A Successful Venture Investor and Influential Ukrainian – Victoria Tigipko

Founder and managing director of TA Ventures and iClub (an angel investing club) 

Office: Moskovskaya St. 32/2, Kyiv, Ukraine 

President of the Odessa International Film Festival 

Investments through TA Ventures: eTachki, Liki24, Sensely, Aurora Labs and 154 more 

Investments through iClub: RetargetApp, Coppertino (VOX), Clark, Bipicar, and others 

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Education

Victoria Tigipko was born in Kyiv and graduated with distinction from Kyiv National Economic University, where she studied international economic relations and law. Later she attended the University of Economics of Vienna (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien), where she studied financial management. Victoria also became a graduate of the Venture Capital for Executives program at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she is polyglot – speaking fluent Ukrainian, Russian, English, German, French, and Italian.

Career

In her youth, Victoria worked as a broker, later engaging in investments and representing foreign companies in Ukraine. She became the most successful Ukrainian dealer for the German company Karcher. But even before Karcher, she was heavily involved in the construction business. That’s when, according to Tigipko,  she earned her first $1 million. 

Brimming with energy, in 2010 Victoria chaired the Odessa International Film Festival, one of the largest festivals in Eastern Europe with an annual audience of over 120 thousand people. Victoria also became the chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Film Academy. Tigipko has a number of awards and is included in several rankings such as the "25 most successful businesswomen of Ukraine" by the Focus magazine, "100 most influential women of Ukraine", "Top 100 most influential Ukrainians", and later became one of the top 5 influential persons on the Ukrainian web. 

President of the Odessa International Film Festival – Viktoria Tigipko, September, 2020, Odessa. Photo from Facebook.

Victoria Tigipko is a successful venture capitalist, and in 2010 she founded the TA Ventures Fund that invests in tech startups from Europe (including Ukraine) and the United States. The Fund actively supports its portfolio companies on the international market and helps them remain competitive, supporting them in the creation of R&D (research and development) centers in Ukraine and Europe. According to Pitchbook, since its founding, TA Ventures has invested in 158 companies (including Liki24, Mate Academy, InVision, AuroraLabs, Pixonic, and others). Of these companies, it has made 56 exits (e.g., Adore me, Shoes4you, Urbanara, Futurefly, Fleetomy, StyleLounge, zyBooks).

About Ukrainian Venture Capital Funds

As a sideline, let’s review the unique qualities of a typical venture capital fund in Ukraine. Ukrainian VC funds are not focused on investments in innovative enterprises; instead they function as a tool for corporate investment and optimization of taxation in the construction, financial, and agricultural sectors. Such venture capital funds are created to optimize cash flow between different structures within the corporation. The current legislation allows them to issue loans to enterprises that are part of the corporation, without paying taxes and reducing the base of income taxation. Therefore, it is not surprising that among the Top 100 largest Ukrainian venture capital funds there are many funds that were created to optimize taxation.  

The "real" venture market of Ukraine is just beginning its journey. Recently, there has been a number of venture capital funds that are focused on investments in innovative enterprises and IT technology. Among those are TA Ventures, Imperious Group, AVentures Capital, Detonate Ventures, Chernovetskyi Investment Group, Dekarta Capital, Vostok Ventures, and Global Technology Foundation. These funds are represented by a national association of venture capital funds, the Ukrainian Venture Capital Association

About Investments, failures, teams and vacancies. Victoria Tigipko, TAVentures | Big fish.

The TA Ventures Fund

The word "venture" in the context of investing means "taking risks". Similar to business angels, venture funds finance innovative companies that have a high level of risk, but also a high level of potential returns, while getting a share in the equity. Unlike the business angels, who invest mostly in Seed or Pre-Seed rounds, venture capital funds are investing in later rounds: Series A, B, C. 

Victoria Tigipko founded her venture capital fund TA Ventures using her own funds. The fund is a combination of a classic venture capital fund and an angel fund and seeks to invest in companies that are in the initial stages of development and work in the areas of mobility, digital health, FinTech, industrial technology, enterprise software, property technologies, logistics, financial services, IoT, and vertical marketplaces. 

TA Ventures is managed by a team of professionals with 10 years of successful experience in venture investment and entrepreneurship. There are 16 fund managers - Igor Pertsiia, Evelyn Buchatskiy, Igor Semenov, Oleg Malenkov, and others. The Fund actively uses joint investment opportunities with 230 co-investors - large international venture capital funds from around the world - #adm Ventures, FJ Labs, Apollo Health Ventures, Big Sur Ventures, General Catalyst, and others.

The iClub Angel Fund

In addition to TA Ventures, Victoria also leads iClub - a private investment club for angel investors, with a membership fee between $2,500 and $5,000 per year. It provides members an opportunity to use the entire ecosystem of TA Ventures, free trips to TechCrunch Disrupt conferences, Web Summit, and The Next Web, which all cost individually from $500 to $1,500. Attending only one or two of these conferences will already cover the annual membership cost of iClub. In addition, investors meet monthly in the offices of technology companies, such as Ajax Systems and Petcube.  

iClub gives entrepreneurs, private investors, and institutional investors the opportunity to make small investments in startups with rapid growth, while taking advantage of TA Ventures due diligence process. Every year, Victoria Tigipko's team spends 15,000 hours analyzing more than 3000+ investment opportunities and choosing the best 15-25 startups. 

As of 2020, iClub has representative offices in London, Monaco, Kyiv, New York, and Miami, while each location has its own partner - Igor Pertsiia, Giacomo Bonavera, Ivan Guzenko, and Pavel Tafi respectively. In each location, the angel club holds monthly meetings, which are attended by the founders of startups in which iClub is planning to invest. In addition, the club conducts training on venture capital, investment, startups, and provides full legal support for its investments. 

Investments

The TA Ventures fund invested in many companies from Ukraine, including Coppertino (VOX), Etachki, CheckiO, Hotelscan, Topmall.ua, TranscribeMe!, Wunderflats and others. Notably, one of the strengths of the fund is helping portfolio companies in the setup of R&D centers in Ukraine. 

Tigipko says that one of the fund's first investments was in 2012, into Little Eye Labs in India (a company later bought by Facebook). "At that time India was still undervalued as a location for startup development. There were also restrictions on foreign angel investments (not more than $100,000 was allowed). Most of our investments ranged from $25,000 and up to $100,000.” In the first two years of operation, her venture capital fund invested in 14 Indian companies. “In total”, - continues Victoria, “we made 130 investments and 10% of them failed. One of  the reasons for failure were problems with the founders, as they can burn out.” The latest investment in 2020 was into Secberus (the only CSPM that provides an adapted CARTA-driven approach to corporate cloud security), which raised $3.2 million.

Ukrainian Startups With Investments by Victoria Tigipko

Company Company ProfileCollected Amount 
Liki24Drugs from thousands of pharmacies on one siteVenture Round (2020)
$5 M
RetargetAppEffective online advertising of Shopify and BigCommerce storesSeed Round (2019)
$1,5 M
Liki24 Drugs from thousands of pharmacies on one siteSeries A (2019)
$1 M
Mate academyOnline Academy for IT ProfessionsSeed Round (2019)
$580 K
eTachkiUkrainian online auction for car salesVenture Round (2016)
$1 M
CheckiOPython web learning resource, learning through games and testsSeed Round (2014)
$750 K
Coppertino (VOX)Developer of a music player for MacsAngel Round (2014)
-
Topmall.uaOnline store with a wide range of products of well-known brandsSeries A (2013)
$5 M
HotelscanSearch service for travelers looking for  the lowest prices on the best hotelsSeed Round (2012), (2013)
Series A (2015), (2017)
-
TranscribeMe!Quickly converts voice to textAngel Round (2012) 
-

New Initiatives 

Tigipko is an organizer of several IDCEE startup conferences. In 2013, she brought an international volunteer program to Ukraine,to teach programming to children. CodeClub is a Ukrainian volunteer network of free coding clubs for children of 8 to 15 years of age. In these clubs, students learn basic programming skills in a fun and interactive environment. This initiative is supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, along with some domestic IT companies.

"Changing processes at the national level gives me a special buzz. We work with many driven individuals, which motivates me even more and makes my heart beat faster. In this environment, ideas give rise to more ideas, often much better than the original ones. All of this pushes me to do more," adds Victoria.

Aside from investments and social initiatives, Victoria is also known for being a co-founder of the women's business community WTECH - the first Ukrainian community of female leaders in the technology industry, founded in 2018. The ecosystem offers opportunities for personal and business development, also serving as a place to share experiences and knowledge. With the support of more than 30 business advisers, the community has more than 1,250 members. 

Victoria Tigipko. About venture capital, the film festival and TA Ventures strategy | Big Money # 37.

Active development of different types of innovative companies in Ukraine creates a significant demand for venture capital. However, the venture capital market in Ukraine is still in the formative stage. Victoria Tigipko is a pioneer in this space and her venture capital fund TA Ventures, as well as the angel club iClub  continue investing in quality tech startups in Ukraine. Thanks to her, and investors like her, Ukraine is strengthening its position in the international IT market year after year.

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