Russian-speaking tech entrepreneurs and investors are more active than ever abroad – which has been illustrated again in the UK by a grocery delivery and dark store start-up called Jiffy. Founded in November 2020, this company aims to deliver fresh products, meals and household essentials “in just 15 minutes” in several districts of the British capital, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).
With products sourced from local suppliers and popular brands at retail prices, the company uses what it calls “smart fulfilment centres” or “cloud stores”, which are “dedicated to serving the needs and are tailored to the tastes of local communities.”
The company is headed by two experienced Russian entrepreneurs, Artur Shalamov and Vladimir Kholyaznikov. The previous was behind MixCart and MamaFood; the latter is an e-commerce veteran who made his name at the helm of flash sales platform KupiVIP. His latest project, Russian fresh delivery start-up Foodza, shut down in early 2020.
Jiffy has just raised $6.6mn, which it will use to “launch its first stores in London, as early as this month,” as reported by TechCrunch. “The company will then launch a further 20 local fulfilment hubs across the UK later this year.”
The start-up will measure itself against a plethora of well-funded competitors – including Yandex, which has its own plans to launch fast delivery services in Paris and London.
Jiffy seems to have closed two almost simultaneous, but distinct funding rounds. If judging by CrunchBase data, a first round took place in March, with GBP2.6mn ($3.6mn) secured from investors from Russia, Ukraine and Switzerland. These included AddVenture, Lev Leviev’s fund LVL1, Ukrainian TA Ventures as well as KupiVIP founder Oskar Hartmann, I2BF Partner Alexander Levinsky and Dominique Pierre Locher. This individual investor from Switzerland presents himself as a “founding member” of the start-up.
New investment strategy at Baring Vostok?
Earlier this month, just weeks after the first round, an additional $3mn was injected by Baring Vostok – the Moscow-based PE/VC fund whose founder Michael Calvey has made the news since his arrest in a controversial case in 2019.
This investment does not seem aligned with Baring’s traditional strategy. As stated on its website, this fund “focuses on market-leading, later-stage companies” operating “in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union.” The portfolio includes such big Russian players as IVI.ru, SkyEng, Yandex or 1C – not just-born start-ups established in Western countries.
Baring Vostok declined to comment on this apparent evolution in its strategy. Neither the Jiffy press service nor Kholyaznikov answered either of EWDN’s media inquiries.