Russia Digest: RDIF funds Hyperloop One; Chefmarket raises $1.3m seed round

Skyline of Moscow

Russia’s sovereign fund RDIF has invested an undisclosed sum in Hyperloop One’s latest funding round while Moscow-based food delivery startup Chefmarket.ru, has secured $1.3 million in round led by Mitsui.

RDIF finances undisclosed sum in Hyperloop One

Russia’s sovereign fund RDIF, has announced that it has invested an undisclosed sum in Hyperloop One’s $80-million round of financing. Sherpa VenturesFormation 8ZhenFund, 137 Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Fast Digital, Western Technology Investment (WTI), GE Ventures and SNCF also participated in this round.

The company aims to create a high-speed Hyperloop train that can move people through a narrow tube at a speed of 76 miles per hour.

RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said, “RDIF pays great attention to the development of transport infrastructure, including the technological advances that will shape the future of the transport industry. Our investment in Hyperloop One’s project will facilitate the arrival of cutting-edge technologies in Russia.”

Hyperloop has the potential to link both the western and eastern ends as well as the northern and southern ends of the country which would make it the largest in the world. Russian Railways, the national railway company, is considering cooperation with Hyperloop One and have already created a working group to study the concept.

Tesla Motors and SpaceX creator Elon Musk who first released the concept for Hyperloop back in 2013 described it as transporting people through “pods” via an 11-foot diameter tube with a near-vacuum inside, leading to a considerable reduction in friction.

The train itself could be elevated using magnetic levitation (maglev) technology powered by an electric motor. It is also expected to be energy self-sufficient with the use of solar panels along tracks and pods that travel inside a climate-controlled tube rid free of weather effects.

In Musk’s 57-page plan, he estimated the total cost to be $6.1 billion, a bargain as compared to the proposed California High Speed Rail project that is estimated at $68.4 billion.

Hyperloop One cofounder and executive chairman Sherwin Pishevar said, “The overwhelming response we’ve had already confirms what we’ve always known, that Hyperloop One is at the forefront of a movement to solve one of the planet’s most pressing problems. The brightest minds are coming together at the right time to eliminate the distances and borders that separate economies and cultures.”

In May Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), revealed that it had created a new material  Vibranium, that was ten times stronger than steel and five times lighter than aluminium.

CEO of Jumpstartfund and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc Drik Ahlborn said, “We are 10 times safer than an airplane. Our collaboration with Slovakia and their technical skills in new materials, automotive and production processes have made this technology possible.”

Hyperloop One also announced, last week, that it would be removing its co-founder Brogan BamBrogan as its chief technology officer to be replaced by Josh Giegel. The company declined further comment on the mater.

Hyperloop One also revealed that it can connect Helsinki to Stockholm, a 300-mile trip that normally requires a 3.5 hour flight in just 28 minutes for $19 billion.

Russian businessman Ziyavudin Magomedov also invested an undisclosed sum to the startup through his venture fund, Caspian VC Partners (CVC), which was launched last year with plans to invest up to $300 million in Russian and international startups.

Chefmarket secures $1.3 million in seed funding

Chefmarket, the food delivery startup announced in early June that it has secured $1.3 million in a funding round led by Mitsui with participation from Andrey Romanenko, the co-founder of QIWI and Russian venture fund AddVenture.

The startup which was launched in 2012, offers home delivery of food products based on recipes from renowned Russia and West-European chefs.

Deputy General Manager, Innovation and Corporate Development Business at Mitsui Moscow, Kohei Tanaka told East-West Digital News:”Today, Chefmarket demonstrates an excellent ability to attract customers with strong management led by Mr. Sergey Ashin. We will work to enhance the corporate value of Chefmarket with strong prospects for the meal-kit market globally and particularly in Russia.”

“Our high level of trust to the existing shareholders of Chefmarket – including Mr. Andrey Romanenko with whom we have successfully cooperated in QIWI business, provides us with further confidence that we can succeed in this business,” he continued.

Alongside groceries, customers also receive step-by-step photo instructions and a subscription offer allows grants them up to five delivered meals per week. Its business model is similar to Western startups Blue Apron and Hello Fresh which raised $135 million and $149 million respectively.

Chef market delivers over 60,000 meals per month and covers three of Russia’s largest cities; Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. It used to serve Kazan, a city with over 1.2 million potential customers, but pulled out as Kazan was “not mature enough for such services,” according to Chef market founder and CEO Sergey Ashin.

Currently, it remains a dominant market player sharing approximately 50 per cent market share with three other players; Domavkusnee.ru, Partiyaedi.ru and Elementaree.ru.  Ashin remains unfazed by the presence of competitors, responding: “There are a few dozens of other smaller players, but their activities are not significant.”

The startup hopes to raise $100 million in revenues by 2018. Last November, the company saw growth rates of 200 per cent yearly. Ashin told East-West Digital News in November 2015: “We may thus reach $14 million in 2016, $36 million in 2017, and finally reach the $100 mark the next year.”

Last November the company secured over $5 million at a $25 million valuation. Then in 2013 and 2014, it raised another $2 million in several round of financing. All three included the participation of Addventure, a key investor in the foodtech space. Previously, it invested over $4 million in Moscow-based online food ordering company Delivery Club.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.