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Developing great web apps for a decade

by Daria Kerancheva /  Useful Resources

Child's silhouette in front of a film roll background


We are ecstatic to share that PHPJabbers.com - the core of StivaSoft, has officially turned 10 in February 2016! If it were a human being, it would by now be able to walk, talk, think, and even code. Though it is not alive, our site is full of life, thanks to all great minds and hearts that are pumping behind it! Hence, we can safely say that PHPJabbers has grown (and keeps growing), too. It’s enough to look at the stats in the infographic below:


Time-lapse statistics for products, geographic coverage, custom projects, team, clients, diversity, websites powered, and offices.



The name 

Back in 2005, Veselin Stoilov, Founder & CEO of PHPJabbers and StivaSoft, is a freelance developer working on a diversity of projects for clients based in the United Kingdom. This is how he meets Rupert Douglas-Bate, now Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global MapAid (GMA). Veselin becomes part of the GMA Informal Advisory Group, contributing to the NGO’s work with his broad software development expertise. 

At that time, Rupert Douglas-Bate wants to create a website with the help of Veselin, intended for people willing to exchange their knowledge and skills with other talents. The name of the site was supposed to be jabberwot.com. This is Veselin’s first encounter with the word “jabber” and what inspires him to call his future website PHPJabbers.com. 

The beginning

After years of freelancing and developing projects for multiple clients, Veselin Stoilov comes to the conclusion that it’s much wiser to create software which can be sold to many people, rather than creating different software for each client. This is how PHPJabbers was born. The initial offering consists in an online calendar and a poll script, both with a Flash-based front-ends and PHP-based back-ends. A friend of Veselin helped him out with the Flash and he managed all the rest by himself.  

The founders looking at a laptop


On his return to his home city Burgas in 2006, Veselin rents a small office in the residential block he used to be living in. In the next two years, Stoilov managed to ignite his brother Ivan Stoilov and his close friends Kostadin Todorov and Alexander Valkanov with the idea to leave their “safe and secure” jobs, and reinforce him in his online (ad)venture.  

With their joined forces and entrepreneurial enthusiasm, PHPJabbers.com laid the grounds for the foundation of StivaSoft (2009). Gradually, the site portfolio expanded to a lot more: reservation & classifieds ads software, custom business solutions, web design & development, remotely hosted services, cloud computing & vertical markets solutions etc. 


Website design progression from 2009 to 2015



Along with all achievements, lessons and challenges, these 10 years have busted some widespread myths worth sharing. They come to prove the old saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. 

A hand scribbling Myth breaking


Myth #1: Friends / Relatives should not do business together

We are by far not sticking to the “Nothing personal, it’s just business” tactics to separate the natural (and sometimes rocky) human relations from the day-to-day work “quests”. We can both have fun and work hard together. Just because we know each other so well, with all our strengths and weaknesses, we can make our common projects “happen” and succeed in the long run.   


Myth #2: You have to be bossy to be a good boss

We do not actually use the title “boss” in our offices. In a way, it’s a taboo word. We call each other by our names, and everyone walks on the same level. Raising voices is only when we are laughing or singing the Happy Birthday song (in all its variations). When we are silent, we are all lost in work, but it doesn’t mean we are out of jokes.


Myth #3: Real business is only in “the capital” 

It’s a blessing that we are in the software industry and not at the construction site, for example. This gives all involved geeks and digital freaks (literally) boundless opportunities - even in our own small but smart post-socialist country which is still shaking off the former “centralized” thinking that all good things happen (only) in Sofia. (Not that we don't love it!)

Over the last couple of years, The Black Sea region represented by Varna and Burgas (our two key locations) preserves its leading position in the IT industry, following the capital of Bulgaria. StivaSoft is proud to be one of the very few companies on both regional markets that gives young and talented people the chance to work locally for international clients, and feel truly motivated and appreciated. 


The Team 

We are not saying that building a good team was easy. It took time. We even jumped over to Ho Chi Minh City to source some well-versed and broad-minded PHP developers willing to back us up. Now our band runs to 30 people from all corners of Bulgaria and Vietnam, making up a motley puzzle of skills, superpowers, hobbies and music tastes.


A collage of team event images

The Party

Team buildings are a substantial part of StivaSoft’s corporate culture. We chose a special place to celebrate our 10th anniversary - the beautiful Plovdiv, European Capital of Culture 2019. See some selected moments we have spent under the Seven Hills. After mastering freestyle dancing, rafting, paintball and other mind games, it was time to speed up. We organized a karting race in mixed teams. Our “fast & furious” jabbers made the symbolic 10 laps and a couple more, jumping right into the bright future!


Last but not least, we would like to say BIG THANKS to all our partners and customers who made our journey through time so exciting and enriching! We are looking forward to our next common endeavors! Cheers!


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