Season 3 Episode 5 – Ruslan Sarkisyan of Begin Capital

In this interesting episode, filmed in late April 2021, Ruslan provides some excellent insight and is again a classic example of how cross border barriers for founders looking for investment have really been removed during the pandemic.

This really is a Vod/Podcast that is from Moscow with love, as Ruslan takes time to deep dive on the approach, structure and growth that Begin have created in a very short space of time.

He speaks with real passion, for what he, Alex and Sava have created with the fund, where their refreshingly fun and straightforward approach to VC is encapsulated on their website HERE and touched upon nicely by Ruslan in this 50 minute conversation.

He provides these golden nuggets on Begin:
# On Seed VC investing – the job is all about communication rather than anything else. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist in analysing balance sheets and financial modelling, its all about communication with Seed stage founders
# With Founders – “you should be the smartest person in the relationship, not us” and forget geek speak. Don’t talk in jargon, speak frankly
# On focus – They are sector agnostic and invest in the best start-ups they see from their network.  So if they see 5000 businesses a year, they pick the best 5 and don’t hold themselves to a specific focus
# On the process – They are a small team of three – who discuss closely the 20-50 names a year that make the top 5. They then reference check the businesses they like with their advisory board, expecting no’s, but if not the investment decision can be made in two weeks
# Global Focus – Begin tend to invest globally more-so than Russia
# Chemistry – is key. Begin have to feel it with the founder and have “a good feeling with the founder”, which enables deals to get done quickly
# On Physical meetings – he wants to get back to this and travelling the globe as soon as possible “can you imagine getting married without even seeing the person” ?
# On advisors – choose them wisely and from a variety of backgrounds and don’t have too many, as it can slow things down

On the Russia. Tech Scene:
Two things are happening..
# Russia has some great Tech companies, some that go outside Russia to grow and become global, like Revolut, who have raised $800m today at a valuation of $33bn
# There are big potential unicorns in Russia, that grow fast, very quickly, but get acquired early as they cannot attain the international investment need to become global giants, when based in Russia

In conclusion:
Ruslan is a super, straight talking guy, a real gem and great advert for Russia VC.