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Vlad Krishtop is an entrepreneur and investor who was born in the small town of Uralsk in the former Soviet Union and who now operates businesses in Silicon Valley that are worth billions. He is a founder and CEO of a conglomerate that includes the investment company “Second Working District,” IT company ”Konstruktor Service,” and a number of startups that focus on areas such as AI, AR, FinTech, Healthcare IT, and others. According to various expert estimates, Krishtop’s net worth exceeds $2 billion.
Tell us about your conglomerate. How did you start out in business?
Vlad Krishtop: I have had an entrepreneurial mindset since my early childhood. I was constantly looking for ways to make money even when I was still in middle school. There were a lot of things that I was doing back then: opening a video salon, reselling office supplies and hardware–just to name a few.
After graduating from high school, I opened an IT company that soon became the largest one in my city. I also kept trading stock and currencies, which I had started doing a few years earlier. These two directions later grew into the investment company “Second Working District” and the IT-company “Konstruktor Service”–the foundation for the conglomerate.
How have you been able to grow your business? Be specific.
Vlad Krishtop: I believe that consistency and hard work were key for the growth of my business. I opened my companies when I was still very young, and I had to put in a lot of effort and constantly learn in order to succeed. As a result, none of my businesses ever failed, all of my businesses are currently growing faster than the market average, and the number of employees is rising 150%-200% annually (on average).
Because of the continuous growth and development, there are constantly new companies and services being produced by the conglomerate. We started to make our own financial tools, hosting services, etc.
A few years ago, I also started to invest in startups, which, in my opinion, have a lot of potential for growth.
What do you think you can do better than most people? How are you able to do it?
Vlad Krishtop: I think that one of my strengths is that I always strive to know everything about all aspects of my businesses. No matter what I do, I try to learn as much as possible about the subject, to look at it from all perspectives, and to foresee as many scenarios as possible. That includes taking into account not just internal but also external factors (condition of the market, economic forecast, etc.). The ability to see the bigger picture is crucial for the success of any business. This realization also pushed me to create our own think tank inside the company.
Name one thing that makes your company different from others.
Vlad Krishtop: One important thing that makes our company different is the think tank that I mentioned in my previous response. Not many companies in the U.S. have such a feature, but I think that it is indispensable for large companies. I talk to our think tank every morning, and it helps me to plan my strategy and make decisions that will benefit my business. Besides generating valuable insights, this department also makes its own analytical products.
What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?
Vlad Krishtop: When I was growing up, the books that had the biggest impact on me were the “Trilogy of Desire” by Theodore Dreiser, which included “The Financier,” “The Titan,” and “The Stoic.” I think this is great literature for entrepreneurs in the making because it shows what a real entrepreneur should aim for, and what challenges he or she can face.
If we are talking about purely business books, I’d like to mention “Funky Business” by Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell A. Nordström. It was published more than 20 years ago, but it envisioned a lot of modern trends that became a foundation of our company. Another important book is “Good to Great” by Jim C. Collins, which describes what it takes to become a truly great company and what can stall a company’s growth.
Related: Here are some of the best books recommended by Future Sharks.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple of years?
Vlad Krishtop: I’m planning to keep working on my personal and professional development and to raise my business to a new level. One of the main projects that I’m currently working on is the second version of “Konstruktor”– a service that will provide a creative environment and tools to help people achieve their professional dreams. There is also a number of new products our company is working on, including our very first AI product that we are planning to launch this fall.
Another important direction for me is to keep investing in startups. I plan to invest $100 million in three years, and I am currently a year and a half into this project.