Kupivip Holding was founded in 2008. Oskar Hartmann is one of the Kazakhstan Germans. He opened his first business in Germany, but moved to Moscow to start what may be his main project here.
“I have been in business for 13 years now”, says Oskar. “I spent three years in online trading in Germany, specialising in selling sports diet food. But I wanted to rise to another level. So I moved to Moscow”.
The idea behind his Moscow startup was to sell clothing of the top brands, but not brand new, and sometimes also from the very latest collections with big discounts – up to 85%. Such businesses had already been successful in the West (for example, Vente-privée.com in France). It’s a simple calculation. The top brands really hate their products being sold off cheap – they don’t want to “lose face”. But how should they dispose of unsold goods left over? Closed online shopping clubs – that was how they solved the problem. You sell the leftovers without losing face. But it also gives the consumer a splendid opportunity to acquire luxury goods at a third of their price in the boutiques. But blink and you’ll miss it: the cheap offers are only valid for a very short period.
Oskar Hartmann is convinced that almost all the business schemes that have proved viable in the West can work successfully in Russia. Provided they are properly organised, of course.
“In 2007, internet trading in clothing and shoes was very well developed in the West, but hardly existed at all in Russia”, Oskar says. Online vendors were not much trusted. So our main task was to overcome mistrust. And our team succeeded in doing this”.
After graduating from Moscow State University, he studied and worked in various countries. He had enough foreign business contacts, but he had no particular business relationships in Moscow. “After I came to Moscow, I asked myself how I could achieve success without administrative resources”, Oskar continues. “It turned out to be quite possible. You just have to build your business carefully and neatly, without it costing too much. I wanted to compete honestly. My greatest advantage was probably my international experience, and I was also prepared to work round the clock to achieve the result I needed. I wanted to work side by side with professionals and to fulfil my obligations punctiliously. And that was how it all turned out”.
We are trying to repay the capital as quickly as possible after multiplying it several-fold.
Hartmann brought considerable investments to the project – more than £140 million. In the first stage, the startup was supported by Western business angels. Then the investment funds joined in.
“We have been operating successfully with David Waroquier, our partner in the Mangrove Capital fund, for about five years now”, says Oskar. Since the money was not given to us as charity, we are trying to repay the capital as quickly as possible after multiplying it several-fold”. An IPO is planned for 2015, and Oskar Hartmann expects to achieve capitalisation at a level of $1 billion. This is a perfectly realistic expectation, considering that sales last year were already in excess of $350,000.