One of the rare international acceleration programs locally available to Russian startups, Winno Moscow is preparing its fourth season this year, selecting some 10 projects among 200 applicants.
After a four-month acceleration process, the selected startups will benefit from a one-week business trip in Paris, including a visit to Vivatech, France’s largest tech event, in May this year. `
According to Yannick Tranchier, a Moscow-based French entrepreneur who manages the program, each project receives €20,000 in capital injection, including €10,000 spent on Winno’s services. The program is supported by Moscow Seed Fund, the venture arm of the Moscow city authorities, which provides matching funding to some of the projects.
Winno Moscow is focused on early-stage B2B software and hardware startups. “We aim to support these startups until their first sale, usually to a Russian client, at the end of the program,” says Tranchier.
“It may be a bit too early for such startups to get international clients,” concedes the entrepreneur.
“The international dimension of Winno lies in the program and the mentors more that in international business connections,” he says.
Tranchier is also the founder of Obvious and La Maison des Entrepreneurs Français (MEF). Both companies aim to develop business exchanges between France and Russia, in particular in the field of innovation.
Few options left in Moscow for internationally-oriented startups
Winno Moscow operates as a continuation of NUMA Moscow, a program launched in 2015 by Tranchier in partnership with NUMA, a Paris-based international accelerator network.
Through its startup accelerator program and corporate innovation support, NUMA Moscow aimed to help Russian startups expand globally. “The program played an important role in evangelizing French corporations, such as EDF and Leroy Merlin, on the potential of Russian startups – even before RVC, FRII and Skolkovo started dealing with them at a larger scale,” says Tranchier.
NUMA enlarged its client portfolio beyond French corporations, involving such players as Philipp Morris, Acron, Qiwi or Rosatom. NUMA Moscow also supported Skolkovo in learning expeditions and other services in France.
In October 2018, however, NUMA Moscow ceased activities following its French mother company’s shift to a new, less internationally-oriented strategy.
Among the other internationally-oriented support programs available to Russian startups is Starta Accelerator, an acceleration program in New York City initially intended for startups from Eastern Europe.
Operating in California, Tech Mafiais the brainchild of the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF, or FRII in Russian), Russia’s main startup investment fund. This acceleration program aims to support Russian startups’ first steps in the tumultuous US market.
Another recent initiative is the Sberbank-500 Startups accelerator, which has just completed the local (Moscow) part of its program. No fewer than 25 US mentors made the trip to the Russian capital to support 30 Russian startups, seven of which will continue the acceleration program in Silicon Valley.
After this first program, Sberbank intends to organize further ones in the future, but no precise date has been announced so far.
Thus, since the Moscow PlugAndPlay program stopped activities a few years ago, Sberbank-500 Startups and Winno Moscow seem to be the only remaining international startup acceleration programs operating in the Russian capital.