Geek Ventures: How This Venture Fund Helps Immigrant Founders Build Scalable Products

By Amit Chowdhry • Nov 16, 2023

Geek Ventures is a tech venture fund investing in immigrant founders building amazing scalable products. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Geek Ventures managing partner Ihar Mahaniok to learn more.

Ihar Mahaniok’s Background

Mahaniok grew up in Belarus, and his parents were entrepreneurs with technical backgrounds (his mother was a software engineer, and his father was a physicist). And Mahaniok said:

“I started coding when I was 12 and graduated with a Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science. I joined Google as a software engineer and worked there for 8 years. Some notable projects I worked on there were Google Maps and the Play Store. After Google, I worked in engineering leadership roles at Facebook (4+ years), WeWork, and Lightning AI. Over the years, I also became an angel investor, investing in notable unicorns, including Instacart, PandaDoc,, Jeeves, Airbyte, and many more at the pre-seed and seed stages. After years of angel investing as a side project, I realized that I enjoy investing way more than engineering, and I am passionate about working with amazing immigrants, which is why I founded Geek Ventures.”

Evolution Of Geek Ventures’ Thesis 

How has your firm’s thesis evolved over time? Mahaniok shared:

“Our original thesis continues to drive all of our investment decisions today. Geek Ventures was founded because talent may be equally distributed, but opportunity is not.”

“We want to create more opportunities for the amazing talent that originates globally. We see exceptional people born everywhere, and a lot of them end up moving to the U.S., where they have the best environment to grow a business – and we love to help them. Immigrant founders also often grow their teams in countries of origin, which creates amazing job opportunities for talented people there.”

Challenges Faced 

What challenges has Mahaniok faced in building the firm, and has the current macroeconomic climate affected your firm? Mahaniok shared:

“I was fundraising through the most difficult fundraising environment for new managers and was able to oversubscribe our first fund (My initial goal was $15 million, and we closed at $23 million).”

“I found that having the right mission, the right strategy, and a notable track record really helped. People also resonated with my thesis of investing in immigrant founders and with the mission of helping to create opportunities for talent from everywhere. Our early successful fund investments also played a role, such as ShapesXR, Spice AI, NewHomesMate. They helped show prospective investors that our strategy works.”

Favorite Memory

What has been your favorite memory working for your firm so far? Mahaniok reflected:

“There were so many! The day when I got the first commitment from an LP to invest in the fund with the words ‘I believe in you, Ihar,’ the day when we heard about our portfolio company Bowlton getting acquired and every founder event we hosted (especially the one at Web Summit in 2022).”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of Geek Ventures’ most significant milestones? Mahaniok cited:

“Even though we just started investing in December 2021, we have already seen an exit with Bowlton.”

“Several of our portfolio companies raised significant seed rounds quickly after we invested at pre-seed – including Spice AI, ShapesXR, Sports Visio, and more.”

“We significantly oversubscribed our initial fund size goal in the most challenging fundraising environment.”

Investment Success Stories

After asking Mahaniok about investment success stories, he highlighted:

“Among my most successful investments are seed round investments in Instacart, Pandadoc,, Jeeves, and Airbyte. My investment in Instacart was a seed round investment when they just started serving a few neighborhoods in San Francisco, and now they are going public.”

“When I invested in Pandadoc, I was one of the first investors, back when the founders were just moving to the U.S., but they already had a product and initial happy customers. Pandadoc became a unicorn two years ago. I invested in’s pre-seed when they just started working on an idea, and before they even applied to YC, they became a unicorn a few years later. Airbyte had the fastest growth from a small seed to a unicorn – just 18 months.”

AUM/Other Metrics

After asking Mahaniok about assets under management (AUM) and some of Geek Ventures’ other metrics, he revealed:

— AUM is $25 million

— We have invested in 35 companies to date

— 1 exit already (Bowlton)

lndustry Focus

 What are some of the industries that Geek Ventures is focused on? Mahaniok noted:

“We invest across categories, with the most focus on B2B solutions. Ultimately, we are looking for companies that solve real problems for customers in large growing markets, companies that identify customers’ significant pain points and come up with a painkiller solution. At Geek Ventures, we are not chasing trends or today’s hype. At any time, there are founders that are laser-focused on customer pains and are using the best possible technology to address them.”

Differentiation From Other Firms

What differentiates Geek Ventures from other firms? Mahaniok affirmed:

“I have a strong AI & engineering leadership background, which helps in spotting great opportunities and also helps us to advise founders on technology choice, hiring top tech talent, and growing the team.”

“Our firm boasts up-to-date entrepreneurial experience and founder mentality, with Vadim Rogovskiy (over a decade of experience as a serial venture-backed founder) splitting his time between Geek Ventures and his post-Series A startup 3DLOOK.”

“We operate with agility and flexibility, and we take and consider cold reachouts. Moreover, we are very active, investing in 1 to 2 new companies every month.”

“We can invest our first check in a company as early as an idea stage and as late as $1.5 million ARR, and we are well set up for significant follow-ons.”

“We have an unusually strong community of founders and investors, and anyone who becomes a member of our portfolio gets to benefit immediately from our network. For example, in one case, our $100k check led to several million dollars invested through our introductions.”

“We support not only current immigrants but future immigrants, too.”

Future Goals

 What are some of your firm’s future goals? Mahaniok concluded:

“We want to continue to drive equal opportunity for visionary immigrant entrepreneurs through capital and connections, and are going to keep working on increasing our resources for that.”

“We are looking forward to the success of our portfolio companies – and seeing multiple of them succeed in becoming highly impactful, key companies in the world economy would be a great accomplishment.”