In the Okanagan, Nazim Ragimov and the Kukarella team are utilizing AI to provide quick and professional voiceover services, as well as offering recording, transcribing, and translation services for audio and video projects.
Nazim Ragimov is one of twenty five recipients of the Level Up Local Grant, offered by Prospera Credit Union and Accelerate Okanagan. We caught up with Nazim to learn more about his experience moving to Canada, how the Okanagan community has supported his entrepreneurial journey, and how he’s leveraged the Level Up Local grant to move his business forward.
What prompted you to start your business in the Okanagan?
About 10 years ago, I made the decision to move out of Russia. I was looking for a better place for me and my family, and Canada really stood out in terms of business opportunities and social benefits.
British Columbia offers a business immigration program, where you can set up a company, and create jobs to gain permanent residency. When considering where in BC we wanted to settle, the climate and nature within the Okanagan was a big draw for me. There’s an old saying about a region needing water, mountains, and a port to truly thrive. The Okanagan might be missing a port, but the water and mountains are present, and the region is rapidly growing.
What makes the Okanagan the best place for Kukarella?
The Okanagan offers support from all sides including other businesses, government organizations, educational institutions, and the community. When I first arrived here, finding programmers for our projects was difficult, but now UBCO produces excellent specialists who are knowledgeable and capable. We’ve launched multiple research projects with students from Okanagan College and UBCO, and have received enthusiasm and high value from those experiences. We’ve also received invaluable support from Accelerate Okanagan, whose mentors were able to provide humor, positivity, and valuable advice, especially during challenging times. Starting my business would have been much harder in a region without these supports.
Has the community been supportive?
I have many examples of the community stepping up to support me, especially in the early days. When I moved to Kelowna 10 years ago it was a different city. I found it difficult to find affordable office space. At the time, Corey Wagner, founder of Bananatag, let me use some of his office space, and refused my attempts to pay him for the time I was there. Another time I was in need of someone to voice a character for an interactive book, so I stepped into the hallway of Accelerate Okanagan, and asked the woman passing by to voice a few scenes. Turns out it was Brea Lake, who is now the CEO of AO. During my time in the Okanagan I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of other supportive individuals like Corey and Brea. I truly believe it’s the community that makes the Okanagan a wonderful place to work and live.
Grants like this remind small businesses that they’re not alone
What makes your business unique compared to your competitors?
We’ve noticed that our direct competitors tend to focus on developing tools. So, I decided that we would try to address our users’ problems on a different level. Rather than developing multiple tools we could focus on customer service, and provide customers with an AI assistant that, when needed, can read out text, record and transcribe conversations, translate and dub video or audio content, and organize media and files so they are easily searchable. We are still in the process of building this out, but we have already received praise from our customers regarding our platform’s ease of use, our direct communication, and accessible customer service.
What is one key learning that has helped you grow your business?
Launch your project, let it sail, and observe. A piece of advice I received from a close friend and successful entrepreneur was that if something isn’t working, forget how much time and money you’ve invested and iterate or move on as quickly as possible. It sounds simple, but in practice it’s very hard. If you see your project sinking, it’s okay to make changes or move on. If it’s attracting users, continue to go all in and do everything in your power to keep it afloat. Additionally, I recommend listening to real entrepreneurs who’ve walked the path and share their lessons learned.
How has the Level Up Local Grant helped your business?
The Level Up Local Grant allowed us to conduct experiments within our business that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to try otherwise. We utilized this specific grant to test out new digital marketing and advertising tools. Grants like this remind small businesses that they’re not alone, there are those around who are ready to offer help and support.
You can start your AI assisted voiceover journey with a Kukarella’s demo or sign up for a free account. To learn more about Kukarella, visit their website.