This is a blogpost from Finnish Aaltoes team about their experiences in startup conference Startup Village held in Moscow 2-3 June 2014.
We were positively surprised by the amount of effort going towards creating a startup-ecosystem in Moscow. A ton of enthusiasm and push from the government level. Seems like when Russia decides to do something on a governmental level, they go all out.
One main reason for the week was to build a strong, long-lasting relationship with local key players in the startup ecosystem, which would lead to beneficial cooperation with the Russian business environment in the future. We feel that as neighboring countries it’s extremely important to understand our respective startup ecosystems and create synergies that will lead to further collaboration, and as a result, more success stories.
We spent an intense two days at Startup Village, their local SLUSH. The event had doubled in size from last year and there was something for everyone. If we’d have to pick one detail to change, it would be an increased focus towards the international, global audience. Nearly all the events and pitches were in Russian, and occasionally we felt kind of lost. International speakers, of course, spoke English and that was an aspect that largely determined our participation in certain events. Nevertheless, it was great that they had gotten simultaneous translation for the international audience for without it, we would not have managed.
When it comes to the younger generation of Russians, it seems the English level is on the rise. Only when it came to the technical details for replacement robotic arms, we experienced a “slight” language barrier. In general though, a majority of Russians still feel more comfortable speaking Russian even if they know English. So, grabbing a translator on the business trip makes things easier… luckily we had one of our own, Olga J All in all, it was fairly easy to communicate when it came to startup related things – “startup slang” entails most words all parties understood.
This was a tremendous opportunity for us to gain insights for business cooperation, meet new people, and make valuable contacts. Going under Team Finland and the MOCT project also brought in a “national spirit” kind of atmosphere, and it was easy to spot the Finns at Startup Village with our blue colored, white text hoodies! During our trip, we also happened to spot one of the old Startup Sauna stickers on a laptop, which was of course inspiring to see.
When thinking of the purpose of Aaltoes and our trip – we got more than we were hoping for. The reason for Aaltoes going abroad is to educate and inspire, network and showcase, and that definitely was the scope of our trip. We went to universities and Startup Village, and met with accelerators, entrepreneurs and local entrepreneurial hubs. It was truly an educational and inspirational trip for all of us, and now we can safely say we know a thing or two about what’s happening across the border!