Yogi Berra said it best: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
I have reached that fork again.
After founding Hop Online five years ago and leading its growth and development since the beginning, today I’m stepping down as CEO.
I’ve accepted an offer from Google for the role of Country Business Development Manager for Bulgaria. The opportunity to develop the Bulgarian market for Google is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me, and I’m thrilled and humbled by the trust that the team at Google has placed in me.
Who’s in Charge Now?
Replacing me as CEO of Hop Online will be Petar Traychev, co-founder and former CEO of Conversion Universe, which Hop Online has acquired as part of the transition.
Petar comes from a diverse marketing background. Formerly the Marketing Director for Delta Stock — a forex trading firm based in Sofia, Bulgaria — Petar honed an expertise in online marketing for the financial services sector. He later found his passion in search marketing, and founded Conversion Universe in 2012. Soon after, Hop Online formed a partnership with Conversion Universe, through which Conversion Universe provided delivery of critical SEO services to Hop Online and its clients.
Petar and his team have worked very closely with the team at Hop Online, providing the necessary level of service excellence and professionalism that we demand. Petar is a strong and capable leader, a highly strategic thinker, and a natural fit to run Hop Online. He will be responsible for maintaining our core services of SEO and Content Marketing, as well as developing additional related services that fit into the Inbound Marketing puzzle.
Petar and I have long shared the same vision for offering world-class online marketing from Bulgaria for international companies. I have complete confidence in his ability to lead the continued growth of Hop Online in the years ahead.
Yes, there’s more. Our longtime COO, Anastasia Alpaticova — the company’s steady hand for nearly 3 years — will now be transitioning into a role of Chief People Officer (CPO).
Hop Online has functioned as a start-up for five years. During the particularly fast-growth period that the company experienced over the past twelve months, we often did not dedicate proper resources toward the recruiting, training, and ongoing professional development of our people.
Anastasia described it recently to the team: “We gave you a laptop, some tools, threw you into a deep sea, and said: ‘Swim.’”
Now that we are no longer a start-up, it’s time for our HR practices to grow up too. Our business is client-centric, driven by people-to-people communication and relationships. People are without question our most valuable asset at Hop Online. Our ability to continue to build an all-star team of marketers here in Bulgaria for servicing clients abroad means that we must manage our human resources at an exceptionally high level. Anastasia will ensure that Hop Online reaches that level of excellence.
My New Role
From here forward, I will play only a passive shareholder role at Hop Online. I will have no operational involvement, nor will I participate in any day-to-day decision-making.
My focus now turns to the local Bulgarian market, where my goal will be to empower marketers to succeed in partnership with Google. As such, I will also ensure that Hop Online in no way competes with any of the Bulgarian companies whom I will consult in my role at Google.
A Look Back, Then Ahead
The past five years have been the most grueling yet exhilarating years of my life. Entrepreneurship in a foreign country has taken me on the ultimate adventure. It’s given me an invaluable growth experience — personally and professionally. It’s not for everybody, but I can’t imagine having taken another course.
I feel immensely fortunate. Not so much for Hop Online’s external success, but for the opportunity to build and develop a team of wonderfully-talented people in Bulgaria. Working with and getting to know my fellow Hop Onliners has always been the part of the job that brought me the most happiness and professional fulfillment.
I will look back at these founding years of Hop Online with extreme pride and sense of accomplishment. And now I’ll take pleasure in watching Hop Online continue to flourish, much like I watch my 4-year-old daughter grow each day into a smarter, more beautiful person.
For Hop Online, the beat goes on, stronger than ever. In fact, the story of Hop Online is only starting Chapter 2. So, look for more great things from this great company in the months and years to come!