“This year, because of the current situation, we started later – the second week of November.
Enrolment is open until the end of the week, so we still have ongoing club formation. We currently
have 14 clubs, 28 mentors and 150 students from all around Bulgaria, working online.
This year we held no formal opening. Our first event will be a Christmas meeting online for all the
students and mentors. It is planned for December 22, 2020.” (Veronica Racheva, Education Program
Teenovator is a program under which Bulgarian students in the tenth and eleventh grades create
startup clubs and companies. The school year of 2020-2021 is the program’s third. In the first two
years, four schools in Sofia took part, in the second year – a total of 17 schools in Sofia, Varna and
Vratsa. The program is currently taught entirely online, available for the whole country, and includes
over 150 students.
Teenovator is the direct link between business and education. The program connects mentors –
representatives of the Bulgarian business and entrepreneurship fields – and students in the tenth and
eleventh grades. Throughout the school year, the two parties work together, the mentors and
students are in direct contact constantly, holding regular weekly meetings. In the school year of 2020-
2021 the program is conducted online, but in the previous years the meetings took place face-to-face
and included numerous other events in offices of Bulgarian startups and companies. Over the first
two years of the program, about 400 students and 40 mentors participated.
Teenovator has two phases – the first few months mentors teach the so-called soft skills, such as
presenting before investors and design thinking. The second phase is working within the teams on
concrete business ideas conceived by the students and taken to their final starting phase with the
help of the mentors. At the end of the school year, the students present their ideas before a jury of
investors and some of them go on to participate in international competitions with our help. The goal
is for the program, through various practical exercises, to encourage students’ creative thinking by
stimulating them to turn their passion, hobby or solution into a working business.
The program is free and in this way gives the opportunity to students of all walks of life to benefit. In
future we hope to introduce it among marginalized groups. Some students benefit a lot – in the
course of the program, some participants changed their mind about the major they wanted to pursue,
while the connection with the “living business” gives them a more realistic idea of what awaits them
after high school. A lot of the students who take part in Teenovator are rebels against the school
system and benefit much more from practical ways of learning. Students like those achieve a lot
during the program and are extremely proactive.
Teenovator is licensed by the Slovenian “Uchastvarjalnik”, whose methodology was developed based
on successful Stanford University practices and progresses in countries throughout the world.
The program’s objective is to reach all schools in Bulgaria with support from business and
organizations encouraging entrepreneurship. The program is realized with the support of BEC (the
Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Center) and the America for Bulgaria Foundation.