Ulan Abdurazak has spent the last 9 years learning everything there is to know about the IT industry, from software development to product management and sales. He is currently applying this knowledge in his role as a co-founder for Remark– the large text summarization tool that allows users to summarize text into one-two short sentences and keep the meaning. He is responsible for software development, researching any technologies related to AI and Natural Language Processing, and helping to launch a social presence across several platforms.
Prior to Remark, he served as a co-founder of Makers programming boot camp, the first and the only programming boot camp in Central Asia, that empowers young people from Central Asia to learn programming and the English language. Launching in Spring 2019, Makers’ mission is to unlock the opportunities for the local people in the IT domain and help them to be competitive in the global IT market.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Ulan Abdurazak Largo says:
Don’t expect or rely on investments at the beginning. The main goal is to find out who your audience is and understand the product.
Read on to know more about Ulan Abdurazak and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background, and what are you working on currently?
Ulan Abdurazak: My name is Ulan Abdurazak. I’m from Kyrgyzstan, 33 years old. I started my career as a banking officer but then changed my profession to a software developer 8 years ago. The reason – I wanted to earn more money and to get a more exciting job. I have learnt coding myself and started working as a freelance software developer. In the last couple of years, I’ve been working as a cloud engineer at Namecheap and then decided to start my own business, which could have some impact on society. So last year, me and 2 of my friends created a coding boot camp, the first one in Central Asia and now I’m working there, it’s called “Makers.” 2 months ago, I decided to build the product related to NLP. The text summarization Remark released the raw demo on PH last month, and apparently, it got featured on PH and gained interest from the audience. Now I’m planning to release version #2 and make it profitable.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Ulan Abdurazak: I’m tired of the useless, tedious work that I’ve been doing 24/7 and working in companies with a vast bureaucracy. I wanted to create something useful and see the apparent result of my work as well as the impact on the local society.
How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start?
Ulan Abdurazak: I have asked our students from our boot camp to try it, then I have posted on Reddit and Indie Hackers and got some feedback. After that posted on PH and sent a couple of customer surveys and conducted several customer interviews to find out what is the primary value of that sort of product.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
Ulan Abdurazak: Right now, it’s free. We are collecting more data, to build the proper clean dataset, and to retrain my ML model so that it could work better. Generally, the dataset itself can be a value too. Meanwhile, we’ve got several requests to release an API, and this B2B solution will be paid.
How much money (funding) have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round? (Additionally, any plan for the future?)
Ulan Abdurazak: Zero investments, a couple of hours per day from me, my colleagues: data scientist and marketer. For the future, I thought of applying to a startup accelerator or seed fund, but basically, we can build and maintain it by ourselves, so far.
What are some marketing tips to help maximize the success of a product launch?
Ulan Abdurazak: I’m not a serial startupper and expert in this domain, but I think it should be a clear and short message to the customers, and a simple demo to let them try it and give some feedback to you. Their experience matters the most.
What is a good product launch checklist?
- A very basic and simple landing page
- Record a short video, demonstrating the product from the user’s point of view
- Launch on channels where you can find your target.
- Try to answer all the questions honestly.
- Collect emails, create customer survey and ask your users to fill it for some award
What’s the hardest thing about product launches?
Ulan Abdurazak: It’s hard to find your target market and understand the real value of your solution for the customers. For me it was hardly possible, I just launched asap without any research, I would say for myself it was a test launch of a test product, only to learn how to make products and launch them on the market. Honestly, I was surprised by such a massive interest from the audience.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company? (or What should all first-time startup founders know before they start their business?)
- I think the main mistake is to spend a lot of time, money, and effort on the product that people won’t be interested in.
- Not doing customer surveys and interviews
- Not releasing and updating product quickly, based on the customer feedback
What do most startups get wrong about marketing?
Ulan Abdurazak: Startupers think that they can do marketing by themselves. Unless you have a good marketer in your team, you should find someone proficient in this domain, maybe consulting.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Ulan Abdurazak: I have never received any advice regarding startups or business, mostly it’s a “try and fail” loop, from my point of view. I would say that firstly you should release the bare bones solution asap and watch if your target audience is interested, and generally find out is that a right product for the right target. Or maybe you should change the target, or the solution. But first of all, you should have some money for the next couple of months, otherwise you will quickly run out of money. Don’t expect or rely on investments at the beginning. The main goal is to find out who your audience is and understand the product.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Ulan Abdurazak: I would gather my team and start my own business earlier.
You can follow Ulan Abdurazak here.
Are you looking to secure investment for your startup or a keen startup enthusiast, keep an eye on our interview section.
Follow Asia Tech Daily to know about the innovative startups and how they are revolutionizing the ecosystem.