Success stories. Big Belarusian IT names include major service companies, GameDev projects, mobile apps, and hardware manufacturers
EPAM is the Belarusian IT industry’s biggest success. The company developer of digital platforms and products with 36,000+ employees was founded in 1993 by Arkady Dobkin and Leonid Lozner. In 2012, the company went public—the first (and so far the only) time the Belarusian flag appeared at the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s revenue is $2.29bn (2019). The only representative of the IT services sector on the Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list.
Over 110 million people have played and are playing World of Tanks by Wargaming. Hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year, offices—besides the one in Minsk—in the US, Cyprus, Australia, Japan and European cities. 200 people joined Wargaming’s Minsk office in 2018 alone, half of them being technical experts. “It is a huge empire,” the company’s founder, Victor Kislyi, said about Wargaming in an interview with Venture Beat. Wargaming has a website about relocation of experts to Minsk.
In 2014 Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce giant, acquired Viber messenger that was being developed in Minsk and Brest; transaction amount: $900m. Viber was created by Igor Magazinik and Talmon Marco. In 2015, they launched a taxi startup, Juno—also based in Minsk. It is now part of Gett whose IPO is planned for 2020. Viber is now actively used by 260 million people monthly (as of January 2019), mainly in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Viaden Media became one of the top mobile app developers in Central and Eastern Europe in the 2010s. The company was founded by Viktor Prokopenya in 2001. Viaden Media produced applications and mobile games for sports and other fields. It was bought by an Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi in 2012. Victor Prokopenya founded new companies and products: exp(capital), currency.com, banuba, Facemetrics.
Maps.ME offline maps are the creation of Belarusian IT entrepreneurs Yury Melnichek and Viktor Gavaka. Two years later, the project turned cash-positive. Yuri Gursky joined the team, and Maps were acquired by Mail.ru Group in 2014. As of early 2019, 110 million people installed the app; number of active users—12 million per month. The maps are created and refined by volunteer users from around the world.
The viral MSQRD AR app was bought by Facebook in 2016—a year after the project’s launch. The founders Yevgeny Nevgen, Sergey Gonchar, Yevgeny Zatepyakin and their team moved to Facebook’s London office to work on integrating the “masks” into the social network’s products. Mark Zuckerberg tried on the Iron Man mask. Having completed the project in 2019, almost all of them returned to Minsk to work on their projects. More about this in an interview with Sergei Gonchar.
AIMatter startup by Yuri Gursky and Yuri Melnichek was bought by Google in 2017. The startup’s AI technology enabled changing the selfie background. YouTube then integrated it into its Stories tool. Yuri Gursky manages Haxus investment fund: Flo, Prisma, Voir. Yuri Melnichek runs Bulba Ventures, an investment company: Friendly Data, OneSoil, Wannaby. MSQRD and AIMatter success stories marked the AR/AI development vectors of many local startups.
By August 2019, a women’s health app called Flo had been installed 100 million times. It hit the top spot in the Health and Fitness category. Total investment: $25.5m, with a valuation exceeding $200m. Flo is predicted to become the first unicorn with Belarusian roots. Check out the interview with Dmitry Gursky, the project’s CEO, in which he also talks about in-house options program and talent relocation to Minsk.
Regula has been making and shipping devices to authenticate documents, money and securities to clients in 150 countries for 25 years now. It was founded in 1992 by two engineers, Ivan Shumsky and Yuri Rogozhinsky. Regula is among the brightest instrument-making businesses in Belarus, along with Adani, Polimaster and others.