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Russia is now the largest internet market in Europe, with more than 55 million online users. Russian internet market leaders, Yandex and London-listed Mail.ru Group, both reported a year-over-year revenue growth of 50 percent for the first quarter of 2012.

The Russian market is growing at a supersonic rate and provides excellent exit opportunites for investors in Russian online ventures to create a brand-new breed of Russian internet entrepreneur.

So who are the trailblazers to watch in this new web frontier? Yankov Sadchikov, Russian startup blogger at Quintura.com, talks us through the hottest Russian entrepreneurs to watch right now…

oskar hartmannOskar Hartmann, founder and CEO, KupiVIP.ru

After launching online shopping club KupiVIP.ru in fall 2008, the Russian-German Oskar Hartmann added an e-commerce platform for Russian retailers and launched online fashion store ShopTime.

In Russian online shopping, KupiVIP is growing bigger than almost as big as established brand OZON.ru by racking $200 million revenues last year. Correction 5/16/2012: Ozon notes that it generated over $300 million in revenue for 2011. In 2010, Hartmann partnered with the French businessman Pascal Clément to set up a Moscow-based internet business incubator, Fast Lane Ventures, which has already started eighteen internet businesses to date, of which two were already exited.

marinaMarina Kolesnik, founder and CEO, Oktogo.ru

Following a consulting career at McKinsey and management role at DataArt, where she headed complex software development projects, Marina Kolesnik has leveraged her Harvard MBA to launch her own online venture Oktogo.ru two years ago. Since then, Marina raised $15 million in venture capital from European and Russian investors to make Oktogo.ru into Russia’s leading online hotel booking and travel site or “Booking.com of Russia”.

pavelPavel Cherkashin, co-founder, Krible and Kuznech

Having been Russian manager for Adobe and Siebel as well as Microsoft Russia’s general manager of consumer and online businesses, Pavel Cherkashin made a number of angel investments in online businesses in Russia. He now works for his investee companies: online customer support service Krible and image search Kuznech as well as helping other investees: online video site Tvigle.ru and mobile advertising network AdWired.

chumachenkoAlisa Chumachenko, founder and CEO, Game Insight

In online gaming, marketing is key. The former head of marketing at Astrum Online, which was merged into Mail.ru Group in 2008, Chumachenko started her own  social game publisher and developer Game Insight in late 2009. In 2011, she moved into mobile gaming to make Game Insight one of the leading gaming companies on Android.

Albert PopkovAlbert Popkov, founder, Sravni.ru

Popkov capitalised on the social networking boom in Russia. Back in 2006, he launched the social network company Odnoklassniki.ru. He then raised funding from DST and sold his startup to it later. Odnoklassniki, which is part of Mail.ru Group, has some 25 million monthly users. In 2009, Albert launched consumer banking comparison site Sravni.ru, which is now the leader in its category.

russian entYulia Mitrovich, Entrepreneur in Residence, Svyaznoy Group

A graduate of the University of British Columbia, Mitrovich was a McKinsey consultant before going to Web Media Group in Moscow to head its online video site Zoomby.ru.

In 2012 Mitrovich joined Svyaznoy Group, the leading mobile phone retailer in Russia, as Entrepreneur in Residence. No surprise, Svyaznoy founder Maxim Nogotkov was named Russia’s Entrepreneur of The Year 2010 by Ernst & Young.

igorIgor Matsanyuk, founder, IMI.VC

If the internet incubators are the new black, then mobile-focused business accelerators are the new, new black. Entrepreneur-turned-VC Matsanyuk has made a fortune by cashing out shares in Mail.ru Group during its IPO in late 2010.

One year before, he merged his online gaming company Astrum Online Entertainment into Mail.ru. Igor currently seeds mobile startups viaFarminers business incubator and own investment company IMI.VC.

elenaElena Masolova, co-founder and CEO, Pixonic

The Higher School of Economics graduate, Masolova co-founded the AddVenture seed-stage fund in Moscow in 2008 and was a founding member of coupon site Darberry, which became Groupon Russia. She currently heads social gaming company Pixonic, a portfolio company of AddVenture. She also eager to make angel investments in online startups and lead them later.

Anna Znamenskaya, founder, Workingmama


Following a ten-year executive career including CEO of Digital Access (online video portal ivi.ru), Rambler‘s commercial director and B2B Media CEO, Znamenskaya has ventured into entrepreneurship with her own online project for mothers, Workingmama.ru in late 2011. She is also receiving Master in Digital Marketing from Instituto de Empresa in Madrid this year.

Olga Steidl, partner, dots’n‘spaces


The St. Petersburg State University graduate Steidl has headed marketing at mobile software maker SPB Software before it was acquired by Yandex last November. After a short stint withYandex, she has settled in Zurich to help mobile startups via dots’n’spaces and organize mobile industry events. Steidl is also startup CEO herself and mentor at Seedcamp where Yandex recently invested.


This article originally appeared on Venture Village, one of VentureBeat’s editorial partners.

This story originally appeared on Venturevillage.eu. Copyright 2012

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