Excl: Russian venture firm ru-Net invests in e-tailers BeStylish, Freecultr


ru-Net Holdings, one of the largest Internet and technology investors in Russia, has entered the Indian market by acquiring stake into two e-commerce ventures, according to sources familiar with the development. The firm has invested in Freecultr, an e-com venture offering its own apparels brand online, and BeStylish, an e-tailer selling shoes and accessories. Both companies are backed by the Smile Group, which also runs a slew of other e-commerce sites.

Founded by Russian billionaire Leonid Boguslavsky, ru-Net was one of the first investors in Russian search engine Yandex. The firm now has expanded aggressively across the globe and made foray into US and the South-east Asian markets over the past 1-2 years.

The Moscow-based firm is making its India debut by investing in the second round of funding for Freecultr, along with the existing backer Sequoia Capital India. It has also closed a separate transaction to invest in StyleGenie Digital Pvt Ltd, which runs BeStylish.


For more details on the quantum of funding by ru-Net and the venture funding landscape in Indian e-commerce, check here.

Although the Smile Group officials confirmed the investment, e-mail queries sent to the spokespersons of ru-Net did not elicit a response. We got in touch with Sandeep Singh, co-founder of Freecultr, who declined to comment on the development. When we contacted Shailen Amin, CEO and co-founder of BeStylish, he also refused to comment. An e-mail message sent to Sequoia Capital India's Shailendra Singh was not answered till the time of writing this article.

Earlier, ru-Net said that it would be looking to invest $50 million in South-east Asia over the next two or three years. According to this article dated February 4, 2012, ru-Net had already invested in a Vietnam e-commerce platform and would be looking to invest in India as well. The firm may invest around $5-20 million in startups operating across online travel, e-commerce, entertainment and social gaming space. It has also expanded into the US by setting up RTP Ventures, which has offices in New York and Boston.


Boguslavsky's ru-Net was one of the early investors in Yandex, which debuted on NASDAQ last year with a valuation of $11.2 billion, and has revenues of over $20 billion in 2011. It also holds investments in OZON.ru (Russia's Amazon), BigLion (Russia's largest daily deals site) and ivi.ru (an online video site).

Sign up for Newsletter

Select your Newsletter frequency