It was always gonna be great. A talk of thrilling new opportunities in in Russia and Ukraine, headlined by Marina Treschkova (Fastlane Ventures), Viktoriya Tigipko (TA Venture) and Katia Gaika (Skolkovo Foundation). Three of Eastern Europe’s strongest and most prominent female bosses, pooled with the always-sharp David Rowan of WIRED UK - nothing not to like about that.
For those of you who don’t know yet, Russia is where it’s at. Some of the most exciting startups are run by Russians these days, making the nation a hotspot for talent and investors alike.
The developments are closely tied to the booming Internet culture in Russia, Treschkova explains. “We live in a unique moment of momentum, numbers are booming. In 2001, 6 million people were online in Russia. Today it’s 70 million.”
This gives early stage developers and investors like Fast Lane great opportunities. “Two years ago, there was nothing. Now we have 20 companies with investments of more than $100 million.” It’s a fast track to success, and one that no one can afford to miss.
“Russia is a great country, with great potential,” Treschkova says. “Western investors should see Russia as their primary focus for expansion.” Katia Gaika of the Skolkovo Foundation jumps in and adds “And! Russians like to spend, too! A lot!”
And if anyone would know, it would be Gaika. At Skolkovo, she oversees a major IT cluster project, started by the Kremlin to boost the Russian start-up scene and create “a Russian Silicon Valley.”
Ukraine is another country where things are picking up fast. Viktoriya Tigipko of TA Venture even speaks faster than most, almost as a reminder of how switched on you need to be to keep up with the developments.
“In Ukraine, we have 80% year-on-year growth in e-commerce. That’s 8-0, EIGHTY!. 30% use mobiles to connect. 10% of users have smartphones. The ecosystem is changing tremendously.”
The three women - sitting on a row, stylish with determined looks and attentive smiles - impersonate female success in each their own way. As the session comes to an end, Gaika is soon to point out an interesting point about why Eastern European women are becoming so successful in a blooming but competitive industry.
“It’s the legacy,” she claims. “In the USSR, we didn’t have a free market. But we had equal rights. Female leadership was promoted, and today we see the result.”