The first day of the Go Viral regional festival ended in Bishkek. The event has gathered more than 800 enthusiasts and experts in media, business, culture and technologies.
The topic of this year is “Search. Invent. Solve.” The programme is based on the idea that creative inspiration is inside us. We need to start cooperating within the region by taking a close look at every country and revising old decisions.
Go Viral Festivals have been held since 2017. Previously, the events had been held in Kazakhstan only, but this year it’s the first time when the festival travels across Central Asia. It is accompanied by the chapan as the symbol of friendship between all Go Viral community members. Decorations on it compose the puzzle to be done by members of all five countries.
In May, the Go Viral festival started in Dushanbe, then in Tashkent, and now Bishkek has taken up the baton. Then, the festival will be held in Almaty and Ashgabat.
This year, the Go Viral project is being implemented by the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) Central Asia. IWPR’s Programme Manager Begaiym Adzhikeeva emphasised that the goals of the organisation and the festival are the same – to expand regional links, support economic development, and strengthen civil society in the region.
“We want to create and maintain deep, quality, partnership relations between the new generation of Central Asian leaders and innovators. Innovations and non-standard solutions and ideas emerge from such collaborations and networking,” she said.
During the two days of Bishkek festival, participants and speakers will speak about creative economy. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Sonata N. Coulter, US Embassy Charge d’Affaires ad interim, emphasised the prospects and opportunities of this trend.
Sonata N. Coulter
“The United States share the aspiration of the government of Kyrgyzstan and the youth of the country to build dynamic, creative economy that will utilise the talents of young professionals of the Kyrgyz Republic, by providing them with an opportunity of new advanced initiatives in IT, media, business, and culture. Opportunities in these areas are limited only by our imagination as never before,” she said.
The first day of the festival was very intense and active. The events were held both outdoors and inside the university. Topics of all sessions dealt with creative professions and their monetisation one way or another.
Creators of the popular children’s YouTube project, DBillions, whose videos get billions of views, and whose music is very popular, delivered their speech at the Go Viral Festival. TV host and public relations director Cholponai Kenzhekulova told a history of DBillions creation, how it started 3 years ago, and what they went through.
Her spouse, founder and producer of the project, Ernest Umetaliev, shared his experience about how to create content to get millions of views. According to him, to teach a child something, you should hold their attention first.
“Children are different now. It is very difficult to hold their attention for more than 2 seconds. Therefore, I tell my team that there should be some action every 7 seconds. A problem solving or something else to hold a child’s attention,” Umetaliev said.
Azim Azimov, producer and founder of media kitchen studio, author of Pay the Artist project, also spoke about how to earn millions on creativity. He said that expensive equipment does not always determine the cost of the product.
“The value of locals is based on what we do better for the client, on investing money, so that he could earn twofold,” he said.
One of the panel discussions was dedicated to how to launch IT products in Central Asia. The speakers and participants discussed what to focus on when starting a start-up and which products are popular on the market.
Nora Azygylieva, CEO Namba One / COO Namba Group, advised beginning programmers to study the need for a start-up before launching their product.
“We launched the product. And when it was ready and we entered the market, we learned that no one needed it. We made it local, while a modern man needs global products. We learned from our mistake and expanded the concept. Therefore, it is important to admit your mistakes, even if you spent a lot of human and material resources on it,” the speaker said.
Esen Sagynov, founder and chief engineer of Mancho Devs, advised beginning IT specialists to have a mentor.
“Your idea and your product may be ingenious, but you need to find a more experienced person who will evaluate your product and tell how much it is needed on the market. You should communicate more and look for advises,” he said.
Ilya Kuznetsov, co-founder of Zenclass service and founder of DELO design studio, said at his workshop about how to turn ideas into hypothesis and test them. He said about the importance of product feasibility analysis.
“From my experience, I can tell you that we’ve recently launched a 250K-som-worth product. We had analysed its feasibility, yet it failed. So, one analysis does not promise success,” he said.
During the workshop, participants could analyse their products and some found out that their feasibility scores were 10-20 per cent.
Green economy and how to earn on it was another topic of discussion held as part of the festival. Participants told about their projects and how they earned green and try to contribute to the climate change fight.
“The green economy model is called a circular economy, when waste of some becomes food for others. We use this model at our home, we have solar panels, we have self-cleaning drain system due to technology and waste water from it is used for watering, etc.,” said Evgeniya Postnova, creative director of AKMENA public association, member of IUCN and Central Asian group of sustainable development experts.
Case battle and chatbots
The workshop of IT academy stirred great interest of participants, where Cholpon Duisheeva hold a test drive of IT professional for the participants. Everyone could become a web designer, developer, project manager or HR specialist for a while and try a new role. The teams of pupils and students solved cases, which could be faced by them in their future profession, and received feedbacks from mentors.
“Today I’ve tested the profession of project manager and I liked it a lot. At school, I was a minister of education and I like communication system very much. I like to solve some issues within your team, look at strengths and weaknesses of every team member,” said school leaver Zhasmin Chyngyzbek kyzy.
At another workshop, participants jointly with Ekaterina Smolyaeva, Python developer and IT Academy staff, tried to create a chatbot, where one can create a to-do list for a day and which will remind of them in the priority order and provide analysis.
“I am a programmer and it was curious to create my own bot. It was my first experience. It was cool and turned to be not very difficult,” Baiyrta Asanova, a workshop participant, shared her impressions.
The problem of employment and hiring was discussed by speakers and participants at the panel discussion about the dilemma encountered by employers and job seekers, when the former cannot find employees, and the latter cannot find a job. Nuraiym Biyalieva, business partner on human resources of Food Dream (KFC brand), mentioned that most of job seekers get rejected at the stages from applying to interviewing.
The fact that many employers do not hire students or use their labour by paying minimum wages to them and sometimes even refuse to pay at all was also raised. In this case, according to Fatima Yakupbaeva, lawyer and managing partner of “V ramkakh zakona” firm, even if you have no labour agreement, you can get a compensation judicially.
“If you have proofs and you are willing to go to court against the employer, you can do this. […] But you will spend a lot of time and efforts to make your case. But this is the price of your defence,” the lawyer said.
Creativity and creators
Creativity without borders was discussed by representatives of creative professions. They all share the opinion that creativity is a skill that can be developed and acquired at any age. Everyone can get inspiration from little things or try to use various techniques of searching for new ideas. Artist Chyngyz Asanaliev shared some of them. And Benazir Kalieva, illustrator and founder of TART creative studio, said when a team brainstorming or the personal vision of an artist is needed.
“We have to discuss commercial projects because we need to have a variety of visions and views. But if you work alone and your project does not need to be commented by other people, you don’t have to do this. This is totally your idea and no one can comment on it,” she said.
Akzhibek Beishebaeva, organiser of art exhibitions, spoke at the session about art as the tool of activism. She told about the importance of world art and how it raises issues of the society.
“Kyrgyz artist Taalai Usubaliev has written a series of works dedicated to medical officers during Covid-19. Many campaigns, including performances, are held in support of gender rights. Everyone in Kyrgyzstan remember a scandal at the museum, where the museum director was fired after the live art performance dedicated to gender rights. […] Olafur Eliasson, a Danish artist, who brought icebergs from a Greenland ice sheet, to London called his collection Ice Watch. He wanted to focus attention on the global warming issue,” she said.
Meanwhile, artist Chyngyz Asanaliev told about how creativity can help search for orders and monetisation.
“If you are an artist, show people that you can draw funny things, and you will have orders. Then they will understand that you draw well, and they can make orders. Use various techniques,” he said.
Neal Weisman, producer, film and TV producer, with over 30 years of international experience in Los Angeles, London and New York, held a virtual workshop on his activities. He said that production work can include legal matters, project manager’s tasks and communication with people. Also he told about differences in working in various spheres such as film industry, television, etc.
At the discussion about development of film industry in Kyrgyzstan, script writer Bakyt Osmonkanov said that now Kyrgyz audience prefers comedy movies.
“We have a lot of stress in our life, so we intentionally make comedy movies as they are in demand. We are frequently accused of making such films just to earn money, but our answer is no. Once financial benefits are pursued, there’s no room for creativity,” he said.
Film director Asel Zhuraeva also noted that because of restricted financial resources in Kyrgyzstan mostly short films are produced. She also called on female film directors to make more films.
“Currently, only few women make films,” she said.
After exhaustive sessions and abundant information, all participants of the festival could take a rest listening to the stirring music of the Curltai label artists.
The key partners of the festival are the I.Razzakov Kyrgyz State Technical Univeristy, Association of Creative Industries of Kyrgyzstan, KFC.
International and national sponsors of the Go Viral 2022 Festival in Bishkek are State Innovations Centre, Shoro, Toiboss, Kulikovsky, Keks.kg, Baialinov Library, “America Borboru” American information and resource centre.
Media partners: Kaktus.media, Weproject.media.
Partners of the festival are also the 48 Hour Film Race short films contest, the New York Film Academy, Makers Bootcamp, Mancho Devs start-up, and the cyber sport community of the Kyrgyz Republic ESK KG.