Make way for the best - Google and Astana Hub will upgrade promising startups
15 promising startups got the opportunity to upgrade their projects under the Silkway Accelerator program. The program was launched by the Astana Hub International Technopark of IT Startups in partnership with Google for Startups. In total, 330 applications were submitted for participation in the program from technological projects from the countries of Central Asia, as well as Azerbaijan and Mongolia. The editors of Er10 Media spoke with acting director of business programs office Astana Hub Aigerim Zharkyn in more detail about the project.
– What were the selection principles for the Google for Startups and Astana Hub programs?
– Selection for the Silkway Accelerator program started in May of this year and took place in several stages. First, individual diagnostics were carried out with each project in the interview format. Further, startup projects were evaluated by a special commission, which included experts from different countries of Central Asia, then from the TOP-50 Google Developers Group startups they made the final decision and selected 15 projects. A list of 11 standby startups has also been identified.
Among the winners of the selection are projects from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia and Tajikistan.
- What are the benefits for Kazakhstani startups from cooperation with Google, is it an access to international markets or access to foreign investors?
Partnering with the Google for Startups project opens up huge opportunities for startups with global potential and will allow them to be present on global platforms.
Program participants will receive free access to master classes and mentorship from top Google experts, learn how to effectively build business processes, scale, build partnerships and prepare to attract investments.
The most striking cases of Google for Startups will be provided with PR support on its platform and in social networks. In turn, Astana Hub provides participants with individual work with trackers, apartments for living, workspace on the territory of the technopark, PR support, as well as the opportunity to receive funding in the amount of up to 25 million tenge under the Seed Money program. The training will take place offline in Nur-Sultan and will last 3 months.
Note that Google for Startups is a program launched by Google in 2011. It consists of more than 50 coworking spaces and accelerators in 125 countries and provides practical lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. This year, Kazakhstan became the first partner of the program in Central Asia.
– What qualities should a startup and its founders have to get into the program?
– To participate in the Silkway Accelerator, start-up companies had to be at the Product / market fit stage, that is, they had to have a product and sales or users. Only projects from the countries of Central Asia, as well as Azerbaijan and Mongolia, could take part in the program.
– How much has the number of successful Kazakhstani startups increased over the past 5-10 years?
– Astana Hub has been operating for 4 years. At the first accelerators/incubators, there were only 30-50 participants, now at least 300 startups apply for each stream of our programs. I think this is a good growth and indicator.
– Has the startup movement become popular in Kazakhstan?
- Definitely yes! Many have become interested in the startup culture in our country. For example, more than 600 people take our Startup School every year to learn about the difference between a traditional business and a startup, as well as to understand where to start if an idea arises. In general, there is an interesting dynamics - some began to digitalize their current business, many began to create startups, and someone simply left for IT from another area.
– What are the main advantages of Kazakh startups over foreign competitors?
- First of all, if we are talking about the market of Kazakhstan, no matter how trite it may sound, it is knowledge of our market, understanding of the audience.
The second is tax preferences, such as a preferential tax regime that exempts from paying a number of basic taxes in order to reinvest income in the development of a start-up and the implementation of new projects. It must be admitted that not all countries are so willing to support start-up projects.
- What do Kazakh startups lack in order to more actively enter foreign markets?
– Everything is individual, often the main problems that startups face when they enter foreign markets are:
- lack of understanding of the market;
- cultural characteristics of the new market;
- ignorance of legal expertise;
- incorrect market analysis;
- financial and legal problems.
This list can be long - every startup faces different challenges, so it's important to do a detailed analysis of your product and the market the startup plans to scale into.
- Can Kazakh startups really compete with European and American companies that have access to multimillion-dollar investments?
– This is a very interesting question! In my opinion, Kazakh startups have the opportunity to become in demand on the international market and compete with foreign companies. Of course, investments play an important role, especially their amount, but even more important is how and on what the founder spends them. We live in a wonderful time when location is not a problem, you can negotiate with venture funds, investors and close multi-million deals online.
Applications for the 2nd stream of the Silkway Accelerator program, which starts on September 2, can be submitted via the link - https://astanahub.com/l/silkway-accelerator.