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  • How to develop e-commerce in Central Asian countries

    How to find an investor and scale your business? Entrepreneurs from Central Asian countries shared their experience at one of the Go Viral festival venues.

    It has turned out that finding investors and registering a start-up is not the most difficult task. When scaling business projects, it is important to pay attention to two factors - the solvency of the population and the level of development of IT sphere. Are the residents of a particular region ready to allow your product into their lives? The answer to this question directly affects the prosperity of your business.

    Akmal Paiziev, a businessman from Uzbekistan, is the head and co-founder of MyTaxi, Workly, Express24, Maxtrack. The company decided to enter the regional markets to expand the scope of business. But it turned out that most of the country's population did not have access to mobile Internet.

    "We realized that out of 33 million people living in Uzbekistan, not many have access to mobile Internet. Our audience was very small. If you are organizing Internet projects, you need people with smartphones”. The speaker says that now this problem is being solved. The second problem was the solvency of the population. "People should have money to use your product."

    Aman Tentyev, the founder and managing partner of Tech Farm company from Bishkek, noted that it is difficult to introduce innovations in technologies to potential customers when you deal with developing projects in IT sector.

    "Our group is represented in most segments of Internet commerce. We have been working in most countries of Central Asia for 10 years. You should know that success begins with capturing the youth market. They are the first who start using all new technologies and train the older generation. Based on my experience - be guided by the youth market, and they will become the engine of your business. This system works all over the world. And I agree with Akmal on the solvency of people. In Central Asia, this is the core problem," the speaker said.

    Aman Tentyev recommends to start from thinking about the technology and popularization of a project, and then thinking about its profitability.

    Kamil Karimov, a businessman in Kazakhstan, the founder and the head of GLOTUS transport company, Click Logistics online service faced the problem of additional costs.

    "The population in our country is about 18 million, and the distance between cities and regions is large. Our business is connected with logistics, and this imposes additional costs in the field of commerce”, - the entrepreneur says. "The second problem is solvency. From the income of these regions, it is clear that the disproportions are huge. The residents of Shymkent cannot afford things that are affordable for the residents of Almaty and Astana. We need our product to be in demand in all cities of Kazakhstan."

    When researching the market, state statistics on the current situation of the country's population may not be the most accurate. Akmal Paiziev advises companies not to rely on it but to conduct their own research.

    "Statistics cannot be trustworthy. There are studies of companies, the World Bank also conducts its own research. As for our needs, we are gaining internal information. For example, we request information from a cellular operator or  those who are involved a similar business. We ask what kind of target audience they have. You can hire marketing companies that are engaged in such research,” - Akmal Paiziev says.

    Chris George, an investor from India, launched his first start-up when he was 16. In 2000, he opened one of the first companies in India in the field of e-commerce. Nowadays, he actively invests in companies at the initial stage.

    "I took part in the Indian Internet revolution. We always asked ourselves what worked and what did not. Our foundation works in India and Singapore. We wanted to invest in the market where there was the largest return on funds. After visiting an investment forum in Tashkent, we realized that Central Asia represents a unique situation where 60% of the population are young people who are potential consumers. We saw unrealistic prospects. Later we decided to consider the whole Kazakhstan. The infrastructure here is well developed. The government supports the development of technologies. The foundation for development has already been laid, and we just came to a prepared place,” - Chris George comments.

    The investor believes that a startup should be aimed at the development in the long-term, otherwise there is no point in financing it.

    "I am guided by several key points in the market. The integral qualities of a start-up (include the idea, the leadership, the possibility of its scaling). The other qualities include a clear understanding among local investors and the ability to exit the project at any time and if local markets are set up for consumption and its increase in the future.  When planning a startup, you cannot live for only one day - you need to have a plan for tomorrow as well. Will these people remain your customers tomorrow? An important role is played by the ecosystem and its convenience to work in a country at the macro level," - Chris George explains.

    Information source: «Как развить e-commerceв странах Центральной Азии»

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