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What next for Russian entrepreneurs?

0 19 March 2014

Events in the last few weeks have cast a cloud of uncertainty over Russia’s economic future. Russian investors have withdrawn billions of dollars from foreign accounts as Western countries threaten sanctions in response to Russia’s actions regarding Crimea. At the same time, the value of the rouble has fallen sharply against the euro and the dollar, hitting record lows. 

It has also been a turbulent few weeks for the Russian media, with the state asserting firmer control over the sector. Opposition media group Dozhd's channel was blocked by most cable-TV providers, while the head of news site Lenta.ru was removed from her post, which she had held for 15 years, and replaced by a figure closer to the government.

Against this backdrop we asked some Russian entrepreneurs how they feel about the future of their businesses and their country.


I’m relaxed about the future. There are problems everywhere and the most important thing is how you react to them. You can be negative all the time and say how everything in Russia is terrible and you’d better get out of here. People who think like this always ignore other countries’ problems and assume that “the grass is always greener on the other side”. Alternatively, you can work to make your country better. You can create businesses, attract investment, develop technology, create jobs and train specialists so that they, in turn, can launch their own startups. 


I am concerned about the fate of my businesses in Russia - the current market climate makes it more risky for foreign (and some Russian) investors to fund projects. It is no secret that online business is becoming more complicated and costly every year, and it unquestionably requires investment before a project breaks even, and sometimes after it has done so, in order to achieve fast, sustainable growth. 

In terms of the political situation, I’ll not comment directly, but I will say that Russia is my home, and I am not going to speak badly of it even although I don’t like everything that’s happening at the moment - far from it. However, Russia is still a great place to grow business and make money although entrepreneurs like us are not yet fully protected. 



  • Artem Shipitsin
  • CEO Nealbe

As an entrepreneur I feel good and bad at the same time, no matter where I am. Bad - because there are problems and uncertainties everywhere that need to be dealt with, so I have to work without any guarantees that everything will be fine. Good - because I enjoy doing what I do. Everywhere has its own problems - it’s ridiculous to think otherwise. 


Personally I never liked the business climate in Russia, and the current political situation seems like a logical continuation of our government’s recent policies, which I also don’t like. 

I recently joined the Excursopedia team, and their head office is in Munich - it’s a comfort to me that my company is not 100% Russian considering the current situation. However, we have many clients and partners in Russia and this makes me concerned for the future of the business. Nevertheless, I am trying to remain optimistic. 


  • Sergey Konovalov
  • CEO Meetweet

Although Meetweet is a global project and our team could work out of any place on Earth, I was raised to be patriotic and I haven’t a mite of interest in working anywhere else. Don’t flatter yourselves - everything’s bad everywhere. 

What I mean is that you should be just as concerned about the future of your business in Russia as you should be abroad. Every business model is based on defined conditions and agreements, and if one of them falls through the business is ruined.

Online business breaks down borders and limits the authorities, but not completely. I’m sure that lots of the people who we consider ‘authorities’ (the guys in black vodolazki and glasses are just pawns in some bigger game. Is this a conspiracy theory? Maybe. 

What will we do if they close the App Store? Surely they won't - it wouldn’t benefit anyone. But can they? They can. You need to diversify your portfolio and remember the natural economy. 


In business there is always risk - it’s hard to imagine ever being completely at ease. When there is increased tension those risks become greater. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.


Two or three years ago I felt really negative about all that was happening in Russia and I had a lot of thoughts about how I don’t want to stay here and how nothing will ever change. All this time I was working on my own business in one way or another, with different partners, and I always felt free and sensed that there are big opportunities out there. For me, the change to be an entrepreneur always was and is the main motivation to stay in Russia. Recently I have noticed many positive changes. I travel a lot which gives me something to compare with. In this country you can do a lot of things that wouldn’t be possible somewhere else. Here you can never be totally secure regarding the future, just like in any other country. In the end, it depends on you. 


  • Vladimir Kovalski
  • CEO MEDESK

We look to the future with optimism. Private medicine is growing fast, not only in the biggest cities but also in the regions, from which we get orders every day. Development is happening both quantitatively - new clinics are opening all the time - and qualitatively - disruptive hi-tech solutions have a big influence on medicine. 

We are not worried about our future or our business in Russia, because we have created a company that doesn’t depend on the whims of bureaucrats. We have an intellectual product - you can’t steal it or take it away. 

We deliberately avoid working with the state health system. Instead, we work with private providers, whose numbers are increasing rapidly just as state spending on healthcare is falling. This trend, along with other factors - an aging population, that healthy living is considered fashionable, people paying more attention to their health, an improving quality of life - create the conditions required for the development of private medicine. By reducing costs for clinics, we can facilitate this. 

Top image via Shutterstock

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