Investments in Belarusian IT. Who invests and how
Foreign funds, local investment companies and angel investors invest in Belarusian startups. But the most common scenario is opening R&D offices in Minsk.
Two most popular areas for investment are Belarusian game development and mobile apps.
In August, Belarusian Swag Masha was bought by Mail.ru Group, and Vizor studio got investment from Playrix company, one of the world’s top 5 mobile developers. In September, Belka Games raised investment from AppLovin, a mobile advertising platform with a $2bn valuation.
Flo attracted money from Flint Capital, Elysium Venture Capital, SDVentures—and Founders Fund, a multi-billion-dollar US fund from the Top 10 Silicon Valley funds, this was the latter’s first-ever Eastern European investment.
Workfusion, an American-Belarusian creator of robotic process automation systems with a development office in Minsk raised $50M in 2018.
Service companies also attract investments. Itransition, second after EPAM by size, sold a minority stake to Baring Vostok investment fund.
Over the past few years, EBRD, Rembrandt, Altos and Silicon Valley Bank, Hawk Equity, Declaration Partners, Georgian Partners, iNova Capital, NGP Capital, Embria Ventures, Startup Lab have invested in Belarusian companies, too.
Local investment companies
Zubr Capital investment company invested up to $10M in MediaCube, YouTube’s Belarusian partner, a “company developing IT solutions for video creators and musicians.” The transaction was structured using the English law mechanisms. A year earlier, the fund invested $5M in a product called Targetprocess. In 2017—in ActivePlatform and ActiveCloud.
Victor Prokopenya’s VP Capital, jointly with Larnabel Enterprises, invested $7M in Banuba, AR startup.
Bulba Ventures investment company was established in 2018 and has already managed to make a name for itself thanks to such projects as FriendlyData (one of 2018’s most high-profile exits), OneSoil and Wannaby. Haxus fund invested in Voir, Prisma, Flo, Fabby.
Belarusian Business Angels Network AngelsBand with 85 investors on board invest in early-stage Belarusian startups. Their most famous projects include MobiWise, Rocketdata, StringersHub, LungPassport
Local companies also often act as investors. Gismart intends to invest up to $1M in mobile startups “with strong teams.”
Top “fresh” R&D in Minsk
Mapbox, a developer of technologies at the junction of augmented reality, mapping and autopilot systems, absorbed the Belarusian startup MapData and expanded the staff.
IDT Corporation, a public American telecoms company, moved its development division to Minsk in spring 2019.
Kaseya, a major provider of integrated IT infrastructure management solutions, did so, too, in April of the same year.
ID Finance is a large fintech project operating in Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Poland, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Russia. In Minsk since 2018.
Fall 2019 alone saw the following companies come to Belarus:
- Corevist, an American product company,
- Luware, Swiss provider of specialized service platforms,
- Playrix, a gaming company founded by Russians,
- Sensory Technologies, Canadian top developer of software for healthcare institutions,
- Check Point Software Technologies, a global vendor from Israel.
See this article on the Belarusian legislation geared towards investment protection.