After in summer 2015 South Central Ventures fund (Enterprise Innovation Fund – ENIF) invested one million euro in the company Agrivi, in December 2016 the news came about investing two million euro in a Croatian company again – this time Bulb Technologies. At the same time, this is the highest investment of the fund so far. The investment that includes two words – millions and euro – is more than a good reason to write a longer story.
The story actually began in 2007 when Vedran Rezar and Neven Stipčević, after spending many years in various operational positions in companies involved in telecommunications and software development, established Bulb Technologies. The company develops and implements software solutions for business process automation in the segment of telecommunication services. I asked Vedran for a detailed explanation and he told me:
These solutions are primarily intended for the customer-premises equipment (CPE) through which telecom services (telephone, internet, TV) are provided, then managing network elements in an operator’s access network and the tools aimed to automate the diagnostics process of troubleshooting on all types of telecommunication services.
In addition to this, Bulb has in recent years carried out a number of projects in the segment of producing solutions for IPTV service distribution via internet (OTT TV) or, explained differently, it’s about service that can be followed by mobile and PC devices, adds Vedran.
Without direct competitors in Southeast Europe
All this seems a bit complex? You are quite right to think so. As Vedran explains further, Bulb Technologies with their products and expertise cover a very specific and technologically challenging area. He reveals that in Southeast Europe, Bulb actually doesn’t have a direct competitor that would boast many products similar to the solutions they offer. He adds that at open calls of telecom operators they very often encounter large global companies as for example Nokia, IBM, HP and Cisco.
What sets us apart from the competitors is the fact that we as a company are fully committed to our highly specialized technological segment, and in the end this is what makes the difference between us and the companies for which this is only a small part of their offer. Our business results in the last 10 years show us that this is the correct approach and over the years it has enabled us to become a reliable partner and supplier to the majority of operators in our region.
It should be mentioned that the global telecom software market annually grows by about 6 percent and it is estimated that by 2018 it will be worth 34.2 billion dollars. At the same time, quality customer support is one of the competitive advantages and it is estimated that the global market for Customer Experience Management (CEM) will be worth 13.2 billion dollars by 2021.
Cempresso to raise efficiency in telecom troubleshooting
Cempresso stands out among their products because it represents a new concept of a platform that enables telecom service operators to significantly raise their level of efficiency in the process of troubleshooting on all types of services, from internet, TV, phone to others. Vedran highlights:
It should be emphasized that in addition to increasing the efficiency of business processes, Cempresso contributes significantly to raising the quality level of services provided. Precisely the part that is today called Customer Experience Management is becoming an increasingly important element to which telecom operators are paying more attention because it is directly linked to the revenue side of their business.
He adds that Cempresso stands for a comprehensive CEM tool that is used by all participants, from customer service agents, expert and field teams, to end users who use Cempresso through mobile applications and portals for “self-help”. The DACS (DOCSIS/DHCP Auto Configuration Server) and NEPS (Network Element Provisioning System) should also be mentioned, and there is as well the aforementioned OTT TV – Vedran says that this is a very propulsive segment in which Bulb will continue to invest.
All of the products mentioned have proven themselves successful with the largest operators in the region and Bulb is preparing to considerably intensify the sales activities in other markets as well.
Among the clients of Bulb Technologies we can find for example Deutsche Telekom, Hrvatski Telekom and Iskon, Telekom Austria, Vip, B.net and others. Bulb Technologies currently employs about 40 people, but given the recent investment Vedran says that in the next three years the number of employees is expected to rise significantly.
Expanding into EU and distant markets
Of course, the conversation could not bypass the question on how it came to South Central Ventures fund’s investment. Vedran says that parallel to the plans to intensively try to open new markets, more than a year ago they decided to search for funding.
As the optimal way to provide funding for company’s development we preferred a VC fund, so in that sense we started to talk to representatives of the South Central Ventures. In any case, the arrival of VC funds with the investment focus on fast-growing technology companies in this region is certainly going to bring multiple benefits for the investors as well as the companies that receive funding, but also for the development of economy as a whole.
Vedran points out that with South Central Ventures’ investment Bulb Technologies move towards a new expansion as well as products’ development and promotion on international markets and concludes by saying:
In terms of new markets, our focus will be on the EU countries and with the help of the partner network we will immediately try to cover some distant markets too. Given that in the last couple of years our solutions have proved to be of the highest quality level in the market of Southeast Europe, we are confident of having very good and certain opportunities for an international success of the company.