Who are the brave founders of Launchee and what made them land on the planet Sofia? What is their story and which space force provoked them to invest their time, energy and funds in the transformation of a demolished location in the center of Sofia into a high-tech space for online and hybrid events and meeting point of dreamers, leaders, creators and doers?
Meet Anthony from France and Olga from Russia and learn what it takes to be a real astro launcher!
Earth astronauts or cosmic travellers - the exact term doesn't matter when it comes to people with dreams, enthusiasm, desire for development and a plan of action that turns a dream into reality. These are the founders of Launchee. In 2014 the two adventurers, Anthony and Olga discovered the Sofia galaxy that in turn won them over with its cultural diversity, booming business opportunities and a potential to become the next technological innovation hub. Their mission was to do something meaningful and constructive for the evolution of the city and its inhabitants but they knew for this they needed time and like-minded people. For 5 years they had been working on the development and establishment of their own IT company (i.e. Technofy.io). The success of this project gave them the confidence in 2019 to focus their enthusiasm on a new, even more challenging universe - the creation of a modern space for training, events, sharing knowledge and experience, aiming to turn it into a centre of progress and innovation in the city…And the location? Attracted by the beauty and potential of the emblematic building of the Central Department Store (TZUM) in the city centre, they made an extremely bold leap into the atmosphere - invested in the complete transformation of part of the space of TZUM and created Launchee.
Learn more about their cosmic story:
1. Where do we find you now - in space or on Earth?
Olga: Aboard the International Space Station inhabited by highly skilled crews working together for the same goal.
Anthony: Somewhere in-between, trying to navigate through the changing landscape of the present-day business world.
2. Introduce yourself in a few words.
Olga: I’m a passionate foreign language educator, a perpetual learner, and an open-minded skeptic.
Anthony: I’m a technology adventurer who likes to explore and create new things.
3. What is your space mission on Earth?
Olga: To expand my world by doing things, going places, meeting people, learning new stuff.
Anthony: To investigate the terrestrial world and to enrich it by creating something nice and useful.
4. Why did you choose Sofia?
Olga: The Bulgarian language and culture, the vibrant international community, vast opportunities for business development were the major factors.
Anthony: I was attracted by the booming capital with a great potential to become a technological innovation hub in Europe.
5. What is Launchee and what makes it different?
Olga: Its technological excellence, effective organization, adaptability to various needs. As a teacher, I’ve always dreamt of building a super-classroom, a well-equipped innovative friendly space promoting varied learning experiences, fostering knowledge sharing and cooperation.
Anthony: I felt from the very beginning that I had to create something like Launchee, an ecosystem uniting educators, public speakers, professional organizations in one collaborative community.
6. How long it took you to create Launchee? What were the biggest challenges?
Anthony: It took us about a year. Well, the biggest challenge was actually dealing with all the administrative requirements, all the paperwork that is required in order to start and run such a place in compliance with the regulations for an event location. For example, in order to classify this place as an event venue there was tons of planning to be done regarding building a proper and reliable fire protection system, PA system, the evacuation planning (requests for having two different exits in each room, the direction of opening the doors) and all similar details that needed to be implemented in our venue plan before we could start the constructions work. You need to be impeccable in terms of ensuring security and health and safety planning and execution compliant to the requirements of the state so that you can pass the necessary inspections and receive the needed accreditations for operating as an event venue.
Another challenge was learning to work with people from a totally new field for me (as employees). At that moment, I had been running an IT company and I was mainly dealing with IT specialists and engineers. At that time I faced a completely new situation when I had to manage construction workers that had a totally different type of attitude and style of completing tasks. So this was a challenge in terms of finding the right way of managing these people.
7. What are the main difficulties for foreigners when building a successful business in Bulgaria?
Anthony: I can speak from my point of view here as in fact this was the first place where I actually started a business in general. The overall picture is very good - it is not hard at all to start a business in Bulgaria if you have the right idea and team you can rely on. At the beginning nobody knows you and cares about you but as you grow more and more people and institutions start noticing you and this brings more and more requirements, bureaucracy, administrations work. But I would definitely recommend Bulgaria as a country for starting a new business.
8. What will happen from now on?
Olga: A lot of work to make things work.
Anthony: Overcoming drag and gravity, managing to successfully lift off and reach our goals.
9. If you could choose, how would you get to the moon - by bike, car or rocket?
Olga: Via my imagination, it helps in many ways, especially the ones leading that far.
Anthony: Doesn’t matter, the main thing is to keep going.