“We were confident that we would be in the top 10,” founder of the winning project, EcoSocket, Sanzhar Myrzagalym said at the event, Kazinform reports. “We already have several scheduled meetings and we were offered investments.”
EcoSocket, developed in 2014 by students at the Kazakh-British Technical University Myrzagalym, Pernekhan Utemuratov, Timurlan Musayev, Kuanysh Idrissov and Arai Sultanbekova, is a device that allows users to control their household electronics remotely. An adaptor with a Wifi transmitter is connected to a home appliance, and a mobile application then allows it to be controlled from outside the home. Many appliances will continue to use energy as long as they are plugged in, some, including fully charged computers and cell phones, using significant amounts. EcoSocket, then, can save users’ money and prevent energy from being wasted.
“Every day, we continue to waste a huge amount of electricity, as we are not aware of the amount we are using. Sometimes we are just too lazy to go to the next room to turn off the light,” Myrzagalym told Idea-lab.kz for a profile on the project. They estimate that 5-15 percent of electricity used is actually being sucked up by appliances that are in sleep or standby modes, but still plugged in.
“With our device, you can solve the problem of excessive power consumption and save on bills,” Myrzagalym said, according to Idea Lab.
EcoSocket has won several awards in Almaty, including a $10,000 investment from Chevron through the KazINNO Energy competition and an $8,000 investment from the government of Almaty, the e27 website reports.
Echelon Asia is billed as one of the world’s largest startup forums. Held annually in Singapore, this year’s event featured some 2,500 delegates, 70 speakers and 500 startups, according to organisers. EcoSocket, along with six other startups from Kazakhstan, had been chosen for the Top 100 Programme, in which the best 100 startups chosen from Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam were given access to industry experts, investors, media, and potential partners during business clinics a day before the actual summit.
And because EcoSocket won the Judges Choice Award at its qualifying round in Kazakhstan at the end of April, the project was also given a chance to pitch to a group of investors in hopes of being selected as one of the top 10, which it was.
“Kazakhstan is a pleasant surprise; they have a lot of projects for their first participation in the event,” commented Lais de Oliveira, director of Startup Grind East and a speaker at the event. “I hope the delegation of Kazakhstan will grow next year,” she said, as reported by Kazinform.
Myrzagalym noted that the Asian startup community was very open and ready with advice. A Kapital.kz article detailed some of the advice being offered to Kazakh innovators. Partner and founder of Golden Gate Ventures Jeffrey Payne advised Kazakh entrepreneurs to develop both domestically and globally. That means solving local problems and finding local niches, while also assessing global markets. To do this, Kazakh startups will have to start travelling, he said; to Silicon Valley, for example, or Israel. The government also must support starups, Payne said. “Firstly, [the government] must understand the difference between a startup and a traditional business. Second, investment is needed. And third, the most important step is the people,” Payne said.
Manager of Strategic Partnerships at incubator JFDI Asia Alena Ahrens agrees that government policy has an important role to play in nurturing startups, Kapital reported. Singapore is developing as a centre of business because of government policies giving tax breaks to new businesses in their early years and offering grants to local businesses. He advised Kazakhstan to study Singapore’s example.
Limited sales of EcoSocket will begin in August 2015, and the company has 100 pre-orders, e27.com reported in mid-May. It also has contracts with Electric Control Systems, Green Auto Service and Story Service Holding.
The three winning startups from this year’s Echelon Asia event were my Realtrip from South Korea, which connects travellers with local guides or destination experts; ChaseFuture of Malaysia, a platform that connects international applicants with admissions experts for consulting services; and PawnHero from the Philippines, which connects sellers to pawn shops offering the best deals.