Bulgaria: Meet the man who created a haven for digital nomads at the foot of the Pirin Mountains

Matthias Zeitler is the co-founder of Coworking Bansko, one of the most recognized destinations for digital nomads in Europe. This German entrepreneur, himself a digital nomad, created the refuge for foreigners five years ago.

He chose the small mountain town of Bansko, one of Bulgaria’s leading ski resorts. “I decided that Bulgaria was actually a very interesting place because the cost of living was low,” Matthias said. “There is low taxation. It’s in Europe, so you have no problem with visas and the nature is amazing. I found Bansko, here in the Pirin mountain range. As I like the mountains, for me it was a natural choice to come here.”

Today Bansko Coworking has about 100 members from all over the world. Most of them work in the digital space and include copywriters, translators, graphic designers, and software developers. What makes this place magical, according to Matthias, is its community.

A place where people thrive

The coworking environment offers many opportunities to share skills and present business ideas, as well as offering sports and social activities. Members can work and at the same time meet people to ski and snowboard with.

“Of course, we could all work from home, but it’s quite boring. People come here to be around like-minded people who understand their needs and your vision,” Matthias said.

“It really is a mix between working and just enjoying this mountain town.”

Matthias is from Munich, Germany. He made a career out of a large language translation and localization company, but when he started his own online marketing business, he realized he could be based anywhere. He then traveled and worked in many countries, including Russia and the United States.

“For digital nomads, it’s often a bit difficult to get online when they go to big cities. Coworking spaces are full of freelancers who live in the city and these people already have their social networks and connections,” Matthias explained.

“So digital nomads often choose destinations like Bansko, or Bali or Chiang Mai, where they meet many other digital nomads. [to whom] they don’t have to explain that they’re not on vacation, but they actually have to work while they travel.

Matthias started coworking as a hobby so he could work and entertain friends.

“We were about ten friends. We rented a small apartment together. We wanted to play board games and have fun in the mountains. Since then, we have become one of the most recognized nomadic destinations in Europe. We have around 100 members on average and of course that means there are also a lot of new requirements.

Attract big business

Matthias wants to transform Bansko Coworking from a business he owns into something his community owns together. One of the means by which it will achieve this is through “Co-living Bansko”, which will provide accommodation for members. He also wants to grow his business by attracting businesses instead of just freelancers and individual entrepreneurs.

“It’s super important for anyone who wants to start a coworking space or a cohousing space to first understand: what is the reason for starting this business? It’s a different answer for everyone, depending on their motivation. So find out why you want to coworking and then build the coworking space of your dreams.

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