- Bobby Bahov:
Starting multiple businesses is fun and allows you to keep your mind sharp
Bulgarian entrepreneur Bobby Bahov helps businesses across Western Europe with their software development with his company Eastsource. But he has other ventures up his sleeve, too.
Bobby always knew he would eventually start his own business. "I came to the Netherlands more than four years ago to do my masters in Business Information Management at the Erasmus University (RSM) in Rotterdam. After I graduated I started working here and a bit after that I started my own company. I noticed that the Netherlands had a thriving startup environment and a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs. In 2016 I decided to give it a go."
Registering my business
“I do not speak any Dutch and most of the resources I could find were in Dutch. I tried to find the information in English, but only found blogs and that is not considered official information. I registered as a BV, just thinking that this would be the best option for my business. After talking to an accountant some time later, I converted my business to a sole proprietorship. This accountant told me that it was not convenient for me to be registered as a BV yet. He said that the business was too small and that the conversion would save me money in the end. So this was my first learning experience.”
Networking in the Netherlands
“In order to build my network, I started going to various events and at some point I went to meetups almost every day. At one time I got tired of going to other peoples’ meetups and thought I should start my own. Right now I am involved in the organisation of eight different meetup groups. It started as a hobby and right now it is turning into a business. My team and I are actually growing communities. One of the biggest communities that we have grown in the past year is called the ‘AI lab’. This community is for people who are interested in artificial Intelligence, machine learning and data science. We host presentations, workshops, hackathons and co-working sessions and are based at The Hague Tech. Approximately 600 people are part of this community and we actually want to start developing solutions with them for different universities and corporations.”
Entrepreneurship in the Netherlands
“There are plenty of accelerators and even the government offers different types of programs. In Bulgaria it is a bit more difficult to start a business, because there is a lot more bureaucracy and a different mindset. People think it is strange when you tell them that you are going to start your own business. Apart from that I have not heard of many places where it is easier to start a business than in the Netherlands. What I also like is that successful entrepreneurs still go to work on their bikes. They remain very down to earth. The only problem I encountered was that the Tax and Customs Administration do not speak English, so for every question I had I needed to go to my accountant and a few times it happened that my accountant did not know the answer either. So when this occurred he had to ask on my behalf and this prolonged the process. Overall, I think that doing business in the Netherlands is not that difficult if you have the right mindset and choose the right momentum. I have the feeling that especially in The Hague everyone is pushing towards changing the status quo and creating exciting opportunities. I may have a different point of view from Dutch people, but to me it is all about innovation here and that's one of the things that I really like about The Hague.”
“Starting multiple businesses guarantees that life will never be boring. That is why I also formed a team of engineers with whom I founded a startup in the space industry. We are now working on a system to harvest water from the moon. We worked with the ‘European Space Agency’ and this team consists of eight people now. And there is ‘AI lab’ that I have already mentioned. At ’Eastsource’ we are doing a lot with machine learning. That is one of my biggest passions, besides that we also develop websites and mobile applications. What we basically do is that we work with vendors from Central and Eastern Europe to develop the software and our added value is project management and process optimization, so which is making sure that the project is delivered on time, within budget, remains scalable and meets the high quality standards. One year ago I was working alone on it but I have got a team of five people now. I am trying to expand to other countries as well such as Germany, the UK, the USA and Canada. I am looking for sales experts and consultants to represent Eastsource.”
Tips for entrepreneurs
“There is no 'right' time to start your business. If you see an opportunity and you are motivated, just do it. I have friends here in the Netherlands who have wanted to start a business for years now. They tell me that they want to create this kind of service or develop this kind of product, but first they need to come up with a name. And for years they have not been able to come up with a name. Just start creating value, at least for yourself, and see what happens. Stop doubting or overthinking and start creating.”