At the Central Eurasian Venture Forum, startups have successfully secured preliminary agreements with investors, resulting in a groundbreaking level of investment
The Central Eurasian Venture Forum referred to as CEVF, was successfully held in Almaty, serving as a prominent event for investors, startups, and various participants within the startup ecosystem. This year, the forum extended its reach to encompass the entire Central Eurasia region, attracting a diverse range of participants. MOST Holding and the Singapore investment platform Investbanq (Paladigm Capital) took the helm as the main organizers, overseeing this large-scale event attended by 1000 individuals.
Preliminary data indicates that more than 400 startups, along with 600 individual investors, venture fund representatives, and corporate representatives, actively engaged in the forum. Through swift investor-startup meetings, startup battles, and negotiations, startups communicated their successful preliminary agreements with investors, amassing a total investment amount of $8 million for their projects. This record-breaking achievement surpasses last year's milestone of $5 million.
Investbanq showcased the first demonstration of its AI-based digital investment platform, marking a significant advancement in the realm of digital investment banking. Olzhas Zhienkul, the founder of Investbanq, expressed satisfaction with the forum's ability to bring together two relevant topics, stating, "Today, numerous regions and areas pique investors' interest but lack sufficient investment products. One such region is Central Asia. Artificial intelligence currently stands as an industry that cannot be ignored. It is pleasing to recognize that our forum represents a symbiosis of these two timely subjects."
An Alley of Startups unfolded at the forum, thanks to the support of Chevron and Impact Hub Almaty. Notably, startup Hero Study, an online single-window system for university management and analytics, emerged victorious in the MOST Investable Battle. Additionally, Astana Hub International Technopark hosted a Space Tech Battle, a competition among IT startups specializing in space technologies. Out of the ten participating startups, three winners were selected, with a prize fund of $15,000. Furthermore, as part of the CEVF, the Silkway Accelerator Pitch Marathon took place, where six startups (BILLZ, Kid Security, Trust Contract, Prosper Pay, Codify, Voiceloft), participants in the joint acceleration program of Astana Hub and Google for Startups, presented their projects to investors.
Another significant event entailed online voting for two categories: "Fastest Growing Startup of the Year" and "Discovery of the Year." The leading vote recipients, as of three days prior to the event, were GoatChat (a chat platform utilizing artificial intelligence) and Kwakka (an integration of delivery services into restaurant checkouts).
Pavel Koktyshev, Managing Partner of MOST Holding, emphasized that CEVF represents more than just an event, but rather an endeavor to gauge and showcase the actual state of the venture capital market in Central Eurasia. He observed substantial growth and development within this market each year, with the forum serving as a gathering point for thousands of individuals, including investors and startup founders. Furthermore, Koktyshev highlighted the forum's ability to provide even the most nascent projects with an opportunity to access significant investments. Looking ahead, he expressed plans for further expansion and development in 2024 to facilitate increased connectivity and interaction between startups and investors.
The event itself offered ample informational opportunities.
MOST announced the launch of its second fund, MOST Ventures Fund II, slated to open in the second half of 2023, with a target size of $30 million. Additionally, MOST Holding shared the official announcement of their research into the Almaty startup and venture ecosystem. Commissioned by the Akimat and the Digitalization Department of Almaty, the report aims to comprehensively examine the dynamics and trends within Almaty's IT market, providing up-to-date information for all interested parties.
Bayan Konirbayev, the Head of the Digitalization Department of Almaty, emphasized the purpose behind their research, stating, "The aim of our research was to conduct a comprehensive study on the dynamics and trends within Almaty's IT market, while providing up-to-date information to all stakeholders. We firmly believe that the research findings will enhance our understanding and enable more effective interactions with the startup community. Moreover, these insights will serve as a foundation for the development of urban services that support and nurture innovative entrepreneurs."
The main stage unveiled the launch of an ambitious project, MOST IT CITY, which involves collaboration between MOST and "Qazaq Stroy" LLP. Together, they are developing the concept of "MOST IT City" in Almaty, envisioning an IT cluster and ecosystem that facilitates interaction and cooperation between companies, startups, investors, IT university students, and government agencies. The project aims to encourage knowledge exchange, innovation, and investment attraction within the IT sector. Furthermore, the "MOST IT City" concept encompasses the development of modern infrastructure, including office premises, coworking spaces, residential complexes, a park, public spaces, and more.
Within the framework of CEVF 2023, a roundtable session titled "Investments with Meaning" was organized by the EBRD in conjunction with MOST Holding. This session delved into the principles of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), vital aspects of sustainable development.
The Akimat of Almaty and the Digitalization Department, in addition to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Freedom Broker, the international technopark Astana Hub, Visa (a global leader in the digital payments industry), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Chevron, Impact Hub Almaty, Kcell, Azerbaijan Innovation and Digital Development Agency, Pasha Holding Company, Kazakhstan crypto exchange CаspianEX, Tumar Venture Fund, Kazakhstan developer of investment real estate The Ultimate Visionary Group, MOST Incubator and UMAY provided their support for the forum.
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