After a decade of developing and distributing software for mobile apps, e-commerce and marketing, i-Free decided to start funding promising start-ups through a newly formed i-Free Ventures. Created in Russia, the fund is open for projects that concentrate on European, Asian and US markets. Particular areas of interest for the venture fund are mobile, tablet and TV apps; digital media; mobile and browser games; e-commerce and Internet services. The type of companies i-Free Ventures is willing to invest into range from companies with proven business models, to start-ups with sophisticated technology aimed at niche markets, to early-stage companies without a monetization plan. The fund is therefore interested in investments from seed to early growth stage. Planned volume of each investment is from $20,000 to $600,000.
i-Free Ventures has already partnered with other Russian and Western venture capitalist companies, including Russian Venture Company Seed Fund. The fund's investment committee consists of i-Free Company's founders Kirill Gorynya, Kirill Petrov and Sergei Shulga.
i-Free Company was founded in 2001 and today it is one of Russia's biggest software developer and distributor. Headquartered in St.Peteresburg, it operates mostly in Russia and CIS and employs 350 people.
With such a hefty experience and contacts across BRICs, i-Free Ventures is likely to add a lot of value on top of the investment to the start-ups they fund.
The fund has already invested into three projects, though they do not disclose which ones. It is also not clear how much stake i-Free Ventures would take for their investments.
That said, the existance of a new fund like this is definitely welcome in Russia. Having a wide scope, it is relevant for a variety of companies that might be overlooked by other local venture funds.
'In the process of application selection we consider in the first place a team as we are sure that exactly a team defines the success of an innovational project', comments Georgiy Zamyshlyaev, Investment Director.