Bulat Ganiev: 'Unicorns are possible in Tatarstan if three conditions are satisfied'
In Russia and Tatarstan in particular, unicorn companies may appear whose market value reaches $1 billion or more in a short time. This was discussed recently by the participants of the discussion in the new popular social network Clubhouse — the representatives of the predominantly Tatarstan IT industry. The room speakers were Minister of Digitalisation of Tatarstan Ayrat Khayrullin, ex-Minister of Communications of Russia, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Diginavis PLC Nikolay Nikiforov, managing partner of the IT-company Technokratia Bulat Ganiev, Director of content bureau Khoroshaya Istoriya Ruslan Serazetdinov, co-founder of Flatstack Oleg Kurnosov, CEO of Acronis Sergey Belousov, CEO of LAToken Valentin Preobrazhenskiy, and many others. The conversation was closely followed by the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya.
Talks about unicorns and Clubhouse
It was the popularity of Clubhouse that was first discussed by the participants of the discussion “Tatarstan and unicorns. Yes or no”. The opinions of users in the room about the uniqueness of the new site were divided. Someone said that the social network is non-standard and gives the opportunity to focus on what interesting people say. Some of the speakers noticed that Clubhouse does not have anything particularly new, and from its own, it has only the design.
In any case, it was on Clubhouse the meeting began. The questions “Is it possible for unicorns to appear in our country and republic”, “What needs to be done for their appearance” set the direction of the conversation. “Unicorn is a startup company that has received a market valuation of over $1 billion in a short period of time. In 2013, the concept of “unicorn companies” was created by the founder of Cowboy, Aileen Lee. She mentioned 39 startups, the value of which was estimated at more than $1 billion. Today, there are about 500-600 such companies in the world, the head of the ministry of finance of Tatarstan, Ayrat Khayrullin, reminded the history of the creation of unicorns at the beginning of the conversation. In 2020, about 80 new companies were added to the unicorn club. 85% of them are in the United States and China.
“The import of personnel and money and an increase in exports of goods and services”
There are several unicorns in Russia. For example, the companies Mail. group, Arkonis, Avito, Kaspersky and others. Managing partner of the IT company Technokratia Bulat Ganiev answered the first question:
“In Russia, it is absolutely possible to create unicorns. Russia is one of the three countries that created its own sovereign Internet, presented its products. Russia has many own companies. For example, Mail.Group, Yandex, and others. Unicorns are possible in Tatarstan if 3 conditions are satisfied: the import of personnel and money and an increase in the export of goods and services to other countries. Because the Russian market is limited and it has already formed. It has its own big players.”
Flatstack co-founder Oleg Kurnosov noted that it is cheaper to start in Tatarstan. There are more available talents in the region compared to St. Petersburg or Moscow. But gaining a foothold, increasing income and, at the same time, staying in the region is something that we need to work on.
Acronis CEO Sergey Belousov drew attention to that China has a huge domestic market, while Russia has a small one. Therefore, it is much more difficult to create unicorns. Besides, Russian companies operating abroad face geopolitical challenges. The best solution to the problems he sees is the following:
“We need to have more specialists with education in the field of deep technologies. Russia has successfully created such specialists. For example, there are wonderful specialists in Kaspersky. It is necessary to capitalise on strengths. There are still strong schools of mathematics and physics in Russia. The country creates specialists who are able to develop deep technologies.
Unicorns should stay
The participants of the discussion cited the example of the IT Park of Tatarstan, where IT specialists work. They implement their projects. For these projects to reach a high level, it is necessary to ensure the amount of funding and make sure that future unicorns can be realised as much as possible in the republic, they noted at the meeting.
Bulat Ganiev clarified: “The necessary unicorns, which spend in Tatarstan. It is important that companies stay here and buy housing. It is necessary that people invest in the place where they live.”
The former head of the Russian ministry of communications, Nikolay Nikiforov, who took the floor, admitted that there are many unicorns in Russia. At the same time, he did not rule out their appearance in Tatarstan: “We just need to wait, the dynamics in many factors are very good. The companies that can become unicorns are quietly emerging. And they will appear. According to him, the training of personnel in the IT Park and Innopolis only contributes to this.
The head of the ministry of finance of Tatarstan, Ayrat Khayrullin, gave an example of statistics. Only one company, or 0,07%, in 1,500 startups that have invested venture capital becomes a unicorn. Therefore, more startups are needed, the minister concluded and recalled that in Israel there are 214 companies per million urban residents, in the United States — 160, and in Russia — only 6.
“In general, extrapolating this figure, we get about 700 startups, where venture capital funding is poured, and we are a little behind in this sense. Isn't the problem that the critical mass of technological entrepreneurs is not so large?" Khayrullin reasoned.