Russia is now one of the fastest growing internet markets in Europe and there’s no doubt that it is emerging as a country of opportunities for new businesses. Initiatives such as the FRII (Foundation For Internet Development Initiatives) are being set up to offer expert advice, financial support and educational programs for entrepreneurs and investors; by the end of 2013 it had signed up almost 100 new projects. As internet penetration increases, and more and more people own a mobile, smartphone or tablet, there is also more scope for app development.
We take a look at some of the hottest new startup trends that have come out of Russia in recent years.
On the move
While more people around the world use the internet to both research and book holidays, it is still a relatively new concept in Russia. However, the potential is huge and last year it was estimated that the Russian online travel market was valued at $10 billion in 2013 and is growing. Three of the companies to benefit from this are Oktogo.ru – which was named as one of the top promising startups by the Moscow Times – Ostrovok and Onetwotrip. Companies like these aim to overcome the common obstacles in the Russian travel market which include the fear of online transactions and the reliance on package tours. With a new generation of internet consumers the opportunities are here to be taken.
The virtual shopping basket
Online retailers are working hard to build up the confidence of the Russian people when shopping for goods online and many are offering discounts as an incentive. This means that competition is high as retailers try to make the most of this burgeoning market. According to Alexai Bochkarev, the founder of one of these companies, Lamoda.ru, Russia’s online fashion market doubles every year. Other companies that are looking strong in this market include KupiVIP.ru and more recently, Agora and Cashfon; signs that Russia is reaching a turning point in online retail.
Gaming and Apps – The new rock and roll
By the end of 2013, Russia ranked as number 12 in terms of worldwide gaming revenues. This can cover anything from social networking and multiplayer games to apps that let you play games on your smartphone. A company like Zeptolab, who developed ‘Cut the Rope,’ is already well known throughout Europe, but other businesses like Zoomby.ru and Game Insight are fast becoming forces to be reckoned with in the gaming industry. As games are starting to retail at much lower prices, and we see an increase in free-to-play games, the Russian online gaming market is becoming much more promising.
Russian startups are reflecting the shift in consumer habits across Russia. Increased internet penetration is playing a huge part in this and the growing number of people who now own a mobile, smartphone or tablet is driving the need for more apps. This is an exciting time for entrepreneurs who want to make the most of this fast growing climate.