Biometric is a company in Kazakhstan that is developing a digital onboarding product – human verification with help of artificial intelligence technology. The company has been on the market for 4 years, and is currently being accelerated by The Silk Way from Google for startups and the Astana hub. We talked to the founder Alibek Narimbay and found out why a startup should always rely on its own growth, and not only on venture capital.
Many financial services, bookmakers, loan companies, and cryptocurrency companies must verify their clients or employees. This is necessary when hiring a person or verifying clients to reduce the number of fraudsters.
Around 70% of companies do this manually. Once a person has sent in their credentials, they are contacted by video link by an employee to verify whether it is the right person. "So, onboarding one person costs about $3. And our AI platform, which fully automatically verifies the user, decreases this cost by tens of times" says Alibek Narimbay.
— You were accepted into the second stage of the accelerator from Google for startups. What are your goals?
We aim to make $300,000 in net profit by the end of the acceleration period by growing the company. To do this, we are actively recruiting new markets and conducting customer development. We are not interested in the prize fund.
— How is this accelerator different from the other programmes, Unicorn battle or Seedstars, which you have gone through before?
It turned out that all the previous programmes for startups were no match for the Silk Way. They have developed their own methodology, distinguished above all by strict tracking: every weekend you have to report your results for the week and show growth. Therefore, not everyone makes it through the entire 3 months.
Then, experts from Google say that self-growth is essential for a startup, because fundraising is an uncontrollable process. You have to explore local media channels and advertising opportunities and enter new markets in order to tap into the market as quickly as possible.
Of course, each startup has its strategy. We are, for example, looking at aspects of how the government regulates the use of AI, and also looking for integrators, local microfinance companies, banks and courier companies.
— You are in the process of closing the bridge round. Where will you use the investment you have received?
We want to find a professional investor to help us scale. We plan to spend about 20% of the money we receive on obtaining certificates to work in countries where people don't know about us. In Kazakhstan, of course, we have not encountered such a problem, but there may be suspicions in Singapore. Therefore we must verify our technology in an international certification centre, and this costs at least $20,000.
A third of the sum will be needed to train our AI to recognise documents in other countries. To do this, we need to buy an array of data based on which the platform will learn.
50% of the resulting investment will go into new markets. Firstly, somewhere we will have to change the code to adapt the personal account to new users. Secondly, for advertising and leads, the cost of which will increase. You will have to spend more to grow quickly. But a startup always pays for speed.