What an incredible experience to kick off my return to Bulgaria
My Activator story with Emiliya Lambreva
After eleven years in three countries abroad, I had been picking my moment to return to Bulgaria. I had participated in a couple of evens and meetings, enough to know that I want to move to Sofia. But the moving date kept getting pushed into the future by job promotions and side projects.
The moment I saw the call for applications for the ABLE Activator program, I knew it was a sign to make the jump. The existence of such a practical and encouraging program made me feel confident that I’d find my place in Bulgaria again.
Through the application process, I could already tell ABLE and I were a match.
The biggest reason? The people.
A program is only as good as those behind it. I met a highly motivated team of young people, dedicated to working hard and openminded in welcoming a variety of personalities and talents.
What impressed me the most is that they seemed to be looking for the right kind of person, for the right fit in terms of motivations and aspirations. More than entrepreneurial experience, it was important to show who you are as a person and where you want to go in the future.
I knew then that if I were invited, I’d have a great time in the program.
Due to the specific situation in spring 2020, we had the first three weekends in person with the entire group, sometimes outside of Sofia.
And it was amazing. Hard work, morning till late night, but if you’re imagining yawning in a warm lecture room, think again.
The lectures were broken apart by games and tasks especially designed to challenge you on every level—from time pressure to leadership to management style and cooperation. Despite the tight schedule, you also have time to get to know the other participants and to reflect in groups with your mentor.
As invaluable as those sessions in person were, I am even more impressed by the team’s dedication to keep things running as smoothly as possible when March 2020 threw all sorts of curveballs at us.
We moved the program online, using breakout rooms and exercises to keep everyone engaged. Even Demo Day was impressive.
Naturally, as soon as I was accepted, I couldn’t wait to meet the rest of the participants. After so many years abroad, I wanted to make sure that I’d have a great new circle back in Bulgaria.
I was not disappointed.
Trust me when I say that through ABLE Activator, you learn at a quick and constant pace, not only from the amazing tutors, practical exercises and pitching sessions, but also from the rest of the participants.
You have a question about online marketing? Or law? Or finance?
Chances are, one of the other 29 participants can help you out. The selection process is done incredibly well, and everyone in ABLE Activator is open and motivated to help build each other up.
We are in contact even after the end of the program, having formed great friendships and even partnerships.
The team project
As part of the program, we formed teams to work on an idea. This is honestly THE BEST way to learn about entrepreneurship. You go ahead and do it.
You don’t need an idea beforehand—it can be something you come up with on the spot with your team. And likely, you’ll pivot that. A couple of times.
For someone with a rather academic background, I found this practical experience invaluable. Now, when I have a stray idea, which of course happens all the time, I start thinking of all the steps we were taught, and I know where to start.
And the cherry on top? That’s the experience you go through as a team.
I learned so much from everyone on my team. We fed off each other’s energy, tried different roles in the team, supported each other and grew together every step of the way.
In a world where entrepreneurs are often described as crazy dreamers, it’s worth knowing you’re not the only crazy dreamer in the room.
ABLE Activator is a great program for anyone looking for a challenging experience, a great network, and a place to contribute and develop yourself in the future.
I’d like to extend a friendly nudge to everyone who considers applying. Go for it!