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Engineer Svetlin Nakov: I put my heart in everything that I do

Photo: personal archive

He is one of the best software engineers and tutors in programming in this country. Svetlin Nakov is only 32 years old. He won many medals at national and international informatics contests as a student in Veliko Tarnovo’s High School of Math. The president even awarded him back in 2004 with the prestigious John Atanasoff prize for his contribution to the development of information technologies and society.

“I have always been interested in technical science,” Svetlin says. He loved to create different objects as a kid. However, when computers appeared, those turned into his passion. He was a gamer at first, but later on he started to train himself in programming. He touched a computer for a first time in the 4th degree, when he joined a workshop. “A computer’s price was equal to a car’s one back then,” he recalls. That was why few people could afford it. Svetlin even started to buy additional literature and to train himself, since he wasn’t contented with the workshop’s knowledge. He managed to sell to his neighbor his first commercial software in the 8th degree – the program could replace the storekeeping notebook. A couple of years later, while still in high school, he started his first job at a local company, which developed a system, allowing analogue phone companies to issue reports on the talks made. Having become a champion at an informatics Olympiad, Svetlin entered the Sofia University without any exams. He started teaching his colleagues programming yet as a student.

“I wanted my colleagues to find it easier to walk along the path of programming and that is why I started to teach, to write books, textbooks, articles etc. That has been my fight over the past 10 – 15 years. My method was the test / mistake one and if I had had a tutor, it would have taken 1/5 of that time. When I solved my living standard problems – a flat, a car etc., I wanted to help the society with its progress in the area. Initially I began with lectures at the university, but soon I realized that I couldn’t get as far as I wanted there. That is why I opened my private school in programming. We taught people to what job vacancies required, practical things. It was tough, but I wasn’t alone in that fight.”

Svetlin receives job offers from Microsoft and Google, but opts for a life in Bulgaria. “If I had accepted the offers, I would have been distracted from my dream: to teach. Besides that I had a company here, projects, responsibilities that I couldn’t simply leave,” the expert explains.

“Almost all our trainings were free for the students. We had created a business model – the good ones continued, while those with bad results dropped out. The first ones were offered to companies that paid their scholarships, i.e. they bought an expert for the future. This person would engage not to leave the company in the course of two years and so the investment returned. The system worked till the beginning of the crisis, when such experts were not wanted anymore. People from our own company of 30 had to be made redundant too. We hoped that the crisis would be over soon, but that didn’t happen. Then I decided to withdraw and to become a programmer. This lasted only 1 year. I became a tutor again, when a software company accepted my offer for the creation of an academy, where software engineers would be trained for free. That is how the Telerik Academy was born.”

What are Svetlin’s dreams?

“I dream of a Bulgaria that is Europe’s Silicon Valley. I.e. we should help this country to build up a really strong IT community – a combination of business and solid education. The state also needs a policy of that kind, since my belief is that the IT sector may turn Bulgaria into one of wealthiest EU member-states. That is my dream.”

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

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