Title : Star of Enterprise: Martin Hadzhistoykov, eCars
Date : 18 December 2017
Each month, The LOWdown sits down with one of the stars of the European startup and entrepreneur community. This month, we catch up with Martin Hadzhistoykov of eCars; a Bulgarian start-up making electric mobility “easy to understand, desirable and accessible”.
LOW: Why did you set up your company?
A: To promote a better and more sustainable life, part of which is cleaner electric mobility.
LOW: When did you set up your business, and how long did it take?
A: The group was established in 2010, but the first company was registered in January 2016, with two more companies registered in 2017.
LOW: Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’ (i.e. which led to you starting your business, or which triggered a change in the way you did things)?
A: It was back in 2008: when I saw the electric Chevy Volt, I was hooked. After launching the first website in 2011, it took 5 years to help creating a market when it made sense to establish my first company.
LOW: Where did you source funding to set up your business?
A: 100% own funding. In 2017 I met a person and, after we became partners, we kept 100% self-funding the business.
LOW: Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow?
A: There are EU services, programmes or funding initiatives and we even applied for Horizon 2020. We got rejected. We are about to try again, but so far continue to rely on our own finances and our steadily growing sales.
LOW: With hindsight, which would have been the single most valuable skill to have before setting up your business?
A: Feeling what would best suit people’s needs, which is based upon experience gained (in the years prior to establishing the business) from personal meetings and interactions.
LOW: What is the single best piece of advice you have received along the way?
A: To love.
LOW: Who or what are you inspired by?
A: I’m inspired every time I see a spark in someone’s eyes - then I know what we do touches that person’s soul and is instantly recognised.
LOW: What is the USP that distinguishes your product or service from its competitors?
A: We provide a unique set of key competence and services in e-mobility that helps customers take the best possible informed solutions.
LOW: How would you describe your progress so far? Are there any significant challenges you have had to overcome?
A: Being all on our own, we’ve made fantastic progress. In just 10 months, we developed premium smart EV charging stations from scratch, started production, sales and built a charging network. We are also filming an EV video show. There have been so many challenges that it’s difficult to remember all of them. It’s so inspiring that we’re progressing.
LOW: How are you planning to grow your business?
A: By scaling our production, expanding to several EU markets in 2018, launching mobile services in early 2018, expand the EV club and organize more events.
LOW: If you were in charge of the government ministry for SMEs and start-ups, what would be the three most important changes you would make to help them grow?
A: 1. Ask appropriate questions and try to thoroughly understand what the start-up is trying to accomplish. 2. Change the funding programs requirements so start-ups don’t need to fulfil impossible, or odd conditions, or requisites. 3. Finally, understand that start-ups simply cannot look “credible enough” and should not be told “come back when your sales grow”. Who wants support when they can do it on their own?
LOW The best thing about being an entrepreneur is…?
A: You can bake a bread, not just eat it.
LOW: What do you see as the key trends/disruptors for 2017 relevant to entrepreneurs?
A: Food management, smart city solutions, and new efficient mobility services.
LOW: If you could go back to when you were about to start your company and give yourself a single message or piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Don’t stress! Don’t stress! Don’t stress!
Know more about eCars by visiting their official website and following them on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.Return to The LOWdown