You can talk and plan all you want, but executing is what counts. Entrepreneurs who take that first step by creating something really motivate me. Keep shipping!
Yenlik Baimukhanbetova is the founder of Moomkin.com, the fastest growing social network for professionals in Central Asia. Moomkin.com is a localized service that focuses on the local needs of the professionals in CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries. Currently, the website is rolled out for professionals of Kazakhstan, Yenlik’s homeland. Moomkin, Inc. plans to provide a single platform for professionals of CIS to create meaningful connections and collaborate professionally.
Yenlik was born in Kazakhstan and came to the United States at the age of 17 with $300 in her pocket to conquer New York. Having worked her way into corporate America, she realized that her calling was to give back to her home country and provide opportunities for aspiring professionals. She assembled an “all-star team” (as she calls it) of technology experts and corporate executives who shared her ambition to create a web service that would provide professional opportunities to people of CIS countries and give LinkedIn a run for its money.
What are you working on right now?
Right now we are fully focused on closing the first round of investment for Moomkin.com. We have been rather successful thus far in attracting angel investors and venture funds. One of the first questions that I hear when pitching my case is, “How are you different from LinkedIn?” It’s a legitimate question, but we are positioning ourselves as a dedicated resource for professionals that aims to address the local needs of our users.
Global networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn have not seen much success in CIS countries, because users in these countries demand local resources that address their local ways of communicating, doing business and building relationships. That is the gap that Moomkin is looking to fill by providing a platform through which professionals can connect.
Additionally, I am trying to get my other project, www.StartupCrown.com, off the ground. Basically, it is a startup incubator to help international entrepreneurs get their start-ups off the ground, and it assists them with strategizing on business and financial planning and attracting investors.
Where did the idea for Moomkin.com come from?
Relationships create new opportunities, and in Kazakhstan especially, it’s all about who you know rather than what you know (for the most part). As I was working my way up the corporate ladder in the U.S., I wanted to expand my professional experience to include experience at an international company. Listing experience at a reputable company in Kazakhstan seemed to be an undeniably key addition to my resume.
I figured it would not be a complicated task to get a job in Kazakhstan, with my education and experience in U.S. However, there is no single dedicated job search engine that contains all of the features to conduct an effective job search in Kazakhstan, and I came to a realization that it’s literally impossible to get an interview unless you directly know someone at the hiring organization.
This prompted me to think of a way to provide people with a tool that would enable them to connect with others in order succeed. So I studied the most used features of Facebook and other social networks, and combined them into a single, online platform that allows people to connect with other professionals (which would be rather impossible to do in real life).
What does your typical day look like?
Being an entrepreneur and working for yourself is all about self-discipline. My day starts with laying out an agenda for the entire day. I don’t check my email first thing in the morning, as it can easily set you on a wrong path for the rest of the day. I try to set one major task for the day, and aim to accomplish it by the end of the day. I allocate certain parts of the day to specific tasks, such as social media tasks and conference calls with the team. My team is very global, with a VP of social media in New York, a growing team in Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and several managing partners in Florida.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I get a lot of great ideas by talking to my team. We host daily, morning “stand-ups” with the entire team, and talk about our progress and next steps. We are very open and forthcoming about presenting our individual ideas to the team. If an idea survives the criticism of our team, then it gets a chance to live. A lot of great ideas were born as a result of collaborative brainstorming and bouncing certain thoughts off one another.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The startup trend. In today’s jobless economy, people–especially young professionals–inspire me when they take matters in their own hands and create something that matters most to them. I am all about executing. You can talk and plan all you want, but executing is what counts. Entrepreneurs who take that first step by creating something really motivate me. Keep shipping!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job was when I worked as a sales associate, selling a product that I didn’t believe in and had no connection with at all. It was my first job when I came to U.S., and it definitely helped me hone my English skills and basic cold-calling techniques. But I learned that you shouldn’t waste your time on a job that doesn’t bring any value to your life or that doesn’t let you bring value to others.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Motivate others around you. It creates positive energy and gets things going in the right direction. What motivates me is when I log in to Moomkin.com and see the activity feed filled with notifications about people creating new connections and collaborating professionally.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My lack of leadership skills has been one of the challenges. Being an entrepreneur, for me, is all about being able to learn on the fly and adapt. Understanding all aspects of starting and running a business has been nothing but a learning experience for me. I am a doer, but I had to learn how to delegate and outsource tasks. My team looks up to me, and I had to learn the importance of staying composed during times of stress and demonstrating by example how to handle certain situations.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The start-up and technology scene is experiencing a tremendous growth in Kazakhstan and other CIS countries. With the Western market getting rather saturated, you may be able to find your niche in overseas markets.
Tell us a secret.
I am insecure about my leadership (as I am used to doing everything myself), but I try hard not to show it as much as I can, and it works most of the time.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- GoogleDocs lets my entire team share and collaborate in real time.
- Hootsuite is my personal assistant for handling all of our social media tasks, and makes me look like I am updating my social channels 24 hours per day.
- WordPress is my favorite. It lets me create quick, informational sites in no time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
This might sound cliche, but I found some useful information in The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. These days, it is somewhat challenging to find a book that I will keep reading after I’m halfway through it, but I am planning to reread this one. I remember being motivated by this book every time I read it, even though I still do not believe it is possible to work 4 hours per week. The book teaches you how to cut down on unnecessary things in life that eat up precious time.
What’s one quote you love?
In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”