London lures Russian startups with burgeoning market and support for innovations

Russian tech startups seeking to conquer international markets are setting their sights on the U.K. as a gateway to Europe, attracted by government support and business conditions in the British capital.

Successful Russian tech startups looking to expand to Western Europe often choose London as their base. Photo: Wikipedia.

Cashoff Labs, a resident company of the Skolkovo Foundation’s IT cluster that creates cash flow analysis systems for banks and individuals, is opening a daughter company in London next month, and is currently looking for a sales manager.

The London office will deal with European-wide sales and will employ 10-15 people over the next three years, Dmitry Gorkov, CEO of Cashoff Labs, told Sk.ru. It is the company’s first branch abroad, though next year Cashoff plans to expand to Hong Kong and Singapore.

The financial startup, whose clients already include major banks such as Citi Bank, Sberbank, Tinkoff Bank and Alfa Bank, chose the U.K. largely thanks to the support provided by its Department for International Trade (DIT) based in the British embassy, said Gorkov.

“The British embassy helps startups to enter the British market,” he said. “It provides free consultations on taxation, opening a company and opening bank accounts.”

Cashoff has already made inroads into London’s fintech innovations scene. It has passed the selection process of the Innovate Finance membership association that supports technology-led financial services innovators, said Gorkov, and plans to open its London office in the Level 39 tech community housed in the Canary Wharf business district.

Dmitry Gorkov, CEO of Cashoff, presenting the cashflow analysis system at FinDEVr in London. Photo: Cashoff.

A key role in the company’s expansion abroad was played by the Skolkovo Foundation, he added.

“About two years ago, when Skolkovo invited us to Unbound London, it was there that our partners put us in touch with [what is now] DIT,” explained Gorkov.

Cashoff, which has offices in Moscow and Yaroslavl, is no stranger to London, having recently returned from the FinDEVr fintech event held in June as part of London Tech Week. Cashoff’s presentation during FinDEVr can be watched here.

Also attending London Tech Week was fellow Skolkovo resident startup SolidSoft, maker of the SolidWall web application firewall. SolidSoft was selected by the Skolkovo Foundation to take part in the U.K.-Russia Techbridge Bootcamp organised by RuTech, which aims to build bridges between the Russian and international tech communities, with the support of the DIT and Skolkovo.

SolidSoft gave a presentation of its technology on the last day of London Tech Week as part of a session organised by RuTech amid a whole host of activities during the nine-day bootcamp.

“There was a packed programme; every day there were loads of events," SolidSoft’s CEO Denis Gamayunov told Sk.ru. “There were a lot of mentor training sessions on how to set up a business in the U.K., what support is available from government structures, accelerators and foundations, marketing, hiring staff and so on,” he said.

 SolidSoft CEO Denis Gamayunov (4th from left) together with other participants of the bootcamp in London.  Photo: SolidSoft.

SolidSoft, whose clients include banks, insurance companies and stores who need to ensure their web apps are secure, is also very interested in opening a U.K. office, said Gamayunov.

“Judging from what we saw at London Tech Week, it’s a really interesting market: there are a lot of clients in our field, and it seems to be very well supported by venture investors and tech clusters,” he said.

“There is support from the Department of International Trade for companies from all over the world to be able to open offices there. It’s in our plans, but it depends on whether we manage to find partners there, and on raising enough money to do so,” he added.

The U.K. is home to the biggest presence of foreign businesses among European and G20 countries, according to the DIT. A leading global financial centre, London is ranked seventh in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

Many major international companies have their European headquarters in the U.K., and 75 percent of the Fortune-500 companies have offices in the British capital.

The U.K. is also the world’s leading economy in terms of attracting and developing innovations, according to the DIT.