Georgi Danov is Site Lead (Director) at Leanplum for Bulgaria. He was a VP of Engineering at Jumio, Head of Austria Delivery Unit at EPAM Systems, Technical and Team Lead at bwin.party digital entertainment, Team Leader at SAP. An experienced engineer and a leader who has been in different roles in diverse businesses. He was drawn by programming very early, and in high school, a classmate and he made a product that they sold successfully. He took the manager's path because he was convinced that big things happen in a team. Half of his professional experience was gained in multinational teams in Western Europe.
Mr. Danov, was the opportunity to work for a
global company such as Leanplum, founded by Momchil Kyurkchiev and Andrew Furst
in San Francisco, the pulling power for your return to Bulgaria?
I have always kept the idea to gain experience and return to Bulgaria. The opportunity to work for Leanplum in Sofia is incredible and hard to refuse. To a great extent, the location is a lucky coincidence, I would have accepted this offer even if the office was elsewhere in Europe. I would like us to see more of these world-class offers in Bulgaria.
For more than a year, you have you been Leanplum’ Lead for Bulgaria? Do you feel at the right place at
the right time?
Yes, the job advertisement was for a person with my experience, and the fact that I was a Bulgarian with a career abroad played an important role. I have done similar tasks, I have solved such problems and now I have the chance to do it again in a much more promising environment.
What is the biggest challenge for the team in
Permanent changes are part of the work at a start-up and we are never at a standstill. At the moment, we are creating an easier-to-use version of our interface and we are investing in the improvement of our infrastructure in order to keep up with our customers’ needs, which, just like us, are growing rapidly. We are laying the foundations of the organization we expect us to be in 2 years, and this is a big responsibility for all of us.
Which moment of the development of Leanplum is it
worth it to be highlighted?
This summer, the management team gathered to discuss openly what we needed to improve in the organization. Then, we got down to work and started preparing for the next phase of the company's development. A manager does not have many opportunities to participate in such a large project in their carrier. The process is ongoing and I am learning many valuable lessons.
How big is your team, is it easy or is it difficult
to find the right people?
The team in Sofia consists of 20 people, with the ambition to double in 2018. People with the right experience are very difficult to find, in Sofia, there are few product companies that have built their staff to a working culture similar to ours. I would like us to become one of those companies, which continuously develop valuable qualities on the Bulgarian IT market.
Funding is an important matter - how do you find
it at this stage? What is the key thing in attracting investments?
Thanks to our strong business performance, it is relatively easy to raise risky capital. At each round, we are in the comfortable position to choose between several good offers from prestigious VC funds. The key thing is to have a growing business with great potential and a strong team. We are convincing in both.
The dynamics in the sphere of technology is big.
What are the dangers that should not be underestimated?
I have been in the IT field for 20 years now, and the fundamentals of how to do good business and make a good product have not changed radically. We work in an area that is oriented towards communication with people. Despite the new channels that people connect with, the things that are exciting for them have not changed fundamentally. Technological innovations are rather opportunities for us to offer more effective ways for engaging the consumers of our costumers, not a threat.
You are a man with an enviable career in Bulgaria
and abroad. What is the most important for you when you choose what to do and
where to work?
The people I communicate with every day and whom I rely on are important. Without the right colleagues and the right business leader, one cannot develop. I work with a young and intelligent team that is always ready to challenge me. I have the chance to work in a close cooperation with Momchil and our management team. I have a role with many challenges and responsibilities, what is better than that? I come to Bulgaria with the adjustment and experience of Western Europe, and I wish we were more optimistic. We have incredibly talented and successful Bulgarians, but too often, I feel pessimism and helplessness that I still cannot understand.
What are the current strengths and weaknesses of
developing a globally oriented business that is based in Bulgaria?
We do not have Bulgarian customers and our main business development centres are outside Bulgaria. Our office here has the task to develop the products. A strength is the presence of many good specialists - including with experienced from outside of Bulgaria. A weakness is that most employers are service-oriented, and too few people have experience in developing their own product. We strive to support the local start-ups and we hope that we will see more successful product companies in the country.