishing BrightCap Ventures, she was part of the early management team at Auxionize, a B2B procurement platform, where she drove the expansion of the start- up into more than 50 industry sectors. Before returning to Bulgaria, Elina was an investor at Citigroup’s private equity funds in New York ($600 m) and London (€1.1 bn). Previously, she was a research analyst at Wit Soundview, New York, the first online platform for investment banking and research of emerging technology and e-commerce companies. She started her career as an investment banker at Citigroup on Wall Street. Elina holds an MBA degree from Stanford and a summa cum laude Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Richmond, VA.