My City, a Russian company, which offers a platform for sharing ideas on how to improve your city and how to implement them, is opening an office in Helsinki.
My City co-founder Dennis Kreminsky told Good News from Finland that he admired the country’s predictability, respect for private property and reliance on rule of law.
Kreminsky also praised the mentoring and access to contacts which Finnish accelerator and early stage investor Helsinki Ventures provides.
On a recent visit to the Finnish capital, for example, he had found it easy to get in touch with small research companies, municipality workers and university marketing heads.
— Every business is a social endeavor and you have to interact with other people, he said. With Helsinki Ventures, everyone is just a phone call away.
— We also hope to get financing from Helsinki and the business acceleration programme run by Helsinki Ventures makes it more likely.
My City envisages job creation in Helsinki, depending on financing and how fast the company can grow.
Since the idea was founded in the Russian city of Murmansk, 13 cities in three countries have joined the platform, which its founders believe has worldwide appeal and relevance.
— Our audience is closely related to a specific location, says Kreminsky. It is about people publishing information about the places where they live, where they work, where their kids go to school. In that sense, it is pretty global regardless of any culture.
That view is shared by Saku Everi, partner at Helsinki Ventures, which focuses on Russia, Eastern Europe and CIS countries and helps companies develop products, commercialise them and take them to global markets.
— Russia is renowned for its academia, academic research and technological innovation, Everi says. However people aren’t accustomed to buying Russian brands.
Kreminsky says experience so far has shown his team that the ideal population of a My City community ranges from 50,000 to one million.
— We are not looking at huge places like Moscow or St Petersburg or London or New York City but smaller places, which don’t necessary have the resources for building a feedback collection or citizen engagement platform.
— Every moderate-sized city could use this system for the benefit of everyone living in it, be it municipalities, be it small businesses, be it residents.
My City is looking at options of up to a quarter of a million euros of funding. Depending on its success, it will explore ways to develop the platform and offer more ways of engaging people.
— At the moment we provide an interface for a person to post a marker on the map and provide a suggestion what can be improved in this specific location. We are also expanding the technology so that more elaborate surveys could be published online. For instance, pre-defined locations could receive comments or other kinds of discussions.
Kreminsky suggests that My City has wide-ranging implications for the democratic process.
— Right now, we have a delegation-based model for democracy where people elect certain officials and then they represent the people. It doesn’t always have to be this way because the technology allows people to provide direct engagement in decision-making.
Text: Vincen Landon
Article is published in cooperation with Good News from Finland.