Where are they now? Conversations with alumni

In 1999 Ivan Todorov came from Bulgaria to study international business at HAW Hamburg. After graduating in 2004, he went on to do an MBA at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, USA. He then moved to California, where he worked as a financial advisor and consultant. In 2010, he founded his own private equity company. Today, he is also CEO of his own fintech start-up, Ubund, with the ambitious vision of becoming the 'Amazon for finance'.

‘After graduating from HAW Hamburg and Carnegie Mellon, I moved to California, where I worked in the Internet industry as a financial advisor / restructuring and turnaround consultant and finally as a private equity investment professional. Ten years ago, I founded my own private equity and mergers and acquisitions consulting firm. Nowadays, I still do that but my focus is on Ubund, my fintech start-up, which I founded in 2019.

Years of working with large companies, restructuring their debt, made me realise how crucial financial education is, not just for businesses but also for the individual consumer. So, I switched my focus. The idea behind Ubund started by creating a common place for consumers where they can join forces to become stronger and better educated financially. We wanted to help consumers reduce their monthly bills by consolidating their power and by offering them creative financial terms, while also providing capital financing and customer retention for the businesses which participate on our platform. Ubund’s vision is to build the largest platform for the global reduction of consumer debt and the main marketplace for financial products and services for solving these financial problems. You could say the company plans to become the Amazon for finance.

Analytical skills are important when you are setting up your own business. You need to know how to scale a company, and marketing and growth skills are also crucial. Leadership skills are essential in order to acquire and retain a team of good professionals around you, who will buy into and drive the mission of the company. My studies at HAW Hamburg gave me a very good overview of all aspects of business management and macroeconomics. It taught me how a company runs holistically. In addition, the programme was very good at showing the global interdependencies of the world economy. Most of my professors had previously worked for many years in industry and that foundation of knowledge and the whole practice-oriented approach at HAW Hamburg were very helpful.

I came from Bulgaria, where not a lot of opportunities existed at the time. Some of my family had moved to Germany, so that was the main reason why I decided to study there. But also because Germany is one of the most highly developed countries in Europe and offers quality education at a very affordable, you could say “symbolic” price. Looking back at my studies in Hamburg, there was no one single experience that stands out. It was a sequence of experiences. It was tough at the beginning, as I did not completely understand German, but it helped that part of my degree was in English, so that got me going. Then it was just persistence and hard work to get the work done and to master each subject.

My German improved over the first year, as I learned the vocabulary of business through text books, by listening to professors and classmates and by participating in seminars. I find it is much easier to learn a language when you are in the country. Today I speak Russian, German, English, Portuguese and Spanish in addition to Bulgarian and I have learned most of them the same way. So, don’t get discouraged. There are always setbacks and roadblocks on the way. Get up, dust yourself down and keep going!’

If you are interested in learning more about Ubund: www.ubund.co



Ingrid Weatherall
International Office