Life covered with chocolate: Groupon style company emerges in Kazakhstan and succeeded

By Botagoz Kalkenova


About a year ago when I was working in Astana, I learned from my colleagues about a local discount service: chocolife.me. It turned out that it was not a new idea at all. In the USA, consumers are familiar with Groupon, a similar service which was started in 2008. However, for Kazakhstan it was an absolutely new way of shopping where people can get discounts throughout the year from a wide range of products and services. 

As I know from the media, Groupon quickly became very popular and only two years later the company was valued at $1.35 billion. Although the US and Kazakhstan are two different countries and two different economies, however, the discount service also became very popular in Kazakhstan just as it did in the USA. In six months the chocolife.me project became profitable in Kazakhstan. 

I want to go off topic for a second. From time to time I have to work with statistical data on the Kazakhstan economy and according to the data one of the fast growing sectors of the economy in Kazakhstan (besides mining sector) is communications. I think the success of the chocolife.me is a part of the fast growing industry. However, behind every successful business there is a particular person, especially, if the business was only a start-up in the beginning. Let me introduce the owner of Choco Family; Ramil Mukhoryapov. Ramil is from Almaty and he graduated from the Finance Academy under the Government of the Russian Federation. Before he launched the successful chocolife.me project, he had been sharpening his business skills during graduate school. Finally, in 2011, taking a Groupon business model as an example, he launched chocolife having $135,000 in start-up capital. Only two years later, the Choco Family portfolio consist already of several online businesses such as Chocomart.kz and Intermarket.kz with monthly profit $350,000, chocotravel.com with $200,000 monthly profit, and chocolife.me with an $800,000 monthly profit. Ramil believes that sooner or later the Choco Family will be ready to become a competitive player on the Russian market, which is much larger than Kazakhstan market. In his interview in Forbes, he said that he sees the Choco Family with $100 million profit in the future. 

I hope this particular story has shown that Kazakhstan is not only about oil and mining. The new generation of young people who think out of box is emerging and these young people believe they can start from nothing and become huge success if they work hard.