Angel Investor of the Year

Winner
Igor Ryabenkiy

Projects in his portfolio: more than 60 (some deals are in the process of finalization, others have not been made public)

Average check: $150,000-200,000

Igor began to invest as an angel long before the words "startup" and "innovation" became popular, so he could not miss the start-up boom in Russia. Gradually he turned from angel into super-angel. He assembled a team and manages the Altair VC seed fund, which has recently started to make investments through a second fund. Altair VC-I has invested in over 50 companies, Altair VC-II in 11. Igor looks at the consumer web, mobile and SaaS for small and medium businesses. Education and medicine are of particular interest to him, but he says he has found few exciting projects in this niche. His comfort range for investment is $150,000-200,000. Best angel investor in Russia in 2013, according to the NABA.

Igor Shoifot

Projects in his portfolio: 18

Average check: $50,000

Igor has lived in the United States since the 1990s, but he has not lost touch with startups from Russia and CIS countries. Shoifot is known for being the founder of companies such as Epsylon Games, Fotki.com, vInternship and about a dozen other companies. In 2010, Igor joined forces with the fund of the founders of RBC, TMT Investments, as its representative in the United States and now, he says, he is present as a shareholder in the companies in the United States and certain other countries that TMT Investments has invested in. However, he has his own portfolio of companies that includes not only startups in the United States, gathered into Igor’s local "scene," but also companies in Ukraine that came out of the Happy Farm business incubator, where he is chairman of the board. Shoifot has few Russian companies, but there are Russian-speaking founders in most of the teams under his wing.

Igor has, in total, about 20 companies, which, on average, have received $10,000-100,000 from Igor. Among them are Symphony, a tool to visualize the content of social networks; Spatch, a platform for mobile marketing; and Monexy, a provider of financial services for retailers. As a representative of TMT Investments and an advisor, he participates in the life of about 70 startups. In the coming years, Shoifot plans to work most actively with e-commerce, gamification for business, and with crowdsourcing technology and platform solutions in a wide variety of sectors, as well as startups at the intersection of online and offline.

Konstantin Siniushin

Projects in his portfolio: at least 21

Average check: $250,000

Konstantin describes himself rather wittily: "a professional angel investing on the cluster principle in complementary projects in one of the sectors selected for each year." Siniushkin's average check is $250,000. There are 15 startups in his portfolio, including Zingaya Internet phone service ($400,000 invested as part of a syndicate), Alloka call counter for websites (invested $500,000), Octopod mobile enterprise application platform ($1 million), Rollad RTB advertising service ($800,000) and Noosphere video technology for media market players ($400,000). Boommy P2P service for selling things and Endorphin support service for working with social network data and finding people among one's friends and friends of friends each received $250,000 from Siniushin. InteriorPro interior design service received $300,000, and anonymous discrete dating app Pure received $50,000.

“I prefer to say that investors are angels and funds, which differ, in my classification, in that the former are only investing their money, while the latter only bring it in. Therefore, our Untitled Venture Company is an angel investor by this classification, just institutionalized as a legal entity,” he stated.

So far, Siniushin’s focus has been communications technology, interior design, scoring on the basis of information from social networks, as well as marketplaces, content services and marketing analytics tools. But in 2015, he plans to work with technology for offline retail. "I do not analyze the entire market, but selected sectors that I think are promising on various time horizons in the range of 3-10 years," the investor said. In his portfolio are the projects created by Russian, Israeli and Ukrainian teams.

Vitaly Polekhin

Projects in his portfolio: at least 25

Average check: undisclosed

Vitaly is the head of the Moscow Skolkovo School of Management investors club. Polekhin invests in seed and early stages and is willing to make full investment in the best up to round A. He acts independently and through the Venture Angels fund, where he is a co-founder and managing partner. Also an investor in the TexDrive, Addventure II and Addventure III funds.

Polekhin has at least 25 projects in his portfolio, the best known of which are Pixonic, Life Button and Printio.ru. Eighty percent of his assets are in Russian companies, with the rest in the United States and Asia. Polekhin’s fields of interest include big data, collaborative consumption, health informatics, online education, the Internet of things, e-commerce, gaming, consumer Internet & mobile services, and health & science. Vitaly does not disclose his average check.

Alexander Borodich

Projects in his portfolio: 59

Average check: $25,000-150,000

The founder of FutureLabs invests in companies in the very earliest stages (including pre-pre-seed). On average, he says, $25,000-75,000. However, according to the data of the Angellist service, his check may reach $150,000.

Alexander’s portfolio contains projects in the IT sector, from Internet startups to robotics projects. His focus is on both Russian and foreign startups, but in the last year his investment geography was mostly outside Russia. Among his best known projects are Lovely, a rental property search service, from which the investor has already exited, and Soldsie, a mobile app to sell things on Facebook. The best angel investor in Russia in 2014, according to the National Association of Business Angels (NABA).

Julian Zegelman

Projects in his portfolio: at least 26

Average check: $20,000-50,000

Julian, who lives in San Francisco, is one of the best known Russian angels. As a student, in the 1990s, he founded GetHoused.com, which was long a leader in real estate advertising on the Internet and has been sold to Apartments.com. That was a time of crisis on the Internet market, just after the dot-com bubble burst, so Julian moved away from entrepreneurship and studied to be a lawyer. But when the market recovered, he began to invest. According to Zegelman, he gave rather large checks (about $200,000-250,000) to several companies. One of them, Elina Biosciences, developed technology for the early diagnosis of stomach cancer. Another – Interfaith 360 – is an IT service for religious organizations. Julian invested in a total of five projects, one of which – Rolith – was a success, known in the United States today as a producer of nanomaterials used in the production of electronics, among other things. The DFJ VTB Aurora venture fund was an investor in the company’s next round. However, in the first stage of his angel funding, Julian found himself slightly in the red; he did not succeed in turning a profit.

All that time, Julian was developing his own law firm in Silicon Valley, Velton Zegelman, that advised Russian-speaking companies and some Russian venture funds, as well as individual investors. Julian and his partners (also Russian-speaking lawyers) liked many of those coming for help registering deals and structuring companies, and in the end they decided to open a small fund for seed investment. Their VZ Ventures often provides not only cash, but also legal services and assistance in the localization of product startups in the United States, in exchange for a stake in the company.

Zegelman also invested personal funds that, for whatever reason, were not included in the fund. His industry preferences are the same as those of VZ. In all, he has invested in more than ten startups in the past three years, one of which has closed. His average check is $20,000-50,000.