Yuri Gurski is one of, if not the, most successful entrepreneurs in Belarus. Over the past two decades, he's founded numerous startups, most of which have been subsequently acquired by the likes of Facebook, Google, and Mail.ru Group. His most recent project is Palta, a technology company with a mission to make the world healthier through its ever-growing range of health and fitness apps. Find out more as we reveal 10 things you didn't know about Yuri Gurski.
1. He's the most successful IT entrepreneur in Eastern Europe
Gurski is the most successful IT entrepreneur in Eastern Europe, at least according to GoalEurope, who accorded him the title in 2016. Clearly, they aren't the only ones to think so. Over the past decade, Gurski has been honored with numerous titles and awards. In 2016 and 2017, Pro Business magazine named the No.1 Top Belarusian Business People Under 40. That same year, IT Mentor ranked him among the Top 50 Personalities in the Belarusian IT World. According to Wikipedia, he's also been named Belarus Entrepreneur of the Year 2011, Mentor of the Year 2014 by BEL.BIZ / Belarus High-Tech Park, and one of the Top Outstanding Business People of Modern Belarus by Ey.by magazine
2. He's published over 30 books
Gurski's first job out of college was as the CEO of the Belarusian branch of Piter, one of the leading publishing houses in Russia. His adventures in the publishing world didn't end there: in 2008, he co-founded Ideanomix in partnership with the Russian publishing house EKSMO. By 2017, Ideanomix had published over 1200 books, including around 30 of Gurski's own works on information technology.
3. He was born in Minsk
Gurski was born on 23 January 1983 in Minsk, the capital and largest city of Belarus. After finishing secondary school, he completed a master's degree in journalism at Belarusian State University and later, an Executive MBA degree from the IPM Business School. Although he maintains close ties with Belarus, he and his family now live in Limassol, Cyprus.
4. He's helped turn Belarus into a tech haven
In 2017, Gurski contributed to a new piece of Belarusian legislation that's effectively helped turn Belarus into an international tech haven by offering tax breaks and other incentives to businesses dealing in digital currencies. As The National News notes, the legislation aims to simplify the flow of venture capital between Belarus and other countries, while also making revenue and profit from all operations using digital currency tax free until 2023. After announcing the new decree, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said, “Belarus will become the first government in the world that opens wide opportunities for the use of blockchain technology. We have every chance of becoming a regional center in this area.” Gurski has helped publicize the new decree by discussing it on various TV shows and during press interviews.
5. He's a serial entrepreneur
Gurski clearly doesn't like the thought of having a boss. Since leaving college, he's worked almost exclusively in businesses that he himself has founded. Along with Palta, he's founded the hugely popular femtech health app Flo Inc.; Viaden Mobile, a division of Viaden Media that became the largest mobile apps developer in the Central and Eastern European region prior to its acquisition in 2012; and the publishing house Ideanomix.
6. He loves avocados
If you've ever wondered why Gurski decided to name Palta as he did, wonder no more. During a conversation with palta.com, Gurski revealed the fruity inspiration behind his name choice. "Well, I like avocados! One day I was sitting in a cafe in Peru where the word avocado was written in different languages all over the wall. I noticed the Spanish name 'palta' and for some reason, it stuck in my head so I thought, Why not?" he explained.
7. He founded Palta in 2016
In August 2016, Gurski teamed up with fellow entrepreneurs Alexander Frolov and Alexey Gubarev to co-found Palta, a health & well-being technology company that aims to improve the world's health, one app at a time. Its portfolio covers a huge range of health products, including Flo Health, Simple Fasting, and Zing Fitness Coach. It now has more than 2.4 million active paid subscribers and employs over 600 people across its offices in London, Limassol, Munich, Vilnius, Warsaw, and various other locations. The company works on a co-founding principle, partnering with ambitious founders and start-ups with unicorn potential and working with them to develop and scale their products on a global level. Gurski actively mentors all Palta's projects and has been instrumental in the growth of Prisma/Lensa, a video and photo editing app which has been named App of the Year in AppStore; Voir, an AI-powered beauty app and official vendor of LVMH Group; and WANNABY, a mass-market mobile AR technology company.
8. He's founded a non-profit
He might be best known for developing business ideas into money-spinners, but not every company founded by Gurski is intended to bring home the bacon. In an effort to inspire the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, he co-founded Edu4Future, a non-profit that aims to improve STEM education in Belarus.
9. He was a mentor for Maps.me
When Gurski isn't founding companies, he's mentoring them. Over the past 2 decades, he's worked as a business mentor and advisor to numerous companies, including All Matter, a neural network-based AI platform and SDK that was acquired by Google in August 2017, and Masquerade Technologies (MSQRD), a live selfie video filtering service that was sold to Facebook just 4 months after developing its first prototype. One of his biggest successes is Maps.me. During his two-year tenure as a mentor to the company, it grew into the #1 free mobile offline map for travelers with over 90 million installations across the world. In 2014, the company was acquired by Mail.Ru Group and successfully re-branded as My.com.
10. He's got big plans for the future
In August 2021, Gurski announced that Palta had raised $100 million in a Series B funding round. The round was led by Per Brillioth at VNV Global, with participation from Target Global and several other existing and new investors. The money will be used to develop more products and push the company closer to its goal of reaching 1 billion customers via its portfolio of health and wellness products.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee