The Thaw continues: a Chinese investor invested in a Russian-Chinese ecommerce project for the first time

    In December 2015, the ToBox online trading platform will be launched in Russia . Its development in our country will be financed by the Chinese venture capital fund Shunwei Capital . Next year, he will invest $ 50 million in ToBox.

    Shunwei first invested in ToBox in September 2015, a site spokeswoman said. This is the second round of investment. The funds raised will go, he said, to advertising, expanding the Russian team and improving technology.

    The Chinese project has existed since the beginning of 2015. On this site, proposals for the sale of various goods are collected, posted on different social networks, Russian showrooms and stores of copyright (hand-made) goods.
    ToBox plans to capitalize on additional services such as inventory management and logistics. It is not supposed to take a commission from sellers.

    Next year, the project’s turnover should reach $ 100 million, says ToBox founder Feng Lin.In the future, ToBox intends to open a business in other countries where e-commerce is actively developing: in India, Brazil and Australia.

    The project in Russia does not have direct competitors, I'm sure Feng Lin: Yandex.Market is the closest, "but we have a fundamentally new format."

    It’s too early to directly compare ToBox with Yandex.Market, the head of the latter, Pavel Aleshin, agrees: “We aggregate 18,000 stores - from Yulmart and hypermarkets to small thematic stores.” But Aleshin is “glad to any new players”: there is much to grow, in Russia online sales so far occupy only 3.5% of the retail market; "In the United States, according to various estimates, this is 9%, in the UK - 11%."

    Feng Lin already has experience working with clients from Russia - he was a partner of the Chinese Internet platform OSell , where Russian entrepreneurs buy Chinese goods for resale.

    Now 70% of ToBox belongs to Feng Lin, 20% to the Russian project team, 8% to Shunwei Capital and 2% to the Chinese mobile device manufacturer Xiaomi, he says. Shunwei will be participating in the next rounds of funding, promises Shunwei Vice President Li Wei.

    Managed by Shunwei - assets of $ 1.75 billion and 1 billion yuan, leadsdata newspaper "Vedomosti". The company invested mainly in startups related to e-commerce, social media, medical and educational technologies, online services for the financial, automotive markets and so on.

    Previously, Shunwei has never invested in projects operating in the Russian market. However, the Russian e-commerce market has “very great growth potential,” and ToBox has a “unique project” with a good team, Li Wei explains.

    Until now, RuNet has not heard about major transactions involving Chinese venture capital, says Alexander Turkot, managing partner of Maxfield Capital Fund: “Chinese, like any other investors, are constrained by macroeconomic factors.” Given that the founder of ToBox and himself comes from China, this is most likely a single deal, he believes.

    So far, Chinese investors have not been seen in Russian Internet projects, agrees managing partner iTech CapitalGleb Davidyuk. A change in the situation could be facilitated by the warming of relations between Russia and China in recent years, he notes. “It is obvious that our country is a large and capacious market for the Chinese, and, given the geopolitical situation, now more opportunities can open for them in Russia than several years ago,” summarizes Gleb Davidyuk. Yevgeny Mozhaev,

    commercial director of ZhelDorExpedition, believes that Russia, despite the economic crisis, remains a promising market, but the Chinese are losing their competitive price advantage due to long delivery.

    However, Chinese online retailers do not plan to stop expansion in Russia. At the end of October, rival AliExpress in Russia is a major Chinese online retailer announced that he expects to prospect in the future to occupy 60% of the Russian market of online trading.

    In early September, Megamind wrote that Russian Post and China Post entered into a cooperation agreement. Then the heads of the postal companies of Russia (Dmitry Strashnov) and China (Li Guohua) signed an agreement on the launch of two joint projects. “This decision will contribute to further growth of trade between countries and the development of the transit potential of Russia,” the official post said.

    In October, the government of Heilongjiang Province of China proposedcreate an Internet commerce hub on the territory of the free port of Vladivostok. Today in Russia, mail is handled in logistics hubs in Yekaterinburg, Blagoveshchensk, Moscow and Novosibirsk.

    Last year, trade between Russia and China increased by 6.8%, to $ 95.3 billion. This was reported by the State Customs Administration of China. Russia's exports to China grew by 4.9%, to $ 41.6 billion, imports from China — by 8.2%, to $ 53.7 billion. E-commerce market participants predict that in 2015, the total volume of online commerce between countries will reach $ 36 billion.

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