Russian search giant Yandex starts a summer boot camp for (very) early-stage startups

Russian search giant Yandex starts a summer boot camp for (very) early-stage startups

Russian Internet search and services company Yandex is today announcing a new startup accelerator initiative dubbed the Tolstoy Summer Camp, named after the great novelist (coincidentally, Yandex’s Moscow offices are located on 16, Leo Tolstoy Street).

Yandex is calling it a ‘summer studio’, but it’s really more of a boot camp for startups that essentially aims to support burgeoning talents – from developers to designers and project managers – with resources and knowledge in building a viable startup from scratch.

Applicants can come from anywhere, but they do have to speak Russian.

What will Yandex bring to the table?

The company says it aims to guide budding entrepreneurs throughout the entire cycle of startup building, from idea through planning to attracting funding to launch.

Of course, the latter will happen at a ‘Demo Day’ in September, which in this case will see early-stage investment firms such as SeedCamp, Runa Capital and GrowthUp vetting the finalists and decide on follow-on funding.

Another investor that will be lining up to see if there’s an opportunity to invest is … Yandex. Indeed, the company will not take a stake in any of the businesses until it decides to invest under the usual terms.

In a blog post, Yandex says:

“There seems to be more venture capital than brilliant ideas on Russia’s internet market.

At the same time, many of brilliant ideas in the heads of talented people are destined to perish without a chance either because talented people cannot meet each other or because they cannot deliver their ideas in a form approachable for investors.

We have been experimenting with startups for a while and came to an understanding that currently the best format for a large internet company, such as Yandex, to interact with a bunch of passionate enthusiasts, such as startups, is a seed accelerator.”

Program details

After the application process and interviews with individual candidates in May and June, everyone accepted into the Tolstoy Summer Camp program will be invited to Yandex’s Moscow office.

If that means the would-be entrepreneurs have to relocate to the city, Yandex says it will cover all his or her travel and accommodation expenses, in addition to a small monthly survival fee.

Yandex aims to put together 40 to 50 people with international ambitions. Evidently, startups will be encouraged to work with Yandex technologies and APIs as much and wherever possible, and the company will also be scouting the candidates for potential hires down the line.

The actual program kicks off on July 1st 2013, and will see candidates develop their ideas and build teams around them. After every one of the three stages, candidates can be asked to leave the Camp.

The Russian Internet giant says it will tap some of its top execs to get involved in the program, and has also invited international experts like Esther Dyson, Alina Chumachenko (Game Insight) and Colette Ballou (Ballou PR) to share their knowledge and experiences on building startups.

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