How I Became A Founder: ElectroNeek’s Dmitry Karpov

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Dmitry Karpov was the first angel investor in ElectroNeek and joined the founding team in 2020. Prior to ElectroNeek, Dmitry led EY Momentum, Palo Alto-based corporate accelerator, and Global Innovation Challenge at EY. Before taking an internal innovation leadership role, he assisted Fortune 500 companies with the development of innovation processes and delivering AI & RPA projects. Before joining EY, he worked as a consultant at the World Bank, focusing on technology-enabled approaches to fighting international corruption. At the age of 21, he co-founded Idea Logistics Agency, which was acquired by a subsidiary of Omnicom group.

Karpov holds an M.B.A. degree from Georgetown University, an M.S. degree in Physics from the University of Connecticut, a B.S. degree in Physics from Moscow State University, and an honors certificate in International Business Diplomacy from Georgetown School of Foreign Service. He also took Machine Learning classes at MIT and is alumni of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in NYC. Karpov is a seasoned Burning Man community participant and active wild backpacker.

Frederick Daso: When did you first gain interest in being a founder?

Dmitry Karpov: I felt like being an entrepreneur from my mid-school, running a pretty big volume of Magic the Gathering cards trading in my hometown, in countryside Russia. I remember that my mom noticed that I stopped asking for pocket money for a while and had worried that I might be involved in some shady scheme — kids can’t spend so much money on ‘paper’ cards. I co-founded my first startup at the age of 23, with the help of the Innovation Studio fellowship program funded by Intel at Moscow State University. An international marketing conglomerate partially acquired the startup and, after a break, I had a corporate innovation career, which is about working with intrapreneurs, startups, and entrepreneurs in residence in the largest US companies.

Daso: What were the essential experiences that helped you be in the position you are today?

Karpov: I have a high tolerance to the fear of failure, which I developed through trying different things that I haven’t succeeded at doing. For instance, as a teenager, I practiced tennis or playing guitar for 3+ years and haven’t achieved any notable progress. Deciding to pass by on these hobbies wasn’t the end of the world. The same applies to initiatives in the business environment — if your business risk profile affords trying new things, experimenting, why wouldn’t give it a try?

Daso: Who were the critical individuals or groups that contributed to your professional success, and why?

Karpov: During my last year at college, majoring in Physics (quantum electronics, e.g., lasers), I saw an elevator poster ad by a student startup initiative/club that claimed to teach STEM students how to start a business. Sponsored by Intel and run by a few talented young academics and entrepreneurs, it set me up for experimentation in a business context, which I found somehow similar to scientific research. I’m very grateful to the program, Innovation Studio, I hope it’s still up and running at Moscow State University. Later, at Georgetown, after my first successful startup, my views on business in a societal context have been deeply affected by the faculty of the International Business Diplomacy honors program, run by Professor Theodor Moran. Learning there helps me a lot know as I think about the impacts of hyper-automation on the community and political agenda.

4. How did you prepare for yourself to become a founder?

Karpov: Before founding my first company, I got experience in running a nonprofit project (in the area of civil rights), which gave me a little first-hand knowledge of fundraising, hiring, managing team, running finance. Of course, stakeholders are very different but I believe in an effective transition from nonprofit to the private sector and vice versa.

Daso: What do you think stops most people from becoming a founder?

Karpov: I didn’t meet many people in my life who wanted to become a founder but haven’t, at least they haven’t talked about it, but for the last ten years I’m surrounded by founders and intrapreneurs, and I would say that they all are not afraid of failing. Many of them failed a lot in the past but learned something to keep trying.

Daso: Looking back, would you change anything about your professional path?

Karpov: Most of my family members and childhood friends got PhDs, and I followed that path and even, while having a growing startup, went to graduate school and was combining full-time work and studies. I shouldn’t do this; I think unless one has a keen interest in a particular knowledge domain, he or she can learn quicker by doing than in a classroom environment.

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Forbes Under 30 Contributor, 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice, Venture Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures

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