What's in Serguei Belousov's office

Clean and well-organised. That was Serguei Beloussov's impression of Singapore when he first arrived in the country 20 years ago.

"I went around the same time to Hong Kong and Seoul and I didn't like them because they were messy and confusing," he said.

He had left his native Russia to set up a shop at Sim Lim Square that traded in computer parts. Locally, it was called Standard and Western and its office was at Henderson Industrial Park.

Back in his homeland, his PC start-up was known as Falcon Computers, which became Rolsen in 1995. Today, it is one of the biggest consumer electronics company in Russia.

But Mr Beloussov has long moved on. In 1996, he founded Solomon Software, which dealt in business software. This was followed by SWsoft in 2000, which made software for server virtualisation and automation.

He is now the CEO of Acronis, a data protection firm that was born at SWsoft, but spun off into a separate business in 2003. It is his second stint, having left Acronis in 2007 to focus on sister company Parallels.

Best known for its virtualisation software that let users run Windows, Linux and other operating systems on their Mac computers, Parallels was acquired by SWsoft in 2004. SWsoft was subsequently renamed Parallels in 2008.

On why he returned to helm Acronis in May last year, Mr Beloussov, who is still the majority shareholder of privately held Parallels, said he wanted to grow the business.

He believes that Acronis, which currently generates revenues of more than US$150 million (S$194 million), has the potential to become a multi-billion-dollar firm.

"But it requires a lot of changes. So I came back because I have enough experience and motivation to implement these changes," he explained.

He divides his time between his offices in Boston, Moscow and Singapore. But he expects to spend more time here, especially since Acronis opened its global headquarters in Singapore two months ago. The company also set up a data centre here to cater to customers in Asia.

A Singapore citizen since 2001, Mr Beloussov likes the city-state for its efficiency.

"Time is the only asset you have. Singapore is very efficient. It is fast to reach the airport and there are lots of flights. So you can be much more productive," he said.

"Of course it can still be better. There are traffic jams from time to time."

He also feels that Singapore's Internet speed is still not fast enough for his business needs, which involve video-conferencing and transferring large files and apps.

Growing up in a family with a science background - his parents are professors in physics - Mr Beloussov had wanted to be a scientist. Instead, he became a tech entrepreneur, and has co-authored more than 80 tech patents issued in the United States.

He remains very interested in science, which he calls his only hobby.

"It's fun to learn more about how the world is organised and to help scientific institutions."

To support his hobby, he has started venture capital funds to invest in technology and science. He is the board chairman for the Russian Quantum Centre and is also a member of the governing board for the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore.

Despite spending more than 21 years building tech companies, his enthusiasm is undiminished.

"Ultimately, what inspires me is curiosity. It is interesting to learn new things. To satisfy my curiosity, I have to engage the world."

Safe

The safe is empty. We bought it when I came to Singapore in 1994. At that time, we had a computer store and kept some cash. But we don't do that any more. In fact, I keep forgetting how to open it.

Whiteboard

This is new. But it is not very practical, so I'm going to replace it. It will still be blue but will have a matte surface.

Cases of wine

I bought these from a French entrepreneur who owns one of the largest resellers of Bordeaux wines. From time to time, I give them as a gift. They are about $500 a bottle.

Nespresso coffee machine

I drink too much coffee. It's bad for my health because it is so convenient.

WHO: Mr Serguei Beloussov, 43, is the founder and CEO of data protection firm Acronis. In his 21-year career, he has founded a number of tech firms and currently holds more than 80 tech patents.

HIS OFFICE AT SUNTEC TOWER: I mostly organise my office for convenience. I don't keep personal items in the office because it is for business.


This article was first published on Nov 19, 2014.
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