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One in a Million: In Search of Russian 'Unicorns'

26 May 2018
Идея на миллион: в поиске российских «единорогов»


Russia has the groundwork for start-ups and innovation

“Internet Initiatives Development Funds invests in start-ups and education, and endorses legislative initiatives. More than 150 thousand people have enrolled in our educational programs in 5 years of the Fund’s work, we have accelerated about 15 thousand projects, invested in about 400 projects,” Kirill Varlamov, Head, Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF).

“Today is a good time, crowd funding evolves. <…> We are witnessing the technology boom, automation, uberization, but the most powerful thing that is happening right now is decentralization,” Evgeniy Gavrilin, Co-Founder, Boomstarter.

Responsiveness is the key

“Unique time is upon us, when technology develops at extremely high velocity. Technological entrepreneurs who can keenly feel the upcoming trends, they will be creating unique products and launch them to the global market,” Vitaly Savelyev, General Director of Avrora Robotics.

Foreign companies’ absence creates an additional competitive advantage

“Americans do not like Russia nowadays: sanctions and many other bad news, but, maybe this is an advantage because there’s no need to compete with Americans, Japanese and many others. For entrepreneurs this lack of competition is a great opportunity,” Jim Rogers, Chairman, Beeland Interests Inc. 


Start-uppers’ failure to prioritize

“One of the most common start-up issues is an attempt to do everything by themselves. We also have gone through this. It is difficult to concentrate on the business core when there are so many distractions,” Vitaly Savelyev.

Society somewhat misunderstands the need for innovation

“One of the issues that you come across is the scepticism of the people around you. The fact is that these people live in their everyday world and it is difficult for them to imagine those innovations, those technologies that you are generating,” Vitaly Savelyev.


The TV show ‘Million Dollar Idea’ proved successful. We need further promotion of start-ups.

“The project [TV show ‘Million Dollar Idea’, Ed.], above of all focuses on those who create the future for innovators. Believe me, there are no losers. Some will be seen by their mom and dad, and it is very cool, some - by investors or friends, and some will be able to sell their idea to other markets,” Sergei Gorkov, former Chairman of VEB.

“I want to show the media indicators of the first season, so you understand what kind of show it is [TV show ‘Million Dollar Idea’, Ed.] <…> The portion of the show viewers, male entrepreneurs 45-60 years of age, exceeded 18%. No other TV show attracts so many viewers in this category, in other words, they specifically switch this show on. The young audience gain, namely, male 24-39 years of age (the so-called BigTV rating), who watched the show on the Internet, was 21%. These are huge numbers,” Timur Vaynshteyn, General Producer, NTV Broadcasting Company.

“The winner, the company Motorika contracted 577 thousand roubles, and the second and third place companies raised a little less. In total, the participants of the first season caught viewers’ attention, at least 2 million roubles worth of it. Crowd funding is a popular thing and an effective tool to attract investment,” Sergey Malozemov, Anchor, Million-Dollar Idea, NTV Broadcasting Company.

Gradually and systematically navigate towards the goal

“Every task, global goal and business that we do is made of small daily efforts and steps we are taking. These daily steps and actions add up to some result,” Ilya Chekh, Head of the Motorika company.

Seek effective sources of financing

“Seek money, investments from the very first day. The essential point is take time, look for good money that will allow you to develop directly towards your goals as you see it, not as they demand of you,” Sergey Kostenevich, Co-Founder of the UNAWheel project.

“The most important thing is that we were able to give people confidence that they can earn a million with their idea,” Aleksey Ivanchenko, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board, Member of the Management Board, State Corporation "Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank)".

Identify the main line of work

“One of the key tasks is to identify technical processes that are not your main business, and outsource them. This takes a lot of the hard work out of the project implementation and significantly relieves the burden off the team, letting them go about their business and fully devote themselves to the delivery on the idea,” Vitaly Savelyev.

Significance of teamwork mounts

“First of all, it is a team that implements the idea. We bring together innovators and scientists-neurophysiologists, talented programmers and careful economists, a cybernetics professor and a sales specialist,” Konstantin Sonkin, Founder of the Innovative Brain Solutions project.

“Now is the time for the teams that work fast, swiftly ‘package’ themselves and come out to the world with a new product,” Ruslan Tugushev, Co-Founder, Boomstarter.