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Turxan Alizade who studied MSc Management in 2013/14, was a finalist in the Council’s Entrepreneurial Award category at the 2018 International Study UK Alumni Awards in his native Azerbaijan. He just missed out on the award, taking second place, but his journey and achievements since graduating have been an adventure.

Turxan said: “Following my graduation in 2015, I went to do my mandatory military service for the Azerbaijan Army. It usually lasts one-and-a-half years but this was reduced to one by the Government because of my higher education award. Halfway through my service, I decided to start and run my very own business. Just three months before the end of our service, my friend and I had established our own shop.

“Our business is called Xirtaxirt which means ‘crispy crispy’ in Azerbaijani. We produce a range of fresh snacks in our shops – the most popular of which is spiralled potatoes on a stick. The success of our business is mainly due to this product and its magical flavour! In November 2015, we decided to apply for a Christmas market stall in the Azerbaijan capital, Baku. This is where our success started.

“Queues for our stall were getting very big and our company got famous, fast. Our business took the most sales out of all the stalls in the market. Since then we started to get invitations from different festivals and organisations all around Baku. By the summer of 2016, we already had more than 10 shops all around the city. Each year we participate in more than 10 big events (three different Christmas markets, events organised by Ministry of Art and Culture, Baku shopping festivals, Novruz festivals, Baku city circuit F1 races, food festivals and many more).

“We are officially partners with: Ministry of Art and Culture of Azerbaijan, Nargis Fund, Baku city circuit F1 races and Old City Council.

“Knowledge that I obtained in marketing and management at the University of Chester has played a crucial role in how I have successfully manage my company. The skills I learnt in Chester have allowed me to build a company with a strong image and high profitability. We managed to create a new word in Azerbaijani language. Nobody calls this product ‘spiral chips’. People call these chips Xirtaxirt, even if they are buying from our competitors.

“Earlier this year, I applied for a UK Alumni Award by the British Council in Azerbaijan, the category being entrepreneurship. I was shortlisted as a finalist and took second place overall. I was very proud to be at the ceremony and was very proud to represent and recommend the University of Chester to future students, looking to study in England.”

Professor Chris Jones, Executive Dean of the University’s Business School said: “We are incredibly proud of Turxan at Chester Business School. He embodies all that we believe passionately in, which is applying and adapting the knowledge we transfer to our students into real business success. I have no doubt that he will become a real entrepreneurial star, not just in his homeland of Azerbaijan, but potentially on the global stage.”

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