I talked to Marina Treshchova, CEO of Fast Lane Ventures, a Moscow based early stage venture capital firm a few weeks back about the investment market in Russia. Fast Lane Ventures is quite a young investment company, but during their 18 months in operation they have invested in almost 1 company every month. Treshchova summed up the situation that there are so many opportunities in Russia at the moment that they have to run really fast.

Marina Treshchova outlined that the main driver of growth in demand for online services has been the increased internet penetration. Russia has a growing and wealthy middle class that is getting connected to the internet in huge masses. This growth totals in some 60 million online shoppers at the moment who have very few alternatives available in comparison to Western online shoppers.

Fast Lane Ventures has some 40 million euros available all in all through their network of VCs. Altogether the companies they have invested in employ some 600 people at the moment. So by any metrics, it’s not a small operation at all.

So how do the Russian early stage investors see the exit market? Fast Lane Ventures sees big opportunities in exiting to Western corporations who are looking to buy market share in Russia with local operators. In Russia, M&A’s are also more potential than IPOs.

But the biggest industries at the moment have definitely to do with online commerce and different business models there in. Based on the continued growth in the Russian market – Russia will see huge opportunities for startups in the coming years and in a few years after that – big exit markets to Western companies who want to buy their way in.

Image by Yukon White Light