5 MIN READ, MAY 25, 2021
5 MIN READ, MAY 25, 2021
"Grill parties work the best", jokes Aleksey Maystrenko, CEO at Platform Sales Chain, when asked how startups find and build partnerships with their peers. Aleksey Maystrenko together with Valery Sharipov, CEO at Malivar, and Aleksey Biruykov, CEO at Andata, graduated from Sber500, the acceleration program run jointly by Sber and 500 Startups. The three founders took part in a panel discussion on the third day of EMERGE 2021, live-streamed from the conference’s Sber Moscow offline hub, and shared their insights on how a startup can find a client among other startups and how partnering with a startup differs from partnering with a corporation.
Maxim Barsamyan, Executive Director, Head of Scouting and Partnership at Sber, Aleksey Maystrenko, CEO at Platform Sales Chain, Valery Sharipov, CEO at Malivar, and Aleksey Biruykov, CEO at Andata speaking at EMERGE 2021 in Moscow
Informal networking, such as mentioned grill parties and champagne corners at conferences, do help startups come across their peers that are looking for their product, as well as find potential investors, just like Aleksey Biruykov did at EMERGE 2021, receiving a soft commit as a result of the conference’s casual networking. This practice along with activity in specified Telegram chats and Facebook communities are the main streams for Russian startups to seek warm intros with potential clients and investors. They admit they still lack a lively local platform that would provide them with a database of those and direct access to their representatives.

Accelerators are also one of the main channels for that, – all the three panelists nod actively to confirm. They’ve all been through different programs, and Aleksey Biruykov together with Valery Sharipov have gone through the second Sber500 batch, followed by Aleksey Maystrenko, who then graduated from the third one. Graduates of the first two batches have overall raised around $10 mln altogether and conducted more than 500 pilots and contracts with Sber ecosystem companies and major partners of Sber500. The third batch has raised its participants’ revenue 2,5 times and resulted in more than 100 partnerships and 250 confirmed pilots.
Knowing the value of the access to the right community from the start, Sber has recently launched an acceleration program for high school students (grades 8-11) called SberZ to grow a generation of technology entrepreneurs, and a platform for students together with Stanford Online called SberStudent.

One of the tasks that mentors of the accelerator gave to its participants was to pitch and sell their product to other participants of the batch, in person, during the training, recalls Aleksey Biruykov. This opened their eyes to the friendly collaboration with other founders: “In Russia, startups partnering with startups is more about “you help me, and I help you” than about selling your product for the money. Try my product for free, and I’ll try yours for free, and what’s important, you’ll introduce me to people, and I’ll introduce you, too”, says Aleksey.

Valery agrees: “As we are from more of an early-stage startups community, whose budgets are not that big to try all the possibilities, we tend to go for free of charge collaborations. Malivar has received proposals from startups of the first and the third batches of Sber500, they’ve come from Telegram chats of our community (we’ve got many chats there). Sometimes it’s like some guys can make an amazing video and we can implement our virtual character there (Malivar develops digital avatars, synthetic influencers), so it’s synergy. But when we become unicorns, we’ll exchange our marketing budgets for sure”.
The main perks of working with startups when you’re a startup, that the panelists highlighted, are:

  • the high speed of working on a collaboration. Working on a potential partnership with a corporation might take months if not years, but partnering with another startup, especially when it’s barter cooperation, the process of onboarding and the implementation of solutions is usually fast because you all speak the same language.
  • the high level of trust, when you know that your collaborators graduated from the same acceleration program as you did. As Aleksey Maystrenko says, when you know that a startup made it from the list of 1800 applicants to the list of 25 finalists of the program (like it was at the latest, the third batch of Sber500), you know it shows the quality of this startup’s work.

Although Valery notes that, there still might be problems with trust between collaborating startups: “Just imagine, you switched all your processes to their CRM, and then bam, they’re out of money and the project is closing. So, you always need to bear in mind who their investors are, and what other clients they’ve got”.
Sber Hub in Moscow
EMERGE thanks Sber for their support and making EMERGE hybrid experience in Moscow and Sochi happen.

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Program Director & PR, EMERGE
Passionate for deep tech, VC and smart events. Aspiring filmmaker, harpist and yogi.