The investor developed his first website by rewriting a code from a paper magazine. Currently, he is keeping investment activities along with Andreessen Horowitz and Twitter. During the Cyprus IT forum, the founder of the Ukrainian technology company Roosh, Sergey Tokarev, spoke about the factors that influenced his formation as an investor.
Today, Sergey Tokarev has over a hundred investments in IT startups, the development of proper technology companies, and active educational and charitable activities. And it all started with a magazine.
Curiosity is a useful human feature
Sergey Tokarev considers curiosity to be his main feature, which predetermined his choice of the field. It makes one move forward, learn, and develop.
“I really enjoy watching what is happening around: to touch technology, communicate with a large number of different people and learn something new from them. It is how I started my activity. Everything that falls into my hands, everything that I see, arouses a childish interest in me,” says Tokarev.
In such a way, Tokarev got acquainted with the IT world. Then, in 1998, Sergey created his first website, rewriting the code about computer games taken from a magazine.
“There was simply an article with an HTM code of a ‘Home page’. Not HTML—at that time, it was one letter less. So I just took this code from the magazine and rewrote it in a notepad, renamed the file from ‘.txt’ to ‘.htm’, launched it, and something like ‘Welcome to the Page of Sergey Tokarev’ popped up,” says Sergey.
This experience motivated the future investor to research the codes of other sites.
“I combined different blocks of codes and watched what happened. I cleaned some of them, restarted, and watched curiously: here, a template is placed wrong, so this code is responsible for the template. Okay, let’s go further. Simple curiosity led to the development of such mindset,” recalls Sergey Tokarev.
The cell lives while it divides
Many years have passed since then. At first, Tokarev was employed and tried many positions and responsibilities in information technology. It helped him deeply look into the IT field, go from an ordinary employee to a manager, create more than a dozen companies, and come up to investing.
“I like to develop entrepreneurs, develop people, develop product companies. I want such people to grow in number and share their successes, failures, and experiences. As an entrepreneur, I consider it my mission,” notes Tokarev.
Two phrases underline this philosophy. They were told by rocket construction engineer Igor Khanin to the entrepreneur. And it is he who could turn Tokarev’s world upside down. They are “The cell lives while it divides” and “What will remain in history after you when you die? Money? Who needs them!”
“This made me realize that the main thing in this world is sharing everything—your inner world, your good and bad experiences, and in the end, money. And also—to teach other people what you know,” explains Tokarev.
Such a background pushed Tokarev to develop his own philosophy of angel investing: to be not just a detached investor of money, but also an assistant to founders.
“The very concept of ‘angel investments’ defines that an investor becomes a kind of guardian angel for his startups, who protects, guides, solves problems, helps become more efficient, acquire the necessary contacts. I believe that only by this way you can achieve really great success,” ensures Sergey Tokarev.
Another embodiment of this philosophy is the social initiative AI HOUSE, created with the participation of Tokarev. It is a community dedicated to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Within the project framework, scientists, entrepreneurs, students, startuppers, investors, and developers from the AI and ML spheres will share their knowledge and experience with each other. As a result, AI HOUSE will turn into a kind of hub that will allow the right people to find each other and increase their expertise, and Ukraine will become a European center for ML and AI development.