Innopolis start-up goes bankrupt after Forbes’s attention and Herman Gref’s criticism

Start-up with debts

While supervisor of Innopolis, Tatarstan Vice Premier Roman Shaykhutdinov predicts the appearance of the first “rhinos” in the town, that’s to say, companies that are worth more than $1 billion, the management of the Special Economic Zone has to chase up some start-ups that have debts via bankruptcy proceedings. As Realnoe Vremya found out, this week Tatarstan’s Court of Arbitration registered a claim on behalf of Innopolis SEZ on the acknowledgement of Lock4Gate PLC insolvent — a legal entity that develops a mobile app for remote barrier and door control.

According to data of the Tatarstan Court of Arbitration’s case file, Lock4Gate PLC has owed to the SEZ a bit more than 1,1 million rubles. Moreover, earlier, in 2017-2019, the SEZ already sued the start-up three times for debts for small office rent in the technopark. According to the court’s documents, the start-up stopped meeting its obligations in January 2017, while it rented the office in October 2016.

The press service of Innopolis SEZ added that the lawsuit was filed because Lock4Gate PLC didn’t meet conditions of the agreement on technology development activity in the SEZ, which is a document every Innopolis resident signs.

Forbes’s attention and Gref’s criticism

At the same time, the start-up was especially active in 2016-2017, which was widely announced in the mass media. The full version of the app appeared in July 2016, and in August 2016, the company became a resident of Kazan IT Park. In December, it ranked second by MegaBazaar StartUp Awards, which was awarded during those years.

In January 2017, Lock4Gate entered the top 15 of Billionaire’s Business School by Forbes — co-founder of the start-up Artur Akhmetov talked about the creation of the company in detail on pages of this newspaper. In July, one of the founders of Lock4Gate Kamil Mukhametzyanov presented the project in front of Sberbank CEO Herman Gref who arrived to open GrowUp co-working in Kazan.

At that event, Mukhemtzyanov said that the company was going to equip kindergartens in Moscow Oblasts with its devices so that parents wouldn’t use magnet cards but Lock4Gate’s app and talked about several tens of sales (it is unclear if this was organisations or natural persons). At that moment, Gref criticised the app for the impossibility of opening the door with NFC.

Now the app already isn’t available on AppStore but it remains on Google Play — it has been downloaded over a thousand times there. Moreover, the latest update was in August 2017. According to comments, users were charged about 100 rubles (the term isn’t specified). The average score on Google Play is 3,4 out of 5. It is hard to talk about the company’s financial results — no information about revenue and profit of Lock4Gate PLC in the public domain.

Though Lock4Gate can be downloaded for Android, the app isn’t running in fact. Artur Akhmetov confirmed to Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent that the project didn’t operate anymore but didn’t answer questions about the fate of the start-up. Lock4Gate is still considered to be an SEZ resident on the website of Innopolis, though as Vice Director General of Development and Resident Affairs in Innopolis SEZ Vadim Galeyev told Realnoe Vremya, when he came to the office in 2018, the start-up was rather dead than alive.

The press service of Innopolis SEZ confirmed that Lock4Gate PLC has been a resident of the SEZ since 2016, the agreement hasn’t been dissolved nowadays.

“The reasons why the project can’t develop even considering the supporting measures in the SEZ are various. Some companies are start-ups, and the world practice shows that only 10% of such companies survive three years later. However, the SEZ has terminated an insignificant number of agreements since the beginning of the activity. Today over 120 residents and partners, including development centres of the biggest Russian corporations, work in Innopolis Special Economic Zone,” the press service of Innopolis SEZ added.

By Aleksandr Artyemyev