ASTANA – The Digital Bridge forum in Astana on Oct. 12-13 brought innovations of the fast-growing business ventures into the spotlight, including artificial intelligence (AI) features of more than 300 startups. In an interview with The Astana Times, the Kazakh entrepreneurs shared their ambitions for the global expansion of their projects in the food delivery system, educational training, and blockchain gaming.
Simplifying and automating the delivery management process, an IT startup called Kwaaka provides a cloud-based solution for restaurants – it integrates all delivery services into the restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system.
Kwaaka incorporates online orders from aggregators such as Wolt, Glovo, Bolt Food, Yandex.Eda, Uber Eats, Talabat, Zomato, and Deliveroo into one device. All orders go directly to the cashier.
“We facilitate the work of restaurants and delivery services, offering them a simple on-boarding process. With the use of AI, the key idea is to help restaurants and delivery companies to increase their revenue,” said the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer Maksat Kadyrov.
Since the beginning of the year, Kwaaka has grown more than fivefold. It now collaborates with more than 1,000 restaurants in five countries – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
By 2024, Kwaaka plans to work with 3,000 restaurants worldwide.
Kadyrov joined the forum to “talk to old friends, provide present investors with updates, and meet new ones.”
The company is ready to enter markets in Georgia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as to establish cooperation with restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). By the end of this year, it is planned to launch the work of the first 100 restaurants in the MENA region according to the agreements reached.
Speaking about investment opportunities, Meiram Zhardayev, the co-founder and chief operating officer at SmarTestPrep, said their initiative has been promoted with the support of acceleration programs, especially in the United States.
SmarTestPrep helps students enter the desired university, find suitable scholarships, and prepare for international standardized tests such as SAT, IELTS, and TOEFL. Their AI-powered tools also assess and improve motivation and recommendation letters.
“In our platform, we use machine learning algorithms to suggest the list of universities and colleges to our students. We have a mechanism, which optimizes their personalized study plan,” said Zhardayev.
The startup’s database now includes more than 500 universities and 10,000 programs.
This year, the SmarTestPrep team completed the Hero Training program in Silicon Valley for tech startups from Central Asia. The program is supported by the Astana Hub International Technopark of IT startups, the California-based Draper University, and the Nurlan Smagulov Foundation.
Kazakh entrepreneur Alexey Shegay is the co-founder and CEO of iDos Games, a software development company with more than 250,000 registered players from 170 countries.
“Our startup is an ecosystem platform for mobile blockchain products. It is not only about gaming, but about tokenizing it and receiving rewards,” he said.
iDos Games allows developers to integrate a blockchain-based play-and-earn system into their game. Users can create their own non-fungible token (NFT) tokens and sell them on the NFT marketplace.
The platform generates new business and gaming models, making blockchain accessible and allowing players to become part of their favorite games.
Shegay said the team is now focused on the markets of Western Europe, the United States, and Canada.
For businesses and startups, Digital Bridge served as a platform for networking and strengthening their presence on the digital market. More than 20,000 participants, 300 IT companies, and 100 investors and business angels visited the two-day forum.