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Russian investors can be split into two types according to their investment strategy. There are ones, such as Almaz Capital Partners, which look for unique businesses with a global potential. There are others, however, such as Fast Lane Ventures, which implement proven business models in Ru.net (aka clones).
One of the founders of Fast Lane Ventures is Oskar Hartmann, the founder of KupiVIP, a successful Russian business, copied from French Vente Privee with a name similar to the German BuyVip, a European discount brands outlet. Having BV Capital as its limited partner, Fast Lane Ventures is the RocketInternet of Russia (a clone of a king of clones or just a market necessity?) creating successful but not necessarily unique businesses.
Its latest investments are Domgeo, an online database of real estate properties available for purchase or rent and TravelRent.com, the Russian version of AirBnB. From my tours of Russia and Ukraine I know that the hotel accommodation is not always adequate, and short-term private apartments lending market so far has not been sufficiently organized. In fact, having experimented with AirBnB to get conveniently located place to stay in Kiev for IDCEE, I had to train my landlady on how to use the AirBnB system. I hope that my stay in Kiev next week will be trouble-free.
The new company, backed by Fast Lane Ventures is OdinOtvet, which will launch later this month. So far $200 000 has been invested in this Russian version of Quora, the question and answer service (there is also a Quora challenger from Poland called Wisdio). Just as Quora’s founders believe that their business model will rely heavily on advertisement, so should OdinOtvet’s investors think as well. A small detail: Russian online advertisement market will exceed $1 billion n in 2011, based on IAB Europe figures, compared to the US market of $50 billion. So it may take OdinOtvet a little longer than Quora to reach profitability.
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