SAN FRANCISCO – In a display of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, startups from Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated in TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco on Sept. 19-21.
The event showcased the emerging companies’ potential and firmly put Central Eurasia on the map within the Silicon Valley Tech community. Each startup brought its unique product and captivated the audience with its technological prowess and visionary ideas.
The Silkroad Innovation Hub presented a collection of startups from Central Eurasia at a unified pavilion, drawing attention from attendees and investors in Silicon Valley. The exhibit showcased a total of 14 promising startups from the heart of Central Eurasia, with six of them representing Kazakhstan: Citix, Cyborgbase, TengriLights, Falcon.ai, Kscooter, and Rhinotales.
Asset Abdualiyev, the CEO and co-founder of Silkroad Innovation Hub, noted that a lack of representation and investors’ limited understanding of their potential are among the challenges faced by startups from the region. These challenges are not solely external. The startups also grapple with weak networking, a lack of critical mass, and limited understanding of effectively expanding into American and foreign markets.
“We created the Silkroad Innovation Hub to address these problems. We are collaborating with founders from eight countries in Central Eurasia, including five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and Mongolia. Participating in TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 was essential for us. It allowed us to represent our region and startups at this conference, highlight our potential, and introduce ourselves to the global venture investor community,” said Abdualiyev.
During TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, the Silkroad Innovation Hub hosted a panel session entitled “The Digital Silk Road: From Central Eurasia to Silicon Valley.”
According to Abdulahad Kuchkarov, the executive director of IT Park Uzbekistan, it is important for Central Asian countries to unite and promote startups as one region.
“Central Asia is home to around 60 million people, with the majority, about 85%, residing in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. To establish a startup community and transform Central Asia into an IT Hub, collaboration is key, particularly in the startup market. When startups focus solely on Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan, they face limitations due to these markets’ relatively small size. However, considering the entire Central Asian market, startups can expand their horizons and find greater scaling opportunities,” said Kuchkarov.
Kuchkarov added that in Uzbekistan, their primary focus is on export development. To achieve this, they are working to create new employment opportunities. “We are also dedicated to equipping our youth with valuable skills, such as English language proficiency. To support this, we are subsidizing English language training and facilitating the attainment of international certificates.”
This year, TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 conference hosted more than 12,000 participants from all over the world.
Entrepreneurs from Central Asia presented and pitched their products to a diverse audience during the event, ranging from those interested in artificial intelligence to health technology and hardware innovations.
CerebraAi, one of the most promising startups from Kazakhstan, is making waves in Silicon Valley. As one of the top 20 finalists in the highly competitive Startup Battlefield, CerebraAi demonstrated its potential by presenting its innovative ideas to a panel of investors and technology experts on stage.
Founded by Doszhan Zhussupov, this startup is focused on transforming emergency medicine through the power of generative AI and is emerging as one of the notable startups from Kazakhstan.
“The main reason for our participation was to gain exposure, as TechCrunch Disrupt is globally renowned in the startup world and holds a strong reputation in the tech industry,” Zhussupov said in an interview. “We observed new leads coming in, and we even had the opportunity to conduct a couple of interviews with local media. I had the chance to meet several investors.”
Madi Zhakupov shared that the idea of his AI-powered CyborgBase platform for empowering people with disabilities came from his personal experience of a family member who lost his leg due to disease, and he spent 10 years trying to improve the lives of people with disabilities through different projects.
“Our goal is to empower 8 million individuals with disabilities to regain their social lives. Currently, we are concentrating on amputees, providing them with prosthetics. Our approach is structured around three key stages,” said Zhakupov.
The company collects used prosthetics within the United States and distributes them to developing countries, where they can be purchased at significantly reduced prices, ranging from a 50% to 90% reduction.
“We are fostering a supportive community by offering educational resources and information on well-being. We are also creating a comprehensive directory of prosthetics to educate individuals. Lastly, we are in the process of developing an AI-powered application that will match individuals with the most suitable prosthetics, devices, and doctors based on their specific requirements,” he said.