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NEXT STEP is a Startup Ecosystem supporting all of Azerbaijan and anyone who wants to connect to the Azeri community. We teach best practices to early stage entrepreneurs that have a global vision and are looking to engage and grow together with partners and customers worldwide. Education and Mentorship is at the foundation of our philosophy. We support companies at both the Incubation and Acceleration steps. The Incubation program supports companies from conception up through development of a workable demo (A Minimum Viable Product). The Accelerator Program takes companies from their initial revenue through growth stages and global expansion. We provide funding to companies that graduate from either the Incubation or Acceleration Program. For Hardware startups, we may provide a stipend to help build product. NEXT STEP Innovation Center is open to all citizens of our country. If you have original ideas and significant achievements, you are ready to present your products in the global market we will support you and help in the implementation of your projects. Come join our journey APPLY NOW

Kamran Imamaliyev – Director of NEXT STEP Innovation Center. He graduated General Economy BBA at AUAC. He has MBA degree on Management Information Systems from Qafqaz University, and has Master Certified Diploma from The George Washington University. Before he worked as a manager at ICT Scientific Research Center.
NEXT STEP was founded by leading members of the business community in Azerbaijan. They created the NEXT STEP Innovation Center in order to identify talented young people willing to innovate and need full support to further their projects. We are looking for the type of special talent that wishes to become leaders in the technology area. Our main mission is to assist these entrepreneurs to present the results of their projects as well as achieve recognition and awareness of their products as the Azerbaijani national brand abroad and mainly in Silicon Valley.
Tunzala Sharayeva – Office Manager of NEXT STEP Innovation Center. She graduated University of Languages. She has work experience more than 5 years. Before she worked a Personnel Assistant to project Director, junior HR specialist, Project manager.
The Entrepreneurship Academy
The NEXT STEP Entrepreneurship Academy is amazing value proposition for any entrepreneur looking to grow a global business. This material is the same as is taught from the world’s leading universities. We’re affiliated with Concordia Ventures, a leading authority of entrepreneurial educational and advisory work on a global scale. Together we provide real-time access to world-class lectures. Courses are centered on a three-month cycle starting with Company formation and ending with exit strategies. Sample lectures can be found at Concordia Courses and Seminars. The Entrepreneurship Academy includes: a weekly lecture from world-class professors, a Skype connection, access to experienced business Advisers, homework (online courses), and office space at NEXT STEP as needed.
The Incubation
So, you think you have a great idea but don’t know what to do next and looking for support? The NEXT STEP Incubation Program is exactly right for you. The Incubation program provides founders access to crucial early-stage coaching, helping you identify business' core offering, build a demo (Minimal Viable Product) and laying a solid foundation to then build a repeatable and scalable sales process. At the core, incubation is the opportunity to take your idea and move it forward. Ideation emphasizes this skill set for early-stage founders, and helps them construct compelling offers using demos and rapid prototyping. Participants come away knowing how to define and build their business' MVP so they're ready for the market. Developing a profitable business model, validating customer problem, creating a customer validation strategy, building a MVP, using demos, communicating progress to advisors and investors. The duration of the NEXT STEP Incubation Program depends on Company (from 2 to 6 months).

The Acceleration Program
The NEXT STEP Accelerator Program focuses on later stage startups, those who have progressed beyond the idea phase, have a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and have earned initial market traction. We will look to develop the entrepreneurial skills required to grow the company with a strong emphasis on sales and marketing internationally. The program includes: access to world-class mentors, enrollment in the Entrepreneurs Academy, admission to all NEXT STEP events and more. You should apply to this program if your startup is looking for mentorship on: defining a repeatable model for customer acquisitions, strengthening the startup team, creating a framework to scale people, processes and systems, finding product/market fit, learning to be data informed, not data driven. The duration of the NEXT STEP Acceleration Program is indeterminate but can last up to one year.
Go Global
NEXT STEP is looking to find and encourage companies that do well locally but have a vision to expand their businesses on a global scale. We provide the resources that will enable this to happen. We have strong ties to Silicon Valley, Moscow, Amsterdam, Vienna, Istanbul, Bangalore, Islamabad, Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Los Angeles, Berlin and most of the other top centers of entrepreneurship worldwide
The world’s current political landscape and capital flow has created an attractive opportunity for creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation in Azerbaijan. Entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to create jobs and address the concerns of tens of millions of young professionals who will be entering the workforce over the next 10 years. Azerbaijan is a country of growth and ambition. The economy has more than quadrupled in a decade and this progress is highly visible across the country. This economic boom has been driven by growth in the oil and services sectors. Azerbaijan is at the crossroads as the economic center of venture investments and entrepreneurship is shifting to the east. Azerbaijan uniquely qualifies as having a strong economy, a young population, and a great education system.

Professor Naeem Zafar is a leading educator in the field of entrepreneurship. He is a faculty member at the University of California Berkeley, Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology also a Professor of the Practice at Brown University. He has been part of seven startups including a role a co-founder and CEO of Bitzer Mobile. Naeem has authored five books on entrepreneurship.
Rick Rasmussen is recognized as an expert in the fields of entrepreneurship with a special practice concerning governments and economic development agencies. He was part of the executive team of 3 companies that grew from zero revenues to Fortune 500 status. He earned an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley and has a dual MBA from UC Berkeley and Columbia University.

Advisory Board
Elshad Abbasov – founder and General Director of the Embawood. Elshad A. graduated from Moscow State University in 1983, and later studied at the Azerbaijan Institute of Oil Chemistry. He began his career in business in 1991, and founded Embawood in 1996. Since 2001 he is the General Director of Embawood. 
Anar Aligulov – Executive Director and founder of the “R.I.S.K” Company. Graduated from BSU, Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics. Anar A. established “R.I.S.K” in 1993. 
Mazahir Verdiyev – the experienced entrepreneur, who has about 40 years of experience on IT section. Graduated from VM Glushkov Institute of Cybernetics of NAS. Candidate of physical and mathematical sciences, the author of numerous articles and owner of 3 patents in software. Worked as Leader Reasearcher in Ukr. NIGRI Kiev, from 1994 till 2010 he worked as IT Director in PJSC Gazprom Neft. Currently works as Head of IT Department.
Seminar dedicated to 2nd “Realize Your Idea” Project Competition
On 16th October NEXT STEP Innovation center organized seminar dedicated to 2nd “Realize Your Idea” Project Competition at main hall of ASOIU. The aim of the seminar was introducing the concept of NEXT STEP to young minds and promoting the idea of entrepreneurship. Any startup can apply to participate in the competition 2nd “Realize Your Idea”. A professional jury will select the best projects. The director of the Innovation Center NEXT STEP - Kamran Imamaliyev introduced the Innovation Center Next Step, explained our Vision and retold how to take part in the 2nd "Realize Your Idea" competition. After, Murad Hazanzadeh - young entrepreneur and founder of, retold about his experience and presented his project. The last speaker was Rashid Aliyev - the successful entrepreneur, founder and CEO of BethClip and Braille Pad. BethClip software was listed among 20 of the world’s hottest startups of 2015. Rashid presented his startups, shared his experience and gave advices to the students.
NEXT STEP attended the meeting with the head of Startup School from Ukraine
On September 22, 2015 the meeting held between the students and teachers from the Azerbaijan State University of Oil and Industry and Rector Mustafa Babanly and Inna Malyukova - Director of Educational Methodological Complex “Institute of Postgraduate Education”, Head of the Startup School “Sikorsky Challenge”. The topic of the seminar was bringing the innovation projects to ASOIU. Inna Malyukova retold students about what is need to make projects successful. Also it is planned to establish the School of Business Innovation, which will operate on the basis of Azerbaijan State University of Oil and Industry, by the beginning of 2016. For the first time the students from Sabah Group will participate in new startup school, but after all willing students can join the School of Business Innovation. Inna Malyukova also mentioned that the main areas of cooperation are the creation of the Ecosystem in Azerbaijan and developing the innovative projects.
Baku Parking participates in the acceleration program of the NEXT STEP Innovation Center
BakuParking became the resident of the Acceleration Program of the NEXT STEP Innovation Center. BakuParking project - is the mobile application, which simplifies the parking payment. If Customer wants to make a payment he needs just to open the application and press the “Scan” button. The BakuParking team believes that BakuParking laid the foundation of the mobile payment in Azerbaijan. The main objective of this project is to simplify the method of payment for parking and the development of mobile payment system in Azerbaijan.

Next Step took part in the event "Pirates on shore Baku"
On July 2, 2015 founders and International board of the Innovation Center NEXT STEP took part in the event “The Pirates on Shore Baku” at High Tech Park Azerbaijan. The Pirates on shore tour brings the spirit of the Pirate Summit to 50 cities all across Europe and the Middle East. Pirates on Shore connecting the local startups with the international investors and mentors. The Pirate Summit consisted from several parts: intro from Pirate Summit, fireside Chat, startup pitch competition.
Public Seminar of famous entrepreneurs in the Innovation Center Next Step
On June 30, 2015, the seminar titled " Lessons from Silicon Valley: Igniting Innovation" was held in the Innovation Center. The workshop gave the basic building blocks young entrepreneurs need to succeed in their own startups. The workshop covered several important topics: how to be sure that I am entrepreneur, how to conduct market, team issues and other. The world's famous entrepreneurs retold about the technology of launch and success of startup projects and share experience with beginners and young entrepreneurs. Among them were: Naeem Zafar is a faculty member at the University of California Berkeley, Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology. He is a co-founded as the CEO of Bitzer Mobile. Naeem has authored five books on entrepreneurship. Rick Rasmussen works with governments and economic development agencies looking to connect with Silicon Valley. He spent nine years at LSI Logic where he spearheaded new development of RISC microprocessors. Mr. Rasmussen earned a Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Jason M. Eichenholz Ph. D. is a parallel entrepreneur and co-founder of Luminar. Jason has been actively involved in laser, optics and photonics research for more than 20 years. He holds nine US Patents on new types of solid-state lasers, displays and photonic devices. Austin Russell is founder and CEO at Luminar Technologies. Austin completed his first big project in the sixth grade. Austin is focusing on 3D depth mapping and projection of interactive holograms through a compact laser-based module Ilja Gruen is a partner at Botan Investment Venture Fund. Since 2011 Ilja has been teaching and consulting in the area of high tech. He has also been involved in organizing business programs focusing on Silicon Valley's innovative ecosystem. Ilja holds a doctoral degree (PhD) from Stanford University.
Introduction Seminar held by the Innovation Center Next Step.
On June 8, 2015 Introduction Seminar was held by the NEXT STEP Innovation Center. The goal of the NEXT STEP is to help entrepreneurs solve some of the problems commonly associated with running a startup by providing seed funding, workspace, mentoring, and training. The sole purpose of the NEXT STEP Innovation Center is to help entrepreneurs grow their business. Young entrepreneurs were able to attend the seminar. The main aim of the seminar was the introduction a new business incubator, the teams could find out what are the opportunities and working conditions in the NEXT STEP. During the event, Justin Bisignano-young entrepreneur from Silicon Valley shared his experience about attracting investment for startup. Also practical workshops were organized and local startups had chance to present their ideas and teams to Justin.
How do you evaluate applications?
Prior experience is not required. We also evaluate the market potential for the product or service and look at global competition. We prefer teams of 2 or 3. We will admit purely technical teams, but the ideal team has one or two technical co-founders, and one business-side co-founder.

Do I have to be English proficient?
The primary language used at NEXT STEP will be English so strong English proficiency is required.

What do I receive?
A world-class educational program including: fixed classes taught on a regular basis, workshops from service provider on accounting, workshops from universities highlighting latest entrepreneurial thinking, workshops from corporate partners on technology, community meetups and presentations from entrepreneurs, mentorship with experienced business personnel.

Can I do this part time?
Our participants must be ready to make a full commitment to the program, so make sure that you have the support you need from the people in your life.

Am I eligible to apply?
Any citizen or resident of Azerbaijan with a desire to build and grow a new company. Our program is designed for entrepreneurs that are motivated by something deeper to change the world on a large scale.
Azadlig ave 34, Azerbaycan State University of Oil and Industry
Main building, 5th floor
Phone : +994 12 598 41 01
Mobile : +994 55 255 48 68

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