Olga Duka

Olga Duka


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GP at Improve Ventures

Accepting people and ideas as they are – Olga Duka

“My whole thing is no matter whatever role you decide to take in your life for your time, be the best. Just know it better than anybody else. That’s the only way you’re going to get above everybody else in order to work this.”


Infinitely curious, take futures personally, have many engagements of being myself. Spoke about curiosity as a skill at SXSW.

Finding, empowering, and investing in talents, building imaginative solutions together, welcoming all the things unsolved or otherwise impossible.

We currently build an early stage venture fund together with exceptional polymathic partners. We aim to discover and support the new frontiers of talents and innovations in emerging markets.



Olga Duka

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: welcome to the supporters fund ask angel. I’m your host, Jeffery Potvin and today let’s welcome our investor Olga. How are you today Olga?
Olga: Hey, hi. I’m good, always spectacular.
Jeffery: I like that. That’s the best way to be. Well, welcome to our show. today we’re super excited to talk because you and I have been chatting for probably close to two years. And I’m very excited to kind of dive into what you’re doing because it’s very exciting and I believe the rest of the world wants to learn what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why this is relevant in the investing world because it is so today. So, why don’t we start off by having you give us a little bit of a background. you can go all the way back to a little bit about your university days in Moscow, to the startup, to the build up, all the great things that you’ve done and we’ll turn it over to you. And also throw in one thing about you that nobody would know.
Olga: a lot thanks for having me.
Jeffery: Yes, always a pleasure speaking with you for nearly two years.
Olga: yeah, you’re right, bits of my background probably. Quickly, I was in mathematics and macroeconomics once to become a trader on financial markets when I was 22 while simultaneously finishing university. I relocated to another country, met my second degree. a risk taker is always a risk taker I guess. I was working in public markets in the United States. I’ve beaten Europe, UK and Asia several years working and writing my paper on chaos theory and portfolio construction in public markets. And at certain points, I got struck by the realization that what I felt is going to be like my whole life purpose apparently became just one percent of my talents. And I was quite surprised, quite taken aback, didn’t know what I was supposed to do next that I was in multi-asset portfolio allocation already, knees deep in hedge funds, in public markets, partially in private markets doing a lot of research along with asset management itself. And I guess, I was a bit lost as to what I’m supposed to do next. And since I was like a super small child like three years old or something my parents devoted a lot of time to expanding my talents and interests. I’ve always been an insatiably curious person, always like launching myself into multiple disciplines and it dawned on me that I was and always been obsessed about early stage talents, about ideas, how ideas are working in any field. While I was a trader, I was working with younger traders, with researchers, with students, with children all the time like a lot of my friends would come over and say hey, could you chat with my seven-year-old, they are obsessed about archeology. Would you like to talk to them, what they can do at this stage in school? And I left finance. I was working on different projects, probably about 40 different projects within a year just to figure out what it is that I want to do next as a long-term commitment. And I started working with musicians, stand-up comedians, popular scientists, interpreters at the same time which landed me in a very interesting cross-discipline cross-cultural field of exploring how early stage ideas work in different applications like what does it mean for musicians to come together and write an ALB, what does it mean for a couple of scientists to come together and do fundamental research, what does it mean for early stage founders to come together and build a software app. And I’ve opened my first business. back then, we were organizing conferences and concerts and exhibitions. I was also doing a lot of research such as mergers and acquisitions, research or educational foresights in the United States and Europe. It was several very turbulent and very insightful years. And eventually I ended up working with entrepreneurs around the world in Europe and in Russian cis in the United States and UK and Asia. I crossed probably 20 different industries starting up obviously with fintech whereas my background or with air tech which I spent 15 years in already, or robotics by some happenstance where I started off organizing a first robotics conference in Russia back 10 years ago or something. And this last decade, I spent working as a fractionalized executive, on demand advisor, operator, founder, co-founder for multiple startups, an extremely early stage and always was my biggest interest. But it’s mostly the complete obsession about investing in talents. And when code started, I sat down and was like okay, I’ve been thinking about investing in an intelligent scale for a very long time. I’ve been working with talents across the whole world in very different geographies and cultures and setups and macro for a very long time. I think it’s as good a time as any to start building the funds to actually go in and invest in talents as much as I can. And that’s how we started last year. By the time we met, I think I am currently a general partner with one more general partner, a good friend of mine who worked together before we were building the funds to invest in as early a stage as possible in emerging markets. Being a first institutional lead check in precedence, seed stage companies are building human-centric solutions for most sustainable life. So, partially it answers my complete obsession with finding investment in talents as early as possible. partially it answers mine and so my partner’s both understanding of emerging markets opportunities but also the needs of solutions which can truly scale and how much they’re needed outside over competitive forward such rates will be heated in developed markets. partially it’s perhaps just general excitement to like always being meeting talents from all walks of life, everywhere. And it’s a genuine pleasure to just make it to your life work. We are macro and data driven so eventually we’re building a data platform to be able to deploy capital at scale while we’re starting with the first small font of just 20 million. We are working on data modeling to select and assess multiple companies at the same time partially through data partially for just fundamental assessments. And we’re looking into several thousand deals a month. at this point partially it has to do with just our backgrounds. we’ve been on international asset allocation for quite a long time partially to do with just my role in these early stage companies that I always have been. this sort of sound board when I found it doesn’t haven’t even started anything yet or two team members starting off and in ideation stage and just asking for some suggestion or feedback or advice. And so when basically I reached out to literally all people I’ve ever worked with in my life across probably 50 countries and said that okay I’m finally on my long life long dream to invest in talents and build the funds so let me know what you’re working on in a bit of a different campus. At this point we opened the Pandora box. The early stage financing in emerging markets is pretty much non-existent especially at precedes. It’s what every founder hears, you’re too early for everybody or you’re from the wrong geography or you’re from some vertical fund that doesn’t look into for us. It’s emerging markets as early as possible. We want to know what you’re working on and we want to be the first partners in whatever you’re building as long as it’s scalable. And one thing I don’t know how many people know this about me but I am an artist. I’m a professional photographer. I write poetry. I’ve somehow got myself into an art experiment with Nero right now to try. It’s only partially to publish what I’m writing. It’s mostly to use this blockchain platform to research how to invest in artists at scale as well because one of ideas is to deploy capital interpreters, partially to create infrastructure and some industrial grade solutions. But the next stage, at least for my personal journey, is to invest in scientists and artists and educators and this hobby perhaps is one of the ways to research these parts.
Jeffery: Too amazing. You’re a very well-rounded individual. you’ve done a lot of things but most importantly, you’ve also taken care of your artistic self while managing out the business side. So, that’s very cool and maybe we don’t get to see that very often. So, that’s pretty amazing. I do want to take a step back to some of the earlier comments you made about the things that you were doing and one of them I think really always stands out for me, and maybe I pulled this so the time but in calls, but I like data. I love the way data works. It’s structured. It enables things. It helps you find problems, build solutions and scale when you see the right opportunity. Now you take your trading days and understand how businesses operate and work. How much of that influence has had on the direction of where you are today? that being able to trade and sell equities into companies, one, you get a lot of learnings from that. I’m going to make the assumption. And two, you get to see how companies were scaling especially at that higher stage because you’re looking for wins in order to gain dollars. So, at the end of the day, you’re taking that same learnings and now you’re putting that down to smaller size and putting that into that early stage side. So, what are some of the learnings that you gained from being a trader that have kind of helped you today and picking the opportunities that are in front of you that could be winners and hopefully scalable businesses?
Olga: That’s an interesting question. something I get to debate with some investors and partners quite often. because it’s considered that hedge funds experience is not really applicable in denture and I would say that probably depends on where you’ve been as on ib or hedge funds or some other parts of it but there are a few things which I am definitely using every single day now as a font and been using for the last decade outside capital markets. one part is probably an unfamiliar ability to work with information. I don’t think there are that many people who actually understand what it is that you do in microstrategies that y