19.7.21
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Anneli Xie

DARE Stories: Changing Lives, Changing Culture – Kamal Aubakirov and 360 Mentors

In this episode of DARE Stories, Kamal Aubakirov tells the story of 360 Mentors: an educational organization changing the lives of youth in Kazakhstan by helping them prepare for college.
During our annual event, we asked you to tell us your stories; of creative challenges, ideas, and successes. In collaboration with DARE Clan, this storytelling series introduces creative entrepreneurs from around the world, telling us the impact and change they bring about, all in their own words.

This week, we meet Kamal Aubakirov. Kamal is the co-founder of 360 Mentors, an educational organization based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, that helps high school students prepare for college and beyond. Currently, he is an international student at Kenyon College, studying Economics and Public Policy and playing varsity basketball.

This is Kamal's DARE Story.

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Growing up in Kazakhstan, I had comfort living in a community that genuinely cared for me. But the future I envisioned and the dreams I had as a kid often got crushed by that same community, along with a culture of pre-determinism, stemming from the fear and drags of the Soviet times.

This was a culture of school, work, and family. Nothing ever came in-between. While living in my hometown of Almaty, I often wondered if that was how my life would unfold: short of opportunities and challenges that'd make me go beyond what I was taught – a life without ever daring to think outside the box.

Fortunately, my school in Almaty offered basketball as an extracurricular activity and had a gym where my classmates and I would relentlessly spend most of our time. Sports – and basketball, in particular – have always been a way for me to escape the dull environment that our Kazakhstan culture has created. By the time I was graduating from high school in 2016, all the efforts that I'd put into sports had led me to be the captain of the National Kazakhstan U18 team for basketball 3x3. 

Throughout the year, we were lucky enough to travel and participate in numerous tournaments – such as the European Masters and World Championships – something that rarely happens given the little funding that our basketball federation provides. But the opportunities arose and I took full advantage of them. Alongside great team victories, I would spend every spare second trying to learn more about my fellow team mates.

We were all from different parts of Kazakhstan and had had vastly different experiences growing up.
But one thing seemed to stand out as a common denominator: our educational background.
Kamal Aubakirov is the co-founder of the educational organization 360 Mentors.

See, the path to a sports career in Kazakhstan and other CIS countries often disrupts any educational beginnings and hopes that a kid can have. Naturally, when I asked my teammates about their dreams and aspirations, I was overwhelmingly sad to hear that most of them were too afraid to share or had none.

I heard the stories of how they were forced to turn "pro" at an early age to get paid and start providing for their families, while their new lifestyle was disrupting for their own personal development, leading to no further opportunities to continue education.

It is no secret that the likelihood of becoming a professional athlete is minimal in any part of the world, and the likelihood of being a 'successful' one of high financial standing is even less. But despite the sliver of chance, people around the world like to try. Why? Because in most countries, an investment in a sport or hobby is not the end of the world.

In Kazakhstan, however, that sliver of chance may be the only chance they get – because in many cases, these child prodigies don't have a proper education to fall back on.

The thought in itself made me determined to help; to change this culture that seemed so indifferent and nonchalant to our futures.

I started thinking and sharing ideas with my brother Askar. In 2019, we founded 360 Mentors together – an educational organization based in Almaty that helps high schoolers with college preparation.

Over the past two years, over 400 students have gone through our programs, from general college counseling and English language learning to programs where they build and manage their own social projects to create impact in their own communities.

We have also helped students get over 2 million USD in grants and scholarships to study in the best colleges across the US, Europe, Asia, and Kazakhstan.
360 Mentors 2019 Summer Camp. Photo: 360 Mentors.

As we move forward and learn from our experience of building educational projects, we look forward to establishing a wider impact in our region - to create a system of preparatory high schools that can provide equal opportunities for kids. 

Our mission is to prepare high schoolers for the ever-growing demands of life in college and post-college, so that kids can have options to choose from and an educational foundation to fall back on when needed. No more pre-determinism. We're changing Kazakhstani culture. Along with preparation for higher education, we cultivate civic engagement through our programs as we believe that students need to be active participants in the communities they live in to help sustain change in our culture.

A culture where kids can dream, dare, and not be afraid to talk about it. 

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This article is written by Kamal Aubakirov, in collaboration with DARE Clan and xPlot.
To read more about Aubakirov and 360 Mentors, you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Cover photo: Kamal Aubakirov in his hometown of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo: Private.

22.7.21
|
Anneli Xie

This is TAI and SafariSeat – the Swedish start-up ranking no.3 in the world

During #BRIGHT21, 80+ countries competed in the Creative Business Cup to be crowned the best creative entrepreneurs in the world. TAI/SafariSeat – representing Sweden – claimed the bronze, ranking them the third best start-up in the world!

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20.7.21
|
Anneli Xie

#RRCrossingBorders – New Ways of Storytelling with Natural Pengu

During this episode of Recap and Rewind – a look back at our annual event, Crossing Borders – we catch up with Markku Lorentz of Natural Pengu to talk storytelling, heroes, Dungeons & Dragons, and the power of the internet.

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15.7.21
|
Anneli Xie

#RRCrossingBorders – What is FemTech? And why should we care, anyway?

On this episode of Recap & Rewind: FemTech and its importance in the modern entrepreneurship ecosystem. How do we render a new social reality of services, products, and design to support women’s health? And what really is FemTech, anyway?

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12.7.21
|
Anneli Xie

DARE Stories: Raul Romero and Yakera

Welcome to DARE Stories – a new series hosted by xPlot in collaboration with creators all over the world. Here, we let creative entrepreneurs tell their story – of daring, of innovating, and building their own. First out: Raul Romero and his Yakera.

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5.7.21
|
Anneli Xie

#RRCrossingBorders: Social Infrastructure and the Importance of Third Places

Welcome to Recap and Rewind – a look back at our annual event, Crossing Borders. First out is a discussion on urban design and the importance of creating third places – all through a lens of community, creativity, and CultureHouse.

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30.6.21
|
Anneli Xie

#BRIGHT21: SafariSeat in the Global Finals of the CBC!

SafariSeat, the winners of Creative Business Cup Sweden 2020, are one of the top six creative start-ups in the WORLD! Today, June 30th, they're making their final pitch in the Global Finals of the Creative Business Cup, held virtually at #BRIGHT21.

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28.6.21
|
Anneli Xie

#BRIGHT21: Footprint Level®, Smart Fashion – and much more!

#BRIGHT21 is a three-day virtual event running from 28 June – 30 June that will change your perspective on entrepreneurship and creativity. Join us to talk fashion and see Footprint Level® – winner of Creative Business Cup Sweden – take on the world!

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25.6.21
|
Jonathan Wintoft

Onwards and Upwards: the xPlot Journey Continues

The Crossing Borders event showed us the endless possibilities stemming from the Cultural and Creative Industries. This summer, we’re picking up on loose ends and tying it all together.

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21.6.21
|
Anneli Xie

The future is BRIGHT – and so is Smart Fashion

In a week – on June 28th to 30th, 2021 – Creative Business Network is hosting their annual conference, #BRIGHT21. Of course, xPlot is joining in on the fun! On June 30th, tune in to hear our thoughts on the future of the fashion industry.

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10.6.21
|
Anneli Xie

Crossing Borders, Taking Risks: All We Learned About Hybrid Events

On the 19th of May, we did something we’d never done before – we hosted a full-blown, international, hybrid event. Thank you to all who came! We had a blast and we hope you did too. Here’s what we learned.

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30.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

Building Climate Resilience Through Communication with Footprint Level®

How do we build a climate resilient future amidst our ongoing climate catastrophe? We talk to Footprint Level® – the winner of Creative Business Cup Sweden 2021 – to see how their company contributes to the greater good of our climate, world, and us.

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20.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

...and the winner is: Footprint Level!

After an intense and enthralling final of the 2021 Swedish Creative Business Cup, Footprint Level – under the lead of Mats Huss – emerged as the winner!

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18.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

...and finally, meet the finalists!

TONIGHT, during our annual get-together, we present the winner of Creative Business Cup Sweden! Curious to hear more? Meet this year’s jury and our impressive top two finalists!

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18.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

Meet the Speakers: Markku Lorentz and Pengu Studios

What kind of hero would you like to become? In Natural Pengu, Markku Lorentz explores the concept of cooperative storytelling of real-life, albeit virtual, humans, crossing the borders between life online and life offline. But how? Let's see..

Read more
15.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

Meet the Speakers: Haruna Katayama, FemTech Analyst

How do we render a new social reality of sex? Why is it important? Meet Haruna Katayama, FemTech Analyst, on her journey to democratize sexual pleasure and to normalize women’s sexual health.

Read more
14.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

Meet the Speakers: DARE CLAN and Riccardo Aimerito

DARE means courage, bravery, and risk. To Riccardo Aimerito, DARE is also an acronym for DYNAMIC, ADVENTUROUS, RADICAL, ECCENTRIC. How do we revolutionize the Cultural and Creative Industries through these four principles? Time to meet the Dare Clan.

Read more
12.5.21
|
Jonathan Wintoft

Meet our DJ: Elin Beckman

Crossing borders and breaking the glass ceiling; on May 19th, we bring you Elin Beckman, DJ Extraordinaire! Read more about Elin Beckman; and most importantly – get ready to get grooving.

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12.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

Meet the Speakers: Mario Amura and Phlay

Internationally acclaimed cinematographer and photographer Mario Amura is crossing borders in many ways. Most recently, by delving into the world of rhythmic-visual performativity and human-computer interaction. Let’s take a look!

Read more
3.5.21
|
Anneli Xie

Meet the Speakers: Pär Säthil – The Brave Creative

Creativity and psychology might benefit more from each other than we think. On May 19th, xPlot welcomes Pär Säthil, psychologist, writer, and former musician, to speak about how psychology has the power to unlock creative action.

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30.4.21
|
Anneli Xie

Meet the Speakers: gener8tor and its Motown Musician Accelerator

On the Swedish CBC Finals on the 19th of May, xPlot welcomes Chelsea Linder from gener8tor and Suai Kee from gener8tor’s Motown Musician Accelerator, to speak about the creative economy and the music industry in the United States and globally. 

Read more
23.4.21
|
Jonathan Wintoft

Calling all creative entrepreneurs: Join the Creative Business Academy!

The winner of Creative Business Cup Sweden does not only get to represent Sweden at the Global CBC Finals in June, but also snatches a spot in an exclusive training program for creative entrepreneurs: the Creative Business Academy!

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22.4.21
|
Anneli Xie

Meet the Speakers: Aaron Greiner – Founder and Director of CultureHouse

On the Swedish CBC Finals on the 19th of May, xPlot welcomes Aaron Greiner, founder and director of CultureHouse, to speak about the importance of social infrastructure and how free pop-up community spaces can make a lasting impact.

Read more
19.4.21
|
Anneli Xie

A mask start-up shows its face: Mymic wins the Swiss Creative Business Cup!

The Creative Business Cup is currently in full bloom, sprouting new and exciting innovations from all over the world. As part of an international network of 80+ countries, xPlot helped pick the winner in Switzerland last week. Let's check them out!

Read more
12.4.21
|
Anneli Xie

5 Reasons to Apply to the Creative Business Cup!

Time to put your thoughts into action – here’s five reasons YOU should apply to the Creative Business Cup!

Read more
8.4.21
|
Anneli Xie

Expert Input on the Elements of Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: A Chat with Dr. Jasna Pocek

At xPlot, we believe in the collective power of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. But what is an entrepreneurship ecosystem, really? We ask researcher and scholar Dr. Jasna Pocek to explain and elaborate.

Read more
20.3.21
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Anneli Xie

The StoryTourist Story: From the Creative Business Cup to a Successful International Enterprise

In 2019, Johanna Forsman and Andreas Jansson of StoryTourist won the Swedish Creative Business Cup. At the Global CBC, they championed their category. We talk with Forsman to talk CBC, StoryTourist, and the importance of cultural entrepreneurship.

Read more
16.3.21
|
Anneli Xie

10 years, 10 webinars: Happy birthday, Klump!

Start the week fresh with inspiration – enjoy daily visits to Klump cultural incubator to learn and discuss cultural entrepreneurship with knowledgeable guests and passionate speakers. The webinars are informal, informative, and completely free!

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10.3.21
|
Anneli Xie

Applications to the 2021 Creative Business Cup are now OPEN!

Dreaming of growing your creative endeavors? Thinking about starting your own business? Ready for the opportunity of a lifetime? Join the annual Creative Business Cup and turn your thoughts into action! We are here to guide you along the way.

Read more
5.3.21
|
Anneli Xie

Social Learning Enhances Entrepreneurial Education

How can entrepreneurial education benefit from social learning; and what really is social learning? In an academic study of one of xPlot's previous ventures – Barcamper – we may find the answers to our questions.

Read more
23.2.21
|
Anneli Xie

Welcome to the creARTive Sessions!

On March 4th, 2021, The creARTive Sessions begin! Aiming to promote and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience amongst entrepreneurs within the Cultural and Creative Sector, this is a digital series you do not want to miss.

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8.2.21
|
Anneli Xie

xPlot & creARTive are joining Folk & Kultur 2021!

Reset and recharge; let’s have some fun! On February 10–12, 2021, you can join xPlot at the fourth annual – and first digital – Folk och Kultur! 250 activities packed into three days of fun and festivities; and best of all, it’s completely free!

Read more
18.1.21
|
Katarina Scott

69 different fundings you can apply for during 2021!

Do you need to finance a project in 2021? Navigating the Creative & Cultural industries for funding just got a bit easier.

Read more
8.1.21
|
Anneli Xie

From Barcamper to TIME Magazine: Kirill Noskov on Growing IAMRUNBOX

Even during a tumultuous year of COVID lock-downs and economic uncertainty, Kirill Noskov – founder and CEO of the backpack company IAMRUNBOX – has achieved momentous success.

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24.11.20
|
Lars Mattiasson

Join our innovative educational program - Creative Business Academy

xPlot and Creative Business Network launch an international educational program for the Creative Industries.

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5.10.20
|
Hossein Lavi

Lunds kommun och Lundasupport bjuder in till webinar!

Välkommen att delta vid ett interaktivt event om finansiering och ekonomi i det nya normala. Oavsett om du driver en startup eller ett etablerat företag så hjälper vi dig att reda ut begreppen och se möjligheterna.

Read more
28.2.20
|
Lars Mattiasson

What can entrepreneurs learn from athletes about sustainable development?

In order to create the companies of the future, entrepreneurs need to learn about personal sustainability. For this reason, we’ve invited four top athletes to join the Swedish final of the Creative Business Cup.

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21.1.20
|
Elinor Valfridsson

5 reasons why you should apply for Creative Business Cup 2020

Gather your thoughts and sharpen your pens, because the applications for CBC (Creative Business Cup) are open!

Read more
9.1.20
|
Lars Mattiasson

Apply to the Creative Business Cup!

We can help you take your business idea to the world together with investors, business coaches and a massive international network!

Read more
3.12.19
|
Elinor Valfridsson

What is Creative Business Network and what’s xPlot got to do with it?

To support the entrepreneurs in our network, we’ve, therefore, joined forces with Creative Business Network, a global organization whose main focus is to support startups in the creative industry.

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30.10.19
|
Hossein Lavi

Be Here Then - an xPlot story is borne.

Ever wondered how the old train station looked like or how the main city square was used 200 years ago? In October, one of our startups who made it to xPlot's national finals during 2018 launched their time machine app in the city of Lund in Sweden.

Read more
30.9.19
|
Nida Aslam

Nida from Pakistan collaborates with xPlot in opening a new Creative Business Network in Pakistan.

I have always believed that good design and creativity can help solve the most complex problems in the world.

Read more
10.9.19
|
Lars Mattiasson

The Brewhouse Award 2019.

Compete for SEK 20,000, business coaching, marketing, mentoring and other profits that will bring you to fruition.

Read more
5.9.19
|
Lars Mattiasson

Incubators for culture & creative industries join forces in a national organization.

Sweden's incubators for culture and creative industries gathered at Brewhouse's cultural factory to form a new association for incubators within the culture and creative sector.

Read more
19.6.19
|
Lars Mattiasson

Creative Business Cup Global Finals in Copenhagen July 1-2.

Creative Business Cup National Competitions are organized in more than 70 countries, sending winners annually to the Global Finals in Copenhagen. ​

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5.6.19
|
Lars Mattiasson

Winner of Creative Business Cup Sweden sharpens her pitch before the Global Finals in Copenhagen.

Johanna Forsman, co-founder of Story Tourist takes part in the Baltic-Nordic Bootcamp June 4-5 in Helsinki.

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10.5.19
|
Hossein Lavi

And the winner is…Story Tourist!

We are happy to announce the winner of Creative Business Cup Sweden. Next step for Story Tourist is the global finals in Copenhagen the 1-2 of July.

Read more
2.5.19
|
Lars Mattiasson

From a film festival to a multimedia opportunity valley.

The story about a small Italian village that became a leading film and multimedia hub. On the 8th of May, you will hear the full story from Luca Tesauro, CEO of Giffoni Innovation Hub

Read more
29.4.19
|
Hossein Lavi

Meet our exciting finalists!

Fierce competition and strong inflow of applications made it really hard for the jury to evaluate and choose the finalists for the 8th of May in Lund.

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25.4.19
|
Hossein Lavi

Many thanks to all the startups who applied to Creative Business Cup Sweden 2019.

Next, the finals 8th of May at Mejeriet in Lund.

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27.3.19
|
Hossein Lavi

Do you want to speed up your access into an international market?

Apply today to the Creative Business Cup Sweden and check if your idea has the potential to succeed globally.

Read more
15.3.19
|
Lars Mattiasson

Here we are, with *great news* for you!

On the 4th of April in Stockholm, the Sweden Demo Day will take place!

Read more