From Telerik Academy Alpha to Bulgaria’s first unicorn – Payhawk


From Telerik Academy Alpha to Bulgaria’s first unicorn – Payhawk

When Velizar Natovski applied to Telerik Academy Alpha JavaScript, he did it with a clear vision and goal “to contribute to something meaningful with my work and efforts”. He had the motivation to keep learning, practising and improving his skills no matter what. And under the mentorship of the experienced tech and soft skills trainers in Alpha JavaScript, he started sprinting to achieve his goal - working for a company that does meaningful work.  

Did he succeed? Well, see for yourself. 

A week after completing the program, Velizar had a couple of job offers to choose from. We would say he achieved his goal.  

Today, Velizar is part of the team of Payhawk, a fintech company, recently announced as Bulgaria’s first unicorn. Quite a success! 

Some say that the journey is more important than the destination. We agree but we believe that achieving your dream is equally important. So, we reached out to Velizar to talk about both - his inspirational story and what it is like to be a Junior Software Engineer at one of the fastest growing fintech companies in Europe.  


Hi, Velizar! Thank you for your time in what we imagine is an exciting moment for you – Payhawk is officially Bulgaria’s first unicorn! How does it feel to be part of a team and company that has achieved such success? 

I am glad to be a part of this thrilling moment for the team – it’s a fantastic atmosphere! Sometimes it is quite overwhelming because of the dynamics in the company, but the excitement and the feeling that you are part of something great prevail. 

I am eager to see the further development of Payhawk, and I believe that the best is yet to come. 

You have been working at Payhawk for more than 9 months now. What does this success mean to you?  

Payhawk's success is the logical outcome when an excellent vision meets a well thought out product and a fantastic team. This milestone is a success for the entire startup ecosystem in Bulgaria.

Can you tell us a little more about Payhawk - the company's products and what distinguishes it? 

Payhawk is the market leader in Europe in corporate finance management products. With our service, clients in more than 30 countries can easily issue corporate credit and debit cards, manage payments to employees and suppliers. We support integrations with the most widely used accounting software, making Payhawk an "all-in-one" solution for any company, regardless of its size. The speed at which our product adapts to our customer's needs, the dynamic user-feedback-product cycle, and our customer service set us apart from the competition. 

In your Alpha JavaScript application, you shared that you want to work on meaningful products and services. Is that what attracted you to Payhawk, and what do you like most about your job? 

My goal has always been to continue my professional development in a fintech company. After Alpha JavaScript, I was lucky enough to have interviews with many good companies, each with a unique product or service. Payhawk contacted me last, but after only one interview, I was sure that this is my future workplace where I can express myself. It was an easy choice to make. 
The best thing about my job is that I see how the product helps teams worldwide be more efficient and save the most valuable resource of their employees - time. 

What are you currently working on at Payhawk? How do you spend a typical workday?  

I am currently working on key and frequently requested features from our clients. Our team is preparing really nice surprises for all of them in the near future. I spend about 90% of my workday writing code and solving various problems and 10% interacting with interesting people. 

How important is the environment in which you study, work, and develop for you? What are the things you are looking for? 

Given that work takes up a third of our time, it's important to be selective about where you spend it. Apart from the investors’ interest (he smiled), the good thing about working in a startup is that the pace of your career advancement depends solely on you.

Let's take you a little back - what did you find most valuable in the Telerik Academy Alpha JavaScript program

There are too many of them, but I will name just a few that I think are the most important for my work today. The solid technical knowledge learned at the Academy allowed me to feel confident despite the lack of practical experience before the program, and helped me progress much quicker at my job. The programming techniques and tools taught at the Academy are  in line with what the market and the companies look for at junior IT talent. 

One of the most valuable experiences for me were the team exercises and group projects that taught me how a team operates and how this approach transcends the individual one. And so many other skills that I gained during the Academy... 

What made you choose the IT sector in the first place and Telerik Academy as a steppingstone towards a successful career ? How did you know that this was the right place for you?  

The IT sector has always fascinated me, and I have loved computers since I was a child. I studied programming in high school, and I want to express my gratitude to the teachers from PGIM "Yordan Zahariev", Kyustendil. I have known about Telerik Academy since 2012 when I took one of the programming courses. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the circumstances brought me back to programming. Before the Academy, I worked in sales and finance for around five years, which did a lot for my professional and personal development. Thanks to my work, I met my fiancée, Ivelina. 

Beyond the technical skills, how did the program help develop you as a person?

In addition to all the technical skills I mastered during the Alpha JavaScript program, I learned to actively search for answers by myself and to give quality feedback. I realized the power of this skill in building a person's character and abilities. I also realized that no individual skill is superior to the "collective mind" of two or more people with similar vision. Payhawk's collective mind, of over 100 people so far, makes the company successful and paints a bright picture of a successful future.

Thank you for this conversation. We wish you the best of luck, and before we say goodbye, we have one last question - what advice would you give to people who are still one step away and considering changing their careers?

Do it, take the risk. It's worth it. IT is the future, and the best view is from the front row of software development. 

The road to success for Velizar started with the single most impactful step – joining our program Telerik Academy Alpha JavaScript. Today he is part of one of the leading IT companies supporting them on the way to new heights.  

You want to be a successful software developer? Mission possible! Get on the fastest path to a fulfilling IT career, apply to Telerik Academy Alpha with JavaScript.


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