I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Oksana Malysheva is an investor, entrepreneur and business executive based in Austin, TX. She is the Managing Partner/CEO of Sputnik ATX, an accelerator that funds maker-founders with ideas to create positive change. Committed to igniting and fueling social innovation solutions, Dr. Malysheva’s mission is creating positive social change through education, technology and innovation. Dr. Malysheva previously held top strategic roles at McKinsey and Motorola. Trained as a PhD physicist, Dr. Malysheva brings scientific inquisitiveness, lateral thinking and mastery of insight through data to all of her business endeavors.
Jean: Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share your story about how you got into the VC space?
As someone who grew up in Ukraine, from a very young age I was fascinated with capitalism and what makes it click. My answer came when I had a chance to work on a project focused on incubators and VCs while in management consulting. The unique combination of VC funding with fresh ideas and grit from startups was the very thing that created this ‘capitalist magic’. I went on to work in management consulting and marketing for a few years, always keeping this concept in the back of my mind. When the time was right I entered the field as an angel investor, and gradually build out an organization that allowed us to handle bigger and more complex deals. It was a fascinating journey that made me realize that a lot of things that hurt companies as they become later stage ventures could have been addressed at the seed level, and that the right incubator can profoundly affect the company trajectory. Sputnik ATX is here to play this role in the Austin/Texas ecosystem.
Jean: What kinds of startups do you typically work with?
At Sputnik we work with early stage startups that have moved past the “I have an idea” stage. In other words, applicants must have a product and a customer to be considered for the Sputnik cohort. We focus heavily on helping our companies gain quick traction, and for this to be effective you must have a product and a customer.