Igor Belagorudsky
IMPACT INVESTING

Igor Belagorudsky

#64

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CTO; Angel Investor; Founder, Mentor, Advisor and Consultant

Shortcuts – Igor Belagorudsky

“Shortcuts are okay to take as long as you know you’re taking them”

ABOUT

Igor Belagorudsky built his career around helping startups avoid mistakes that delay their success or put them out of business. He has successfully been able to do that with his own startups and now he tries to help as many others as he can.

Technical, hands-on professional with over 20 years of experience. A serial entrepreneur having most recently scaled Erecruit from a team of 3 to over 120, through several rounds of investments and to a successful sale for $62.8M. Active in the Boston startup scene as a founder, advisor, pitch competition judge and angel investor. Confident full-stack enterprise architect in several technology ecosystems.

Trusted leader and mentor of professional services and R&D teams in multiple timezones and industries. A big believer in smart and transparent teams, open communication across the entire organization and leadership by example. Outside of work, avid skier, slow runner, decent hiker, and dad.

REQUEST INTRODUCTION Arrow

THE FULL INTERVIEW

Igor Belagorudsky

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Igor. Welcome. We like to just keep going right at it. So I have a good little conversation going and then we jump right into it. So I’m very excited to have you here today. I’ve uh I think the reason that I’m really more excited and I love to say this, I’m excited about anybody that I get to have a conversation within the Angel-VC world. But what I really like about your background is that you come from a technical background and that’s very rare that I get to interview someone that has a technical background which is very similar to myself. So it’s kind of dear to my heart that I get to pick brain with a tech geek and that is something that’s amazing. So for me we’re gonna jump right into that part of it, but maybe the best way to start is um if you can give us a little bit on your background, kind of where you’ve come through the exits through everything you’ve done in Boston, in the, in the networks, they’re kind of where you are today and we’re going and then we’ll kind of jump into the conversation from there. And then one thing about you that nobody will know.

Igor:
That nobody will know. I’m an open book, so I don’t know if I can think of,

Jeffery:
So you can find something in there, Igor, come on, I know it

Igor
Look give me, give me a minute, I’ll think about it. But let me give you my background. So uh yeah, like you said uh tech guy, so I uh I wrote my first line of code when I was nine, I made my first money from software when I was 12.

Uh and there’s just been uh I guess uphill downhill. I don’t know what you would call it, but it went from there, so I’ve had a startup after startup, you know, my, I’m originally from Ukraine, I lived in Moscow, my dad was an entrepreneur, so it’s kind of like in my blood and uh, just started about their startup, uh, of all sorts of kinds, um, mostly failures, uh, some gloriously so. Some for all sorts of reasons, sometimes, uh, sometimes co-founder, sometimes like the typical ran out of money thing, sometimes, uh, one time a legal issue where I was told, don’t you dare launch this. Uh, and uh, eventually, you know, I, I lived in Boston other than san Francisco, came back to Boston, found a startup and uh, finally had like a big, big exit, uh, not a big, big exit, big enough exit.

And that was a couple of years ago and basically kind of pivoted my life since then, because they gave me a little bit flexibility to do some uh, well, basically anything I wanted. And what I wanted to do was help startups, uh, in all sorts of different ways. So I did some angel investing. I do consulting. I’m, uh, well, my title is mentoring residents, although there is no longer residence because of Covid, but I’m a mentor and residents at, at One Valley, which is an accelerator program, used to be called GSP Labs.

And uh, just, you know, I’m doing some angel investing on my own. I do it with a group here in Boston called Beacon Angels. Just having fun man.

Jeffery:
No, I love that. Very good, very, uh, very in sync with the world of entrepreneurship and angel investing. So I love the background and how that all ties together. So maybe well before that, I’m still gonna let you keep thinking about that one thing that you’re going to share with us and we can hold it off because we’ve got a personal segment, we’ll talk about near the end of our chat,

Igor:
But thinking between two or three things come back to me later.

Jeffery:
All right, we’ll talk about that at the end then. So what I love to do is kind of really dive more into that background experience. So, I love the fact that when you were nine, you’re writing code, when you were 12, you were diving right into it and building a little empire.

How much of that background has really defined how you’re investing. And the reason why I like to kind of play of this angle is because when you start to explore your past and how much it shapes your future is that when you start to dive into these startups, you’re coming at it from a totally different angle, you’re not coming at it from finance, you’re not coming at it from marketing, you’re really coming in from the technical standpoint and that background you’ve built over the last however many years. So how do you define how much that’s helped you today and what do you look for when you’re looking at founders? Because of your background in tech?

Igor:
It’s a good question. It’s very much a double edged sword, right? Because on one hand, you know, you invest in what, you know, what I know is that, uh, so I’m very adept at looking at a company qualifying technology, doing almost a mental technique, diligence on them very rapidly and assessing whether it has legs or not. Uh, On the other hand, write it blinds me a little bit to the, to the financial side. Um, even though I could assess that as well.

Right. I’ve had, you know, so far all of my investments knock on, you know, fake IKEA would, but all of my investments are live, I’ve had a couple that are kind of stagnating, but they’re all kind of lives so far. But for sure. One of the very first angel investments I made, uh, was in a, in a Boston company, like two-sided marketplace sort of play. I looked at the tech look great. I looked at the idea of like, this is awesome. And I didn’t look at the financial side at all.

I didn’t look at, you know, customer acquisition costs. I didn’t look at run rate. I didn’t look at anything. I was like, here you go. Here’s some money run with it. I learned my lesson. I learned my lesson for sure. Um, on the other hand, you know, I, um, I do have for the most part personally I invest in technology, I can understand, assess and believe in its longevity. However, that’s exactly why I joined an angel group, Right? Because basically, uh, I said, look, there’s, there’s opportunities out there that I can’t assess.

Uh, it would be really great to work with people that can help me, right? And so on the angel groups side, I do have, uh, companies in my, you know, investment portfolio that are life science companies. There’s one company that’s doing, you know, a post op eye gel type of thing, uh, that I know zero about.

I went to a board meeting once and I, I think I left smarter. I only understood half the words. You know, it’s two doctors, kind of ophthalmologists running it. Um, and I have some other kind of things that I don’t quite understand and I’m kind of trusting my, my peers to leave me in the right direction. But uh, you know, fundamentally angel investing is hobby, right? And that’s what, you know, I talked to a lot of kind of beginner, angel investors that were me maybe five years ago. Like, hey, I came into some money, I had an exit, What do I do with it? And the first thing I tell them is, you can’t look at this an investment, I know it’s called angel investment, but it’s non-investment, It’s an expensive hobby, right? Like you like skiing 10x. That, that’s angel investment, right? Maybe you’ll hit something. But really what you’re doing is, you’re, you’re giving back to the community and you’re letting someone have a chance. So the same way, how all of my angel investments are live, uh, none of them have been, you know, a big exit for me.

One guy actually returning the convertible note with interest and said, look I uh my company stagnated, I sold it for assets. So here’s your 20 K. Back plus 5% interest. And I said look you’re ahead of the curve, you know,

Jeffery:
winner, winner chicken dinner.

Igor:
Exactly, exactly. When I invested. I mean I I shouldn’t say when I invest in something, I kind of write it off, but like mentally I prepare myself to do that.

So when it comes back to me with 5%, I mean, yeah, I bought abolish campaign for sure. Mhm.

Jeffery:
Well and you brought, you touched on a lot of great points there and the one is that you almost in this space when you’re not doing it full time, it really is, it’s a hobby of trying to pick the winners and hopefully they’re the ones that drive forward. But you really are, you’re almost, you’ve got a set of money that you put aside that says here is really high risk dollars and I’m going to throw this money into this many companies per year and I hope that this is going to bring me some gains. But really I’m okay if it doesn’t, I’m going to keep working with the community and building out and giving back and helping people. But I really do write that dollars off and 100% that that’s a strong early stage angel VC mentality because if you did and you were stressing out, then you would probably work in 24 hours a day trying to work inside of every investment you’re with to save and make every company work and grow right.

Igor:
Exactly. Yeah. I mean there’s, there’s metrics out there and I’ve read some stuff about how many investments one must make before. Statistically you have a positive outcome, rather QVC like outcome. And it’s something only the super angels get too right. If I’m investing in a handful of companies a year, I have 10, 15, 20 investments. It’s a crapshoot, right.</