ALMATY – Six startup companies received $100,000 in grants to develop their ideas under a “Build Your Business” contest financed by a prominent Kazakh businessman and organized on the platform of a popular website.
Kenes Rakishev, a multi-millionaire businessman with wide interests in mining and industry and a managing partner in Genesis Angels, a global company investing in IT startups around the world, partnered with VoxPopuli.kz to launch a contest on Nov. 1, 2013 promising to pay $50,000 to the winning idea and $1,000 to five runners up. When the results of the contest were announced on Dec. 25 at a ceremony in Almaty, Rakishev surprised the runners up with grants ten times higher, giving $10,000 to each of the five companies. Almost 200 two-minute videos were submitted for the contest presenting their owners’ ideas on how to build or expand their businesses.
A team called Angels won the contest for its idea of introducing GPS trackers for children under a security project geared towards allaying parents’ concerns.
Daniyar Tenelov, one of the authors of the Angels project, said the first $10,000-$15,000 of the prize money will be used for testing GPS trackers. Speaking to Tengrinews.kz, he said five devices have already been ordered from abroad.
“These would be small GPS trackers, such as, for example, key pendants or watches,” Tenelov said, explaining that several models would be tested first. “Such a device can also be sown into a child’s clothing or be worn on the wrist. Their parents’ smartphones, accordingly, would have an application that would allow seeing where their child is at any given time. If a child changes his or her route, their parents would get a push-notification, and SMS or an email.”
If testing shows the success potential of the idea, the team would buy 100 more GPS trackers, priced at $50 to $100 each.
“We plan to charge a subscription fee of 1,000 tenge (US$6.46),” Tenelov explained. “To those who cannot afford to buy trackers, we can offer renting them or paying for them in installments. For the time being, there will only be an Android app, and its development will be free as we have a team that can develop such an app. To develop one for IOS, we will hire others.”
“If we are able to do that, then if there is a suspicion that a child may have been abducted, a notification will arrive at a security company’s command center and a rapid reaction group will be dispatched,” Tenelov said, adding that cooperation with a security company will have to be established first.
Five others runners up in the contest included an Auyl Berekesi project, proposing to produce and deliver natural products and national cuisine dishes, as well as develop agricultural tourism; an iDoctor.kz project, proposing a portal to search for medical specialists and doctors; a Robo project, which seeks to build a $99 robot which the buyers can assemble and upgrade on their own; a Cantra project to sew seat covers for cars; and an educational Mathematical Thinking Development Centre. At a Dec. 25, 2013 ceremony, Rakishev added that Genesis Angels will try to find an investor for iDoctor.kz, and he is ready to work with the Robo project directly himself.
Next year, Rakishev said he would seek to increase the prize money five-fold, to $500,000.
“I agreed with the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs for them to allocate a budget of $200,000, while Genesis Angels will increase its contribution up to $100,000 to $150,000,” Rakishev said at the ceremony. “I am now negotiating with famous entrepreneurs in the country so that they too can participate in the project, as we need to expand the circle of investors. These should not be just Genesis Angels and Kenes Rakishev. Our goal is to promote young entrepreneurs.”
According to Rakishev, next year’s winner will receive $250,000 and five runners up will receive $50,000 each. He also added that he wants to make the contest annual.