There are plenty of innovative and highly successful Russian startups looking for investors
Paul Goncharoff is Chairman, Disciplinary Committee, National Association of Corporate Directors, Russia
Quite a bit is bubbling just below the screen of generally viewed investor radar. Earlier this month I wrote about Born2bRU, a very passionate and unique fashion startup. Then there is the Californian musician David Brown who teamed up with a fan, Paul Bazdyrev, to start making top-end musical equipment in the home city the Russian defense industry, Tula. The new business is appropriately named Soyuz Microphones. With low overheads and second-hand machinery from Kalashnikov, they manufacture a range of studio microphones that have found their way into the recording studios of known performers (Coldplay, Radiohead), and are making quality/price inroads among their competition worldwide.
The bigger picture in Russia, namely fintech and gaming, are just a few areas where startups are coming into their own, yet are largely unnoticed. Was it Warren Buffet who said “you have to roll up your sleeves and really commit to your homework”?
Thinking and acting ahead of the curve has never been more important in rapidly shifting markets, and banking today is certainly no exception. Providing banking services to clients involved in the internet economy has shaken this onetime stodgy industry to its core, demanding new systems and means with which to compete and provide practical solutions. As an example, new Russian legislation shall mandate that all transactions which used cash register equipment (SME’s) will be required as of July 1, 2017 to use online cash registers and pass tax data to tax authorities through fiscal data operators.
Avanpost, a small Siberian firm involved in software development has completed a product that easily permits businesses to comply with the newly legislated requirements.
First Online Accountancy is another very small Moscow software products company that has developed the means via the cloud to use accounting products of the leading Russian accounting software company 1C.
As of this writing, it seems that both First Online Accountancy, Avanpost, and possibly other Russian fintech startups have just been or are actively in process of acquisition. One such buyer is Russia’s Modulbank, a leading online bank. Numbered among the initial investors into these startups is the Internet Initiatives Development Fund, a government financed startup fund.
Two other Russian startups in the fintech field being invested into since January 2017 are Sorsdata, which is developing a consumer marketing and analytics solution, and Revo Technologies, which offers a crowdsourced online consumer microcredit service. Baring Vostok and the Swedish Vostok Emerging Finance (VEF) invested close to $20 million in these two startups.
While somewhat further afield from fintech, yet similar in terms of software development are startup companies such as Playkey. This is a cloud gaming service operating globally. Playkey’s tech allows users to play the most innovative video games on low-performance computers. A known German data center company, Darz, has invested $1.5 million in the Playkey startup. Currently, 250 games are offered through Playkey, which works with game publishers on a revenue-sharing model. In 2016, Playkey’s revenue was over $500,000, up from $80,000 in 2015. Playkey is just one of several resident companies at Skolkovo, the international technology development center just outside of Moscow.
If curious, and willing to dig a bit deeper, OPKO Russian Market Partners provided me the following list of various Russian startups, which may be worth looking at both for mental stimulation and perhaps a decision to take further steps in exploring and engaging within the Russian market:
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