The Recursive podcast is your weekly wander inside the minds of innovation leaders across SouthEast Europe. Each week our hosts cozy up with a digital economy champion and dive deep into their life philosophy, values, leadership style, and personal development. Join us for inspirational stories on how to grow, learn and think big.
What can stoicism teach you about entrepreneurship with Ciprian Borodescu from Algolia
The Recursive podcast is back from winter break. Our next guest is an entrepreneur who is keen on technology and AI as much as he enjoys talking about philosophy and leadership.
Ciprian Borodescu is the co-founder of MorphL, a start-up that developed an artificial intelligence-based solution to help online stores increase sales, and optimize their product metrics.
His startup was acquired by the French company Algolia before they even managed to raise a seed round. Ciprian now serves as the Head of the R&D center of Algolia in Bucharest.
A follower of stoicism philosophy, a sports lover, and a podcast host of a show about artificial intelligence, Ciprian talks with Georgi Nenov about:
🤝🏽 The hard but life-changing decision to get acquired by Algolia and his own transition from CEO into a Head of R&D; (hint: aligning on values was key)
✨ The impact of his relationship with his life and professional partner Alexandra (“She’s one of my role models. I do the talking, but she’s the one making things happen.”);
🤔 Why he embraced stoicism and how he applies its philosophy to startup life;
👨🏫 The importance of coaching in entrepreneurship (“Why should athletes have coaches and entrepreneurs should not?”)
The Playbook for building great products of Hristo Borisov from Payhawk
2021 has been a spectacular year for our next guest.
Hristo Borisov is the co-founder and CEO of the Bulgarian fintech startup Payhawk, which raised a 20M dollars Series A in the first half of the year, followed by a historic for the Bulgarian ecosystem 112M dollars Series B in November. The startup which helps SMEs manage their expenses has ambitious plans for expansion in the US, Europe, and the Asia Pacific.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Hristo Borissov was a software engineer and a product manager at Telerik, the Bulgarian IT company which still represents the largest exit for the Bulgarian ecosystem.
In his conversation with Irina, Hristo talks about how the culture at Telerik, which encouraged experimentation and building new things, helped him develop his product thinking.
In the episode he also shares:
📖 His playbook for building scalable products; (hints: be a firm believer in the problem you’re solving and make sure you understand the pain points of the customer)
❤️ Why passion matters for him (“I just can’t do things halfway. If I am not passionate about something, I can’t do it”)
💪🏽 How the resilience and efficiency of startup founders from Eastern Europe help them beat the odds; (“We thrive in scarce city”)
🕸️ How he went all in with Payhawk even though he didn’t have a safety net;
How to think globally as a startup founder with Bogdan Nicoară from Bright Spaces
Our next guest has been an entrepreneur even before he knew what that meant. He earned his first money as a teenager, drawing graffiti for small businesses in Bucharest.
Bogdan Nicoara is currently the co-founder of Bright Spaces, an end-to-end digital leasing platform for commercial real estate. Born in Romania in 2019, the startup is aiming to become a global tech disruptor in real estate.
With a background in software development and digital marketing, Bogdan loves starting new projects and finding creative solutions to problems.
In an episode, full of insights and lessons from his journey as a startup founder, Bogdan talks about the advantages of starting a global-oriented business from Romania, getting the hang of a complex industry such as real estate, and how they landed their first client.
You will also hear from Bogdan on:
How to move from service to a product mindset 🧠;
How to filter and process negative feedback to build a better product 🏗️;
How to get the smart money investors on board as an entrepreneur 💰;
📖 Check out also Bogdan’s recommendation for a book that helps him build the culture at Bright Spaces: Reinventing organizations by Fredreric Laloux
How to disrupt and make an impact with serial entrepreneur Gregoire Vigroux
Next stop for The Recursive podcast - Bucharest. It is where we meet serial entrepreneur and angel investor Gregoire Vigroux. The Frenchman who fell in love in Romania, set up all his businesses there, and made his goal to show everybody all the opportunities that the country presents.
As a hyperactive person who likes to be challenged every day, Gregoire is born with an entrepreneurial mindset. He has co-founded and invested in more than 25 businesses across Eastern Europe and has had 4 exits so far.
One of his first ventures was the outsourcing company CallPoint, which is now known as TELUS International Europe. It currently employs 5,000 people in Bulgaria and Romania and Gregoire serves as a board member.
He started his latest endeavors amidst the pandemic - the online store for refurbished smartphones www.fenix.eco that he exited this summer.
And just a month ago, he announced his latest project bonapp.eco - a mobile app combating food waste allowing users to buy food close to its expiration date from nearby grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, cafés, or hotels.
Gregoire is the Co-Founder and President at the French Tech global community in Romania, an ecosystem that supports startups in their international development.
In his honest conversation with Irina, Gregoire takes us all the way through his incredible entrepreneurial journey. In the episode he shares:
Why he believes entrepreneurship is like Russian roulette and what helped him succeed at this crazy game;
The importance of building quality relationships and creating friendships with the people you work with;
Why he cares more about impact than business plans and pitch decks;
How his ADHD condition impacted his life and career path;
Riding the wave of change in the world of data with Ilia Krastev from A Data Pro
Next, on The Recursive podcast we welcome seasoned entrepreneur Ilia Krastev. As the CEO of A Data Pro, he’s managing a diverse portfolio of companies in the data and information economy - the business news provider for Southeast Europe SeeNews, the media monitoring company Perceptica, the business platform for renewable energy - Renewables Now, and the scientific unit, based on AI solutions Identrics.
Ilia Krastev is also the chairman of the Association for Innovation, Business Excellence, Services, and Technology, that aims to be the voice of companies of the high value-added business services in Bulgaria.
In his conversation with Georgi Nenov, Ilia tells the story of how his first student job turned into his lifetime calling. While studying microbiology, he started as a coder indexing news articles, explored different positions within the company and rose to the role of CEO. And he’s been at the steering wheel of A Data Pro for the last 13 years.
Throughout the years Ilia has experimented with different ventures - some very far away from tech, and he says that trying new things and learning about people has been his main focus.
He owned a restaurant and an agriculture business which taught him much more about listening to people than any corporate training.
In the episode, Ilia talks about:
How to stay at the top of the game in the ever changing world of data;
How to develop an intrapreneurial mindset within the company and make sure your organization can adapt fast to changes;
How to learn to let go of control as a leader and give opportunities to people to lead;
How to build resilience as a startup founder with Gergana Stancheva from LAM’ON
Our next guest on The Recursive podcast is an illustrator and designer turned entrepreneur Gergana Stancheva. She and her co-founder Angela Ivanova found a way to say goodbye to plastic in the packaging industry. Together they created LAM’ON in 2017 - а startup producing biodegradable laminating film for print and packaging.
Several years later they are ready to launch officially and sell their products in Europe. They are focused on building up their production and distribution lines here in Bulgaria.
In the episode, Gergana opens up about all the sweat and tears that go into building a product company. As she puts it herself: “It’s a constant failure until you actually get it right.”
She talks about dealing with rejection and building resilience as a startup founder and shares how she and her co-founder went broke while developing their product.
In her conversation with Georgi, you’ll also learn:
How to build a company with your best friend and keep your personal relationship going strong;
What makes you a good salesperson? (Hint: really believing in your idea)
How to fight people’s indifference about climate change;
What does it take for a Bulgarian manufacturer to go global;