When we first met Martin Mateev, we felt his humbleness and calm confidence in what he does. Little did we know of the impressive background that’s behind it. Passionate about technology and innovation, he graduated Computer Science and won a scholarship allowing him to move to New York to additionally study Psychology and Anthropology. Later he became CTO of the notable media startup Mic.com and has additionally realized many tech projects, while enjoying the magic of New York for 10 years.
Martin Mateev, founder and CEO NulaBG
Not surprisingly, the natural next step in his personal and career development was to go and live in Varna, his hometown and the city of unlimited opportunity (if you've got a plan). There he found peace of mind, talented colleagues and a perfect environment to efficiently develop the digital service that he felt is missing in the region.
Noticing the low use of automation by local accounting and banking services, Martin has dedicated his diverse skill set to transform the cash flow management of small and medium businesses. The relatively recent adoption of the EU PSD2 regulation allows the integration between various service providers and banks and becomes the catalizer to create NulaBg. The one-stop shop platform for managing and monitoring your cash flow, automating payment of VAT, employee and other taxes to the revenue agency, payroll, payments to suppliers, basically creates no need to log into your bank accounts and use multiple people and services to organize the financial side of your business, thus making a large chunk of the admin and accounting jobs actually obsolete. Apart from payments, the service allows monitoring, reporting, analysis and recommendations for improved financial management, making use of data which is currently available but sitting unutilized in almost every small business. The app not only saves business owners and managers time and money, but also gives them better overview and control of their business.
The software allows you to integrate and operate all your bank accounts through a single place, making it possible to track and issue payments to all your clients and suppliers, soon even with simple QR scan from your phone. All of that, created in an environment more secure than the usual banking software and needless to say, more secure than the revenue agency.
The company has launched its MVP with selected users and has already integrated with most mainstream Bulgarian banks. NulaBg is onboarding clients while developing even more value by adding features for small and mid-sized businesses.
From Vitosha’s point of view, if there is a trend in VC that can be considered as jumping on the bandwagon, Fintech would be it. Its high valuations and multiple unicorns have made it the sweetest sector for VC money, responsible for 91 unicorns and $400 bn in total valuations. Lured in these lucrative industry fundamentals, we couldn’t stop ourselves from falling for the impressive Martin and NulaBG. Additionally, we saw a founder who had bootstrapped far ahead in the product development before we invested, with an attitude to use capital very efficiently, especially as far as software development expenses are concerned, thus prolonging the runway before being in a position to raise an ambitious follow-on round.
The benefits of a one-stop shop for business finances are obvious, and now the challenge is to break the habits of small companies, and prove that what’s efficient in theory will also be utilized in practice. Allowing access to your bank transactions to third party service providers is obviously a high involvement decision and despite the level of security, there are psychological barriers to overcome in order for PSD2 to become as used in the EU as it was meant to be. Great benchmarks like the local Swedish startup Tink, also based on PSD2, closed a round at EUR 680 million valuation at the end of last year, proving that there is a growing acceptance of open financial data, automation and a need for analytics.
In Bulgaria, there is a volatile cooperation from banks and regulators in the integration process, but Martin is happy to see that most banks and the Bulgarian National Bank are doing a lot to enforce the PSD2 adoption and allow the integration with third party services.
The double edge sword of Fintech is that it’s characterised by greater brand loyalty - once you establish the trust and habits to deal through a certain provider, switching is an option only if there’s something substantially different on the table or you have been drastically disappointed. For that reason, having a first-mover advantage in the Bulgarian market, introducing businesses to this new holistic service, will position NulaBg to improve the lives of many business owners, understand their custom needs and cross-sell many different financial products and services in the long run. As any fintech startup, the more established it becomes, the more trust it is going to create, and just like in any other relationship, in fintech too, trust is the indispensable component.