Oleg Jelesko: Career of the Founder of Da Vinci Capital 

Oleg Jelesko: Career of the Founder of Da Vinci Capital | The Enterprise World

The founder of Da Vinci Capital, Oleg Jelesko, is a businessman, an expert in the alternative investments market with an impressive professional background, and the architect behind several monumental M&A deals. He founded the company during the peak of the global financial crisis and found success in this venture. His entrepreneurial spirit and comprehensive understanding of the market allowed him to identify and capitalise on unique opportunities, steering his firm through the challenging economic landscape.

Under his leadership, Da Vinci Capital has become synonymous with innovation, resilience, and strategic growth, as well as navigating the complexities of the financial markets with a focus on creating long-term value for its investors and stakeholders. The vision put forth by Mr. Jelesko extended beyond mere survival during the crisis: he sought to redefine the role of private equity and venture capital in a changing global economy and set new standards for investment practices. 


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Oleg Jelesko: Investment Achievements

Within the capital market, Oleg Jelesko needs no introduction. The Renaissance Capital alumnus started his own business in 2007, having risen to the top of the investment field. 

He began in 1992 as a consultant at Andersen Consulting, where he was hired right after graduating from the Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology. He had an advantage during the selection process thanks to his additional education in the U.S. As a student, the future investor participated in an exchange program and interned at Dickinson College, where he studied economics, programming, and advanced mathematics for six months. 

Oleg Jelesko has said that he took his first steps in the profession “in the field” immediately — while working in London, he helped with software implementation projects. 

Then he got a job at the larger McKinsey & Company, where he completed an MBA course and began managing projects in the Czech Republic and at home. According to the entrepreneur, his work in this company was closely linked to the financial sector. 

Two years later, he entered the investment banking industry. Working at Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) piqued the businessman’s interest with a wide range of responsibilities. There, Oleg Jelesko was not restricted to a narrow specialisation, such as sales, trading, or analysis, but was involved in the holistic development of the business as its Vice President. 

Oleg Jelesko: Career of the Founder of Da Vinci Capital | The Enterprise World

This is where Mr. Jelesko got acquainted with complex financial instruments; these investment products typically consist of a portfolio of various securities, deposits, derivatives, and stocks, including those which private investors do not have direct access to. This diversification allows for an acceptable level of risk and a bolstered expected return. 

While at CSFB, Oleg Jelesko went through two global financial upheavals — the Ruble crisis (1998) and the Dot-com bubble in the United States (2001). During the latter, amidst an overly optimistic investor sentiment, the valuations of IT startups were excessively inflated, which led to the crash of the NASDAQ index and the bankruptcy of many high-tech market players. 

This experience significantly influenced the future work of Oleg Jelesko. Da Vinci Capital, the company he founded in 2007, is extremely cautious in its dealings with “new economy” companies. The organisation’s analysts carefully look at the project’s real ability to generate profit, rather than the irrational optimism spurred by marketing campaigns. 

After six years in investment banking, Mr. Jelesko was ready to start his own direct investments business. However, he chose to deviate from the planned course and moved to Renaissance Capital, where he stayed for three years. Oleg Jelesko later commented on this decision: “Stephen Jennings [who was the CEO of the investment bank in 2004] is very persuasive.” 

His position at his new job was similar to that of a partner. Under Oleg Jelesko’s direct supervision, Renaissance Capital created and brought new structured products to market that attracted holders of capital with an innovative approach to forming high returns and hedging risks. 

With Oleg Jelesko’s participation, changes were made to the default standard of the pre-IPO fund’s operation. Typically, such formations provide participants with the opportunity to invest in fast-growing high-tech businesses that are not yet traded on the stock exchange but have the characteristics of public companies; such investments are typically considered to be long-term. 

Unlike its other pre-IPO contemporaries, Renaissance Capital allowed participants to withdraw investments in the over-the-counter market. The fund’s life cycle was shorter, and investment managers acted more boldly, making concentrated capital investments. This approach was later adopted by Oleg Jelesko. Da Vinci Capital Fund kept the fundamental concept the same while also offering additional advantages. 

Among Oleg Jelesko’s other merits of that period was the development of specialised funds for investments in financial organisations and the power industry. In 2005, Oleg Jelesko and his team registered Renaissance Online for electronic securities trading. 

The “grow or leave” rule is an unspoken law in the investment environment. Striving for maximum results, Oleg Jelesko reached a higher level every time. The next step forward came in 2007 with the creation of a new company by Oleg Jelesko. Da Vinci Capital fund, named CIS Private Sector Growth Fund, became the first fund in the history of the businessman’s company. 

Oleg Jelesko – Da Vinci Capital Takes Off

Oleg Jelesko: Career of the Founder of Da Vinci Capital | The Enterprise World

In establishing Da Vinci Capital, Oleg Jelesko sought to respond to the mortgage crisis in the U.S. The entrepreneur realised that the event would have global consequences, and in such a challenging environment, it was necessary to offer the market something new. 

To make a favourable impression on investors in Da Vinci Capital, Oleg Jelesko invited only experienced managers with good track records. However, Mr. Jelesko’s main focus was on the product itself. 

As later reported by Oleg Jelesko, Da Vinci Capital Fund was the first in the world to have its shares listed on the newest exchange platform created by the London Stock Exchange. The fund was ready for the Specialist Fund Market (SFM) in April 2008 and the listing was conducted in May. 

For this, the company needed to obtain registration in Guernsey, a Channel Island that long ago established itself as a hub for investment funds planning placement on the London Stock Exchange and other European venues. The legal process was quite onerous, noted Oleg Jelesko. Da Vinci Capital took 4.5 months to obtain the asset management license. 

This strategic move was made to enhance the fund’s attraction to key investors. The platform where the shares of the CIS Private Sector Growth Fund of Oleg Jelesko were quoted gave fund participants the opportunity to withdraw their capital investments at any moment. Because of this, the risk of capital loss was minimised. 

Oleg Jelesko-Da Vinci Capital: About Their Projects

The ability to find private companies with the potential for non-linear growth and global ambitions is a rare quality possessed by Oleg Jelesko. Da Vinci Capital currently manages capital totaling over half a billion dollars, and the company’s fund participants include major international players in the financial and other economic sectors. 

Projects whose shares are included in the company’s investment portfolio have an average growth of 20-30% per year, thanks to the efficient management strategy adhered to by Oleg Jelesko. Da Vinci Capital Fund, under his management, acquires minority stakes in companies and gradually increases them to the point where they have the right to appoint their representatives to the asset’s Board of Directors. 

Hence, Oleg’s team yields the opportunity to influence the operational management of the business and improve it according to the chosen investment strategy. In some cases, investment managers carry out a set of measures aimed at taking the asset through an IPO. In others, the share of stocks is increased up to the controlling stake for further sale to a strategic investor. More often, strategists are stronger enterprises operating in the same industry as the invested company. M&A deals allow fund participants to realise a profit before the asset goes public. 

When speaking of his team’s landmark projects, Oleg Jelesko always touches on the story of the capital’s stock exchange. The company initially first bought several small blocks of shares and consolidated a 2% stake in the country’s trading system (JSC RTS). 

As the project became more influential, the position of exchange CEO was given to Oleg Jelesko. Da Vinci Capital began preparing the asset for consolidation with the MICEX. The creation of a single trading platform had been planned for a long time, but only Mr. Jelesko’s team managed to see it through, by not being afraid to sit down at the negotiating table with experienced brokers. The $1.2-billion merger culminated with the creation of the capital’s stock exchange. 

The professional community notes that this has provided more opportunities for all trading participants active in the domestic financial market. Experts assert that the project implemented under the management of Da Vinci Capital increased the reliability of the local exchange in the eyes of investors and prevented a liquidity crisis that could have occurred against the backdrop of foreign capital outflows a few years later. The unified trading platform’s shares were valued at $500 million dollars in 2013. The exchange’s IPO was also prepared and carried out by the company under Mr. Jelesko. 

Oleg Jelesko: Establishing Business Rules

Oleg Jelesko: Career of the Founder of Da Vinci Capital | The Enterprise World

Oleg Jelesko, commenting on the strategy of Da Vinci Capital, says that the company, first and foremost, looks at projects capable of going public through an IPO. During the selection process for investment targets, the business model of the potential asset and the chances that the project can become a so-called “unicorn” are studied deeply. 

“Unicorns” in the investment environment refers to companies that reach a market valuation of $1 billion within 10 years of their founding. The entrepreneur notes that the development of new technologies contributes to the emergence of all new similar projects. According to him, this situation will persist in the coming years. 

“Unicorns” mainly operate in industries such as Fin-Tech, e-commerce, and other areas where developments based on artificial intelligence are used. Their geographic distribution has also greatly expanded recently, appearing in Malaysia, Chile, Senegal, and Argentina. 

The experience accumulated over 30 years of work in investments has been a key factor for Mr. Jelesko in selecting quality projects. Companies without a debt burden are considered for a review. A thorough analysis of the facility’s activities is conducted to ensure compliance with the established criteria. Only after this is the final decision made whether to enter the project. 

Oleg Jelesko emphasises that this approach has allowed Da Vinci Capital to realize a number of very successful investments, one of them being the purchase of a share of the software developer EPAM Systems in 2008. Da Vinci Capital strategically channeled substantial funds into the equity of this prominent high-tech enterprise. The investment initiative involved an infusion of $18.6 million, a figure meticulously allocated for the purpose of securing a significant stake in EPAM Systems. 

A year following this financial venture, the founder of Da Vinci Capital took an active and pivotal role within the ranks of the company’s executive management team. This influential position allowed Oleg Jelesko to help craft EPAM Systems’ ambitious long-term development concept. With a forward-thinking approach, he was instrumental in advocating for the expansion of the company’s financial horizons through public investment.

Oleg Jelesko championed the initiative for EPAM Systems to launch its initial public offering, a strategic move that garnered the unanimous backing of the other shareholders. Energised by this collective support, the team embarked on the meticulous groundwork necessary to facilitate the public offering of securities on the illustrious stock market. The team’s work culminated in a successful IPO in February 2012, executed on the New York Stock Exchange. The investor community assigned it a substantial valuation of $488 million. The fruits of such strategic endeavors became apparent as the valuation of EPAM Systems soared exponentially, reaching an impressive market capitalisation of $37 billion over time.  

In the realm of global information technology, Mr. Jelesko has demonstrated acute business acumen with his role in the advancement of another major industry player—Softline. In 2016, Da Vinci Capital harnessed its vast network to bring in partners who shared their vision. Together, they orchestrated a collaborative investment venture, pooling resources to bolster the capital of this IT solutions and services provider. The commitment from Da Vinci Capital was approximately $20 million, a substantial investment that was matched by equivalent financing from the cohort of co-investors. This judicious move was a clear reflection of Da Vinci Capital’s strategic investment philosophy and its steadfast commitment to fostering growth and innovation in the high-tech sector. 

Joining the board in 2017, Oleg Jelesko crafted an M&A blueprint for Softline, playing a pivotal role in its execution. His leadership was instrumental in orchestrating a successful IPO for the company on the London Stock Exchange. His efforts also included revamping the corporate governance framework, devising strategies for market expansion, and assembling a skilled executive team. These initiatives proved fruitful, propelling the company’s revenue from $741 million in 2015 to a remarkable $2.2 billion by 2021. 

Currently, Oleg Jelesko serves on the investment committees of the firm’s funds and maintains his position on the boards of various enterprises within Da Vinci Capital’s investment portfolio. Oleg Jelesko’s directorship extends to significant entities like the ITI Group, a major Polish media conglomerate, and ITI Funds, an investment enterprise based in Luxembourg. 

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