Semyon Dukach

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Semyon Dukach
Born (1968-10-25) 25 October 1968 (age 52)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Alma materColumbia University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationVenture Capitalist, Angel investor, professional blackjack player, entrepreneur
Known forFounding Partner of One Way Ventures
Former Managing Director of Techstars in Boston
Founder of the Troublemaker Award
Former Chairman of SMTP (company)
Member of MIT Blackjack Team

Semyon Dukach (born 25 October 1968) is the Founding Partner of One Way Ventures,[1][2] a venture capital fund that backs immigrant entrepreneurs.[3][4]

He is also known as the former Managing Director of Techstars in Boston,[5] a top angel investor,[6] the former Chairman of SMTP (company) (NASDAQ: SHSP),[7] and a former professional blackjack player with the MIT Blackjack Team.[8] He played with Strategic Investments and later was one of the founding members and team leaders on Amphibian Investments whose exploits were chronicled in Ben Mezrich's Busting Vegas and referred to in Mezrich's Bringing Down the House. Dukach was the main character in Busting Vegas and the only member of the MIT blackjack team to be referred to by his real name in either book.

Early life[edit]

Born on 25 October 1968 in Moscow, Dukach moved to the US in 1979 at the age of 11. He completed a BS in Computer Science at Columbia University in 1990 and a MS in Computer Science at MIT in 1993.[9]

At a young age Semyon developed an interest in video games and specifically Pac-Man. Semyon became proficient at the game by reading Ken Uston's Mastering PAC-MAN. This led him to read Uston's other titles on blackjack, giving him an understanding of the basics of card counting before he was approached to play with the MIT Blackjack Team.[10]

Blackjack career[edit]

While attending MIT, Dukach was trained as a player on the MIT Blackjack team whose exploits were loosely depicted in the Hollywood movie 21.

Starting out with Strategic Investments (SI) in 1992, Dukach was a major player on the team. At the end of 1993 SI dissolved and Semyon was involved in a team effort with the remaining players from SI for the next year. By 1995 Dukach and a few players split off from that team and formed a second, independent team. This new team was referred to as the Amphibians and the team that they left was referred to as the Reptiles.

Since stopping play in the late 1990s, Dukach's involvement in blackjack has been limited.

Angel Investing and Techstars[edit]

Xconomy lists Dukach as a top Angel Investor in New England.[6] According to his website, he has invested in over 100 startup companies, and provides marketing and team building advice to companies he invests in. Some of his investments include Amino, Bellabeat, Boatbound, Bolt, Buttercoin, Camiolog, Cangrade, Krash, CoachUp, Codeship, CoEverywhere, Crunchbutton, Dashbell, Donde Esta, Double Robotics, Enertiv, Faraday Bikes, Fashion Project, Freight Farms, ImageSurge, Jebbit, HelmetHub, Mapkin, Meograph, Openbay, Ovuline, Petcube, Petnet, Plowme, Preply, Quanergy, Rallyware, Regalii, Simpleprints, Socrative, Splashscore, Sproutel, Strongarm, Terrafugia, Trefis, Reactor Media, ViralGains, Wanderu, and Zagster.

In 2014, Dukach assumed the role of Managing Director of Techstars in Boston.[11] He ran the program for three years before leaving in 2017 to found One Way Ventures, a venture capital fund for exceptional immigrant founders.[12]

Venture Capital[edit]

Dukach co-founded One Way Ventures in 2017 and currently serves as the Managing Partner. One Way Ventures is an early-stage venture capital fund that focuses on investing in startups with at least one immigrant founder on the team. The fund is based in Boston, Massachusetts.[citation needed] The firm focuses on tech-enabled startups in the Pre-seed to Series A stages, and has made investments in startups including Brex, LovePop, and Chipper Cash.

Other ventures[edit]

He has also been involved in other notable ventures outside of his blackjack and angel investing career:

  • Authored work on virtual reality at IBM Research in 1988[13]
  • Authored a 1992 e-commerce paper on SNPP: A Simple Network Payment Protocol[14]
  • Founded Fast Engines in 1997, sold to Adero in 2000[15]
  • Co-founded Vert in 1998
  • Lead investor and interim CEO of AccuRev in 2001[16]
  • Chairman of SMTP, a Nasdaq listed provider of email delivery services.
  • Co-founded PDFfiller
  • Was a CEO mentor at the Cambridge Business Development Center[17]
  • Board director of Terrafugia[18]
  • Founded the Troublemaker Award, granted to Zack Kopplin in 2012, to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot in 2013, and to Mustang Wanted in 2014 for creative troublemaking that improves the world.
  • Director, Boston TechStars, 2014-2017.[5]


Dukach is the brother of Inna Dukach the opera singer married to Sean Altman, former front man of Rockapella.[19]


  1. ^ "WBUR: Meet The Immigrant Who's Creating A Venture Capital Fund For Fellow Immigrants". Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Forbes Tech Money: Betting on Immigrant Grit". Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  3. ^ "New Boston VC Firm for Immigrant Founders Aims to Raise $50M Fund". Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  4. ^ "WSJ Venture Capital: New VC Funds Aim to Help Immigrant Founders". Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Xconomy: Semyon Dukach Goes From VC Outsider to Techstars Boston Head". Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Xconomy: Top Angel Investors of New England". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Xconomy: Semyon Dukach Takes SMTP Public". Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  8. ^ Kahn, Joseph P. (10 May 2006). "Boston Globe Semyon Dukach Profile". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
  9. ^ Blackjack Science
  10. ^ "ThePOGG Interviews - Semyon Dukach - MIT Card Counting Team Captain". Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Xconomy: Semyon Dukach Goes From VC Outsider to Techstars Boston Head". Xconomy. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Former Techstars Leaders Launch VC Firm to Back Immigrant Founders". BostInno. 14 July 2017.
  13. ^ Design for Interactive Performance in A Virtual Laboratory – Wang, Koved, Dukach (ResearchIndex)
  14. ^ SNPP: A Simple Network Payment Protocol – Dukach
  15. ^ Network World Archived 22 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "AccuRev, Inc. Releases Version 2.5 of AccuRev/CM With an Integrated Issue Tracking System June 18, 2001". Business Wire. 2001.
  17. ^ "Blackjack Experts Article". Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  18. ^ Regan, Keith (28 January 2011). "Future poised for takeoff for maker of flying cars". Boston Business Journal.
  19. ^

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