Next gen funding: International mobile startups look to Russia for investors

As Russia emerges as a new hot spot on the global IT scene, international startup companies have begun seeking new clients and even investors here.

Russian funding partners are more responsive than ever before.

“Over the last few months, we've witnessed a sharp rise in the interest of Russian investors in foreign tech companies," said Vasily Bargan, publisher of Venture-News.ru, a website specializing in the Russian venture market. "In September and October of this year, Russian funds invested more abroad than in domestic companies," Bargan added.

The trend towards investing abroad and in foreign companies began in 2009, when Russian investor DST acquired a stake in Facebook. Since then, the highly publicized Russian venture fund has invested in such global Internet companies as social game maker Zynga, daily deal site Groupon and Chinese B2B platform Alibaba.

On the Hunt for Russian Funding

Capptain is a Paris-based startup. The company sells solutions designed to help mobile app and game developers manage their user base more efficiently. Capptain CEO Laurent Lathieyre said recently that winning a new client in Moscow made him "as happy as when [he] got his first client in France."

Lathieyre said he met a dozen local players – including major app and game developers and a high-profile Internet group – and hopes to close deals with some of them in the coming weeks.

"Capptain got a very good reception from the people we met. I guess this has also to do with the common engineering and software culture in France and Russia," Lathieyre said.

Lathieyre said he as optimistic about his meetings with Russian venture funds. "In France, there is a lack of funds for early stage investment. There is more money available in the U.S., but the market is so competitive that it is hard to even get attention from venture funds unless you move there. It is pleasant to see that renowned Russian funds found time to study our proposition seriously and consider investing in our company."

Between a trip to India and another to China, CEO Nicky Singh of Manchester-based mScriber visited Moscow last month to present his firm's mobile applications to secure and share data stored on mobile phones. Singh met with a major Russian venture fund – one he hopes will potentially take part in mScriber's first round of financing.

Singh has reason to be optimistic: This year alone, Russian search engine Yandex invested in U.S.-based mobile app startup Refine.io as well as in U.S. search engine Blekko. U.K.-based web business information company AiHit and Vietnamese e-commerce project MJ Group have also received funding from Russian investors VTB Capital and Ru-Net, respectively.

This article has been prepared in partnership with East-West Digital News.

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