Lilia Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify, has built a virtual company with zero employees, all freelancers and scaled it without outside financing. Read on for more.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to you. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey.
Lilia Stoyanov: I was born in Bulgaria. It was part of the communist block before 1989. After that, I moved to the UK and I traveled a lot.
At the very beginning, it was sports that made me more ambitious and more willing to try new things. When you compete, you never stop. To become a champion, you need to start over and over again.
It wasn’t a straightforward journey into entrepreneurship although I’m the ninth generation. My family is just from one place. They were consolidating businesses and traveling from one country to another. We knew how to survive and protect businesses in hard times. I was told stories about how my grandparents survived and built their businesses. We just don’t panic.
Sramana Mitra: How long did you live in Bulgaria?
Lilia Stoyanov: I lived in Bulgaria for 26 years.
Sramana Mitra: You did all your schooling in Bulgaria?
Lilia Stoyanov: Yes, I earned my Bachelors there. After that, I graduated from Oxford. I’m also a chartered accountant in the UK.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do after Oxford? Did you work somewhere or did you start your company right away?
Lilia Stoyanov: I started my career as an auditor with EY. After that, I joined one of EY’s customers. I became CFO at 27. The company is listed on Tel Aviv stock exchange. It’s called TBI Leasing.
After that, I joined Skrill. I stayed there for five years. The goal of the management team was to increase their valuation. When I joined, they were doing a funding round. The valuation was $186 million. When I left, it was acquired for $1 billion.
After that, I joined Coca-Cola Enterprises. I led the team that led the business transformation across Europe. I won the 2013 Finance Excellence Award for this project. It was correlated with my involvement with the working capital enhancement project, which led to $600 million in savings.
After all this, I had money and time. I decided to go to Oxford and to do an Executive Degree in Financial Strategy. All this time, I was involved in M&A. We even prepared Skrill in 2011 for listing.
Financial strategy is much more than business combinations. It’s much more than exit strategy. It’s much more than a market entry strategy. It’s about the entire journey of a business and where you want to take it, and how you maximize the value of stakeholders.