What does “startup” mean? How do startups differ from traditional businesses? How easy is it to launch your own “startup”?
Today we welcome Chingis Aitzhanov, project administrator of the Business Incubator of Astana Business Campus. Chingis will answer questions and share his experience and suggestions.
It is hard to say if the startup movement began with Mark Zuckerberg, or when Elon Musk started working on Hyperloop. Yet it is clear that startups represent innovation, startups are necessary and always relevant. Now we will try to open the door into an unpredictable world, which exists between business and science, between entrepreneurship and innovations.
So what is a startup?
-Let’s try to be clear for once and all that we mean by startup. Startup – is a temporary organization created to search for repeatable and scalable business models.
“…temporary organization…” The goal of every startup is to become a company. Many successful startup-companies have several years of experience of failures, before significant breakthroughs after which they become big companies.
“…created to search…” Startups create a new product or service for the market, and it is often unclear how to expand into the market. It’s usually unclear who your client is, and how to set sales channels for that certain client.
“…repeatable and scalable…” A product or service offered by your startup has to be suitable for all of your clients, as opposed to traditional companies that offer solutions individually designed for a certain company or person. Besides, startups usually are not limited physically or geographically (city, region, country).
“…business model.” Who pays, for what a startup offers? How do clients pay for solutions? How are clients found? The business model for a startup is represented by a number of assumptions, which has to be checked.
So what do you need to do to become a successful startupper?
-I would underline several key aspects:
It is said that in Kazakhstan networking solves everything. Maybe some people might disagree, but in terms of startups useful are essential and important. It is necessary to meet new people as often as possible and to keep their business cards. No one can predict which person or whose business card will be linked to future success; these people you meet could be a client, a partner, an investor, or just a fan and brand-ambassador! Visit all events dedicated to startups, entrepreneurship, innovations. Share your ideas with people, ask, and discover new things. Moreover, it is essential to maintain the contacts you make because the future is unpredictable, and people sometimes change workplaces, cities, or even open their own business. Astana Business Campus always organizes events, where you can meet interesting and like-minded people, share ideas and get feedback. For example, we organize different idea contests for industrial challenges, Hackathons, and Markethon which was on the 9-10 of May. The ABC Incubation – a startup incubation program – starts in a week. One past event that has just ended, but will begin again soon is the ABC Quick Start which focused on a startup acceleration program.
Sometimes it seems that there are many ideas which have the potential to become great startups. But when you start investigating the topic you realize that the solution already exists, or something similar has been introduced on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. You have to follow technological trends. Read the news, subscribe to Telegram channels, follow social media accounts especially those of innovational entrepreneurs, and if possible take online courses focused on innovation. On the other hand, ideas can be seen as solutions to specific problems. As soon as you become a professional in the field, you start seeing the whole picture, with all the problems that exist and need to be solved. So if you can, take a step back and think of the problems your colleagues and classmates face daily. Perhaps you may be the one who will create an ingenious solution for everybody.
It is hard to do all the work on your own. Although it is possible it will take a lot of time. Time you may not have. It is the nature of startups to evolve quickly because competitors do not sleep. So an important element for any startup is putting in place a dream-team that will support the development from start to finish. To create unbelievable things you need not only skilled people and expertise, but for there to be “chemistry” between teammates. You should also remember that your friends from childhood may not make for the best startup-partners. It’s a careful balance to assemble a team with the right mix characters, who have the necessary expertise and good communication skills.
It is important to understand that if you want to launch a medical startup that you have to be an expert in medicine. If you want to create an app to help students in their studies, that at the very least you should have experience being a student yourself, and know the programming language. Furthermore, it is not enough to simply know the technology on which your solution is based. A startup is not only about innovation, but it is also about entrepreneurship and business. Without basic knowledge of how real markets work your startup’s dreams might not be fully realized. In the best case, you could find yourself registering and holding a patent and in the worst case simply making a prototype. Skills for a startup, as well as presence of a dream-team, help to grow quickly, to leave all competitors behind, and to rapidly expand into new markets.
After you have assembled a team, clarified that the market needs your solution, identified key partners, and located your client, then the hardest thing is left – persistence and belief in success. It is important to understand that startups are always about novelty, not only for the team but for the market in general. The problem with new ideas and things is that sometimes the majority doesn’t immediately grasp their importance. Startups face new problems every day, and many you will have to solve right then and there. But sometimes waiting is key as the time is not right, and it’s important during this phase to keep your spirits up. One thing that can help is to participate in competitions, startup weekends, hackathons, and other events. This will help you to understand if the startup you are working on in on the right track by getting feedback.
That’s all for now. Follow the news on our social accounts, participate in competitions and apply for the ABC Incubation program for startups which begins in May, the application period for ideas was closed last week, but you can still register as “Talent”. You can apply using the link http://nuris.nu.edu.kz/abcinc2019.