I’m on my way back from back from Moscow. It was my first time to attend the EBAN conference and my first time to visit Russia . Overall, I think this can best be described as an eye opening experience for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Moscow was nothing liked I expected. The sheer scale and grandness of the buildings, roads, infrastructure was daunting. I have traveled to and lived in big cities most of my life however this was something different. There were traffic jams at 3am. It has been described as the most misunderstood city in the world. A city of extremes -30c in winter and +30c in summer. Traveling to and around the city felt like a real journey – exactly how travel used to feel 15 years ago.
I spent most of the time at Digital October which was previously an old chocolate factory which has been transformed into a the meeting place for conferences and start-ups. I believe that physical meeting places are very important in terms of building an open community and supporting collaboration.
What impressed me the most was that organizations like Skolkovo have developed specific programs for start-ups tailored to the needs of emerging markets. Also RVC’s authorized capital of RUB 30,011,320,700 isn’t to be sneezed at.
The conference itself was very diverse and very international. Aside from representation from the majority of the 400 European networks that EBAN covers there were over 200 Russian delegates. More surprisingly were the big contingents from China, Turkey and US. There was even representation from Australia.
How exactly the angels will organize across borders remains to be known. Also how the entrepreneur scene will develop in Moscow will be interesting to watch as well known figures like Esther Dyson, Mike Butcher and Steve Blank spend more time in the city.
We’ll be back soon with details on our plans for SmartCamp in this interesting city.