Ten years ago a group of young tech founders in Moscow decided to get an apartment together, at Shmitovskiy Lane 16.
In time, the ecosystem around the group swelled to the point where today it now encompasses 300 entrepreneurs, executives, artists and many other industries. The group now organizes the annual "Founders for Founders" conference in Russia and other locations. Just as in other places around the world, the members decided to help each other.
So they formed the Shmit16 Founder Community, and today they launch the S16 Angel Fund to invest in startups globally. Although tiny by investment standards (the fund's first close will be $5 million) the firm will focus on "founder-in-founder" investments and has already backed five companies under this model. The fund plans to invest in five more companies in the next six months, with an average of $250,000.
The driving ethos of the S16 Fund is a focus on developing human potential and creating a productive peer context where information flows freely and participants can learn from each other.
Founding partners of the fund and community members include serial entrepreneurs Anatoly Marin, co-founder of Payment Systems (a mobile fintech in Eastern Europe); Aleks Shamis, partner at Dostavista (a crowdsourced same-day delivery service operating in 10 countries); Mikhail Peregudov, founder of Partiya Edy, recently acquired by Yandex ($YNDX); Oleg Bibergan, former executive director at Goldman Sachs; and others. Prior to this, the partners have invested in more than 30 companies as individual angels.
S16 co-founder Anatoly Marin says: "There is a difference between helping a founder as someone whom you relate to on a human level, because you’ve been in these difficult places yourself, and helping a founder to get an ROI on your capital. The former helps shape relations where founders are open to share the most difficult subjects and get help. It is handy here that we’ve founded companies in different areas and can look at things from diverse perspectives.”
"The relationships in our community have always been about friendship, trust, and personal growth, with financial gains being an organic second-order outcome,” says S16 Angel Fund co-founder Aleks Shamis. “After 10 years, starting a fund was a natural next step in helping founders like ourselves.”
Beyond investment, S16 offers access to its network to help founders solve problems, find mentors and operators with business domain expertise such as go-to-market strategy, pricing, coaching for the executive team, and others.