On Tuesday, April 28, Elevate will be hosting Demo Day - the online event where participating start-up teams in AUBG’s first Accelerator Initiative will be showcasing their prototypes and pitching their ideas to investors, mentors, enthusiasts, and the AUBG community.
Elevate is a mentorship-based program designed to support students and graduates in starting their own businesses by providing them with cross-discipline workshops, one-on-one consultations with successful entrepreneurs, and funding of $5,000 per team as startup capital. Nikolay Pohlupkov and Boris Angelov, both AUBG graduates in the Class of 2019, managed the first season of the accelerator program.
With regards to the current circumstances, Demo Day will be hosted online on April 28, starting at 6 p.m. In order to watch the event, all you have to do is join via Zoom.
We went ahead and asked the team to tell us more about the initiative and what to expect on the day of the event. Pohlupkov said, “Frankly, the format is not going to be that different from what we were planning to do on campus. Everyone will join our online venue, and we will begin with a short introduction to the program. Our organizing team is going to give an overview of the first season with some of the more exciting things that happened during the academic year. We are going to celebrate the milestones, and all the difficult moments our teams passed. After this, each startup is going to have 5 minutes to present their business. Maybe, we are going to include a Q&A through Slido or directly in the Zoom chat. Finally, we would expect some closing words from our partners at Eleven Ventures. We are also planning a small surprise that you can find out at the event.”
This year went by in a blink of an eye, and for the participating teams, it has been one of rigorous effort and solid commitment. Intrigued by the finale of their first season, we wanted to learn more about their overall and final impressions from the process. Pohlupkov said, “Elevate is an initiative with a lot of potential, and we believe that down the road, it will become self-sustainable. It was very turbulent. Of course, we did a lot of things wrong because we were constantly experimenting with the format and the events. We were pushing the teams to a point we could see that made the delicate balance between the two extremes - not too burdensome and not your ordinary extra lecture. Improvements are on the way, and we are actively collecting feedback from everyone who took part in Season 1 in any form.”
The dedication which the teams have put into their businesses has certainly not gone unnoticed. No matter which day of the week you walked by The Innovation Hub Aspire, in ABF, you could always see the faces of concentration working day-by-day to meet their end-goals. Angelov said, “The program is demanding, and we believe it brought a lot of value to the startups inside of it. However, it should not be mistaken for a club activity or just a cool extracurricular initiative. Starting your own business is a tedious but fulfilling experience. If you want it to succeed, you need to be willing to put in the work. Our teams went through a process that transformed an exciting idea into a worthy business venture. This does not happen overnight; more importantly, it does not happen effortlessly. Some of the participants didn’t find the right balance between teamwork and priorities and decided to drop the program. Failure is also part of the process of nurturing entrepreneurship. You should be open to failure and accept it as part of the journey.”
“To throw in some numbers. We had 11 teams applying to Elevate, and we accepted 7 of them. On the 28th of April, we will have six final teams who are going to present. Those six teams went through a series of 32 lectures, 30 individual consultancies with more than 35 outstanding entrepreneurs and professionals. In total, it amounted to close to 90 hours of lectures, workshops, and meetings.” Angelov said.
“As you can see, it puts a lot of strain on your schedule, and you should treat it seriously if you wish to make the most out of it. The best part, nobody is grading you, nobody is going to come at you and judge you based on the outcome. We provide the mentorship and the $5000 funding, and all we expect from you is to give your best shot at entering the business world.” Pohlupkov said.
This program gave tremendous support and guidance to entrepreneurs and is currently making a huge impact in the start-up community. Pohlupkov said, “It was a remarkable journey. We are very grateful to the enormous support and trust we received from AUBG, Eleven Ventures, and our alumni. I cannot emphasize enough the optimism and zeal of the professors, staff, and alumni who helped us develop the program. Thank you! For us, it was something special. Meeting some of the most inspirational people in Bulgaria daily and learning from their journey is not an opportunity that unveils often. It was fun and satisfying. Even if 1% of the teams in Season 1 make it to a real profitable business, this would be a massive success for us.”
“In the end, we did an excellent job, and we are pretty optimistic about the future,” Pohlupkov said, “We hope it is accepted well from the community, and people feel that Elevate is something that AUBG needs.”
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