I often get asked this question. The short answer is that it is mainly because I have been surrounded by such people during my whole life and there is no other thing that seems even remotely as natural as this to me.
The first main reason for that is the family I come from. My father operated his small (almost medium-sized) company for high-quality fruit and vegetables during my whole childhood. Therefore, I sometimes visited him at work and helped him with minor tasks. Unfortunately he failed, but he has been working at my mother‘s business ever since. They take projects for the expert valuation of immovable property on behalf of several Bulgarian courts of justice or private contractors. Apart from a few other family members who have been self-employed, one of my grandfathers was a renowned wine-maker before the fall of Bulgaria under pseudo-communist rule. I won’t go as far as to say that it is ‘in my blood’, but I definitely know what the life of an entrepreneur is like, with all its ups and downs…
The second reason is my prior experience in the NGO sector. As a student at the High School of Mathematics in Varna, I co-initiated the debating society there and started visiting numerous meet-ups with experienced entrepreneurs. When I moved to Germany for university, I immediately joined the PionierGarage, the student entrepreneurship club in Karlsruhe. Together with a few other members, I attended the founding ceremony of Gründermagnet, the association of student entrepreneurial initiatives in the German-speaking world. What is more, I led the research team at talKIT, the largest technology forum in Europe solely organised by students, and started r2b-student, a student-led technology transfer consultancy focused on university research with potentially high social and/or ecological impact.
The third reason is my love for technology thanks to my education. It all started with the first computer that I received when I was eight, and continued in high school with the dozens of programming and science competitions I took part in. Most notably, I represented Bulgaria at the 2006 International Astronomy Olympiad in Mumbai, India. Between 2010 and 2014 I studied at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) where I got my B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on mechatronics, autonomous vehicles, and robotics, attending a number of scientific and entrepreneurial conferences. After that, I moved to the TU Munich in order to pursue a Master’s degree in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Cognitive Systems, and to extend the network of r2b-student even more.
My last reason is my practical experience in technical projects. For instance, I worked as a software developer in the early stages of two separate student groups building autonomous vehicles, Kamaro and KITcar, helping the latter with their establishment as a registered non-profit society (e.V.). I also did two internships as both a software and a hardware engineer in an early-stage startup for virtual reality, Inreal Technologies, programmed for several KIT research projects, tutored three courses while I was still there, and started Glagol, a web-based platform for open discussions around the development of the Bulgarian language, to which much of my free time gets devoted.
All this makes it highly possible that I remain part of the startup world, although I am still not sure whether I will start my own business, or continue helping others either by directly working there, financially, or through consulting.