Vlad Tropko
IMPACT INVESTING

Vlad Tropko

#80

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Partner at Digital Horizon VC

Venture builders – Vlad Tropko

“95% of the founders fail because of the psychology”

ABOUT

Vlad Tropko is the managing director of Digital Horizon VC, focused on immigrant founders who established startups across Europe and Israel. Vlad has 15+ years of experience in investments and has closed more than 30 deals, 6 exits, incl. 2 unicorns (Quantenna, Zipline)

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Vlad Tropko

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome let’s get started. We’re gonna jump right into this just kind of as we as we normally do but welcome to Supporters Fund ask an angel. I’m your host jeffrey pavin and let’s welcome our investor today which is Vlad Tropko and you are in Russia. So i’m going to say thank you very much for joining us today very excited to dive in and um welcome.

Vlad:
Yeah. Jeffrey thank you, thank you very much for having me her and it would be it’s my pleasure to chat here

Jeffery:
I like it. well the way we like to start vlad is if you could share a little bit about your background and there’s a lot of great things in there and i know we’ve chatted a bunch of times so i’m excited to kind of dive into this but share a little bit about your background kind of where you’re at today and then one thing about you that nobody would know

Vlad:
Thank you thank you jeffrey. So uh, I was born at siberia. And after and when and grew in moscow. So and after i finished my economical degree, i started to be investor. So for the whole my life i i was a professional life i was an investor. So i started in to work in a couple of family offices and investment companies and was focused on acquiring mining companies some some airlines companies etc etc but after the market crash in 2008 i moved to the to the russian fund which is for which was focused on gross technology investments. So and from that time from 2008 i started my career in high-tech investments. So during that tenure i invested in couple of companies which are large right now. So for example i invested as a growth stage investor in company called quantana which was a silicon valley based company backed by sequoia and a bunch of other VCs and it was sold for 1.2 billion around three years ago. And well while i was writing the checks of gross gross investor you know 20-30 million bucks i started to feel that i wish to be part of this uh family of investors so in and right and i started to invest my own capital as a business angel. So around seven years ago i started to write my my personal checks and one of the my my best deals for now this company called Zipline. It’s a drone delivery company, it’s helping and saving lives around the globe. And and right now they’re they they were starting their activity
in Africa in in rwanda and ghana Now they’re moving back and and probably until end of this year they will start providing they will deliver a COVID fact signs around the US. As well so and from that time i decided to be focused personallyas a business angel on social impact and happiness startups so so when doing doing this currently so and and around three years ago i moved from the from previous funds to my current fund and where i am partner, a fund called Digital Horizon. We are focused on fintech and b2b software companies in on A-rounds mainly in europe and israel and we love to invest into immigrant founders. We are truly significant part of our team are immigrants, so and we love to invest in the immigrant because we see them they have a mojo and willingness to to build something big.

Jeffery:
i love it! That’s a great initiative and an awesome background and we’re going to dive into some of that shortly before we do one thing about you that nobody would know.

Vlad:
Probably the most of people don’t know that i was born in Siberia, in one of the coldest places in the world. So in in the winter and at place where i grew, it was minus 42 celsius. so it’s it was quite cold and it was very interesting to go into the school on winter. So that’s —

Jeffery:
Well that is pretty fascinating and i can just imagine the uh those cold walks to school in the morning i grew up up north where it would get cold and lots of snow but it certainly didn’t hit -42 so uh that’s pretty uh pretty exciting but i know that uh in a lot of rural areas in siberia too it’s very communal based so it’s a lot of community helping each other out is that is that a fair assessment?

Vlad:
yeah yeah yeah it’s true it’s true so you know in such a tough environment you could not live alone so it’s very it’s very community based type of environment there. People they’re ready to help each other and that’s how they live through tough times.

Jeffrey:
well we’re going to bring that back one back to your uh your investment theories but before i do that but i’m going to try this new segment this is going to be something a little bit before we get to rapid fire questions around the business side. i have some other ones that i wanted to add in and the
the questions are going to be really basic to kind of get things going so they’re uh a new new thing we’re trying something different here all right so

Vlad:
Sure

Jeffery:
First question is book or movie? Pick one or the other?

Vlad:
A book or a movie?

Jeffery:
Yeah. Which one would you take?

Vlad:
right right now movie

Jeffery:
All right. Sport. To play a sport or a board game?

Vlad:
Play sport

Jeffery:
Okay. Tech. invest in tech or cpg?

Vlad:
Invest in tech

Jeffery:
Unicorn or a five-year exit ?uh

Vlad:
Let’s put unicorn here but it’s it’s tough question because you don’t know the return on in both directions.

Jeffery:
Yeah exactly exactly that’s why they’re called unicorns. Founder or co-founders?

Vlad:
Co-founders

Jeffery:
Brand or tech? Would you go for a big brand something that’s building a brand or someone that’s building tech and doesn’t have a brand yet?

Vlad:
Tech. Tech for now

Jeffery:
AI or blockchain?

Vlad:
AI

Jeffery:
first time founder or second or third time founder?

Vlad:
I would not block the first time founder but definitely if the price is reasonable would take a second, third, fourth time founder

Jeffery:
First money in or series A?

Vlad:
We are series A

Jeffery:
Okay. Very cool. All right those are a good starting point, very good starting point. Trying something more rapid fire and a way to break the ice but i like that you’ve got way better questions

Vlad:
And by the way if we’re returning to the last question it’s funny but uh sometimes i feel that i have uh uh two people inside of my first person because as an angel i could be a first money, but as a VC i have to be around A and be focused on around A guy

Jeffery:
No that makes sense. Totally. So to kind of go back a little bit and we’re going to shift back in time to
on your profile side what i love about kind of where you’ve come vlad and the things that you’ve done is that you’ve been purely focus