Most of the times, when we see a promising startup, the narratives are pretty straightforward. A couple of colleagues who worked at a company found a smarter way to solve a client’s problem, but the company was slow to adapt to their idea, so they started their own. A founder who saw something that worked in foreign market, and implemented it in their home country. Or when founders build a tool for themselves, that they then spin out into a product of its own.
But it’s a completely different story when the founders of a software startup first get to know each other, setting up an NGO to help children in minority communities improve their literacy. That’s exactly how things started for Fabrico, over a decade ago. Blagovesta Pugyova, Fabrico’s CEO, launched an initiative to collect and deliver books to majority-Roma neighborhoods in Bulgarian cities. She was joined in this by her childhood friend Teodora Terzieva, and soon many of their colleagues and friends from the software and finance industries, where Blagovesta and Teodora worked early on in their careers, joined forces with them in that endeavor.
At some point, the team of the NGO decided to do something radical; instead of collecting corporate donations from their employers and other software companies, they came up with a novel approach; let’s launch our own software company, under the NGO, so we can self-finance the non-profit activities. Thus the company Childish Software Development was born. After a few years, the company started doing well, and many of the NGO volunteers joined as partners and full-time employees. One client project kept the team particularly busy and created a lot of excitement: automating the maintenance management of a large industrial manufacturing plant.
As the team successfully completed the project, they started seeing other clients with similar needs, and shortly thereafter, Childish spun out the project into a new, separate product company called Fabrico.
Today, Blagovesta, Teodora, Andrei, Nick and Veselin are a 5-person founder team fully focused on Fabrico, with another seven team members having joined them full-time: Anna, Aleta, Alexander, Maya, Teodor, Kaloyan, and Martin. With Vitosha, we had the pleasure of leading a EUR 680,000 seed round investment into the company, joined by a number of angels, as well as the investment funds Innovation Capital and Sofia Angels Ventures.
With a working first version of the tool, a number of paying clients that include some of the largest industrial plants in Bulgaria, an underserved market, and a healthy warchest of funds, the company’s future is looking bright.
“It’s quite incredible to see that a lot of the large manufacturing facilities still use either paper notebooks attached to the machines, or employee group chats to keep track of machine maintenance needs”, says Blagovesta, as we sit in the company’s workspace in the Campus X building, one of the hotspots of the Sofia tech startup community.
“And it’s not just the maintenance itself”, she continues. “Even when it’s clear what maintenance is needed for which machines, when you use pen-and-paper or other non-purposed systems, you get a very big lag in communication and supply management”. With Fabrico, we offer a system where each employee has a mobile app that directs them exactly what to do and when, and the maintenance managers have a dashboard that allows them to approve tickets, and to stay on top of supplies and intervention priorities.”
Fabrico is not a unique solution on the global market, but it’s the only one that offers local onboarding and support, and a holistic pricing model that is geared towards the complete needs of the client, and not just specific maintenance workflows. Continuing to build up their sales in Bulgaria, the Fabrico team is now also launching in other markets too, starting partnerships in other European countries, where they join forces with automation consultants and systems integrators that already have workflows within the factories and industrial plants, and have a keen understanding of the need for a solution like this.
Especially in times like these, when Europe is dealing with massive workforce shortages, solutions like Fabrico provide a much-needed way for the manufacturing industry to save up the scarce human resources, by introducing workflows and efficiency to keep the equipment uptime as high as possible and all staff members active and productive.
For us at Vitosha, the sound business logic of Fabrico, and its team’s excellent abilities and track record are as important as the drive and motivation that took them from friendship, to an NGO, to a successful software business, and then to a product startup. We are looking forward to this journey together, towards the next successful chapters of this remarkable team and a product that solves very real and big problems.