Does entrepreneurship run in the family? Or do all entrepreneurs feel like they’re among family because of the experiences, hardships, challenges, and triumphs that only fellow entrepreneurs understand? In the case of the Davidovs, the answer is both. They’re both serial entrepreneurs, they’re a family of entrepreneurs, they invest in entrepreneurs, and just like Oh Ship! host, Freddie Laker, they believe entrepreneurs should help each other like a family.
Freddie speaks with Nick and Marina on their journeys as founders, finding their path as an entrepreneurial family, and embracing a mindset that helping other entrepreneurs doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.
Meet Nick and Marina Davidov
Nick Davidov co-founded Cherry Labs, Dr. Garen Capital Partners, and Mr.co and most recently became a partner in his own venture capital firm Davidov Venture Capital, which is powered by about 75 founders, engineers, operators, partners, and angel investors. His wife, Marina Davidov, co-founded VO Journal, a non-profit for children’s education, as well as the mobile learning platform SNAP Force. She is also a partner at Davidov Venture Capital.
Their children have also inherited the entrepreneurial spirit. Their 12-year-old daughter learned about scalability at a young age. She now teaches children English and math via an online platform and has even put together financial proposals for her parents when she wants to fund a personal expense (like a recent trip to Los Angeles).
Families help each other. They’re there through thick and thin and love each other, even if they have the occasional fight. They work together and are bonded by a higher purpose. The same holds true in the sense of an entrepreneurial family. Both Nick and Marina dedicate time and resources to helping other entrepreneurs, treating them as a family of sorts and strengthening the higher purpose that every entrepreneur shares.
Freddie: As a husband and wife duo, how do you find balance in your personal lives?
It’s no secret that entrepreneurs tend to be workaholics. We’re passionate about what we do, and being a founder of even a “small” idea can be all-consuming. Finding balance doesn’t always come easy or naturally.
“When you’re both working for the same company and doing the same things, there will be situations where you both need a support system,” shares Marina. “You might both be struggling with the same things at work, which is the biggest downside of working together. But you need to learn how to be the support for the other person. When you both need it, you can both give it and receive it at the same time.”
Marina notes that they also support their kids by getting them involved in what they’re doing. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, she doesn’t shy away from showing her children it’s fun to work on something you’re curious or passionate about.
Freddie: How does promoting a sense of community and an abundance mindset beneficial for entrepreneurs?
Nick co-founded Mr.co, which focuses on the concept of building communities of entrepreneurs. Like many great ideas, Nick’s came about by accident. Having conducted a highly successful interview with a prominent Russian YouTuber, Nick started receiving thousands of messages per day on social media from viewers asking for tips and advice. Nick thought, why couldn’t all of these people reaching out to me help each other?
Alongside another founder who was also experiencing a similar problem, they set out to create resources aimed at Russian-speaking entrepreneurs where users could help each other learn and grow.
“We crafted this idea out of a need, but we also decided to turn it into a non-profit to make it really valuable for the people using it. Connecting entrepreneurs with other entrepreneurs has tremendous value. It creates new opportunities. You help them solve problems that you had recently. They connect you to people to hire or sell to. They’ve walked in your shoes, you’ve walked in theirs. This mutual feeling of support is very important.”
The concept started as invite-only, with culture being the only criterion for joining. The platform grew faster than either founder expected and even enabled another business to evolve and thrive—a project called Masto on the Map. Masto, which translates as ‘The Place’ in Russian, creates physical spaces for founders to meet and network. It takes a page from the coworking playbook and features locations in Armenia, Cyprus, Turkey, and Bali, with other locations across Europe scheduled to open soon.
“The project was looking for a Russian-speaking founder to start the business. The idea is that all of these little coworking spaces become part of the larger network so that no matter where you are, you’re always connected to the people in other locations.”
Freddie: Given the current climate of the war with Ukraine, how are your community members continuing to support each other?
A unique community management challenge, the war in Ukraine has certainly impacted the Russian-speaking community at large. Given the myriad of geographic locations between members (e.g., Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.), politics can affect relationships between nationalities.
“Surprisingly, most of the Russian-speaking founders we know are still very connected to the Ukrainian-speaking fathers,” shares Nick. “We are still one big family. There may have been some tension in the beginning, but everyone has come to realize we’re all on the same side. We’re not equally in trouble. We cannot go back to our country; we would probably get prosecuted, jailed, or drafted into the army. But our relatives are not being bombed every day. This crisis is a big difference. While we cannot directly relate to what is happening to Ukrainians, I still get ongoing business support from my Ukrainian friends, and vice versa.”
Entrepreneurship is woven into a person’s DNA, no matter where they’re from or what they’re passionate about. It’s this ingrained nature that strengthens the bonds of an entrepreneurial family, whether by blood, by marriage, or just by shared experiences.
Subscribe to the Oh Ship! Show on YouTube and hear the full conversation with Nick and Marina Davidov.