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Mario Peshev is a serial entrepreneur and prolific market consultant who created his first website in 1999. He runs DevriX - a top 20 WordPress agency in the world - and offers consulting services through Growth Shuttle, his business coaching firm for SMEs, scaleups, agencies and companies undergoing digital transformation.
Peshev has spent more than 10,000 hours training and consulting since 2006, working with companies such as VMware, SAP, Software AG, CERN, Saudi Aramco (to name a few). He is a featured contributor for Forbes, Entrepreneur and Business 2 Community and published in dozens of international magazines.
What does investing mean to you?
Investing is a broad term that addresses several of my aspirations - from financial stability and risk management, to continuous learning, to an element of philanthropy that helps businesses and supports families.
Due to my entrepreneurial background, I'm invested in several companies and sit on a number of boards. It's an incredible opportunity to bring passionate leaders together, facilitate omnichannel marketing, and expand my professional network by creating new opportunities.
When did you start investing in startups and how many companies do you have in your portfolio?
I joined a tech startup in 2010 as CTO and retained a minority stake after leaving the role. As an advisor and angel investor, I am invested in 8 other companies. My broader portfolio includes everything from ETFs and individual stocks in the S&P500 to licensing fees and royalties.
What motivates you to invest in startups?
I believe the best investments are your own skills and outstanding entrepreneurs. Working with smart, driven and determined founders and leadership teams is inspiring. The growth of the startup ecosystem is rewriting the old rules of business management. Startups are often the pioneers of innovation, and it's an honor to be part of this movement.
How would you describe your investor profile?
I review every opportunity, but there are a few factors that I prioritize higher myself:
What has been one of the best or most impactful investments you have made to date?
Knowledge and my skills!
I am a learning fanatic - the love of learning keeps me up at night. Learning and hard work have helped me advance my career, grow my network, grow my businesses, discover great business opportunities to acquire or invest in, and reinvest the profits in a diversified portfolio.
How involved are you in the development of a startup (and how)?
There are three startups in which I am more actively involved for various reasons. Some deals are purely or mainly financial, especially when the number of employees grows to more than 100 and key positions have been newly filled.
I like to take a more active role in smaller startups where I can help fill gaps - strong positions in my network, technical leadership, marketing strategy, operational optimization, accountability oversight and onboarding plans.
How important do you think it is to have a diversified investment portfolio?
I spent a few years in IT security - including when I taught security and certification courses for Saudi Aramco or CERN. I tend to be risk averse, which is always a good balance for an entrepreneur and investor. In any case, diversification is the key to financial stability.
Although I have gradually diversified across multiple channels, the current recession has affected most areas of investing: Cash was wiped out by hyperinflation, the stock market crashed, crypto went under. U.S. dollar hedging and real estate were in flux here. Art and bonds were the preferred investments for some this year, and as always, investing in great companies is a good strategy.
Which trend or technology vertical appeals to you and why?
Bringing technology to more conservative industries undergoing digital transformation - both hardware and software. Consolidating and/or dramatically improving access to healthcare, government and legal services through automation, Big Data, digital services, home delivery and e-governance. And niche solutions that are quick to adopt (low learning curve) and difficult to replicate (intellectual property or access to certain data).
What is your greatest personal satisfaction since becoming a member of the SeedBlink community?
I love the SeedBlink ecosystem and the opportunities that are available to the broader community. The angel investing ecosystem in Europe is quite immature - finding great deals or dealing with the paperwork for equity investments is expensive and time consuming. Creating a marketplace for great deals and making crowdfunding available with little effort is getting more people to invest in startups. The lower requirements (minimum requirements) make this accessible to first-time investors as well.
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