Russian start-ups are right at home in Silicon Valley

Walking around the bustling streets of Moscow or through the beautiful landscapes of Kiev and meeting in their offices and cafes only differs from San Francisco or New York cosmetically.

This is the second blog post in a series on innovation in Russia. The previous post ran on Thursday.

Walking around the bustling streets of Moscow or through the beautiful landscapes of Kiev and meeting in their offices and cafes only differs from San Francisco or New York cosmetically.

Moscow-based incubator Digital October, located a short walk from the Kremlin in a trendy warehouse district (on an island no less), could be plopped in San Francisco's SoMa or New York's Flatiron District and fit in very nicely. CEO Dmitry Repin speaks with the same optimism and vision as the folks at Y Combinator or 500 Startups.

Russian entrepreneurs have shown special proclivity in areas such as mobile apps and gaming, which of course are relatively easy to market globally. The brilliance of ZeptoLab's megahit mobile game Cut The Rope, from its physics-infused puzzles to its lovable character Om Nom, is perhaps unmatched in this fast-emerging game platform, even when compared to the more traditional, fire-away play of Rovio's (coincidentally based in nearby Finland) Angry Birds.

The impact on job growth here long-term could also be significant. We recently helped Dmitry Grishin, the CEO of Mail.Ru, Russia's, and Europe's, second-largest Internet company, launch an investment company that is among the first to focus exclusively on bringing robots to the consumer market. The company, Grishin Robotics, will actually be based on Manhattan.

“It's centrally located for us to reach the innovators in the US and Europe, and not too far from me here,” he told me. Another one of our clients, News360, was formed and launched in Russia but has since relocated to Silicon Valley.

I'll leave you with this frank observation from tech marketer Dmitry Portnykh, when I asked him to explain the difference between Americans and Brits.

“To be honest, we feel more comfortable with Americans. You are more like us.”

Jason Mandell is partner and co-founder at LaunchSquad.

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