Improving urban life one idea at a time


Finding ways to make Moscow safer, cleaner and generally more livable is the focus of a new generation of urban entrepreneurs. While ecofriendliness is slowly gaining in popularity in Russia, the capital has already seen promising results

Moscow is constantly changing, and much of this change in recent years has been driven by young entrepreneurs who are actively involved in improving the urban space. They have launched numerous projects, including special schools, classes and acceleration programs for startups. “Urban entrepreneurs are those who are ready to improve the park near your house, to create a sense of community, to organize a singing club for pensioners or a running club, or to launch a coffee shop for local hipsters,” said a representative of Vector, the online School of Urban Entrepreneurship created by the Strelka Institute.

Our school is for people who want to change the urban environment. The projects of our students are both socially oriented and commercial. The key point here is to find the right demand and audience, so a project could really affect the city

Over 1,250 students across Russia completed Vector online courses in 2015-2016. Environmental concerns are front and center for young entrepreneurs. Earlier this month, the Moscow city government hosted the Moscow Eco Challenge contest, which identified the best 15 startups aimed at improving the urban environment. The projects selected are dedicated to such topics as waste disposal, raising environmental awareness, decreasing air pollution and purifying water. We would like to introduce you to some enthusiastic entrepreneurs who are playing an important role in building the new Moscow.

ArchiLunch: Tours for office workers

“Everyday, people use the same route to go to work, they observe the same buildings and streets, and often do not know what lies behind the familiar corners,” said Arseniy Aredov, founder of ArchiLunch. Changing up this scenario is the main goal of Aredov’s project, which he launched with a friend in May 2016. ArchiLunch offers office workers 30- or 50-minute tours of the area around their workplaces during lunch. Tour organizers provide participants with handout material and pictures of the visited sights along with takeaway meals furnished by partners. The tours, which have begun operating in the office spaces around Artplay, Arma, Winzavod, MoscowCity, Tsvetnoy Boulevard and Danilovskaya manufactory, are available for both private and corporate clients. The cost of one tour is about $9 (lunch included).

Arseniy Aredov, 27, is the founder of the ArchiLunch project. His team includes three staff members and several guides. Aredov hopes to encourage people to take a new — and more affectionate — look at their everyday surroundings through his creative tours.

YouDo.com: Cleaning, delivery and repairs at the touch of a button

“The most expensive currency, especially in big cities, is time. One can’t return hours spent on household chores, and people are ready to delegate these responsibilities to freelancers,” said Alexey Gidirim, co-founder of YouDo.com, which helps connect people with house cleaners, repairmen and delivery services, among other things. Users have turned to the site for a wide range of tasks, including help choosing a wedding ring. Services can be ordered on the website or via a mobile app. The site also provides a kind of public service, offering work options for people who have lost their jobs or who can’t work full time, such as students, retirees and new parents.

The project YouDo.com was launched by Denis Kutergin and Alexey Gidirim, 34 in 2012. More than 800,000 clients and about 85,000 freelancers are registered on the website. The site averages more than 2,500 orders daily. The service is available in several cities, but 85 percent of the orders come from Moscow.

Sobaka-gulyaka: Dog walkers for hire

Natalya Shipshiley realized how difficult it was to find a person who could take your dog for a walk when she was looking for someone to take care of her spaniel, Dandy. With this experience in mind, Shipshiley, an adventurous lawyer, launched and tested her service “Sobaka-gulyaka” (a play on the words dog walker) together with a team of three people. Dog owners leave requests on the service’s website, www. dog-walk.ru, and the service then looks for a suitable dog walker who can work with the pet on a regular basis, if the relationship with the dog goes well. A 45-minute walk for one dog costs 590 rubles (a little less than $10). Shipshiley, who also uses the services of a dog walker, says the project combined her love for animals with her interest in improving urban life. “The project’s mission is twofold: on the one hand, we would like to promote dog walking and urban dog-keeping. A person who keeps a dog at home needs to understand how to do so properly. On the other hand, the service aims to harmonize interaction of a dog owner with the city. We have thorough expertise in this sphere and want to impact relevant legislation in the future.”

Natalya Shipshiley, 25, invested $3,000 of her own money in her project, which matches dog owners with dog walkers. The service currently employs five office staff and 20 active dog-walkers.

Liudmila Petujova
Discover more at rbth.com

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