“Guts, focus and grit” are the three important qualities that best describe the modern entrepreneur said Eric Schurenberg, President and Editor-In-Chief of Inc. magazine, who opened the CEED Global Conference 2016, 14 April in Sofia, Bulgaria. The conference explored the theme of business in the next decade as it marked the 10th anniversary of CEED’s Global network. Over 350 entrepreneurs, investors and members of the broader business community from 19 countries worldwide came together to learn, share experiences and network.


In his keynote, Eric Schurenberg citied data and stories of modern entrepreneurs from the “Inc. 500 “, Inc.’s annual list of top enterprises.  Inc. is the premier print and online publication for entrepreneurs and business owners in the United States. It is no surprise to CEED that the top qualities of an entrepreneur is universal and knows no boundries. Less than 10% of the entrepreneurs start their businesses because of the profit, the majority launch businesses to realize their ideas. Eric explained that 90 percent of the fastest growing companies in the world are being managed by men. “The modern entrepreneur is most often a man that has not yet reached the age of 40 and has created at least two companies in his life. For him it is important to be able to take risks, be focused on his business and persistent in overcoming obstacles in front of it” stated Schurenberg.

Link to Eric’s presentation: https://ceed-global.org/blog/2016/04/29/eric-schurenberg-presentation-ceed-global-conference/


According to James Stikeleather, Chief Innovation Officer at Dell in the next 10 years, companies will be focusing on the relationship with their customer and the not product or the service. This means that we will be seeing more highly specialized companies who are focused on how to create value to customers and not giving “everything to everyone”. Small and medium enterprises are creating eco-systems of collaboration and co-creation to create value for their customers and they will let go of areas that they are not specialized in.  “Attracting and retaining customers and meeting their needs should be a top priority in business development rather than the profit,” said Stikeleather whose presentation was dedicated to where the business will be located in 2025.

Link to James’s presentation: https://ceed-global.org/blog/2016/04/29/jim-stikeleather-presentation-ceed-global-conference/


Linus Bille, Founding Partner and CEO at Eicorn Enterprise Ignition, challenged the idea of learning from success and not failure, while looking to scientific methodologies and evidence based innovation for business development initiatives. “Failure is the only emotional experience that is shared by everyone, but not everyone experienced success.” Link to Linus’s presentation:



Jaka Levstek, CEO at Dlabs and mentor to entrepreneurs in the region talked about one of the largest gaps in the region: getting the right talent for growing companies. He shared strategies and models he has seen companies use to break the talent chasm.

Though he cautioned the audience, that once you start to realize you have a problem with attaining talent that will ensure your future growth it may be already late, as the strategies have a deep influence how you will structure the organization you are building and it needs to happen years before this problem emerges.


The event hosted panel discussion with entrepreneurs and investors:


Eric Schurenberg hosted conversation on “Pushing boundaries” with: Galahad Clark, Managing Director and founder of Vivobarefoot, Maria Anselmi, General Manager of Bisnode Southern Markets, Ralph Catto, CEO of Guiding Capital and Vassil Terziev, Chief Innovation Officer at Progress. The panelist shared how they pushed boundaries in their industry, should business be a force for social good or is its only purpose to increase profits, is it good to have internal boundaries, going from an entrepreneur to a leader and what are their leadership styles and many more relevant questions for entrepreneurs.

For more, watch video of the panel.


Peter Righi, Global director at CEED had the pleasure of hosting a networking café on “When Women Thrive: Lessons from women leaders – who are not afraid to think differently and lead differently”. Panelists included: Maria Anselmi, General Manager of Bisnode Southern Markets, Anna Marie Vilamovska, Secretary for Innovation and Healthcare, Administration of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Elizabeta Planinc, Founder and CEO of PutujBolje (TravelBetter), Anne Kjær Riechert, Founder of ReDI School of Digital Integration, and Mariyana Hamanova, Executive Director at Cleantech Bulgaria. The successful business women spoke about their beliefs as leaders, how they overcame some key challenges in their work, and mentors who impacted them.


Stephane Gantchev, partner at LAUNCHub hosted two panels discussions with early stage and growth stage investors in the region: Lyuben Belov, Co-founder and managing partner at LAUNCHub; Ivaylo Simov, Co-founder at Eleven; Vuk Djukic, Principal at South Central Ventures; Michael Schuster, Partner at SpeedInvest;Elvin Guri, CEO of Empower Capital Fund; Filip Genov, First Vice President/Special projects at UniCredit Bulbank; Pavel Ezekiev, Co-founder of NEVEQ, and Gary Dodge, SEAF fund manager. On the panels “Future through the eyes of investors” we heard about lessons learnt from investing in the region, changes that are influencing investment now and in the future. Investors also addressed how they help founders move from their comfort zones, move faster and understand how to be more competitive in a global market.

For more, watch video of the panel.


During the event selected startups also had an opportunity to present their business ideas and products to investors.


“Entrepreneurship is a tool to achieve your real goals. The measure of success is how many other lives you’ve made better” said Global Director of CEED’s Peter Righi during his closing speech. He undertook that for the next 10 years CEED will continue its work with companies that are aware of their importance and role in the development of the economy and the society because “their knowledge and experience are relevant to others and their success paves the way for the next generations of entrepreneurs.”


The conference was kicked off with a pre-event where we heard Bulgarian entrepreneurs share they stories of growth locally and internationally. Guests were: Lyubomir Yanchev, Managing Director of Melissa Climate; Hristo Boyadzhiev, Managing Director of Despark; George Brashnarov, General Manager of Nemetschek Bulgaria; Venko Simeonov, Product and Assortment Development at Bio Bulgaria; Konstantin Christoff, CEO and Co-founder of Sensika Technologies. The conversation was moderated by: Leona Aslanova, Founder of Innovation Starter Box.


CEED Global Conference 2016 was supported by USAID, REG, SEAF, Turkish Airlines, “America for Bulgaria” Foundation, Unicredit Bulbank, Animex, Volkswagen, Another Point Advisers, Savina and Software Group.


Partners of the event were Innovation Starter, Start It Smart, 9Academy and StarUP. Media partners are Investor.bg, Bloomberg TV Bulgaria, Darik Radio, Manager Magazine, Your Business Magazine, PixelMedia.bg, NewBusiness.bg, SocialEvo.net, NewTrend.bg, SeeNews and Leadership.bg.