Vadim Polikov | From Immigrant to Founding and Exiting Multiple Businesses

Vadim Polikov is a serial entrepreneur with several companies that he has founded, grown, and sold. His first company was American Journal Experts. They edit research papers and international research so they can publish them in top tier academic journals. The company still exists today but Vadim has exited the company in 2008.He also started a venture-backed company in the residential solar installer space called Astrum Solar and sold it for 54 million to Direct Energy. 

Vadim’s current business is Legends of Learning, which believes that by working with our human nature to learn through experience and play, we can accelerate the pace of learning for humanity. It has over a million monthly active users.

Vadim Polikov, the CEO of Legends of Learning, joins John Corcoran in this episode of Smart Business Revolution to talk about his entrepreneurial journey of founding and exiting successful businesses. Vadim shares how he started from founding his first company that does academic research and review, to creating and selling his first foray into solar installation, and how he built his current academic learning company.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Vadim Polikov talks about his background in engineering and interest in entrepreneurship, and how he started American Journal Experts
  • How Vadim handled the review of research papers and incentives for graduate students 
  • What Vadim did with the proceeds he received from the sale of the research company
  • Vadim talks about why he entered the solar energy sector, how the company was affected by the 2009-2009 economic recession
  • Vadim discusses the eventual sale of Astrum Solar to Direct Energy and what he did after selling his solar installation company
  • The similarities that Vadim has noticed in his businesses
  • How the coronavirus pandemic has impacted Legends of Learning and what Vadim is most excited about with the business
  • The role Vistage has played in Vadim’s entrepreneurial journey
  • The people Vadim acknowledges for his achievements
  • Where to learn more and connect with Vadim Polikov

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

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Check out Rise25 to learn more about our done-for-you lead generation and done-for-you podcast services. 

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the Revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we asked today’s most successful entrepreneur to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution. John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of the Smart Business Revolution podcast where I talk with CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of companies and organizations like YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, Lending tree, Open Table, X Software, and many more. I’m also the co-founder of Rise25 where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And first, before we get into this interview, I want to give a big shout out to Ed Robinson, who I had on as a guest few weeks ago as a Vistage Chair. Go check him out on LinkedIn. He’s a very smart guy and check out that episode as well. And he introduced me to my guest today who is the Vadim Polikov. He’s a serial entrepreneur with several companies that he is founded, grown and sold. First company was American Journal Experts, which still exists to this day, but he’s exited it. They edit research papers of international research so they can publish in top tier academic journals. 

He also started a company in the residential solar installer space called Astrum Solar, which is venture backed, and he sold that business business for 54 million to Direct Energy and had hundreds of employees and multiple losses along the way. And his current business is Legends of Learning, which believes that by working with our human nature to learn through experience and play, we can accelerate the pace of learning for humanity. So it’s a really interesting one that has over a million monthly active users.

But first, before we get into this interview, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media and Rise25 helps b2b business to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. If you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking, you know, what should I start a podcast? Well, I’ve been doing it for 10 years and I say absolutely, I think everyone should have a podcast. And if you have a b2b business is even more valuable as well. So to learn more about strategies, get some inspiration and ideas on how to do it to get clients referrals and friendships go to or email [email protected].

Alright, Vadim, so I have to say, you know, I interviewed Ed and he just raved about you. He said you got to talk to Vadim, an amazing guy. And you have an amazing background. First of all, you know, you got an interesting background because you are studying at Duke, and you’re going to get your PhD in engineering. And then you’ve also got this interest in entrepreneurship. So you’re simultaneously an academic, and you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re also an immigrant because your family came at age six from Russia over to the United States. Right. So who are you? Who do you think you know, do you think? Do you think that’s just a part of who you are? Do you think you’re part entrepreneur, part academic part? You know, interested in a wide range of people. I’m constantly fascinated with people who have these different elements to their personality.

Vadim Polikov 3:32

Well, when you figure it out, can you please tell my parents? Oh, happy because they’re so confused.

John Corcoran 3:40

They thought I was on their mind because I’m a lawyer turned entrepreneur. So you know you’re a PhD in engineering

Vadim Polikov 3:46

together and have them discuss how their kids were confusing them. Yeah, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Ever since, you know, the growing Part of the American dream is to start a business and grow it and build something of your own. My parents came over because they were excited to build that. Unfortunately, they needed to support a young family right when they got here with no resources, so they had to work in the fields that they were trained in. But the conversations that we had around the dinner table were about what inventions could we do and how can we turn those inventions into businesses? I think that stuck with me all as I was growing up. I think your question about, you know, am I a researcher, am I an entrepreneur? What got me interested in this? I think since I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I thought, you know, just for people watching Shark Tank, you think, Oh, I gotta come up with some widget and then I have to patent it. And then I have to start a company around that. So I thought, well, I guess I need to get a PhD and come up with some patentable medical device or biotech idea. My PhD was in biomedical engineering. And that’s the way I’m going to start the business. But that’s not actually how it turned out. The way it turned out was I realized that you didn’t need to have some sort of patentable product or, or do or widget, you just needed to do something different than what other people were doing. solve a need that was out in the marketplace. And you could innovate in business models in the way you acquire customers in the way you serve customers. You didn’t need it. patented new medical device, you could just go out See what the needs are in society and find something that really speaks to you.

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