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How I launched my online teaching platform during a pandemic

By Niamh O

Updated June 22, 2021 Updated June 22, 2021

Magzhan Sovetbek, co-founder of DIXI realised there is a gap between young Kazakhstanis with solid technical knowledge and their English knowledge. Therefore, DIXI’s role is crucial in filling that gap.

The past 12 months have been a trying year for industry, with businesses across the globe suffering and some even shutting down for good because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Given this backdrop, it’s hard to imagine a more challenging time to launch a new business, but that hasn’t dissuaded entrepreneurs from across a range of industries.

TopUniversities caught up with Magzhan Sovetbek, co-founder of DIXI, to find out what launching a business during a global pandemic is really like.

How education helped 

Magzhan graduated from Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan in 2018 with a bachelor’s in civil engineering.

In the same year, he became a recipient of a Schwarzman Scholarship, an international postgraduate award programme for students to study at Tsinghua University, Beijing where he completed his master’s degree in global affairs with a focus on economics and business.

Inspired by a career in renewable energy policy, he moved to Singapore to join the energy policy think tank where he worked for a year.

In August 2020 Magzhan decided to move back to Kazakhstan and start the DIXI School – an international exam preparation centre.

Magzhan said: “During my time at Nazarbayev University, I explored my passion for debating in English. I was the president of a debating society and trained more than 100 students in public speaking and debate.

“I also had a part-time job of a speaking club moderator in Astana that I enjoyed a lot. At Tsinghua, I gained business-related knowledge on finance, management, and organisational leadership.”

He believes the two years spent in China and Singapore expanded his global outlook as it made him realise the potential Kazakhstanis have in the global market. He added: “With that understanding, I decided to launch the DIXI School, the mission of which is to expand Kazakhstanis’ access to global opportunities.”

What is DIXI? 

Dixi is an online school for preparing for international examinations, including IELTS and APTIS Remote, and also has English courses too. 

Magzhan said: “A unique feature of DIXI is the holistic approach - a method that combines preparation for examinations and educational or career consulting in a single package. As of now, this approach is innovative for the Kazakhstani educational sector.” 

The idea for DIXI 

Magzhan says the idea to start DIXI was suggested by his close friend, and although he was hesitant in the beginning, he says entering the education sector with their shared knowledge and skills felt like the right thing to do.  

But why is a platform like DIXI important today? Magzhan said: “We realised there is a gap between young Kazakhstanis who have solid technical knowledge but a lack of knowledge of English, and a myriad of global opportunities. Therefore, DIXI’s role is crucial in filling that gap.” 

Given the pandemic, Magzhan says launching the school online was the only option, and although an online mode has advantages like low cost, expanded client geography and greater flexibility and safety, there are of course disadvantages. 

He said: “Many prospective clients question the effectiveness of online education. That is because they miss the live engagement present in offline classes. Sometimes we have to work hard to persuade the clients of the advantages of online classes.” 

Developing the company 

Magzhan says DIXI is making firm steps on a new path. He said: “Two months in business and we have about 20 students now and we hope to reach 200 by the end of the next year.” 

He admits although teacher recruitment is moving slowly, he’s convinced their focus on talent and high expertise will pay off in the long run. 

Looking ahead, Magzhan says DIXI plans to expand the list of its educational products. He said: “We hope to reach the level at which we can train students for all major international examinations, including SAT, TOEFL, GRE and GMAT.”  

DIXI hopes to expand the market geography to cover the entire CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region.  

Thinking about the future 

Magzhan says he gets the most pleasure from teaching people how to speak, and wonders whether speaking classes would become a DIXI course of could potentially spin off to a new company. He added: “However, I have a feeling that speaking classes deserve their own platform.” 

And for those budding entrepreneurs hoping to make a name for themselves, Magzhan notes the saying ‘appetite comes with eating.’ 

He said: “For a long time, I had been waiting for inspiration, an external signal to start a business. I don’t think anyone needs that. 

“If you have an idea – go for it. Moreover, the pandemic gave us opportunities that were never available before. Make use of that and don’t worry about the ramifications.”

This article was originally published in June 2021 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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