For the second consecutive year, AUBG won the Bulgaria Innovation Hackathon. The team led by alumnus Yuliy Yuliev (’19), current AUBG student Emil Todorov and Metodi Kanazirski, who studies Computer Science at the University of Leeds, presented Healthit – the first Bulgarian mobile application for healthy lifestyle. This year, AUBG shares the first prize with New Bulgarian University whose innovative dragée soap also got them 94 points from the jury.
The idea for Healthit originated after Yuliev, Todorov and Kanazirski joined the AUBG Elevate Accelerator with their startup Barzo.Anabolno.Vkusno. Help people look AND feel good – that is the premise of Healthit and what makes the project stand out in a highly competitive health app industry is that it gamifies the experience of building healthy habits and offers real-life rewards to its users.
“Joining the Elevate program completely shifted the way we approach our business,” Yuliev said. “It gave our team knowledge, insights, and opportunities for mentorship that we couldn’t even imagine before that. (…) Perhaps, the major lesson that we learned was that without commitment, and I mean 100% commitment, the idea was doomed to fail.”
Read the full interview with the alumnus below to learn more about the team’s winning project, their aspirations for the future and Yuliev’s experience with Elevate and AUBG.
In what ways was your participation in the AUBG Accelerator Elevate beneficial to you? What were the major lessons learned? What challenges did you face?
Joining the Elevate program completely shifted the way we approach our business. It gave our team knowledge, insights, and opportunities for mentorship that we couldn’t even imagine before that. The program was well-rounded and structured in a sensible way that enabled us to continuously learn and strive to improve our product.Perhaps, the major lesson that we learned was that without commitment, and I mean 100% commitment, the idea was doomed to fail. That was also the biggest challenge. Two of our founders are full-time students and the other one had a 9-5 job. We worked on the idea every morning, every night, every weekend, during the holidays, during the pandemic – all in, all the time. Thank goodness we love it!Elevate truly encapsulates the entrepreneurial roller coaster by fully immersing you in the startup environment. After many iterations of our idea, we exited the accelerator with a product ready for Beta testing – something that would have required much more time and mistakes along the way, had it not been for the program.
What role did your education and extracurricular activities at AUBG play in your personal and professional development?
No matter what I say here, I feel it wouldn’t be enough. A good chunk of who I am today is because of my four years at AUBG and I think this should come as no surprise to anyone.The extracurriculars at AUBG are the perfect way for anyone to taste the richness of the community, have fun, and explore their own interests.What also fascinates me is that many of AUBG’s courses have implications way beyond their official scope. For example, one of the courses which had profound effects on my professional development was the Foreign Policy Analysis with Prof. Phillips. Even though I never used the knowledge from it in an official political setting, it enabled me to prevent hundreds of mistakes and biases over the past few years related to group decision making, which saved me a lot of time and money.Thinking of my personal development, what strikes me [as a turning point] is my junior year. It was the year in which something happened and I really felt the effects of the liberal arts education and the critical thinking element rooted in it. I started questioning my own fundamental assumptions about the world, society, and my role in it. I don’t know how else to describe that but by saying that AUBG simply made me a better person.
So, yeah, AUBG is the place to be. No doubt.