A trip to the United States has blown away any doubt in three of Skolkovo’s premier startup businesses that the lucrative tech market is accessible, and that local partners and investors can be found, the entrepreneurs say.
The companies, Viziware, 3Divi and Macroscop, pitched their software and hardware products to America’s biggest business accelerator, MassChallenge, in Boston late last month, the final stage in the Skolkovo Super League accelerator program.
Members of the Skolkovo Super League jury in Boston. Photo: sk.ru
“The key question that we have tried to find the answer to during our joint program with MassChallenge is the potential access our companies could have to the markets of North America,” said Maxim Mikhailov, the director of Skolkovo’s acceleration programs.
“And the prospects are there – pretty good ones too. … We hope that with MassChallenge they’ll find it easier to assimilate into the United States,” Mikhailov added.
All three companies – part of Skolkovo’s IT cluster of residents – progress to the semifinals of next year’s global MassChallenge competition and have qualified for a two-month training program at Draper University of Heroes in Silicon Valley.
Artem Razumkov of Macroscop, whose software allows clients to build an IP video surveillance system of any size, said his company needs to break out of Russia in order to grow.
“We have already approached a position of leadership in the Russian market, in our segment, and over the next half year we want to reach first place,” he added.
More than 100,000 cameras worldwide currently use Macroscop software, the company says.
“We need to look abroad if we want to continue growing at that pace. We have already achieved some results with about $100,000 in foreign-derived revenue, but these are just the first steps. In the US we want to find a distributor or even a strategic partner,” Razumkov said.
Viziware is a company that produces gesture recognition technology. Video cameras capture the gestures of people who pass by advertising, for example, and relay the information to marketing teams – just one example of the technology’s application.
General director Vladimir Ufnarovsky noted how critical the experience of foreign markets is to his company’s success.
“The differences can be huge. And for us, the common idea that in each market a local person should be involved in sales has been confirmed. The further we go, the more convinced we are about that,” he said.
Viziware is already active across Europe but needs to put down roots in the United States, Ufnarovsky said.
“Our aim here is to find a partner and begin sales,” he added.
Meanwhile, 3DiVi development director Dmitry Morozov never passes up the chance to network – the opportunity to make new contacts in a strategic market was the main motivation for the trip.
“We try to take part in all Skolkovo Foundation events,” he said. “All networking is useful for us."
3DiVi develops 3D computer vision solutions for applications in industrial and consumer products, including next-generation gaming platforms, biometric systems, robotics, and others.
It has three development teams in Russia and a representative in Sunnyvale, California.
“I believe our technology has big potential in the United States,” Morozov said. “Our strategic target is to base ourselves here, and we plan to strengthen our presence in America.”
Skolkovo Foundation officials hope MassChallenge will open an office at the Skolkovo Innovation Center under construction outside Moscow – negotiations are already under way.
“We would like to have this kind of accelerator – doing 120 projects a year – at Skolkovo to work with projects out of Russia,” said Mikhailov.