Dec. 1, 2022

Navigating the world of innovative personal finance tools with Bulgarian startup founder Zornitsa Nikolova

Navigating the world of innovative personal finance tools with Bulgarian startup founder Zornitsa Nikolova

In the communist regime back in Soviet times, you didn’t have a labor market. The job is found for you. So if you had quit, you couldn’t easily find another job especially if you were not a communist party member. So in Zornitsa Nikolova’s eyes, her father was like a hero.

 

This shaped her beliefs and desire for personal freedom. For creating for yourself options when others didn’t see them. For fighting to survive and do what she really wants to do and not be somehow oppressed by the circumstances. This is why she is trying to create Viziwealth.  

 

Tune in to hear Zornitsa’s story including:

 

15:53 – how has wealth management changed from ten years ago?

18:15 – what do users get excited about when they start using the platform?

23:25 – who was the first investor for Viziwealth and what was that experience like?

24:15 – if I would give you $10,000 to grow your business, how would you spend it?

25:44 – are there any channels that are helping you get new users?

29:20 – who is a brilliant entrepreneur in Bulgaria that you’d like to give a shout out to?

30:45 – a favorite movie you can watch again and again?

31:30 – along the way of creating Viziwealth, you learned a lot about __________.

 

Do you wish to connect with our special guest?

Visit Zornitsa Nikolova’s website: https://viziwealth.com/

 

Tune in to every conversation about exciting European Startups and Innovators on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon! Leave a rating and review so we can keep making amazing interviews!

 

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Innovators Can Laugh in your favorite podcast player.

 

Connect with Eric:

Visit his website: https://innovatorscanlaugh.com


For the Innovators Can Laugh newsletter in your inbox every week, subscribe at https://innovatorscanlaugh.substack.com

 

Past Guests:

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Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh in

Tune in to every conversation about exciting European Startups and Innovators on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon! Leave a rating and review so we can keep making amazing interviews!

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Innovators Can Laugh in your favorite podcast player.

Connect with Eric:
Visit his website: https://innovatorscanlaugh.com


For the Innovators Can Laugh newsletter in your inbox every week, subscribe at https://innovatorscanlaugh.substack.com

Past Guests:
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Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Zabulis, Leon van der Laan, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė.
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Transcript

Hey, you're listening to Innovators Can Laugh, the Fun Startup podcast. I'm your host, Eric Noer on ico. We interview an innovative entrepreneur in the European tech startup scene every week. My goal is to have my guests share their wisdom while having a little fun in the process. Now, let's dive.

Hi everyone. My guest today is Bulgarian entrepreneur, Zo Nikolova. Zo is an agile coach who loves building software products. Her latest product is Busy Wealth, a collaborative wealth management platform for the entire family. With the application, you can have an organized and holistic view of your personal finances and be able to plan for important events in your life.

Z Anza, welcome two innovators. Can. Thank you Eric. Thanks a lot for the invitation. I really enjoyed the podcast and your fresh perspective on entrepreneurship. Oh, hey, pleasure having you here. So, so you know this recently, this past weekend my wife and I were driving back to Buchar from the mountains and I asked her if I were to pass away.

Would she know where and how to access all of our financial accounts? Now, of course, she asked like, why did you say that? Why are you thinking that, you know, ? But me being a responsible parent and spouse, I wanna make sure that she, and we have a plan. In place in case something happened to either of us. We have a few different bank accounts.

We have retirement accounts, we have some stocks, a little bit of crypto, and some ETS for our kids set aside. And they're kind of all over the place. They're just really scattered and I wanna make sure that she can be able to access them and just knows, knows where everything is. So, was this what I'm going through now with my wife?

What we're trying to get organized here? Was this a problem that you encountered Person? Wow. Thank you for sharing that, Eric. Actually, when you were explaining the situation, I went back three years ago when my kid my third kid actually was born. And it was in the beginning of the pandemic, more or less.

And then, you know, the situation, it was not a very bright situation to be in. A mess in the world and something scary happening. And you know, we already had three kids to look after this is exactly the conversation we started leading with my husband. And and I started asking him, because he is the one mostly in charge.

Let's say family, finance, investment, all that stuff, and I started asking him do you know what we have, you know, in the worst case scenario, how, how do we know? And he was, at one point he grew really suspicious and he was looking at me and saying, wow, why are you asking me that ? Yeah. So it took me a while to convince him to get everything into one place and share, you know, And I think he was quite relieved when I actually eventually told him, okay, look, I have this startup idea.

What do you think? So he was like, wow, I thought something else. You know, . But yeah, yeah, basically we started from there too, and it's not a problem. People like to think about, you know, it's, nobody likes to think about the worst case scenario. And even, even if we are not talking about the worst case scenario, even if we are talking about today and our daily needs, you know people are usually.

Lazy about managing their personal finance. They don't want to do budgeting, they don't want to do all these boring stuff and, and get things together until you know, it's urgent. And then they, they look for a quick solution. And with personal finance, it doesn't really always work like that. I mean, you have to do some planning.

You have to To take care that you have your, your goals in place and you have a vision for your future. And this is the kind of a thinking that we've put in visible and we know that people are struggling with that. They're struggling to start to dive into this topic of You know, personal finance management and finance planning.

It looks scary sometimes and too much effort. So our mission with Visual Wealth is to make it you know, a no brainer kind of for people. Yeah. I think the average family doesn't really talk about finances. Mm-hmm. as a. Growing up finances, especially personal finances, were never really, you know, brought to the table, to the dinner table.

And it wasn't something until later on in life where I was getting close to my thirties that I began reading books about personal finance. And prior to that though, it was. Kind of like, you know, closed mouth. No one said anything about it. If you had, okay, go get a savings account and a checking account.

But that was kind of it. And so I think first you need to just be opening that discussion and so that people can at least first start, you know, talking about finances. And it's not so secretive. You know, it's, that's something I'm planning on doing with my kids as they get older. I take 'em to the grocery store and I'm like, you see this?

You know, this. Five le or this costs 10 le letting him know that there's a, there's a cost associated with these things that we're buying, right? But getting him you know, more exposed to budgeting and, and just money, everyday money and, you know, why we work and why we save and, and things like that.

So let's go back to we're gonna come back to busy wealth, but let's go to your childhood and can you tell us where you were from and what your childhood was, childhood was like, and how did that play a part in how you see the world? Okay. So I grew up actually in a small town in Bulgaria.

It's called Raza. Okay. It's a beautiful town, so if you have a chance to visit Bulgaria, I recommend okay. And I grew up in interesting times, you know it was at the end of the communist. More or less I was 10 when communism kind of ended. And I lived through parts of it, the, the last year of communism, some crisis in, in communist regime.

And then Ever since then, we are transforming the country more or less in the economy. So we, we have been living a lot in, in a transition period since then. Okay. What were some of the, some of the, if you don't mind me interrupting, what were some of the worst things that you experienced during communist times when you were a young girl?

Yeah. I think when you were talking about Having the, the, the culture and the discipline to share and to, to do the budgeting with your kids. I remembered when I was a little kid, maybe it was probably just after the, the, the end of communism, not really during, still during Communist times, but.

Just after the end of it when there was a huge crisis, you couldn't buy anything in the shop, so it was really, really bad. And then we had inflation and all that stuff. And actually, From the perspective where I am now and talking about personal finance, I think I was a little bit lucky at that point that actually my family was really pushed to be, first of all transparent about the incomes.

So everything, when they got their salaries, everything was collected together in a drawer at home, you know, counted. And then we had a very strict budget prepared. You know, food and maybe sometimes clothes, maybe not. You wear some something from your mother or father or whatever you have. So So this created in me a certain you know, expectation that this is how things should be in a family transparent, you know, okay, this, this level of transparency.

And also the idea of budgeting together and really thinking ahead. And so these are some basic, you know, financial habits. And I think my parents weren't really aware. That they were building such in my sister and myself mm-hmm. They were pushed from the circumstances to do it, but eventually I think it was good.

So when they were putting the money and the drawer and they were saying, we have this strict budget, were they Were they just showing you this and telling you this, this is what we have. Yeah. And was it more educational for them or they, you said that they were unaware of what they were doing? No, it was just real life, you know, they just had to do it.

And we lived together with my grandparents of six people in two bedroom apartment, you can imagine. Mm-hmm. . So everything was shared, everything was transparent. You couldn't really. Hide and, and count the money under a table. . So and a two bedroom, a two bedroom, at least here in Romania, two bedroom is really a one bedroom and a living room.

Is that the case of No, it's really No, no. It's really two bedroom and a living room. Okay. So we had three rooms for six people. Okay. Yeah. Here. And, and when they say it's a, it's a two bedroom. It's really like one bedroom here, but, but. Okay. Yeah. So it's a little bit bigger than I imagine. . Yeah, , yeah.

Okay. Big enough. But yeah, this was one one thing that that kind of shaped some habits. And when you asked me about my childhood, I remembered another thing that is kind of related to where I am. It was again, end of communism the, the last years. And I remember one morning waking up and finding my father at home and usually he would leave very, very early because he started his work at like 7, 7 15 in the morning.

So I would rare find him at home when I. Okay. And he, he is at home and I'm asking him, what are you doing? Are you sick or something? And he is like, no I'm my own boss already. And I'm like, wow. And you can imagine it's a situation where you have this you know, communist type of factories where the boss is really somebody big from the communist part.

You cannot have. To be the boss and my father and my mother, they were just regular engineers, hardworking, regular engineers. Mm-hmm. And they, we didn't have any bosses in the family, you know, so the boss was a big thing. And my father is telling me that, and I'm, wow, that's, that's like a big. Later, I, I found out that actually what happened was that he had a fight with his boss at work and his, my father is a very stubborn guy, you know, a little bit of a rebel , which is good in some situations, in others, not so good.

When you have a teenage daughter, it's not so good, but, In this case, he , he really had a, had a fight with his boss, and he just quit job and just, just left, you know? Yeah. And you can imagine what it means in, in the communist regime where you didn't have labor market or anything. I mean, the, the job is found for you, if I may say that.

And. Quit. You cannot easily find another job especially if you are not a Communist Party member, which my father was not. But I discovered this later, but at that point he was like my hero. And And actually what he did afterwards he really started his own business. So it was at the time when already some private initiative was allowed, so he started something on his own.

Okay. So I think this is an episode that it, it sounds. Like something really stupid to do if you are in this situation. But in the end I think in me it shaped some value for, you know, for personal freedom, for creating yourself options when you don't see others you know, for. For fighting to survive and, and do what you really want to do and not be pressed by the circumstances somehow.

Yeah. So I think this was why currently I'm actually trying to build something and to, to work as an entre. Yeah. As you're telling me this, what I, what I, at least how I perceive this is that as a young girl, as a child, you see your parent. Who is no longer working, but instead of being depressed or being down or showing any sort of like body language that they feel down.

Instead, he tells you, I'm the boss now. And it's like that one little line there and how he says it, and again, I, I wasn't there, but I'm imagining how he said it and how he perceived. Really shaped your perception of him and then also helped you become the person that you eventually are turning into. But you are right now and turning into, I mean, what a wonderful thing that your, your father did in that moment in his life, was to be strong, even though when he had no idea what was gonna happen.

What was the the uncertainty. Uncertainty that, you know, he was going through right now, but that belief in himself that he was going to, that things were gonna turn out right. Showcase that to you. That's very admirable. Very, very admirable. Right. Okay, so question regarding wealth management. How do you think wealth management has changed from 10 years ago to what we're seeing now with the new technology that's out today and the ease of, you know, different applications and tools that are available within the palm of our.

Mm. Well, I think first of all our consumer world has changed a lot in terms of the assets we can create investments we can make over the past. 10 years, you see all the different opportunities. We have crypto, we have all the different robot advisors, platforms for investment. So it's a really, really diverse world of opportunities and tools that people can use to to put their money and try to make their future better.

In terms of of. So also wealth management is becoming more complex because of that, and it takes more and more time for people to on one hand side, we have a lot of tools that are supposed to make our lives easier. You know, like the robot advisor, ETFs and all that stuff. On the other hand, having all those options makes it complex.

So in the end you have to sit and read and inform yourself and and really try to, to make up your mind about where you, you want to put your money. So eventually most people end up like having. 20 accounts everywhere. Putting a few bug here and a few bug there and trying to play a little.

Yeah, and, and yeah, this is challenging in its own in the context of what we started with, really knowing, even I forget some of the assets that I have unless I put them organized somewhere. So so yeah, there are some challenges in that direction and actually, With V Wealth, we are really trying to address some of those.

So when you when you talk about these different challenges that people are facing, because just like myself, I've got assets all over the place. When, when users start using the platform, using the application, what do they get excited about right when they start using it? Well for me, when, when I personally first tested as a user it was so cool to just.

Put in all our family assets and immediately see you know, the network where we are, what's taking, what part of it. So it's, it's like you know, you have it, but you haven't really visualized it. So it's not, it's not clear. It's some, some, somewhere in the background, this knowledge that, okay, you are not starving.

You know, you will survive. But when you see it, it creates, A sense of, you know, security and stability, and you can actually start, oh wow. I, I do have some stuff, you know, I'm not mm-hmm. A beggar. And yeah, maybe I can actually start planning something bigger. Maybe I, I, I can change this apartment, which is.

Too small for my three kids or uh, or plan. Anything else. And, and this changes your, your thinking a little bit from you know, trying to to live day to day and trying to cover your expenses and, and really do this budgeting thing where we usually start, when we talk about personal finance from, from.

Thinking into, I would say, scarcity from this perspective into thinking from an abundance perspective. Okay. I, I, I do have some resources. How could I invest them in the most meaningful way? To actually live the life I dream about. Okay. And yeah, this is kind of the highlight that we are trying to inspire in people.

Yeah. No, I think it would be very cool to just be able to open up an application. And just see everything combined. Mm-hmm. , you know, just log in and plug all your different accounts there and you can see like an overall picture of your assets and a picture of your wealth and know what's What's the value of each one?

You know, and I'm not sure if you can see that over time, going back like a custom date range and seeing the fluctuations, but I imagined you can. The app also says that you could plan for important events in your life. Is there a functionality where you can say, I'm trying to save up to buy, you know, a down payment for a new house, or, or, or something like that inside the app?

Can you tell us more? Right, right. There is there is functionality that helps you formulate your goals. And this could be like really big goal, like a new house or maybe your saving for the education of your kids or for pension or for whatever bigger dream you have. Or this could even be something much smaller.

Like, I want to, to go on a nice vacation. Surprise vacation for for family, and I want to save some money for that. And the good thing is that we, as I told you, we, we've been thinking from the very beginning, we've be, we've been thinking from the perspective of families. So this wealth can be used by individuals, but it can also very well be used by family.

So you can share some stuff. Some, some goals or some assets with your partner, for example, but you can leave like the secret vacation saving that you're doing for yourself and really surprise your partner with that. So yeah, you can do that. And And we are basically, we are trying to, to offer a set of self services self service tools to our users mm-hmm.

so that they can be really independent. They can just log in and start planning themselves without really needing. An advisor to tell them what to do. On the other hand side, we know that sometimes it, it does take human touch, you know, to to be brave enough, even to, to plan for your dreams. So we also want to support our users in that way, offering them the possibility if they need.

To consult a professional financial advisor. And we, we already partner with some independent consultant, which is also something very important for us to have. Really people who will coach our users from the perspective of their needs and not from the perspective of, okay, I want you to buy some insurances or, So yeah.

Okay. Who was the first investor for busy wealth? If there was one and if there was a, an investor, what was that experience like? It's fff, , you know, friends, foods and family,

So we are still at this stage we are bootstrapping. Still. Okay. So our investments are from the team at this point. And we have currently actually joined an accelerator. Okay. To, to streamline our effort and to prepare ourselves for the next steps in this direction to really start talking to some investors and see how we can fund our.

Okay. If I were to give you $10,000 to help grow your business, what would you do? Anita? Would you, would you give me that

Well, our current focus is really reaching more people who could be, who would be interested to to try the platform and start using it. Because for us at the moment, the most important thing is really to learn. From our users to learn from the market. Yeah. We know we are not perfect. We are far from perfect yet because we are in, in the very beginning of this journey.

Mm-hmm. . That's why feedback from our users is so important. And we really celebrate. We have some feedback options in the, in the app so people can give us instant feedback when they don't like something. Can write us. This is like horrible. And hopefully sometimes they say, okay, I love this. So and we are really celebrating every new comment that comes and we are taking it and we are discussing and redesigning stuff.

So for us, really this is like the primary thing, reaching out more people being able to, to get them on board and being able. To, to really use that valuable feedback to improve the service. Okay. And are there That would be, yeah. Are there, are there any channels or interesting opportunities that you're experi, that you're executing right now that are helping you get new users?

And new customers for the platform. So we are, we are basically working in several directions. We are trying to be active on social media, of course to, to to get some organic new users. And we are also using our partner. To or using them is is probably the wrong world. The world we are trying to create synergies and win-win situations with our partners.

So we are, right now, we are planning a series of workshops with different companies that we consider. As, as target potential target users for, for what we do. So we are planning some workshops with our partners together to, from one hand side, our partners financial advisors, they're experts in, you know, personal finance, investment and all those topics.

So, We want to, to bring them together with us to really give some content, really some some useful information and experience to participants in those workshops. And at the same time really showcase how this world could help. In this journey. And we have a bunch of other, you know, fun experiences like parti, we, we are also selected to participate in a.

New reality format on Bloomberg in Bulgaria. Okay, so it's a startup show, a startup contest kind of. So we are taking part in that. So we have different channels and we are kind of experimenting and seeing what we, what works for us. So cool. Very, very cool. Yeah. And so do your kids, do they get to engage with the app and are they able to see like all of your family's you know, wealth and assets through the app, or are they using it as well?

I've I've shared some information with my older kids because they're 15 and 11. They're old enough to, you know, to understand. And it's been very interesting, especially for my older son who's 15. He is you know, starting to ask questions, also getting interested into the topic of investing and stuff like that.

And my little one is like three, so maybe we have to develop something, especially, you know, a different approach. Yeah. Your little one has a few years, I think before you can do it. Okay. We're gonna get into some. Some fun questions in just a second, but one more question is, or who is a brilliant.

Entrepreneur or marketer in Bulgaria you'd like to give a shout out to? And what can we learn from this person and where can we find them? Oh we have a lot of you know, remarkable people in the ecosystem here. So one lady, for example, that I admire really much is she's called Alina.

And she she, she is managing partner at Long and I forgot the name of the company. I'm sorry. She, she created design thinking BG at. Some time ago. Okay. And she was the person bringing, really design thinking into the ecosystem, teaching people how to think from a customer perspective.

And later her her startup was acquired. But I think she is like a source of inspiration and really a great person to talk to. Okay. So maybe that's one person I, I can think of at the moment. Right. And there are for sure there are more. Oh, I know I've interviewed a few of them already. . Yeah.

Okay. Now for some fun questions. Zza, what is a favorite movie? Or TV show or song that you can listen to or watch again and again over and over. Well, okay, that's kind of boring, but I've watched friends like, okay, 10 times, maybe all the seasons. And I think I can do again, . It's always funny. . No, my wife loves that show.

She's seen them off. He's at least a few times too, so yeah. Yeah. No, it's very popular show. I can do the same thing with Seinfeld. Okay. What is and you have, this is a fill in the blank question as. Along the way of launching Busy Wealth, you learned a lot about Blank along the way of launching Busy Wealth.

You learned a lot about blank fill in that blank there, falling and getting up

Okay, and I think so. I still have a lot to learn there. , what was, what was your hardest, hardest fall so far as you've been growing up? Actually, as we speak, I come from, you know last night I, I was pitching to some mentors and they gave, gave me a really harsh feedback and I'm still recovering from that.

But from the pitch itself? From the pitch. From the pitch, yeah. . Okay. So but yeah, this is the, the game and I am actually happy to have the opportunities to, to have wake up calls, you know, and to Yeah. To keep my ears open and my eyes open and and improve. So yeah, no, good, good feedback is, is phenomenal.

And I know it's our natural inclination to be upset because we just, and so just, we just don't like criticism. But when it's good quality feedback and you understand where they're coming from, and you look back, Oh, yes, I can approve upon that or that does make sense, so Exactly. Yeah, don't, don't beat your yourself up too hard on that.

Okay. ZZA, thank you so much for being on the show, everybody. I will include a link to Z's LinkedIn profile along with the V Wealth website in the show notes. Zita, thank you so much for coming on. Thank you, Eric. It's been a real pleasure to talk to. My pleasure too and for everyone. If you enjoyed what you just heard, you're gonna love what I'm, I'm about to tell you.

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