AUBG Business Week Brings Entrepreneurs and Business Professionals on CampusNovember 28, 2017
After the StartUp event of the season, the AUBG community kept riding the entrepreneurial wave into the biannual Business Week. Over the week of Nov. 13-17 the university’s Business Club gathered students at Aspire for a series of lectures by successful entrepreneurs and business professionals.
How do you start a successful business in two months? AUBG alumni Angel Ivanov and Georgi Georgiev shared the story behind Skaptobara, their award-winning restaurant in Sofia, at the kick-off of Business Week.
“The idea for Skaptobara was to create a hangout spot for AUBG alumni,” Georgiev said.
And while AUBGers remain the main customer group, the place also became popular with both locals and visitors of the capital. When Skaptobara started to bring profits, the alumni decided to open a second smaller place, Skaptoburger, which offers less variety, but is in the very center of the city.
“When you open a second location, it already changes the perspective of your customers,” Ivanov said. “You are now a more serious restaurant than competitors.”
Investment is a troubling question for every young entrepreneur, and Skaptobara opened with only a fifth of the capital needed, said Ivanov. The two found the Pareto principle useful for their business: “80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of what you are offering, so we decided to cut out the other 80 percent” to cut costs producing less popular burgers and minimize the chance of mistakes in the kitchen.
“When you don’t have money, there are a thousand things you can cut costs from,” Georgiev added. “It took us two and a half years to buy a professional grill.” The co-owners encourage not to splurge on equipment at first, but focus on developing the best possible product as that is what makes a difference.
On the second day of the Business Week, Verginia Nakova, a young business owner, gave essential advice on “How to be a business shark in the eyes of your employer.” Based on her personal experience in various consulting and marketing firms, she focused on the process of establishing the values and vision in her company, and why it was necessary to break from standard business norms.
She continued the lecture with the changes in new generations’ mindsets and the somewhat old-fashioned management and communication standards in the business field. She talked about the new opportunities that Generation Z has – easily available resources and access to information, the ease of network connections and their liberal views.
“One of the worst mistakes of any generation is to make the next generation feel guilty about their thoughts,” she said.
Wednesday brought back to campus another alumnus – Svetlozar Shivarov (’10). Together with Richard Macdonald, both of RCapital Group Holdings, they shared personal stories from the high ranks of the business world. Shivarov shared insights on his professional development after graduation, discussing the obstacles he faced and the decisions he made to overcome them.
The fourth event of the Business Week shed light on cryptocurrencies. Special guests were several members of CoinMarketLaunch, a company specializing in assisting its clients with their Initial Coin Offering (ICO) projects. Keynote speaker Philipp Omenitsch, head of the Token Models and Technology department of the firm, opened the discussion with background information about the market, different types of currencies, and the mechanics of the entire process.
He discussed and compared three cryptocurrencies – B-money, Bitcoin and Ethereum. The latter two have been rapidly developing in the past few years and while Bitcoin seems to be getting more press, Omenitsch noted Ethereum is not to be underestimated.
“With Bitcoin we have the miners, the people who solve the so called proof-of-work problem, and they are rewarded with bitcoins. However, they are the ones controlling the pace of change. It is the other way around with Ethereum,” he said.
According to Omenitsch, there are potential issues with cryptocurrencies. One of them is scaling. This means that they need to be able to run more transactions per second. This, however, is restricted by the current technology and may be changed only through advancement in the technical department.
To close off the Business Week AUBG business professor Arthur Pantelides told his personal story on developing leadership skills. While he got a degree in Engineering from Boston University, he became passionate about management and leadership through his years of experience in various companies.
“I was so scared to be a leader of such a big company [mG miniGears S.p.a.] and there were so many challenges I faced. But I also learned valuable lessons through my responsibilities that I am using in my classes today,” he said.
Some of his business advice includes always being prepared and showing one’s own value in a company. He also mentioned the importance of keeping a balance between one’s professional and personal life. Due to his busy schedule and business travels, he pointed out his divorce as a sacrifice he did not foresee.
Pantelides visited AUBG during the 2016 International Week and was strongly attracted by the students. “I saw that you were eager to learn, you were hungry for knowledge and that is one of the most important traits in the business world,” he said.
Story by Xenia Cotlearova, Nadezhda Yankulska and Georgi Staykov
Photos by Mustafa Ramadan for the AUBG Business Club