Small Business

How a small business from Bulgaria painted its way out of crisis

Escreo introduced a new IT system with support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme


Escreo is a company specialising in dry-erase paint that can transform any flat surface into a whiteboard. The company undertook an IT project with the support of one of the newest donors in Bulgaria, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The EBRD recently celebrated an important milestone: 30,000 advisory projects with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across 30 economies.

Behind these projects lie the stories of entrepreneurs who sought external expertise in pursuit of building better, stronger and more resilient companies.

Escreo’s story began back in 2013 when the three founders, Elena Nikolova, Iskren Mitev and Yasen Rusev, met during a summer entrepreneurship programme. This ignited their passion to create, and went on to inspire name of their company, which means “you create”.

They were very successful with the creating part, not only developing a unique product but turning their idea into a profitable business in less than five years.

During that time, Escreo attracted external investment and won a number of prestigious awards, including the Forbes Bulgaria “30 Under 30” Award and the national Founder of the Year prize. In 2019, the company was selected as one of ten to participate in Endeavor’s Dare to Scale growth programme.

However, the company was facing operational issues when it first met with the EBRD team. As all its data was stored in Excel files, there was no single place from which to view the complete financial, sales and logistics picture of the organisation in real time.

Under the EBRD Advice for Small Businesses programme, the company was able to implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system – an IT system integrating processes across different parts of the business.

Together with an IT consultant, Escreo completed the project within only six months, integrating the ERP system with its website and ensuring it could accommodate further growth of the company.

Creating opportunities

This growth was called into question when the coronavirus pandemic broke out mid-project. Many businesses stopped using office space and reduced the renovation and improvements budgets which were Escreo’s main source of income.

How long does it take to completely shift your sales strategy, redefine the profile of your customers and then reach them, while simultaneously inventing a new strategy for keeping your company afloat?

Exactly seven days after the lockdown started in Bulgaria, Escreo promoted their innovative whiteboard paint on their blog with an article, “Three Benefits of Escreo Whiteboard Paint at Your Home”, these being “be yourself”, “learn effectively” and “create boldly”. They shifted their focus from office space and business clients to the home and individual customers.

However, these were not just three benefits but three guiding principles by which the company abides. If people were going to work out of the office, then Escreo was going to work out of the box.

The company achieved this by introducing an entirely new product, Escreo Flip, an acoustic desk divider made to shield from noise – especially useful for those working from home, but also improving the safety and focus of those working in the office.

“Being an entrepreneur is above all about staying flexible and adapting to reality, seeing everything as an opportunity rather than a problem you cannot solve. That is why we embrace change within our mindset and endeavour to stay positive,” says Elena.

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