10 magnificent Moscow start-ups to kick off your World Cup

14 Jun 2018

Moscow. Image: Baturina Yuliya/Shutterstock

With the FIFA World Cup 2018 kicking off in Moscow, we thought it would be a great opportunity to check out the tech start-ups that have emerged from the capital of Russia.

This evening (14 June), all eyes will be on the first match of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, where the country will take on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Therefore, we thought that before kick-off, it would be worth checking out Moscow’s standing as a start-up powerhouse.

Moscow has been at the crossroads of world history for the last few hundred years and, despite being the capital of one of the world’s superpowers, the city’s prowess as a scientific, tech and academic hub is often overlooked.

Not only that, but because of the geopolitical climate, suspicions reminiscent of the Cold War (not helped by alleged cyber warfare) and other forms of sabre-rattling, as well as trade embargoes going back to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, it isn’t easy for Russian start-ups to break on to the world stage.

None of this, however, is standing in the way of the technical brilliance and ambition of Russian entrepreneurs who can apply their technologies to a large local population base before taking on the world.

Moscow itself has a population of more than 12m people and can draw on a strong scientific and technological heritage. The city is home to tech giants that include search company Yandex as well as global cybersecurity player Kaspersky Lab.

The city is chock-full of supports for start-ups, with incubators such as the Higher School of Economics Business Incubator, the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Incubator and Technopark Strogino, as well as accelerators such as Skolkovo Startup Academy, GenerationS, Disruptive, Future Fintech and the Internet Initiatives Development Fund.

Numerous grant and assistance programmes exist, such as the Innovation Assistance Fund, the Skolkovo Fund Granting Programme and the Innovative Entrepreneurship Support Fund.

Not only that, but there is a thriving venture capital scene that includes players such as AltaIR, Rusnano, the Russian Venture Company, the Moscow Seed Fund, Starta Capital, The Untitled Ventures, Bright Capital and AddVenture, to name a few.

And so, here are 10 start-ups that have emerged from Moscow to watch.


Busfor is a Moscow-based travel start-up that connects travellers with bus ticket-sellers. The company’s service is used by more than 5,000 bus companies and more than 2m monthly customers. It operates in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Georgia, Thailand and a number of countries in the EU. The start-up raised $20m in a funding round in 2016.


Deliver is the creator of a web-based platform that helps to calculate the price and order the transport of goods by various methods. Founded in 2014 by Danil Rudakov, Deliver was previously known as iCanDeliver. The service includes a reliability scoring system for drivers. Deliver last year raised a seed round of $8m from Inventure Partners, A&NN Group and Amereus Group.


Founded by a team of doctors, Doc+ is a digital health company specialising in on-demand medical services such as house calls and telemedicine, electronic health records, and medical data management. Established in 2014, Doc+ last year raised $5m in a Series B funding round led by Yandex and Baring Vostok.


Elementaree founders Olga Zinovieva and Szillard Buksha. Image: Elementaree/Medium

Elementaree founders Olga Zinovieva and Szilard Buksha. Image: Elementaree/Medium

Elementaree delivers prepared ingredients to people for meals at home along with instructions on how to cook. Founded in 2013 by Harvard graduates Olga Zinovieva and Szilard Buksha, the start-up last year raised $2m from several private investors on top of $1m previously raised in seed and angel rounds.

ID Finance

 Alexander Dunaev, co-founder and COO and Boris Batine, co-founder and CEO

From left: Alexander Dunaev, co-founder and COO, with Boris Batine, co-founder and CEO, ID Finance. Image: ID Finance

ID Finance was founded in Moscow in 2012 by Boris Batine and Alexander Dunaev and moved its headquarters to Barcelona in 2016. It is a fast-growing data science, credit scoring and digital finance provider. The company was named by Financial Times in April as the second-fastest-growing fintech in Europe in its FT 1000 Europe listing. ID Finance has 5.3m registered clients, saw an 89pc revenue growth in 2017, issues more than 60,000 loans each month and has monthly revenue of $15m. It has more than 520 staff across its operations in Spain, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Brazil and Mexico, with R&D located in Belarus’ Hi Tech Park in Minsk.


NtechLab develops software products using techniques in the fields of artificial neural networks and machine learning, including the FindFace facial-recognition system. Regarded as one of the world’s leading facial-recognition players, the key to its platform is fast, accurate algorithms that are able to search through massive datasets of photos in real time. NtechLab’s FindFace software is used to power Moscow’s 170,000-strong network of surveillance cameras. The company was created by Artem Kuharenko and Alexander Kabakov in 2015 and last year raised $1.5m in a funding round led by Impulse VC.


Qlean is an on-demand sharing-economy service for the environmentally friendly cleaning of apartments. Founded in 2014 by Alexander Korovin, Nikita Pavlov and Nikita Repeshko, Qlean has raised $9.2m in funding so far, including a $4.5m round last year led by AddVenture.

Robot Vera

Robot Vera is an AI that has emerged from Moscow and St Petersburg-based Stafory, which was founded by Alexey Kostarev, Vladimir Sveshnikov and Alexander Uraksin. Robot Vera is conducting recruitment for 300 clients, including IKEA, Pepsico and L’Oréal. The software can interview hundreds of applicants simultaneously via video or voice calls, and narrow the field to the 10 most suitable candidates. Stafory has raised $1.1m from the Internet Initiatives Development Fund.


VisionLabs, which was founded in Moscow but also has its international headquarters in Amsterdam, specialises in computer vision and machine learning. It develops products and solutions in the areas of facial recognition, object recognition, augmented reality and virtual reality. Founded in 2012 by Alexander Khanin, Alexey Nekhaev and Ivan Leptev, it has raised $5.5m in funding from investors that include Sberbank and Sistema Venture Capital.


YouDo.com is a Russian marketplace to help consumers find and hire local professionals for home repairs. Established in 2012 by Alexey Gidirim and Denis Kutergin, YouDo.com has capitalised on the growth of the sharing economy. It has raised $7.2m to date including a $6.2m Series C round in 2016 led by Sistema Venture Capital along with Flint Capital and United Capital Partners.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years