Our guest, an MBA program student at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business, Saule Batyralieva, told us about the startup she founded with the support of ABC Business Incubator of Nazarbayev University. In 2019, Saule won the incubation program and received initial funding for her project to create an online platform www.uniclub.kz. The project specifically focuses on the services of the city’s educational and sports clubs for children. It is an online resource that helps parents and students to book their participation in various extra-curriculum activities, sports, clubs, and other events throughout the city.
“Since many parents would like to provide their children with a versatile additional education, we try to offer different classes through a single UniPass subscription to different clubs,” said the founder of the project. – At the same time, children will be able to attend several types of classes – sports sections, creative clubs, and educational centers, with one membership. In addition, it will also be possible to purchase clubs’ own membership cards via our online platform.
Why did you decide to develop your startup in this particular direction?
It is not a secret that today parents pay great attention to the development of their children, strive to reveal their creative potential and their inherent talents. And this is great because in every child such talents are undoubtedly present and the goal of parents is to create conditions and provide an opportunity to reveal such potential. By involving the child in different activities and sections, it is hoped that what is most interesting for him or her will be revealed and a true “soul-felt” passion for the activity will be developed. And this project is aimed precisely at these goals.
The idea of a startup came to me when I lived in Amsterdam with my family, a similar service is very popular there – buying a single subscription for adults to hundreds of sports clubs in several cities. A year ago, we returned and I ran into a problem – I did not know which clubs to register my children. My children wanted to continue to do sports like tennis, judo, swimming, also playing the piano, drawing, mathematics, as well as start learning Kazakh and Russian languages. I searched the internet sites of different clubs, registered on Instagram, 2 gis, we asked friends for recommendations, etc. As a result, I spent about a month to enroll my children to their usual activities. And subsequently, when my children wanted to change classes, I again went through all these stages of the clubs’ searching. Surveying other parents how do they find classes, where do they go, what are their criteria for choosing classes, why do they change places, I realized that I’m not the only but also there are many other parents who are faced with this problem. And we do not have a single source where it would be possible to skim all clubs in the city, their services, and conditions, schedule, level, reviews. As a result, I came to the conclusion, that the service of one membership for adults in the Netherlands is necessary for our children, but it is preferable to combine all types of activities at once, not only sports, but also creativity, and educational lessons. So the idea of a unified platform for booking activities for children was born.
How was the project progressing?
Previously, we conducted a survey among the parents of the city. The purpose was to identify what kind of information do parents need while looking for activities for children. Therefore, we tried to take into account all the wishes and suggestions during the development of this platform. For example, for the convenience of the parents, detailed information is provided about each club, classes, teachers and timetables. This helps parents to reduce the time spent on finding the classes for children. On the other hand, our system helps clubs brig up to full their classes, since for now the average occupancy rate for the clubs is about 60-70%. We are currently working on the development of the main platform and offering partnerships to new children’s clubs. At the moment, we have launched a promotional site where you can already receive information on 12 clubs operating in the capital, and they offer about 40 different activities for children. Parents can leave a request on the site, after which we can select several classes for a single subscription.
And of course, we are glad to invite other children’s sports, creative and educational centers to become our partners. I believe that such cooperation will not only be mutually beneficial but will also make additional education readily available for children.
What training did you receive at NU? Did it help in implementing your plans?
When I decided to continue my education, I already had plans to start my own business related to the IT-sphere, so I deliberately applied for two master’s programs at the university – Master of Business Administration and Master of Computer Science. I eventually decided to enroll to the MBA program. I liked the structure of courses offered by the program, topics studied, cooperation with Duke Fuqua School of Business. And this program satisfied my expectations. We have the opportunity to listen to interesting guest lectures, which are conducted by invited experts from the business and industry, top corporations and top universities. We also acquire the necessary soft skills, which are an integral part of success in a business environment. And of course, I was lucky to study here with a diverse group of smart, young, creative, and motivated individuals, who have progressive views. Each one of my classmates is a professional in a particular industry, they share a significant vision of the problem and solutions, that helps to look at business issues from a completely unexpected side.