The importance of systems for people to access healthcare has never been more obvious. But six years before the current pandemic, personal tragedy spurred on Renat Galyamov ‘10 encouraging him to use his computer programming, creative and entrepreneurial skills to give people in Kazakhstan the access to the information on specialists and doctors they need.
One of the things that helped Renat expand his company, MED24.KZ, was winning a Study UK Award. He talked to us about his work, the significance of the award and his future ambitions.
“Coming to Oxford Brookes was one of the most important decisions in my life. It helped me to find my passion. I had started building websites and coding when I was still in middle school. But it was after coming to the Brookes to study Information Systems when I realised that it really was my thing. It made me 100% sure!”
Renat’s first enterprise was a business management system he co-founded in the UK in 2010. It was a success, attracting over 2,000 users in the first year. At that point, Renat decided to realise the return on his investment and sold his shares.
In 2012 he joined a London-based digital studio as Chief Creative Officer, a role that allowed him to work remotely from Kazakhstan. It involved working with a lot of companies, start-ups and non-profit organisations – hard but rewarding work.
“I was coding seven days a week. There were lots of really interesting projects and I learnt a lot.”
In 2014, Renat’s father died from cancer.
“We could have helped him if there had been annual check-ups. But there was no such thing in Kazakhstan. And no information about what to do in this situation. People faced a long-lasting bureaucracy and lack of information.”
Renat used his sense of loss to spur himself on to improve access to healthcare in his home country.
Connecting patients with healthcare
“I developed an information technology product called MED24.KZ – it is a platform that connects patients with medical companies and doctors across Kazakhstan. It enables people to find the right specialist and best qualified doctor.
“So many people now have internet access and we are taking advantage of that to change the system – people used to have to just turn up without appointments and wait in a queue, now they can make appointments on their phones.
“I built the platform single-handedly. But now I have a team – including content makers and people who work with doctors – and I am planning to expand to other developing countries.”
In 2017 Renat co-founded another enterprise, Wonder, a platform which gives people opportunity to try the latest and most interesting technology products. By visiting the platform users can find exciting new gadgets which they can rent from other users or companies.
But it was the impact of MED24.KZ – enabling thousands of people to get the medical care they needed – that led to Renat winning a 2018 Study UK Award.
“I’d got an email from the British Council saying that I should apply for it – and I thought ‘why not’. I applied at the very last minute, in fact they’d extended the deadline and I got my entry in just in time for the second deadline!”
By this point Renat was back in the UK and working in London thanks to obtaining a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. Whilst over here, he also volunteered for Oxford Brookes – talking about his experiences to school-age students in our Widening Participation programme. And it was at one of these events that he found out that he had won the Study UK Award.
“Mollie (Alumni Engagement Manager)) had invited me to speak at this event – and she told me that I had won the award. This was before the official announcement. I got the official email the following day.
“I was really surprised and honoured. To be honest the trophy itself doesn’t mean anything to me, but winning the award was important because it proved to myself that the things I was doing were right and they mattered.”
Growing a professional network
As well as being personally significant, the award was professionally valuable – especially in growing Renat’s network and publicising the work of MED24.KZ
“The Brookes had helped me build my professional network as there were a lot of students from all over the world, and I’m still in touch with some of them. But the award really helped me expand my professional network. The British Council promoted me on social media and in other resources.
“Also, I got a financial award of £1,000 and I used it to attend a tech event in San Francisco Bay Area, California where I met a lot of new people and to share my ideas with. That was very, very useful. I think I squeezed the most out of the award that was possible!”
Seeking partners for expansion
Two years on from his award, Renat is back in Kazakhstan and actively seeking partners in other developing countries to adapt MED24.KZ.
“In Kazakhstan many people go to the private doctors even though the medical care is supposed to be free. With my platform, we are helping a lot of patients, in fact over 300,000. And now there are other companies also doing this sort of work.
“I want to expand this platform to other countries. Obviously we would need to adapt it but the platform behind the software is ready. It could work anywhere in the world, in developing countries where it’s most needed. So what I seek now are some investors and partners in those countries.”
If you studied at Oxford Brookes between 2005 and 2020, and live outside the UK, you can enter the 2020 Study UK Awards. The deadline is 30 October 2020.