On 24 and 25 November, we held the ITU Startup Central Eurasia Forum in Baku. The Forum was opened by Natalia Mochu, Regional Director for the CIS Region, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Rahim Bayramli, General Director of Sabah.lab.
According to Rahim Bayramli, their organisation has already implemented many activities aimed at boosting the development of startups. "We want to give startups access to venture capital investment, so we are happy to work together with startup ecosystems in Central Eurasia."
Ranking report: Kazakhstan is a leader in Central Asia
Irakli Kashibadze, CEO of Future Laboratory and Startup Central Eurasia, presented the Startup Central Eurasia Ranking report, created using ITU methodology. The report can be a supportive tool for both government organisations and other participants in the ecosystem.
The report analyses the elements that make up the startup ecosystem: strategy, capital, market, infrastructure, talent, culture and legal framework.
It includes analytical articles on the development of the startup ecosystems of the Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, which topped the ranking, as well as Uzbekistan (2nd place), Kyrgyzstan (3rd place) and Tajikistan (4th place).
Venture capitalists' view on what an ideal startup should be
The keynote session "Access to local and global finance for startups – what venture capitalists are looking at and how to build efficient cooperation with them" was held by
— Sholpan Dosmahanbet, Kazyna Capital Management, Kazakhstan, who noted that the state needs to create a suitable legal framework for the emergence of private funds: "MFCA and Astana Hub – just created in Kazakhstan for this purpose. The speaker also noted that "venture capital investment is a high-risk investment, and the main risks must be borne by the state.
— Tamerlan Bayramli, Technovate, Sabah Angels Club, Azerbaijan – said that their organization solves two problems: firstly, it records startup data on one platform so that one can trace their history; secondly, it attracts foreign investors to invest in Azerbaijani startups.
"We highlight the following criteria by which we determine how successful a startup will be:
1) what kind of investment they have attracted in the early stages,
2) their team,
3) their plan of action for the future.
There are many worthy startups in Azerbaijan, and I believe that in the next 5 years our startup ecosystem will grow significantly," the expert said.
— Shakhboz Rakhmanov, MyVentures Ventures, Kazakhstan, talked about how to communicate with venture funds: create a good pitch deck that reflects data for the investor, work with feedback and correctly assess yourself. MyVentures invests in early-stage startups and has a capital of $20 million.
— Alim Khamitov, founder of MOST Ventures, also spoke at the ITU Startup Central Eurasia forum. He spoke about the fund as part of Kazakhstan's startup ecosystem. MOST Ventures creates conditions to support and invest in startups at different levels of development. According to the rating Kazakhstan has become a leader in the criteria of access to financing for startups at the stages of Pre-seed and Seed.
Startup funders from Kazakhstan (TrustMe), Georgia (Phubber), Uzbekistan (Avlo.shop), Kyrgyzstan (Numba) and Azerbaijan (Bookshifa) shared their success stories at the forum.
The second day of the forum – maximum useful information for startups
For example, Maksim Burianov spoke about how a startup can interest an investor with the Startup KPIs tool, and Yuliya Tikhonova shared case studies on how content marketing can help a startup gain credibility with users and investors.
Farrukh Ali, PASHA Holding, gave a training on how to create a pitch for a startup. Ihar Makhaniok of Geek Ventures told how a startup can find its first venture investor, and Kal Deutsch and Jeff Wallace of Silicon Valley held a session on "Silicon Valley Innovation: Separating Breakthroughs from Hype".
In total, over 200 participants registered for the forum, including representatives of startup ecosystems from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Turkmenistan, as well as Israel, India, European and African countries.
All photos are available to download via the link.