After Pavel Durov and his team were invited to come and develop their project in Vilnius in April 2014, the Lithuanian startup community began to appear in major publications. The “Pavel, come to Lithuania!” movement was widely picked up on by the public and extensively covered in both national and international media. A number of Lithuanian politicians and government institutions expressed their support for the initiative, with Pavel responding to individual invitations and promising to visit Lithuania. Dalia Grybauskaitė, the Lithuanian president, wrote on Twitter: “Pavel Durov, the founder of the largest social network, has no place in his country, but the door is open for him in Europe and Lithuania.” Within few hours Pavel answered: “Thank you very much, this means a lot to us.”
Lithuania is increasingly being identified as a place for Russian startups who want to find a better business environment to set up. Alongside Russians, I personally know Italian, French, Belarusian and Ukrainian startups, a few American projects and a guy from Togo that have decided to build their startups in Lithuania. Motives for choosing this country range from low prices to the possibility of entering the EU market.
Other advantages include tax levels below the European Union average and significantly less bureaucracy. We have a well-developed banking infrastructure and an e-signature system. While abroad, I opened a limited liability company for our startup TrackDuck using a mobile phone and a laptop.
Vilnius is without doubt the best city in Lithuania for developing a startup, with a very large and active startup community. The costs are not high and there is a very good standard of living. You can rent a nice two-room apartment in Vilnius Old Town for $700 per month. In addition, you will always have access to the all startup services you need and many options for renting an office. Vilnius also has a cosy airport that you can get to in less than a half an hour.
Among Russian companies that have recently moved to Lithuania are Game Insight, Charlie Oscar, Planner 5D and 4talk IM. Game Insight’s decision to move its headquarters from Moscow to Vilnius has been widely discussed in the media. Sergei Klimov of Charlie Oscar has written an excellent post about why he moved his company to Vilnius. “The climate in Lithuania is very good and the country is near to Russia,” Planner 5D explained in an interview on why they chose Lithuania. “It is comfortable living here.”
If you are a Russian startup that is interested in moving to Lithuania and looking for advice, partners or investors, here are some recommendations:
- Contact Invest Lithuania and Startup Highway (they are currently helping Planner 5D with EU market entry). If you are engaged in game development, get in touch with Oleg from Unity 3D. He knows everything about the Lithuanian game-development market.
- Discuss investment matters with Practical Capital and Nextury Ventures. For larger amounts, contact BaltCap and LitCapital.
- Go to some of the numerous meetups and events that are held in Lithuania. The people at these events are really friendly, although maybe sometimes a bit shy. You can start with Open Coffee Club Vilnius.
- Communicate in English; most people under the age of 30 do not speak Russian. In addition, not many people know the Russian startup market well, mainly because of the language barrier and/or an EU or US market orientation. Because of this, people’s world-view and the definitions they use may differ.
Read the original article (in Russian)