While working in finance for JPMorgan Chase, Alec Andronikov saw an opportunity he couldn’t ignore. It was 2005, and people were dialing 411 to find a phone number. “I learned there were 6.5 billion calls a year to 411,” Andronikov says. “It was a $10 billion business nobody really cared about.”
That was the start of his career as a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. He left Chase in New York and returned to the Bay Area, where he secured funding to start inFreeDA, a service that provided free directory assistance in exchange for advertising. If a caller asked for Pizza Hut, the response would consider the caller’s location and past preferences, then provide an offer to, perhaps, Domino’s. He sold the venture to AT&T in 2006.
“Then I started looking at rapidly growing content SMS [texting] traffic,” Andronikov says. His next venture, MoVoxx, integrated ads into messages from large media companies providing stock quotes or sports scores. Motricity bought MoVoxx in 2010 for $100 million.
Andronikov’s next act is to transition into venture capital to help fledgling companies the way he had been helped. Though still building his company, he hopes to shake up the VC model. He believes investors should help startups validate and solve true pain points in the market rather than build trendy new tech. He’d also like to finance industry experts who have identified a solution in their areas of expertise.
Andronikov credits Haas with exposing him to a variety of perspectives. “I also had professors who had been there and weren’t just teaching out of a book,” he says. —ME
Mobile Media Entrepreneur
New York City