It’s time to elevate your idea: AUBG’s first startup acceleration program




Elevate is the first startup acceleration program, launched at a university in the Balkans. It started on Nov. 4, 2019, and there are already six prospective businesses. The program is designed to help students and recent alumni develop business ideas and start their own companies. 

Participants in Elevate build teams, decide what kind of business they want to start and begin their entrepreneurship journey. During the 14-week program, mentors come to the American University in Bulgaria campus to share their experiences. They help students better understand the process of setting up a business, by going through the steps every entrepreneur must follow in order to start a company. 

“Elevate aims to inspire and motivate students to transform their ideas into working businesses,” said Nikolay Pohlupkov, AUBG graduate and one of the leaders of the program. 

Participants can benefit from hearing the success stories of the mentors and discussing with them all of the difficulties they might encounter. Pohlupkov said that with this network of mentors, students can see what other people did wrong, and they can learn from it. 

By participating in Elevate students get more practical work experience as they face real business challenges. Along with that, every team receives a starting capital of $5,000. In exchange, team members sign a contract that ensures a 5% stake to AUBG from each company started as a result of the acceleration program.

 “At first, our idea was kind of a joke, but then we gathered as a team and decided to really give it a try,” first-year student and participant in the program, Nikolay Pachev, said. “So here we are in the next round. From a practical perspective, I think I would learn many facts and tricks about the market and the business.”

On Nov 7. in Aspire the special guest —Lubomir Nokov, the founder of Harmonica, shared his entrepreneurship adventure. The participants had the opportunity to tell Nokov about their business ideas and ask questions. Nokov shared how he started his business and gave advice. He told the students that they have to listen to the people who have been through this, not just to read books about how to start a business. 

Lubomir Nokov, talking about his entrepreneurship journey. Photo courtesy of Nikolay Pohlupkov.

“If you happen to have missed the [application] deadline, and you are not in the program, that doesn’t mean that you cannot benefit from it,” Pohlupkov said. “It means that you can come here, network with these people, get in touch with them.”

Access to the events is not restricted to AUBG students. Everyone who finds a particular topic interesting can join, and each event is posted on Elevate’s Facebook page.

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