Runner Interview

Nurdik Bazylbekov

Angel Investor & VC Scout

Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?
Hi, Nurdik here. I am an angel investor & VC Scout, currently working at an Asset Management firm with over $100bn in AUM but really most of my time outside of work is concentrated around startups and hiking (sometimes hiking with founders to enjoy long talks on your way up the hill).
How did you get started in the field of investment?
If we exclude the 7 year old times when me and my friends created a ‘syndicate’ to buy a football and had an infinite IRR during the match then probably we are talking me starting career at London Stock Exchange where I was involved in taking startups public via IPOs. Most recently I am active in much earlier stages of investment, doing angel investing, as well as, sourcing new ventures for couple of VCs as a Scout.
What industries or sectors do you typically focus on for investment?
I usually like to say fintech, given my background and network of people who I can bounce back some ideas with. However, the main excitement of this industry is talking to variety of exceptional founders who expand your thinking and understanding of things around. So most recently I have been engaging with healh-, ad- and ed-tech startups.
What's your investment philosophy?
Investing early in smart ideas led by underrepresented founders. I truly believe that resilient founders who have already broken a glass ceiling in past (culture, geography, education, views and many more) can do it again with their next ventures in hand.
Have you ever made an investment or formed a partnership through a networking event like Seed Run?
Not yet, but one thing I definitely had is few members motivating me to do more running.
What trends in the startup world are you most excited about?
As cliché as it sounds it is indeed AI. Ridiculously cool things being built in the early days of that technology and we are the ones to witness it.
Can you walk us through your due diligence process?
As my “thesis” is highly focused on founders, first part of my due dil is to understand their journey and motivation really really well. This is crucial for me to be on the same page and truly “hear” them during their pitch. Then the rest is pretty much a business as usual covering the deck points like product, validation, traction etc.
What’s a deal-breaker for you when evaluating a startup?
Failure during the above mentioned due dil.
Fred Wilson has cereal boxes in his board room to remind him of the time they passed on the airbnb founders, and that the people are more important than the current iteration of an idea. What mistakes have you made?
It was of course the first investment I have made where I had an emotional attachment rather than having a rational one. A simple way of explaining my take on it (using metaphor) is that love for sleeping doesn’t make you an expert in mattress manufacturing business.
What advice would you give to startups looking to attract investment?
Just keep the monthly update newsletters flowing to investors (honestly, a lot of founders know it, but still don’t do it).
How can we improve Seed Run?
Although my legs would hate me for proposing this, but what about long runs on weekends? (you can call those Series A runs… leaving some leeway in naming for half and marathon enthusiasts).
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