More and more often we hear about outstanding entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan and their aspiration to build a high-quality business ecosystem, equipped with all the necessary investment instruments and possessing an up-to-date development infrastructure. Next week Astana will host a big international conference TechConnect Astana, promising to become the meeting point of European and Asian tech talents. Seems like the country is constantly moving forward, achieves new heights. Here is another example of Kazakhstani perspective evolution: recently they managed to launch an accelerator with the support of Happy Farm business incubator (Ukraine) and it took them only three weeks to attract a certain number of startups, invite international expert mentors and offer cooperation to private investors.
Happy Farm business incubator initially arrived in Kazakhstan to organize accelerator programs and conferences in cooperation with the local Ministry of Investment and Development. In June, they started a program Technation, targeted at startups from CIS, Europe, and Asia. Happy Farm team was given only three weeks to launch a fully working accelerator, which seemed to be a pretty challenge.
Their first task was to attract several hundreds of startups ready to participate in the program. Luckily, Happy Farm has a lot of partners from abroad, who helped them invite good startup teams. But it was not that easy with the entrepreneurship community in Kazakhstan. The guys explored various regions, met the leaders of local IT communities, and even performed an online advertising campaign. Happy Farm strongly believed in the local young talents, possessing the excellent European educational background and able to brainstorm lots of innovative ideas to turn them into quality startup projects. At the end of the third week, Happy Farm received up to 50 applications per day. Finally, the organizers selected 345 best applicants, 9 of them even became the accelerator’s residents.
The next step involved attracting investors to provide financial support to the accelerator program itself and to cooperate with startuppers. In addition to the governmental money, the program needed some private capital, which was provided by the local private investors: Kairat Mazhibayev, Kenes Rakishev, Vyacheslav Kim, Birzhan Kazhigaliyev.
At the same time in three weeks Happy Farm team had to attract foreign mentors to cooperate with the new accelerator in Kazakhstan – the country not so many people know about. Fortunately, in the end the organizers managed to invite several leading experts and experienced professionals to get acquainted with Kazakhstani business ecosystem: John Gower (Dialect Inc.), Marta Emerson (Scaale Group), Marvin Liao (500 Startups), Igor Shoifot (TMT Investments), Jim Smith (Mohr Davidow Ventures), Pavel Cherkashin (former Microsoft member). Happy Farm worried that mentors might have considered their selected teams to be weak in comparison with hundreds of projects those professionals had already come across in their long-time career. However, the mentors highly assessed the participating startups and gave them a positive feedback.
So what is the general concept of this new accelerator program? The startup teams spend two weeks in campus, where they work on their business models under international mentors’ careful guidance. After that startuppers are sent on a two-week business trip to the Silicon Valley, where they have a chance to consult venture investors and experts in technology and innovations.
Those mentioned accelerator stages are over by now: startup founders are already returning to Kazakhstan full of inspiration and contemplating on new goals. Most of them are aged around 30, completely focused on their work and serious about business. All this lets us hope to see major business achievements in Kazakhstan in the nearest future.
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