South Bay News

'BRIC' start-ups vying for venture capital in Valley

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Perhaps you remember the 1966 comedy film "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming." Well, the Russians indeed are here, in Silicon Valley, seeking venture capital for high tech start-ups.

North San Jose has lots of buildings where start-ups have traditionally worked to expand and develop their ideas. Now, a lot of that activity is going on overseas, yet Silicon Valley venture capitalists are more than anxious to help fund them.

They paced nervously as they waited their turn. Many admitted the anticipation kept them up all night. They are entrepreneurs from Russia, Brazil, even Norway, vying to win a competition to get venture capital. It's not the quality of their English that counts. Brazil, Russia, India and China, known by the acronym "BRIC," are actively incubating start-ups and they need American seed money to grow. "I couldn't even imagine when we won the first round, that we would get so much exposure to real venture capitalists," Svetlana Velikanova told ABC7.

Velikanova has created a website called Workingmama.com. It helps mothers find places to take their children in big cities. Another turns text resumes into visual displays that have more impact. Others have designed cloud-based services.

Russian start-ups dominated the Global Technology Symposium, a three-day conference linking them to Silicon Valley. "For internet, Russian market is like the best market nowadays in Europe because we have 60 million of active internet users, and that's given just the 40 percent penetration rate. So, it's definitely going to grow," Velikanova said.

Venture capitalists think joint U.S.-Russian deals are a perfect fit. "If you combine the excellence of Russian R&D with the excellence of American-focused sales and marketing activities, you have a winning solution," said Russian Venture Company CEO Axel Tillman said. But, don't count out the other emerging tech centers of Brazil and India. "We are increasingly seeing more product companies which will come out of especially Brazil and India, and come to the U.S., and we'll definitely see some big names over the next few years," Blumberg Capital's Ankur Jain said.

Only a handful of the entrepreneurs will get funded but they're all getting some free advice. Venture capitalist Steve Jurvetsen told them, if people don't think your idea is absurd, then maybe it's not bold enough.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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