Oleg Tumanov transformed an industry for a whole nation. He’s raised millions of dollars and hired hundreds of people in the process.
During our interview on the DealMakers podcast, Tumanov shared his insights from building a business from scratch to over $100M a year in revenues. He talked about the many challenges, which also led to breakthroughs, why you should keep pushing through, the one thing that is more important than strategy for a company, his approach to hiring, and what you didn’t know about the world of on-demand video.
Creativity & Entrepreneurship
Oleg Tumanov was born in Moscow, Russia. It was before the Soviet Union changed and travel wasn’t a thing.
Oleg clearly has many talents, and one of those which Steve Jobs pointed to as being a talent of some of the best engineers. That is music.
Both of Oleg’s parents were musicians. They taught him to play the piano. He still composes today, and recently released a new project.
He also authored the book Choose Yourself: How to Free your Personality and Create your World. It’s available on Amazon.
These are all creative traits, and creativity is key for surviving in entrepreneurship. As he puts it, in order to keep up in our rapidly changing world, you have to be able to reinvent yourself at least every month, if not from one day to the next. To stay ahead, he says he takes time out to brainstorm and think about what the company can create next.
Oleg says his father advised him to not pursue music as a professional career. So, with good grades, he went to college at the prestigious Moscow Finance Institute.
This began a period in which he was blessed with many great roles. Though he now sees those as a distraction and drag that prevented him from pursuing entrepreneurship earlier. He was temporarily lost in building other people’s dreams and the ego of titles, and paychecks, instead of being true to himself.
Going into a banking career he had the chance to live in Geneva and New York, and hold one of the highest-ranking positions at a big Russian bank.
Going Solo & The Pirate Approach To Startup Businesses
Tumanov ended up as a chief executive officer with Access Industries. Access Industries is a global conglomerate with investments in telecom, real estate, and venture capital. They also own more than 86% of Warner Music Group.
Oleg suggested Warner create a company to distribute digital music in Russia. They agreed on the condition he brought in another major player. That ended up being Sony. Unfortunately, as soon as they started it was clear that Sony Music and Warner weren’t going to be able to get along. They couldn’t agree on pricing and distribution.
So, with a partner, Oleg decided to buy the company out and run it. In 2010 they pivoted to online TV. Today, Ivi is the top online video company in Russia.
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