Kazakhstan startups show Central Asia is next frontier

Digital Life Asia

Top Kazakhstan and Central Asia startups piqued the interest of more than 150 investors and partners across the globe at a showcase of their technologies on Nov. 3.

The global demo day highlighted applications of artificial intelligence (AI), energy monitoring, and education in the fast-emerging markets of Central Asia. The demo day was organized by the Kazakhstan Digital Accelerator (KDA). KDA is an international collaboration between QazTech Ventures — the venture capital arm of Baiterek Holdings, Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund — and Quest Ventures, a top-ranked venture capital firm based in Singapore and backed by investors including Pavilion Capital.

“QazTech Ventures is extremely delighted with the showcase of amazing technology from the Kazakhstan Digital Accelerator. The transformation of these startups and their founders over the past three months has been nothing short of inspirational. Quest Ventures is an important partner and first mover in this exciting emerging market,” said Dias Bexoltan, acting CEO at QazTech Ventures, in a press statement.

“The Kazakhstan Digital Accelerator demonstrates that amazing technology exists anywhere in the world. We are privileged to have the help of the entire ecosystem, especially QazTech Ventures, in this program. We look forward to these startups changing the world in their chosen fields,” said Quest Ventures Managing Partner James Tan.

The goals of KDA are multifaceted. It accelerates global-ready startups from Central Asia for international investment and market access. It is also tasked with jump-starting and developing the startup and innovation ecosystem of Kazakhstan.

Startups in the KDA received seed funding of US$50,000 each and had industry mentors work with them for a period of three months. Covering areas such as marketing, operations, and technology, startup founders had the opportunity to interact with dozens of industry veterans and founders. Startups had more than 40 hours of masterclasses and fireside chats with the best experts and entrepreneurs; 13 weeks of personal and individual tracking and mentorship from Quest Ventures team; and access to the Quest Ventures ecosystem through networking and partner benefits.

The KDA also marks the first time an economic corridor for startups and innovation has been created between the fast-growing regions of Southeast Asia and Central Asia.

The startups are at seed stage, post-product and demonstrate traction.

The demo day also included a panel discussion on the development of venture financing in Central Asia.

Apart from QazTech Ventures’ Bexoltan, the speakers included Enterprise Singapore Assistant CEO Edwin Chow, ​Astana International Financial Center Chief Development Officer Kairat Kaliyev, Astana Hub CEO Magzhan Madiyev, and Enterprise Singapore Regional Group Director for the Middle East & Africa, C&E Europe & Central Asia Yogeindran Thiyagarajah.

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