Technology has always been in my blood, and at a later stage, I turned my passion into business, says Engineer Miroslav Hinkov, CEO of Mechatronika - Gabrovo. The company he manages develops and produces automatic lines for laminated tubes. This business requires constant innovation. It does not rely on low prices, but on a modern and creative product that is constantly being updated.
Among the First in the World
Mechatronika is an innovative company that sells all over the world and holds nearly a quarter of the market for cosmetic packaging machines. Founded in 1961, it was privatised in the 1990s, but some time went by before it found its place in the world of a market economy. It reached international markets thanks to the combination of many factors, including chance. "We did not start from scratch, but we stepped on a solid foundation and took advantage of the situation in the best way. We directed the business in a direction where we had a chance. We produce sophisticated equipment and there are two or three Swiss companies in the world that we compete with. To share a market with only a few companies, even Swiss ones, is much easier than to compete with a mass product created by corporations," Miroslav Hinkov comments.
In 1990, Engineer Hinkov, together with three other colleagues from the Technical University of Gabrovo, founded a company for electronic sensors, and in 1996 they organised the production of shampoos and toothpastes. At that time, the tubes were made of aluminium, but laminate packages started to enter the market. However, the machines were expensive and the young Bulgarian company did not have the resources which is why the experienced engineers came up with the idea to make the necessary equipment themselves. The notorious Gabrovo thriftiness probably also had its influence, and they became not-by-choice inventors who constantly experimented and perfected what had already been done. When, in their practice, they gained confidence in the quality of the machines, they started seeking opportunities to trade with them. Today, they also produce packages, but in a very limited amount. They still make cosmetic products under the STS Cosmetics brand, also part of STS Invest Holding.
"We were good at creating new machines, but we also had luck," Hinkov admits. "I know some inventors, but most of them just weigh up if something can be valuable and then they do it. In order to find a realisation, apart from being innovative, the invention should also be useful. Only then will the doors be open for it, just as the market accepted our machines. When you are sure of the qualities of your invention, you should also be able to convince investors that your investment is worth it," explains the engineer who was declared inventor of 2013 by the Bulgarian Patent Office in the category of Machine Building and Construction. According to him, often, when the details are well examined, it can be noticed that either the invention cannot be realised technically, or it solves an insignificant problem. He is convinced that if one comes up with something the world needs, they will always find someone to support them.
Youth and Experience
Currently, the R & D team of Mechatronika consists of 10 people. They have engineer thinking, knowledge, experience, and apply scientific approaches. Half of them are young people with ambition and potential. Most are locals that have graduated from the Technical University of Gabrovo: "We have created good conditions for their professional growth. Ingenuity is a quality that must be unlocked and developed."
The Price of Success
Undoubtedly, Miroslav Hinkov is a successful entrepreneur and inventor. Here's how: "What success depends on has been established long ago. One should simply apply it and be honest to themselves as to when they are successful and when they are not. One must have strong desire to achieve something. To be persistent and do not give up in case of a failure. Most people reach a point and give up, even though they know they have to be persistent. The role of chance cannot be ignored. One must try in more directions in order to have a better chance." We, at Mechatronika, constantly strive to revolutionise packaging machinery. They are fully digitalised and ready for the Industry 4.0 era. The Gabrovo company has a few competitors and a compromise with quality is not possible - either they are at a world-class level or they are out of the market.
Locally and Globally
The desire to achieve something and the confidence that you can do it is essential. If you measure your achievements objectively, the chance for success is on your side, the entrepreneur assures. Young people have knowledge and skills, but unfortunately most of them have no confidence that they can have great achievements in Bulgaria. But to all who have doubts, we will remind that Mechatronika is a Bulgarian company that is developing in a small town but has a world success. The world needs innovation, and anyone who proves that they can create it, can succeed.
Steps to Success
Tips from Engineer Miroslav Hinkov
- If you are an inventor, see what the market needs first. Make a thorough research of what has already been done in the area.
- Evaluate the economic effect that the realisation of the idea would bring. It may be interesting, but if its introduction is extremely expensive, nobody would want to pay for it.
- A lot of knowledge is needed, including marketing.
- Ideas do not come out of nothing. You can look for a solution all day long, and when you wake up the next morning, the good idea can dawn on you. But it will be the result of experience and accumulation.
- It is best for the inventions to be born in a development environment, like Mechatronika.
- A lot of resources are needed for the realisation of every good idea. We put aside almost half of our revenue for innovation and development. At the same time, we implement 5-10 projects, hoping that at least one or two of them will be successful.