Deals

New Russian high-tech fund to invest up to $20M in startups across the globe

In a new illustration of the vibrant activity of the Moscow venture scene, Maxim Shekhovtsov and Alexander Zhurba – founders of TexDrive, one of the city’s largest startup accelerators – announced last week the creation of a fund dedicated primarily to IT projects in Russia and around the world.

Christened Genezis Capital, the fund actually launched and made its first investment in late 2012 – but the official announcement was delayed to take advantage of the most suitable moment for it, Zhurba said in an exchange with East-West Digital News.

Genezis was put together by a group of more than 30 limited partners, representing investment banking, PE funds, large-scale multinationals and just “wealthy people.”

The amount of the fund – which is still open to new LPs – has not been disclosed. But Genezis sources have stated that it has raised enough money to invest in three to five seed or early-stage companies every year, with each receiving from $25,000 to $1 million, and in two more mature startups for as much $20 million apiece – and this for at least two years running.

IT projects are expected to account for up to 70% of the fund’s investments, with the rest allotted to beefing up players in biotech, clean tech, energy saving, alternative energy and robotics.

A global focus

In Russia, Genezis works as an extension of TexDrive, managing the accelerator’s assets. Its playing field has been rather narrow, with no more than 70 investment-grade startups in the country, the fund has estimated.

But Genezis – which was registered in an as-yet unspecified foreign country – seeks investment opportunities across markets as diverse as the U.S., Europe, Russia and Asia. “We consider Russian and foreign startups under identical criteria,” Zhurba told EWDN.

The ‘invest abroad’ trend among Russian funds started in 2009, when Yuri Milner’s Digital Sky Technologies invested in Facebook. Since then, a bevy of Moscow-based VCs, including Bright Capital, Phenomen Ventures, Runa Capital and Ru-Net, have been chasing opportunities around the world, while DST’s cash has fueled AirbnbAlibabaSpotifyTwitter and several other top Internet companies.

Genezis Capital’s first investment – more than $10 million – went to an undisclosed company operating in the U.S. and Western European markets. Its Russian portfolio includes B-152, an Internet service that helps businesses comply with the demanding requirements of Russia’s personal data legislation; Martmania, a Novosibirsk, Siberia-based online retailer; and Fleecs, a startup developing a payment solution for fuel stations.

Photo Credit: John Leach/Flickr

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