Programmer turned entrepreneur. Determined optimist.
I currently serve as the CMO of instant gaming leader Playco, which acquired my 3rd startup Chobolabs in 2019. Previously, I co-founded Philanthropedia (acquired in 2011 by GuideStar) and CPP-Home (acquired in 2003).
While growing up in my native Bulgaria, I began programming at a very early age, even having the good fortune to win a few national coding competitions. That led to creating my first startup and falling in love with entrepreneurship. That is why I moved to Silicon Valley in 2007, enrolling at Stanford for my master's degree. I continue to live in the Bay Area with my wife, son, and dog.
I enjoy helping founders succeed, and speak and write regularly about entrepreneurship, technology, and leadership. My spare time is spent reading, meditating, working out, watching StarCraft, hanging out with my family, and petting any dog in sight.
In my entrepreneurial journey, I have benefitted tremendously from the advice, help, and kindness of others. I try to pay it forward by advising founders running companies ranging from VC-backed startups to bootstrapped companies to social ventures.
In the last few years, it’s been my privilege to work with hundreds of entrepreneurs, who have gone on to raise billions of dollars in funding and create many thousands of jobs. My advising focuses on 3 main areas:
Fundraising – helping founders raise early-stage VC financing from Silicon Valley investors. I assist with structuring the fundraising process and figuring out how to pitch the company. I have summarized the framework that I use in The Fundraising Lore.Managing founder psychology – leading a startup means having to deal with a tremendous amount of mental stress. Fortunately, navigating the ups and downs of running companies is a skill like any other - meaning that it can be learned and mastered.Operations - which includes a broad array of topics such as dealing with difficult situations, managing stakeholders, evaluating startup ideas, searching for product / market fit, deciding whether to pivot hard or soft or stay the course, scaling organizations, and exiting.
When spending time with entrepreneurs, my goals are to be fully present, listen deeply, and connect meaningfully. My experience is that the value of advising is proportional to how much both sides invest in the process. That is why I kindly ask everyone I work with to try their best to reciprocate the above, and pay it forward when they get a chance.
While most of the entrepreneurs I work with come through referrals, you don't need to be networked with me to reach out. Feel free to email me and I will do my best to help, logistics permitting.
My speaking engagements focus primarily on inspiring and educating students, especially about entrepreneurship, technology, and leadership. That is why I find addressing schools and communities particularly rewarding, both at home in Silicon Valley as well as in my native Bulgaria.
My experience ranges from intimate groups of 7 to mid-sized audiences of 70 to massive online streams with 70K+ people tuning in. Highlights include speaking at:
Silicon Valley universities – Stanford, Berkeley, San Jose State University, Menlo CollegeBulgarian universities – Sofia University, Bourgas Free University, Varna Free UniversityHigh schools – Palo Alto High School, Harker High School, Presentation High SchoolStartup and student communities – Stanford Ignite, StartX, Blackbox, Telerik Academy, Smart Start, MyWay, Junior Achievement, Byju'sVarious investor events, conferences, and TV and radio programs
If you are interested in having me speak, please contact me. I’d be happy to do it, logistics permitting.
My long-form writing is focused on summarizing knowledge I have acquired during my entrepreneurial career.
In 2011, I published the Startup Lore, a primer which describes the fundamentals of building new ventures.
In 2021, I published the Fundraising Lore, a guide to help founder CEOs successfully raise early-stage VC financing from Silicon Valley investors.
Growing up in Bulgaria, my dad bought me my first computer shortly after I turned nine. I instantly fell in love with the digital world and its endless possibilities. I began programming in Pascal, Assembly, and C, as well as participating in national programming competitions, even having the good fortune to win a few.
At the urging of a friend, I co-founded my first company, programming community hub CPP-Home, which surprisingly got acquired two years later, in 2003. That early success ignited a lifelong passion for entrepreneurship and inspired me to move to Silicon Valley in 2007 to pursue my master's degree at Stanford.
After graduating in 2009, I co-founded Philanthropedia, which focused on crowdsourced nonprofit assessment and got acquired by GuideStar, the largest provider of US charity data. Post-acquisition, I ran the GuideStar West Coast office, led the acquisition of another startup called Social Actions, and spearheaded the creation of an internal incubator called GuideStar Labs.
In 2012, I returned to entrepreneurship with my third startup, Chobolabs, focused on mobile eSports. As a former StarCraft and Counter-Strike professional gamer, I saw an opportunity to bring eSports to the largest gaming platform in the world – mobile phones.
In 2019, Chobolabs was acquired by Playco, the leader in instant gaming, where I currently serve as a CMO leading growth and marketing.