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  • Writer's pictureDenis Kalyshkin

Why did I end up working in VC?

I celebrated my 8th anniversary working at I2BF Global Ventures this May. Today I’d like to share the story of why I decided to work at VC.

It was 2007. I was a 22-year-old student at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. I was a pretty active fellow and liked to communicate with other people. I had no idea what is Venture capital, but there were so many smart and ambitious people around me who could build essentially any tech solution. The only problem was that there weren’t many students who could build a solid business around it. So I decided to become someone who would build viable business around the technology.

The most obvious trajectory for me was to start my career in consulting where I could gain business knowledge and experience. I started to participate at case championships and study economics. Then the financial crises bursted out. Consulting companies paused their hiring process. One of my friends advised me that the best investment during a crisis is education. So I decided to get a master degree in corporate finances at Higher School of Economics. I had 2 very intense years when I worked during the day and studied in the evenings and at the weekends.

During the study I had a course on Venture capital. It struck me. This is something I could be good at! On one hand this is finance, on the other hand I have a good scientific background to understand very complicated things. It aslo was in line of my goal of bringing technology to our everyday life.

I got the first position at a family office in Apr 2011 through HSE alumni network. I spent 6 months there and quit. I still loved VC, but I didn’t share the view on the investment approach those guys had. Then I spend 3 years in a bank at corporate sales and risk management positions.

I decided to get back to VC in Oct 2012. I called my ex-colleague from the family office and asked for a couple of introductions to VC's. I got 2 interviews, one of them was at I2BF. I had a couple of meetings with partners, did a research on oil&gas startup, and I didn’t get the job…

I continued to work in a bank and co-founded a startup OOHmap, an outdoor advertising marketplace. I was 27 then. We fucked up so badly! Looking back I believe we did all the mistakes a typical startup could do: we had a tiny TAM, developed a product without talking to users, were afraid that someone could steal our idea, etc.The one thing we did right though was our pitch deck. I was a VC after all. But anyway if I were a VC exploring an investment opportunity, I’d never invest in my startup!

In Apr 2014 guys from I2BF reached out to me again. This time I was more relaxed because I wasn’t looking for a job. I had also experience running a startup and developing mobile apps, so I was better prepared now. I attended an interview out of curiosity and got a job. By the way I decided to join the team when a saw an investment to Planetary Resources. As a former rocket scientist I was impressed by the company that planned to mine asteroids!

Looking back I’m really happy that I joined the team, because over 8 years I explored many opportunities in boring and unsexy industries like Manufacturing, Construction, Logistics, even Funeral business that are transformed by DeepTech, Vertical SaaS, AI, AR, VR, IoT, drones, robots, RPA & automation. The best part is that I do help real people in outdated businesses be more efficient and improve margins with technology!

The last thing I’d like to say today is that Steve Jobs was right. You can connect all the dots only when you look back. My career is a good example. There were ups and downs along the road, sometimes I worked under tremendous stress, I failed, I was unlucky, but I believe this was for good. I wish you all to stay positive no matter what. Big achievements in your business and career are on the way! If you don’t believe me, listen to Steve :)

Original article was published at my LinkedIn here.

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