Daniel Gusev, Global Ambassador of FinTech, Managing Partner at Digital Space Ventures fund in his interview told why the digitalization is so important and what factors are necessary to create an innovative ecosystem in Kazakhstan. While working in financial innovations market more than 10 years he became a mentor of a leading range of global accelerators such as: Startupbootcamp (Great Britain), Supercharger (Hongkong), Lightning Lab (New Zealand). He also helps a range of international startups to develop. In this regard Daniel Gusev shares his views on what defines a successful execution of one or another startup idea.
Daniel, have you heard that a digitalization program was recently accepted in Kazakhstan and works on five key directions are being carried out? In your opinion, how well-timed and currently important this programmatic document or we are late after all?
Yes, I’ve heard of the program. I think that starting to develop is never late. You know, there are countries like grogs, they have skills to “jump” to more developed economies. Particularly, the right usage of new technologies helps them in it. Today the digitalization is important more than ever. At the present day a bulk of consumers are people born in the Internet age. This program will allow them to see the meaning of most life processes in full extent through the familiar to them digital environment. If I remember correctly, one of directions is a creation of innovative ecosystem in Kazakhstan. I think this is the right course to a new and high quality development.
You are a mentor in a leading range of global accelerators, in other words you are have everything to do with innovations including digital innovations. Tell me, please, what is necessary for creating of high quality innovative ecosystem in the country?
If we look to the history the following may be noted: Environment factor is essential to all such successful and failed projects. What does it mean? Environment is what you have today. Using it efficiently a human can create something new and useful.
If we talk about Kazakhstan then it is about an infrastructure. Proper planning of unallocated space opens a big prospect for talented people. EXPO-2017 was recently held. Using a heritage of the exhibition for development of new technologies is a quite logic and rational decision.
Yes, environment allows you to set yourselves such aims like a creation of an innovative ecosystem. However you should always keep in mind a final picture. If you are intended to make Kazakhstan one of cutting-edge technologies application center, you should improve your environment and work on its efficiency.
Do you think that it is possible?
Yes, it is possible. And for Kazakhstan it is worth working on it. Firstly, the country is located between two world giants. Secondly, the first accrued capital of the Republic was gained by virtue of raw-material orientation of the Republic. It is important not to become a carrier of Venezuelan disease when the country depends on raw-materials export and not to be politically hooked on China and Russia. For this reason some third way is needed. And you are walking on this way. Thus the creation and development of innovative ecosystem will allow the country economy to remain competitive on the global stage. Again, if things are done correctly. Goal-setting is essential in this context. You should answer the questions: what do we want from new technologies and what we can do for creating for a friendly environment?
What part of creation of technoparks plays in development of innovative entrepreneurship and supporting country’s competitiveness?
It plays a big role, because it is deemed to be a house people who execute projects “to live in”. This very place is where good ideas are born to take shapes of ready high quality product. However there are some risks in creating technoparks. After a while they may become centers of outsourcing programming and just work on corporations.
How to avoid it?
It is necessary to cooperate with international corporations, holding international hackathons and other vivid events showing the magnificence and power of training domestic young specialists. Providing your young talents with such environment you allow them to fulfill their potential without leaving the country. The same is with sharing experiences, when your young people will go to study or work in other countries. Having such prospects and possibilities in their homeland they certainly will return to create something useful for their country. Do you understand that the most talented and acquisitive minds don’t look for a money, but they look for interesting and inspiring challenges. More than that, today’s generation of people are highly patriotic, they just need more freedom and a blastoff for development.
Daniel, you have certainly heard of Astana Hub? The first graduation of acceleration program members within the framework of technopark was held recently.
I will touch on a topic of EXPO again. Regular running different events on their territory, including development of acceleration program, is a good step towards the innovative development of the country. Yes, I’ve heard of the technopark, but unfortunately I never got a chance to visit it. My only wish is not to expect immediate results from Astana Hub. It is a long term process that demands maximum effort and time. Good things take up time.
What do you think? What countries should we look up to in development of digital technologies?
China is the one that should be looked up to, as to the nearest neighbor. Besides, I should mention that Kazakhstan has gone on in many things providing a digital passport. I recommend to draw attention to examples of e-commerce and long distance services development in China. Think about this: the Celestial Empire became a global giant in this field with no infrastructure.
We would like to hear your view on development of startup environment in Kazakhstan. What factors contribute a successful execution of one or another startups? For example, as a professional how do you determine that a certain idea will become successful?
There is always a piece of undersense and luck. When it comes to our Fund we were able making a range of successful investments in companies that are now worth billions of dollars. We draw attention to three things. First is a commercial stabiity. How far a created product may develop sustainably. Second is attractiveness. How understandable and interesting it is for people. Whether we will spend much trouble on explaining what it is? A product should be originally social, otherwise its realization is out of the question. Third is feasibility. Here we consider not only technical features of product, but we also draw our attention on possibilities of team itself. How competent are they and can operate as one team under stress conditions. Such conditions will definitely have place. In my opinion, these three factors define successfulness of one or another startup.
In conclusion we would like to hear your wishes to the country and our startuppers.
I wish young teams to continue executing their projects in which they believe. Faith to those who want to support these projects. Yes, they will not beat it suddenly, but it will happen. Involve best global professionals and execute your wildest projects. And never walk back!
Daniel, thank you for the informative talk. All the best!