Rising Star | Rennie Popcheva-Capri, Embrioo.com

LOW: Why did you set up your company?

A: I wished to help ordinary people with simple ideas, and the inventors who were not able to proceed with their inventions. I carefully studied and finally made a list of twelve reasons why a very big percentage of great ideas cannot evolve. Embrioo.com seeks to solve four major obstacles which each person with ideas and/or inventions faces, such as: lack of a team to join you at the very first stage; the need for a 360o format of the concept needed before sending the pitch/executive summary; “few- people’s judgement” when you knock on buyers’ doors; and finally, the discouragement if your idea is not the winning one in a contest, in a pitch, and when someone rejects it. At Embrioo.com, your idea remains in the waiting list and has a continuous chance to find the proper partner, buyer and investor. It is sometimes a matter of time, luck and other circumstances around you. However, I believe that each person with an idea and invention always deserves “a second chance”.

LOW: When did you set up your business, and how long did it take?

A: We launched a pilot in 2012, which we ran for 2 years. It took us 2.5 years altogether of backstage work. I then understood that entrepreneurship encompasses lengthy periods in the backstage, and the “quick wins” that we read about in the news are a result of many sleepless nights before those days of glory. Still, I would like to quote a famous guy who says that “When you have Plan B, “plan A” would never work”; meaning, if you are already living with the fear of failure, that will determine your future behaviour, decisions and steps.

LOW: Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’ (ie. which led to you starting your business, or which triggered a change in the way you did things)?

A: Yes, in 2006 when I was part of a brainstorm session at the company I was then working for. Imagine 20 people in the room who were invited to suggest ideas for company’s business growth. I was always raising my hand, giving idea after idea. An hour later, my boss shouted: “Rennie, you might have thousands of ideas but they have no real value. I need you to come to me with a fully-developed concept, covering all aspects of the business. Your ideas then have the chance to be listened to and executed”. At first, I felt I had been “treated unfairly” and were left with this very bitter taste. 12 hours later, I realised he was right! This is how Embrioo.com was born – with our first service being “find crowd people from all around the world to help you build your 360o concept”.

LOW: Where did you source funding to set up your business?

A: The co-founders were the ones providing the funding, including myself: I provided the very initial capital to start with. LOW: Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow? A: For good or bad, we haven’t received any funding from any EU and/or local grants.

LOW: With hindsight, which would have been the single most valuable skill to have before setting up your business?

A: If we talk about a skill – persistence. If we talk about an attitude – “keep going, be flexible and don’t give up”. There had been so many moments when we got what we needed by very mysterious ways, the ones we could had never imagine when we first started.

LOW: What is the single best piece of advice you have received along the way?

A: Trust your intuition. Stay authentic.

LOW: Who or what are you inspired by?

A: I was inspired by my dream to help millions of people all around the world. And that dream kept me going. I still keep some of the letters from Embrioo.com members saying “Finally, someone did it” and “Thank God you exist, you gave me back my faith in my ideas”.

LOW: What is the USP that distinguishes your product or service from its competitors?

A: Embrioo.com is the only platform in the world where you can post even simple ideas and sketched inventions upon your own initiative, then gather a team to develop it, and then have an eternal chance to take it forward by pitching to several managers within each Corporation-Buyer (to avoid “few-people only” judgement).

LOW: How would you describe your progress so far? Are there any significant challenges you have had to overcome?

A: Ambitious people always want to be faster and bigger. We are so proud that each day more inventors find us and trust us. This is what makes me happy. Our list of creative members grows each day, people coming from 80 countries around the world. We have done a major shift in the mindset towards crowd ideas’ value. The major challenge was to explain disruptive innovation to mass audiences. We had to go through so many “concept” simplifications for that reason!

LOW: How are you planning to grow your business?

A: We are planning to test a new model so that we can penetrate diverse markets faster. It is still in our lab, so cannot disclose that many details.

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: For my home country (Bulgaria): 1. State Incubator and Accelerator (applications always open, accepting a much larger batch of startups versus the current standard of, in average, 30 startups per year); 2. State Scale-ups support (which today is completely lacking in my home country); 3. A complete and dramatic change in the Education model (soft skills, the 4Cs and entrepreneurial skills, in real life settings).

LOW The best thing about being an entrepreneur is…?

A: You do (really) change History, the world and you do really leave a mark.

LOW: What do you see as the key trends/disruptors for 2017 relevant to entrepreneurs?

A: I can easily see 10 years ahead then 1 year ahead! Still, if I must highlight some: there is a “paradox” – opportunities for startups to grow, but at the same time entrepreneurs (startups) grow exponentially too. At every event, you meet more and more startups pitching. This means that startups need to find non-conventional ways to present and grow.

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: Go for customer interviews before shaping the business model, and pivot. Learn more about Embrioo.com on their official website, and on their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages.