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Can crowdfunding really work in Russia?

0 23 September 2013

Crowdfunding platforms are growing in popularity all over the world, with the most popular - Kickstarter, raising an impressive $319,786,629 last year. In Russia there has been a feeling for a few years now that crowdfunding will really take off, although some remain sceptical. 

This article follows up an article published (in Russian) last year on RusBase, and asks whether crowdfunding in Russia is moving forward, or stuck in a rut. 

Before going on, it is worth quickly establishing what is meant by crowdfunding - wikipedia defines it as “the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”

The main Russian crowdfunding project is Boomstarter (a Russian copy of kickstarter). According to statistics recently released on the project’s birthday, it has raised 23,456,232 rubles so far ($737,231). While this might seem a drop in the ocean compared to the sums raised by Western platforms, it is not a bad start for a young project, and it proves that crowdfunding can work in Russia.

The other Russian sites that have managed to attract funds predominantly focus on creative projects. Planeta.ru and Kroogi (which was started in 2008), continue to attract projects and funds from musicians, artists, photographers and their fans. 

“Korol I Shut”  (King and Jester), a band from St Petersburg, posted a ‘film-concert’ project on 4th September, hoping to raise 510,000 rub ($15,500). However, three weeks on they have already raised 1 million rubles ($31,000)! And their fans aren’t willing to stop there - they are continuing to advertise the project on social networks.

One fan commented “For a long time I couldn’t see the point in these sorts of projects, until King and Jester launched their's. Now I am so glad that I’ve been able to take part in one - thank you to the band for making it possible!”

In fact, creative projects are the most popular on Kickstarter, whose figures for 2012 showed that the majority of funds go to music, film, book or game projects. Music projects are the most numerous on the site, but games raise the most money, suggesting that users are willing to pay more for games than musical content. 

While the sites mentioned above are enjoying success, the last year has not been so rosy for all Russia’s crowdfunding sites. Naparapet, despite having an attractive interface, never got beyond its preliminary version, while Русини (Rusini), CrowdPress and Гдемоиденьги (Where’s my money), which belong to the Open Projects Fund, are yet to achieve any meaningful success.  

Rusini has raised just 23,800 rub ($750), while CrowdPress and Where’s My Money are still under development. 

In contrast, some of the most stable sites are those which raise money for social projects - Tugeza, My Teacher, Pomogi.org (Help) and the Electronic Charity Box. 

Name

Year founded

Stage of Development

Types of projects financed

Kroogi

2008

Working

Creative

Электронный благотворительный ящик

Electronic charity box.

2009

Working

Social

Startapp

2009

Dead site

Any

ThankYou.ru

2010

Working

Creative

Мой учитель (My Teacher)

2010

Working

Social

С миру по нитке (With a little help)

2010

Working

Any

Naparapet

2011

Dead site

Creative

Start with me

2011

Dead (site never launched)

Any

Тугеза (Turgeza)

2011

Working

Social

Time-to-start

2011

Dead site

Any

Спонсор Здесь (Sponsor here)

2011

Dead site

Any

Первый капитал (First capital)

2011

Dead site

Creative

Tap to Start

2011

Dead site

Any

ITRockOut

2012

Dead site

IT

Planeta.ru

2012

Working

Creative (Planning a startup section)

Русини (Rusini)

2012

Working

Social

Boomstarter.ru

2012

Working

Any

CrowdPress

2012

Dead site

Social

Гдемоиденьги.рф (Where's my money)

2012

Dead site

Any

ClickStart

2012

Dead site

Any

In light of all this, what sort of future can we expect for crowdfunding in Russia? Abroad, while crowdfunding projects aren’t exactly sprouting up all over the place, there are quite a lot of them and their numbers are steadily growing. 

Meanwhile, in Russia new projects are either hiding away somewhere or struggling to get off the ground. While projects like “All of Tolstoy one click away”, which was started in June 2013 and aims to bring together the 90 volumes of Tolstoy’s work in one place, do crop up from time to time, we are still waiting for more sites that can really help individuals raise money. 

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