Today, I am excited to announce that I am joining Techstars as Managing Director of the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, in New York City. As an experienced entrepreneur with a passion for turning ideas into revenue-generating businesses, I’m thrilled to come on board to give back (and #givefirst) to the entrepreneurial community that has been the lifeblood of my success throughout my career.
Over two decades ago, I left Russia with nothing more than a tourist visa and a couple hundred dollars, eager to earn a college degree in the US. It was during this time that, through a combination of luck and fate, I met Duane Pearsall, a venture capitalist who saw part of himself in my passion for entrepreneurship. He offered to pay for my college tuition if I promised to, one day, help someone else down the road.
I attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating with a Masters of Sciences degree, spent two years launching new ventures at a large Swedish media conglomerate, attended Harvard Business School to earn my MBA, and ultimately took a role on Wall Street at Allen&Co., executing M&A transactions in the media sector and leading venture capital investments. After three years in the corporate sector, I decided I had acquired enough professional and life experience to start on an entrepreneurial journey of my own.
I will be the first to tell you that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. My first two companies failed, which was very, very challenging to navigate, both personally and professionally. But, I got back on the horse and co-founded a third company, LiveLook, an e-commerce screen sharing startup, that successfully raised Series A funding and was acquired by Oracle. The fourth company, LiveAuctioneers, a live auction marketplace, after a business model pivot, more than doubled its revenues in 18 months, and was acquired by Bessemer Ventures. With two successful acquisitions under my belt, it was my time to pay back what I promised Mr. Pearsall. In 2016 I launched a Startup Accelerator at a university, enabling students to launch their startup ideas with over $400,000 invested in more than 80 startups.
When I first learned of the opportunity to join the Barclays Accelerator in New York, it felt like the perfect next step to continue helping entrepreneurs reach their goals. Fintech is the bread and butter of New York City’s tech landscape, and this program already has an impressive list of high-quality mentors and successful alumni. With the knowledge I gained as a former investment banker, I have a deep understanding of Barclays and the complexities within the industry. In my new role as Managing Director, I look forward to deepening the partnership between Barclays and fintech entrepreneurs to propel innovation in the financial sector.
Applications for the 2020 Barclays Accelerator in New York are open from February 17 through May 10. If you are an entrepreneur who is passionate about fintech, ask me anything via [email protected].