Irina Pandeva from Coworking Bansko: ‘It’s like the whole world keeps coming to us’

by Anna Pelova

Irina is an artistic soul who creates beautiful paintings and logos in her free time. She lives in Bansko and destiny met her with Matthias and Uwe who created Coworking Bansko. Here is her story.

– How did you meet Uwe and Matthias?

– It was at the end of last summer. I saw a post in one Facebook group (Bansko Notice Board). I think it was Matthias who has posted that he wants to open Coworking Bansko. I felt super enthusiastic and I started telling all my friends about this. ‘Look, someone is doing it. I told you that we had to open a coworking space.’ I really believed that Bansko is a very suitable location for coworking. I even had an idea where this could be. I was secretly hoping to get involved in this. I felt like I had to be connected with it but I don’t get in touch. After two days, I received an email from Matthias.

– The law of attraction…

Exactly. I was shocked because I had been thinking about this and how I want to be involved in this. He told me, ‘We have your contact details from Jamie (the admin of the Facebook group). Would you like to meet up because we are looking for a community manager.’ I felt great, enthusiastic, and we arranged to meet up in a bar and chat over a glass of wine. And so I go there, I don’t know how they look. I am drinking wine, and they are also drinking wine, sitting at a table near me. And then Jamie comes and introduces us. It was very fun because we were all already slightly drunk. It was something like a job interview over drinks. Right there, we made a deal and they made me a partner.

– What happened next?

Then we had to find a space for the coworking. It was amazing, everything was very suitable. It was about to work… but it didn’t. We found a different place next to this house and started to renovate it. Everything was orange and going as planned (painted by Uwe). Everything was almost finalized — contracts, Internet, and so on. But something changed at the last minute. We had to find a new space within one week and move there. And we did it.

– What do you love about your job?

In just the last few months, I met so many people and they all became my friends. Maybe 50 people, 50 new Facebook friends. You realize how we are all different but at the same time, we are similar. We all want to create, we all want to have fun, to have a good life, to travel, to meet new people. This is the common thing, despite your religion or country. Everybody is following their dream. For some, it is not even that important what they do, for as long as they have the freedom to travel, to ski, to enjoy their time. I like working with Uwe and Matthias because it teaches me a lot about order. I have a background in the hospitality industry, working with hotels. Coworking Bansko is also a kind of hospitality. You greet guests, you make sure they feel great, you help them. It’s cool. I also learned how to install a heating system and sometimes I try to open my house door with the token for the coworking space (laughs).

I love that there are now many more people in Bansko who have a different nationality and bring a different mindset and energy to the town. Bansko is a touristic town but I feel like there need to be more entrepreneurs with new ideas. I think this will impact the town in a positive way.

– Why did you choose to move to Bansko?

My grandmother’s house is here. I like how I can go to the top of Pirin mountains with my car within 5 minutes. I don’t spend my time in traffic jams. I don’t commute. In Sofia, I perceived that as the biggest waste of my time. Bansko is a very interesting town and I don’t know if its residents realize this. It used to be a very entrepreneurial city — many years ago, people were traveling and trading with Europe, Asia. They were very open-minded. My great grandfather Toma Vishanov used to be one of them…

– So the street where you now work and live on is named after your grandfather? That’s so cool…

Five times great grandfather. Bansko also has amazing museums but unfortunately, not many people visit them. The old town is also really interesting.

– Do you think Coworking Bansko can change the town?

Everything has an influence. I think it will open up the locals mindset. And the people who come will see a very different Bulgaria. Most people know Bulgaria for its seaside. Bansko is surrounded by three mountains. I think the biggest success for us will be to involve the young locals in this. There are also many artists here. More and more digital nomads are coming and spending the whole season or moving here. When you have a community and friends you have a reason to do this. I used to travel a lot but recently I don’t feel the need for it. It’s like the whole world keeps coming to me. I don’t miss traveling because everyone who comes here comes with a different vibe and culture. It’s as if I am traveling. The coworking space attracts location independent people and a way its concept is also location independent. Although it has a physical location, the community is all around town. The coworking magic can happen everywhere in Bansko.