The team of Eleven is a close-knit and diverse group of entrepreneurs and investment professionals. Our Partners are the backbone of our team, inspiring us and leading by example, building the path of mutual success for all founders we are supporting.
You might have seen some of Eleven’s Partners in interviews, read their articles, met them during events and conferences but we think it’s time to introduce them from a slightly different angle. This is why we are excited to give an official start to our “14 Questions With” blog post series, which will introduce the more personal and little-known side of the Partners at Eleven.
We begin our series with Ivaylo Simov who founded Eleven together with Daniel Tomov back in 2012. Before that, Ivo was an Investment Manager and Director at the Greek investment firm Global Finance. He has a degree in Business Administration from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and started his career in private equity back in 1999.
Continue reading to learn about Ivo’s journey at the fund and some intriguing stories and insights, which even surprised us!
ProfilePrevious experience: 20 years in Venture Capital and Private Equity
Spheres of expertise: Currently focused on Future of Food
Talk with Ivo about:
- Strategy, monetization, fundraising;
- Cooking, skiing off piste, what the future holds.
1. What is your #Oneof11 story? How did your Eleven journey start?
We founded Eleven back in 2012 with Dani Tomov. With previous experience in Venture Capital and Private Equity we both thought it was time to set up our own firm and do things our way.
2. Why Venture Capital as a current career path?
I was lucky enough to have my very first “serious” job out of university in one of the pioneers in equity investing in the region as an analyst and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s one of the most interesting jobs you can find, as you can dig into different businesses and challenges every day.
3. What is one piece of advice which you wish more founders followed?
Stay focused – I guess it’s the nature of entrepreneurs to be entrepreneurial and try new things rather than stay focused, but they need to if they want to be successful.
Going back in time
4. What was the first job you got paid to do?
Working at a beer factory at age 14, which has left me scarred with a love for beer for life. Drinking (responsibly) beer with my friends is still one of my favorite pastimes.
5. What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
I wanted to become an actor. Indeed acting helps a lot in both business and politics, but I never mastered the art of it. A fun fact: we did have acting classes in our early days at Eleven as part of the accelerator program, which were intended to help founders pitch better.
6. Can you share a time/situation when you really failed at something? What did you learn?
Perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve made at Eleven is not listening more carefully to what our investors are advising us. Founders should listen to what their VCs have to say and in turn, VCs should listen to what their LPs (investors in the funds) are telling them.
Learned the hard way
7. At what job would you be terrible?
An auditor – I can do it, as I have dealt with audits and auditors all my life and I have much respect for them, but I would hate it and this would make me suck at it.
8. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
- Get a mentor.
- Follow your gut – if you are thinking about it, do it.
- And one financial advice – if you like a product or service, invest in the stock of the company behind it.
9. What would you say is your #1 “superpower”?
Probably empathy – I try to put myself into the entrepreneurs’ shoes every day.
10. If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes, whose would they be? Why?
My kids – I want to understand how to be a better father.
11. Do you live by any motto or core principle?
12. What do you do in your free time? What hobbies do you enjoy?
Skiing in the winter and windsurfing in the summer. Reading. Occasionally writing. Binge-watching. Cooking.
13. Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
14. What was the last book you read? Which is your all-time favorite one?
The last one was Shogun by James Clavell.
One of my favorite ones is The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham. It is a book about the life of an unassuming British stockbroker, who abandons the trivial pleasures of his bourgeois life for the hard life of an aspiring painter without considering himself ridiculous or vain. It’s about following your passion and the analogies with an entrepreneurs’ life and struggles are obvious, although the glorious successes blur the hardships along the way.
However, my favorite genre is science fiction. If I were to actually recommend a book, this would be The Three Body Problem trilogy by Liu Cixin.
Before you go...
Ivo definitely made us smile, jot down some valuable pieces of advice, and add new books to our reading list. We cannot wait to hear what stories and little-known facts the next Partner will share with us. But until then – follow our Facebook and LinkedIn channels to stay up-to-date and do remember to sign up for our Newsletter!