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OxFounders Tour Diaries: UZBEKISTAN 🇺🇿

We're incredibly excited to bring you the write-up of our time in Uzbekistan, the fastest-growing entrepreneurship ecosystem in Central Asia.

On 17th April, we hosted a full-day startup summit in collaboration with Westminster International University in Tashkent. We brought together over 100 of the top minds in entrepreneurship from across Central Asia, including founders, investors, incubators, unicorn executives, major global banks, and lots of media coverage. 🔥

The first half featured two panel discussions:

"How to be a Founder: what it takes to build a successful startup in Central Asia", where we heard leading founders and investors Rustam Khamdamov of BILLZ, Azamat Khamidov of PointAI, Rano Sidikova of Plug and Play Tech Center, and Shakhzod Umirzakov of TASS Vision giving advice to our teams on their startup journeys. 🚀

"Innovation Economy: How Entrepreneurship Drives Economic Growth", where we were joined by distinguished panellists Yeraly Beksultan, Senior Specialist at The World Bank, Yagiz Karadeniz, Managing Director of DOMiNO Ventures, Tawney Kruger, Editor-in-Chief of Daryo Central Asia & Afghanistan and Silicon Steppes, and Sarvar Djalalov, Director of InnoWIUT Lab speaking on the role of startups from a macroeconomic perspective. We also had a recorded address by Kamila Alimdjanova, Analyst at EBRD.🏛️

A quick stop for lunch was followed by the keynote address delivered by COO of Uzbekistan's first unicorn, Uzum - Roman Lavrentev. It was inspiring to hear their story, a clear example of the strength and talent that is in the ecosystem. 🦄

Then came the pitches - the eight best selected teams from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan pitched in front of a jury composed of the region's leading investors and entrepreneurs, including Davron Parmonov, Managing Partner of AloqaVentures, Alijon Ravshanov, Partner at Sturgeon Capital, Yagiz Karadeniz, Stephen Lin, Director of Swift Launch, and Rasuljan Gulyamov, Deputy COO of Uzum.

Huge congratulations to all the startups for their pitches, and CONGRATULATIONS to our winners:

🏆 1st Place - STEMIO, pitched by Natalya Klimenko

🥈 2nd Place - MohirAI, pitched by Muhammadali Salohiddinov

🥉 3rd Place - LLC MUGALIM EDU, pitched by Aisuluu Zhamangulova

❤️ Audience Favourite - LLC MUGALIM EDU again, who deserve special mention for taking a 16-hr overnight bus from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 🇰🇬, just to pitch at the event! 👏

The winners were awarded 10 million, 7 million, and 5 million sum prizes by Uzum, and we're thrilled that three are already in talks for investment from our jury.

STEMIO, Mugalim, and Mednovo also won full scholarships to leading Swift Launch incubator 📚🚀.

On 18th April, we visited and gave lectures at two more of Uzbekistan's leading campuses, TIFT University and University of World Economy and Diplomacy. Students presented their startup ideas and we held interactive roundtable discussions focusing on the transition from startup to scaleup, as well as opportunities for international expansion.

We were also delighted to give a pitching bootcamp to the 10 shortlisted finalists at the Fintech Association of Uzbekistan's WeRise entrepreneurship competition. All teams received feedback and advice on their pitches ahead of the international final later that month.

We were also honoured to give a lecture to the Uzbekistan Angels Club and C-Space Entrepreneurs. The club is the first ever association of angel investors in Uzbekistan and is looking to massively increase the amount of angel investment in the country’s startups, which is still in its early stages. It was a pleasure to network with investors who have such vision and optimism to shape a fast-growing ecosystem.

Our final stop was the EBRD where we interviewed Zsuzsanna Hargitai, Managing Director, Central Asia, for a 5-minute chat - watch this space!

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