Digital October to incubate startups with US fund; Gets $300 million backing from Russian investors
Digital October, a Moscow-based cooperative work space and events organizer created in 2010, and TomorrowVentures, a US investment fund founded in 2009 by Google chairman Eric Schmidt, announced yesterday the formation of a strategic partnership aimed, in particular, at selecting, financing and promoting Russian startups on international markets.
“TomorrowVentures has had a long interest in Russia, as one of the fastest growing markets on the planet,” commented Court Coursey, the fund’s Managing Partner, to East-West Digital News. “We always look for strong, local partners and we felt Mikhail [Abyzov], Ru-Com and Dmitry Repin of Digital October were perfect to partner with to look for opportunities in Russia.”
Ru-Com, a leading Russian investment and asset management group operating in a variety of fields, co-founded Digital October with Bright Capital, a Russian venture funds. Both structures are controlled by Mikhail Abyzov, a Russian billionaire. Another co-founder, Russian digital TV solutions provider Telemarker, offered its technical support to Digital October.
“First, we intend to swap deals, each side selecting companies for possible investment,” said Boris Ryabov, Investment and Valuation Director at Ru-Com in a statement to Russian business daily Kommersant. “Second, TomorrowVentures will mentor our startups and help their development, while we will help startups from TomorrowVentures’ portfolio penetrate the Russian market. Third, TomorrowVentures will assist our projects in gaining a foothold on foreign markets in exchange for shares in them.”
However, TomorrowVentures is not to acquire any stake in Digital October.
$300 m for Russian startups
Abyzov’s press service also announced that a full-fledged startup incubator, named Bricolage, would be created on the premises of Digital October and that Bright Capital will manage as much as $300 million targeted at investment in startups over the next two years.
This amount is important for the Russian venture market, which counts less than a hundred active venture funds.
The funds will be provided by Abyzov and his numerous partners, a source close to Abyzov confirmed to East-West Digital News, without disclosing the identity of these partners.
In a first phase, Abyzov and his partners will focus on IT projects, with possible further expansion to projects in life sciences. Investment spending will range from several thousands of US dollars to tens of millions, depending on project maturity.
Bright Capital is a discrete fund with no website. According to Ryabov, it currently owns stakes in “about ten startups,” whose names remain undisclosed.