KAZAN: Bulat, left, launched a startup to develop mobile technology and invited friends to join. Bulat said there are about 30 startups in Kazan in his niche. The Tatarstan government stimulates local IT growth through various forums where startups can present. ‘’If you have a good idea, you can even get a meeting with the Tatarstan President. As the government is interested in IT development, there are no administrative barriers,’’ he said. Bulat offered the idea of a virtual presentation of Kazan city (3D) and his project was chosen. His team also developed an app for the 2015 Water Sport Championship held in Kazan. Bulat and his colleague Oscar (right) believe there is plenty of demand in Russia for IT as many companies haven’t invested enough. The generational change in Russian management will be another stimulus to investment in innovation in their view.
KAZAN: "I winced and spit," said Alyona, 26, recalling the first time she tried craft beer at the bar she works at. However, with time, she came to enjoy such brews. After returning from a vacation, she decided she wanted to have her own business and not just work at an Irish pub. After speaking with a friend, they decided to open a bar specializing in craft beer. The bar opened in May on the popular Baumen street in Kazan. The bar offers about two dozen Russian craft beers and foreign brews as well. Alona splits her time between working at an Irish pub, where I photographed her and the small craft-beer bar. I asked Alyona how her family reacted to her becoming a bar owner. "My mom was scared, she was worried that I would lose all my money. She doesn't understand that I am doing well."
KAZAN: When Robert first saw the cultural centers appearing in old factories in Moscow in the 2000s, he dreamed of opening one in his home town of Kazan. The lack of such spots were among the reasons people in the arts were leaving for the bigger cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Nearly a decade after that dream, Robert was able to convince the owner of a run down, historical building to turn the second floor into lecture hall, book store and gallery. The first floor, which was a car-washing business, will soon be turned into a cafe and restaurant. ‘’Everyone now understands that such projects are necessary for the socio-cultural development of cities,'' said Robert, who tries to get Moscow-based artists and cultural figures to come to Kazan to give lectures. Robert said his SMENA, as the cultural center is called, is also publishing books of local writers. His book store aims to carry cultural books in Russian and English that can't be found at other books stores in Kazan.
KAZAN: "My idea was to move away from the typical Russian cafes with their glamorous and pretentious designs, forced courtesy and water pipes (hookah). Our cafe is from recycled materials, my friends helped and we designed it ourselves,’’ said Ildar. A freelance journalist, Ildar opened a co-working cafe because he enjoyed making coffee and wanted a place to work. ‘’I killed two birds with one stone by opening this place. I sometimes work there as a barista, sometimes I am writing articles or editing photos and video.’’ However, regular cafes are more popular than co-working spots. ‘’I understand that local freelancers are seemingly still not ready to work in the same space alongside unfamiliar people.''
KAZAN: "I am trying to find myself - what i will love to do everyday," said Danil, 26, who is training to become a barber. He said he is looking for a job that will not just bring financial satisfaction, but emotional as well. His mother, a professor of Russian, is sympathetic to his search and calls him regularly to find out how he is progressing at the barbershop. I asked Danil, who traveled around the US and speaks good English, what he would like to change in his city. "I wouldn't change something in the city, rather I would change something in our minds and behavior. The world today is far from being an effective system and it ain't hard to see that. Just look at the wealth distribution for example. It looks like a game of chairs, where we have 12 players, 12 chairs and 1 person occupies 11 of chairs. The real problem is that we believe that the world can't be better." He apologized for such a philosophical answer from a young man that hasn't achieved anything, but he said he wanted to get this point across to others.
KAZAN: ”When I moved to Kazan, I randomly met a girl on Russian social media who studied at the same university as i did in Perm and who also now lived in Kazan. I sent her a message, we began to write each other and then we met. We have been together ever since,’’ said Marat, who is now married with a child….
KAZAN: "I was studying government service, but as I finished my degree, I realized it was not what I wanted to do. I knew I needed a profession and I wanted something connected with fashion," said Alexei, a barber in Kazan. He first worked at a beauty salon before joining one of the barbershop chains that has been rapidly expanding around Russia over the past few years. Alexei works in Chop-Chop, the largest chain with about 55 stores across Russia in more than 40 cities. He said he chose to join Chop-Chop as he liked the concept.
KAZAN: "We were producing the same beer over and over and it got a bit boring," said Dima, who has been runing a small brewing business in Kazan, Russia making a lager for many years. "But I started to see more and more information about craft beer on the Internet and social media and thought this would be a profitable niche." So, last year, he and his partner used their existing capacity at their lager production facility to start Republic Brewing Co, Kazan's first craft beer brand. Craft production was as easy as expected, so the partners invited specialists to help them with the recipes. "The most difficult thing is to make an interesting-tasting beer," he said. "Better to share the profit then get burned." Dima, who does yoga and jogs in his free time, thinks craft beer will continue to gain in popularity in Russia. Dozens of craft beer bars and brewers have popped up in Russia over the past few years. "In two years, every restaurant will offer craft beer."
KAZAN: Lilia runs Sonas, the only Irish Dance school in Kazan. Her Sonas, which means ‘happiness' in Gaelic, has 5 groups totaling 30 dancers ranging in age from five to 45. Lilia said she knew at the age of 6 she would pursue a dance career, but it was would be another decade before she would fall in love with Irish dance. It was in 1998, that she accidentally got her hands on a VHS tape of River Dance. Friend brought it back from Moscow to Bashkiria. ‘’I didn’t even know the existence of River Dance,’’ said she. But when she watched it, she was blown away by it. She used that tape to teach herself Irish dance before attending master classes years later. Lilia's school is part of the Russian branch of the John Carey Academy. Carey, a famous Irish dancer, comes over to Russia a few times a year to give master classes to the teachers at this various schools. In addition to Kazan, the Carey Academy has branches in Ufa, Samara, Tolyatti, Izhevsk, Magnitogorsk and Chelyabinsk.
KAZAN: "I usually dress very bright: a red t-shirt, blue shoes and green pants for instsnce," said Elya, 17. She was returning from the aviation university, where she studies programming. Elya wanted to study landscape design, but she could not get a scholarship for that department, so she chose programming instead. "I realized I like working with computers and understanding how games are made," Elya said, explaining her choice of majors. She said she loves Kazan, but would like to see the city take care of the run-down buildings.