June 27, 2018
At the initiative of one of the AUCA Board of Trustees members Nazira Beishenalieva, 4 AUCA students have participated in a StartUp Bootcamp held in Baku, Azerbaijan on June 18-20, 2018. The event, which was a first of its kind for the CAMCA (Central Asia - Mongolia - Caucasus - Afghanistan) region, gathered 30 participants from 8 countries.
The course was taught by a startup coach Ash Singh, who also teaches entrepreneurship in INSEAD Business School in Singapore. Professor Singh’s areas of expertise are internet, technology, startup, turnaround, and media. Over the period of 11 years, graduates of his startup course collectively raised almost $1 billion in funding.
The bootcamp was an intensive 2,5 day course, which included lectures, quizzes, assignments, and discussions. The course aimed to teach participants think like entrepreneurs, and help them build successful startups practicing the acquired knowledge.
On the first day, participants brainstormed on startup ideas with the guidance of Professor Singh, and delivered half-baked pitches as a warm up exercise. By the end of the day, participants formed 6 teams depending on the ideas they liked the most. Aizada Nurlanova (BA-117) said, “even though I was tempted to work with all the participants while forming teams, the main task for me was to find people who share the same interests with me. For that reason I focused merely on the startup ideas to find my teammates. This made the whole process easier”.
During the second day, participants built their startups from the ground up. The structure of the course allowed to do so in an organized and understandable way. Team members worked on every segment, starting from building the right foundation and finishing with elevator pitching to investors. Shamsullo Ismatov (SFW-117) shared an insight about the course and highlighted the significance of networking, “For me, the hardest part of this course was working on the cash flow. The most inspiring thing about the bootcamp in general was meeting outstanding people of CAMCA region, getting to know their stories, and becoming good friends with some of them”.
On the third day, teams finalized their works, and pitched before Professor Singh first, with him providing the feedback. Afterwards, the teams pitched before investors from Azerbaijan. Investors chose a startup called Tipper as a winner. A member of the winning team Mira Dzhakshylykova (LAS-EM-117) shared her experience, “Tipper is a mobile application that will allow customers to immediately pay tips to waiters with just one click on the phone by using a payment card. This way, it will be easy for customers in case they do not have cash and want to ensure the money goes directly to the waiter. If waiters want money, they would have to download the app”. Mira also shared that even though there were age and experience differences among the team members, they all worked really well together and each member’s opinion was taken into account. Currently her team is looking for investors to execute its startup plan. Mira is glad she was a part of such a wonderful event and learned a lot.
Nursultan Dzhumabaev (SFW-117) also shared his future plans, “I want to implement what I learned when building my future startup in ecological sphere”.
It is important that students not only learn and acquire new skills themselves, but also share the knowledge with AUCA and local communities. Aizada, Mira, Nursultan, and Shamsullo are to organize similar events here in Kyrgyzstan to popularize a startup culture so that more people take initiative, start their own businesses, create new jobs, and benefit the society.