P@SHA LaunchPad is back!!!

P@SHA Launchpad Logo

Yes we are back with another edition of the P@SHA LaunchPad series which are now in their sixth year.

The vision behind P@SHA LaunchPad is simple – find the best technology ideas and start-ups, bring them in front of the Pakistan IT industry’s most experienced and influential professionals and entrepreneurs and highlight them through online showcases and social media. The purpose is to create a platform where young people with great ideas, and where early-stage companies with innovative products, can have the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of people who ask relevant questions, make suggestions to help develop the idea or product, assist with market identification, mentoring and possibly investment. Ideas with the following characteristics are encouraged to participate in P@SHA LaunchPad Events

  • A new startup with a product or service that you have been working on and wish to launch
  • A young person/team who have an idea for a product or service that you want to pitch
  • Anyone who has a product or service idea that uses technology for Social/Community impact

Startup entrepreneurs and young people with Ideas are put in the hot seat where some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business executives will grill them in front of an audience of their peers. Each category will carry a cash award of Rs.100,000/- for the winners in each of the cities. This year we are planning to hold the event in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on June 24, 25 and 26. The P@SHA LaunchPad event will be held in Peshawar and Faisalabad after Eid. We may add on another city or two if we have the bandwidth to do so. This year we have been fortunate enough to get  the Pakistan Software Export Board to provide partial the sponsorship for holding these events. Thank you PSEB. To apply for entry into the P@SHA LaunchPad event, please fill up this form http://goo.gl/XiNWN2 and prepare your presentations. If you are shortlisted you will be informed by the morning of June 23. You will have 5 minutes to present to a panel of judges in your city and there will be 5 minutes for Q&A. Deadline for entries is 6 pm June 21, 2014. The dates, venues and time for the events are as follows: Karachi – June 24 – IBA Main Campus – 1 pm to 5.30 pm Lahore – June 25 – Lahore College for Women University – 1 pm to 5.30 pm Islamabad – June 26 – in partnership with Kuch Khaas – 1 pm to 5:30 pm Tagit

Judges & participants

The audience

June 18, 2014 at 10:37 am 2 comments

Want to attend a fully paid 2 week Startup Immersion Program in the US?

blackbox program logoThe first time I heard about Blackbox Connect was when Mary Grove from Google for Entrepreneurs wrote to me in April 2013  telling me how excited she was to announce that GfE was going to be powering Blackbox Connect‘s Summer 2013 class,. What she said next was even more exciting. She asked if P@SHA would like to invite a startup from our community to participate. As you can imagine, there was only one answer I could give to that question – a resounding YES!

Blackbox Connect is a 2-week immersion program for founders who are based outside the US. Founders will come to Silicon Valley and live at the Blackbox Mansion where they have the opportunity to live and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs from all around the world and partake in an intense agenda of meetings and workshops with entrepreneurs, investors, experts and executives.

Google for Entrepreneurs  covers the cost of the Blackbox Connect program (including airfare, tuition, room & board)  for one founding team from each country.

Criteria for eligible startups are as follows:

– Must be based outside the US

– Only founders (not employees) may attend; up to 2 of the founders can attend

– Founder attending must be proficient in English

– Start up must have launched a technology based MVP (minimum viable product) and gathered feedback from early adopter customers. If product is B2B, then feedback from prospective customers is acceptable.

This was how P@SHA became the official partner for the Blackbox Connect Google for Entrepreneurs funded program in Pakistan.

The first participants selected to go from Pakistan were Groopic and Tunacode (yes I know I said that only one team from each country would be sponsored but the Blackbox team was so impressed with the quality of applications that we sent that they selected two). The second time around the same thing happened – Appography and SMSAll were selected by Fadi Bishara – the founder of Blackbox Connect.

-Ideally, but NOT required: startup should have raised some investment capital, have a team between 2-20, and have a product or service that can be launched globally.

Last week P@SHA put out a call for applications for the next program which will be in the fall. Have you applied? Many of your peers have. If this is the first time you are hearing about this program, and you are interested in applying and expanding your business globally, please go to theApplication Link: http://goo.gl/wqWNS0.

Benefits of participation in Blackbox Connect two week program:

  • Blackbox Connect speakers mentor, inspire and impart their knowledge and experience with the participants in a genuine Silicon Valley Way
  • You live and work within a comfortable environment that is conducive to learning and sharing
  • There are Network events to gain access to Silicon Valley’s best resources of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors
  • Membership of the Blackbox global community
  • By Demo Day, Blackbox Connect Entrepreneurs deliver a refined and compelling presentation, conveying clarity of their vision and direction, understanding what it takes to get  funded by experienced US and global investors and realizing goals for the long term success of their startup

To catch a glimpse of what Entrepreneurs took away from the Blackbox Connect program, have a look at this video https://vimeo.com/86613312

For the last two programs we received about 60 applications. Our local panel of judges went through them and selected the top 10 – 12. This shorter list was sent to the Blackbox Connect team who then interviewed all the shortlisted candidates and finally selected the participants. So who will be the lucky ones for this program? It could be you!!!

June 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm 3 comments

Ammi we love you and miss you

ammi She was an angel sent down from heaven to make sure that we had an absolutely amazing childhood and she left no stone unturned in ensuring that, as we were growing up, our lives were filled with love and laughter. She taught us what it meant to be gentle, compassionate, loving and generous human beings. Even her silence was comfortine; her smile made all our pain and worries disappear. Her life centered around us – her family. She was the best mother in the world and all of us adored her.

On April 1 eleven years ago Ammi breathed her last and left a gap in our lives that no-one can ever fill. Her physical presence, her voice, her lovely smile, her subtle sense of humour are all things that each of us misses acutely. In spirit though she never really left us. It is like she continues to watch over us every second of every day – celebrating each achievement, smiling with us through our happy moments and being comfortingly close through every difficult period of our lives.

Even now after eleven years, whenever I go home from a day at work or return from a trip, intuitively I look towards what used to be her room expecting her to be sitting there on the lookout for me, ready to welcome me home and listen to my so-called ‘adventures’, hear about the people I had met and the things I had done during the day. She was such a good listener and always knew exactly what to say. She was our confidante, our friend, our mentor and sometimes even our partner-in-crime especially when we were trying to get out of doing something that Abbaji wanted us to do. She covered up for us whenever it looked as if we might get into trouble for some minor mischief that we had gotten into and she was always there to protect and defend us whenever we needed her to.

Ammi was ill for many many years. She suffered from high blood pressure, systemic lupus, pulmonary embolisms and various complications. She spent a lot of days and nights in hospitals in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Karachi … but never through her worst suffering did she lose her ability to smile and comfort the rest of us. We marvelled at her patience, her ability to bear suffering without ever uttering a word of complaint. At times when she should just have been thinking about herself, she continued to worry about what Abbaji and the rest of us were going through. She didn’t want to put us through any discomfort or be the cause for worry. Whenever anyone asked how she was, she always smiled broadly and responded “I am fine.” She was the most amazing person in the world. We were so lucky to have her in our lives for as long as we did.

Today as we mark her 11th death anniversary, all any of us can do is to honour her memory by continuing to be the kind of human beings she wanted us to be – to care about each other, to love life and live it to the fullest, to work with integrity and dedication and to be humane, kind and compassionate to all those around us. Ammi, we miss you so very much. You were the best mother in the world and we will always love you. May God keep you in his care and bestow upon you all the wonderful bounties of heaven which you so richly deserve.

April 1, 2014 at 12:21 pm 3 comments

Why do we not pay attention to signs?

On Sunday morning I found the grocery cupboards were bare so off I went to Metro armed with a long list of things that were needed for the house.Metro sign

As I drove into the Metro carpark, I intuitively parked in the spot closest to the entrance. But as I got out of the car, I noticed this sign. A couple of ‘d’s’ missing no doubt but the message was clear so I got back into the car and looked around for alternative parking.

The guard who was stationed in the carpark stopped me and said it was okay for me to park there and asked why I was looking for a new spot. I explained to him that those two parking spots were for people with disabilities. He looked at me as if I was some strange phenomenon; shrugged and said “That’s okay. No-one pays attention to the sign”. I didn’t really want to argue with him but I did say to him that signs such as this were placed there for a reason and that we should abide by them.

As I parked my car in another location and headed for the entrance of Metro, I noticed that two other families had parked their cars in those spaces reserved for people with disabilities.

Why am I ranting about this? Because it is not an isolated incident. I have noticed many times that at airports where there are numerous announcements stating that smoking is not allowed, people stand below No Smoking signs and smoke. At times I have gone up to such people and indicated to them that they were smoking in a No Smoking area. They shrug, grin and look the other way. Similarly, counters at immigration which are meant for unaccompanied women and children more often than not are populated by long queues of men. I am one of the troublemakers who goes up to such people and asks “Which one are you – an unaccompanied woman or a child?” . I also take it up with immigration staff  - why are the signs put up if they are not going to be adhered to, I ask. They are temporarily embarrassed and some of them move away but only until troublemakers like me are no longer in the vicinity.

Strangely these same people will follow rules and signs put up at airports in other countries so why not here? Is it because they know they can get away with it? Whatever the reason, I find it extremely irritating …

January 13, 2014 at 10:58 am 2 comments

Happy birthday my dearest Ammi

ammi-abbaji7Midnight  on the night of January 5 and 6 had always been a special occasion for me. It was celebration time. Abbaji’s birthday falls on January 5; Ammi was born on January 6 … they always cut a cake together at midnight. There were smiles all round; exchange of gifts and cards; all of us singing ‘Happy birthday’ slightly off-tune. Those were magical and happy times for our family. I remember how as they grew old together, they still continued the tradition of exchanging birthday cards and gifts – Abbaji still bought for Ammi pieces of jewelery and some of the loveliest silk and chiffon sarees I have ever seen – things he hadn’t been able to give her in the early years of their marriage while he was building his career. It was so sweet to see.

Yesterday was Abbaji’s birthday. He has been feeling rather poorly of late. He suffers from Pulmonary Fibrosis and has withdrawn into himself little by little since Ammi passed away over 10 years ago. A companionship spanning decades had come to an end and I think he has just not been able to accept that Ammi is no longer physically amongst us although her spirit and her love continue to live in each one of us. We cut a cake yesterday as we always do and I sang Happy birthday a little off-tune as I always do; there were gifts as there always are, phone calls from all my siblings to convey special wishes … but none of it was quite the same. It hasn’t been quite the same since Ammi went away. We miss her every moment. She was the most precious person in our lives.

This morning I missed Ammi’s special smile, her unaffected and genuine laughter, her amazing sense of humour, her gentleness, her warmth, her kindness, her love. I wanted so much to wish her Happy Birthday, to give her flowers, to see the delight on her face when I gave her the suits that I had had made for her, to spoil her as much as I could, to make her feel like the most important person in all the world which she was. But I couldn’t. I went instead  to visit her grave, to lay on it a bed of fresh rose petals, to pray that she was blessed with everything her heart desired.

Happy birthday my dearest Ammi. You were the very best mother in the world. We love you … we always have and we always will.

January 6, 2014 at 11:00 pm 3 comments

New Year Resolutions

For the past few days I had been wondering what New Year Resolutions I should make. The more I thought about it the more convinced I became that there was no point to the exercise. Thousands of people around the world make these resolutions every year only to break them a few days into the New Year. Better not to make them at all.

However, there was one resolution I was bent on making and keeping. I was going to start blogging again. There has been too much of a break. Friends, colleagues and youngsters from universities have been messaging me for months to ask why I don’t write anymore. They say they miss my posts. And, to be honest, I miss writing them.

I used to find so much pleasure in writing about all sorts of things – from posts about innovation in Pakistan, about entrepreneurship, about all sorts of P@SHA activities, about things I had seen and done, about different types of food, about people I met who amazed me … you name it … I wrote about it.

So here I am again on the first day of 2014 putting together my first brief post hoping that it will be the stepping stone to many pieces this year. Watch for them.

Happy New Year to you all. May it be a peaceful and joyous one for us all.

January 1, 2014 at 10:12 pm 2 comments

Calling all Tech Innovators!

Awards home page 2013It is that time of year again. P@SHA is on the lookout for innovators in the tech space. We want to recognize and celebrate innovation in the ICT space. This is our 10th year and we are really excited because we know that there are many more techies – young and old – out there who have yet to be recognized. But in order for us to do that, you need to come forward. You can only win if you take part. Go to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013 website and submit details regarding your product or service so that our panel of judges can shortlist the best of the best in each category.

The categories are divided into two distinct parts: Products and Services. There are 17 Product Categories and 12 Service Categories.

Product Categories include:

Best in Communications Applications
Best in E-Government Applications
Best in E-Learning Applications
Best in E-Health Applications
Best in E-Inclusion & E-Community Applications
Best in E-Logistics & Supply Chain Management Applications
Best in Financial Applications
Best in Green & Sustainable IT Applications
Best in Industrial Applications
Best in New Media & Entertainment
Best in Research & Development Applications
Best in Secondary Student Project
Best Startup Company
Best Tertiary Student Project
Best in Tools & Infrastructure Applications
Best in Tourism & Hospitality Applications

Note: Winners in the Product Categories will be required to represent Pakistan in the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Hong Kong in November 2013.

Service Categories include:

Best in Animation
Best in BPO
Best in Brand Development
Best in CSR
Best in Export Growth
CIO of the Year (Private Sector)
CIO of the Year (Public Sector)
Best in Gender Diversity
Best in HR Excellence
Best in Mobile Applications
Best in Managed Services
Best in Project Management
Best in Service Innovation
Best in Social Media (IT Company)
Best in Social Media (Non-IT Company)

 This year the P@SHA ICT Awards will be held in Islamabad for the first time. Email invitations will be sent out after Ramzan.

If you are a technology innovator, or you know of any ICT innovators across the country, make sure that all of you take part in the P@SHA ICT Awards by submitting your product or service to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013. Deadline for entries is August 8 2013. Please don’t wait till the last moment. Apply NOW!

July 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm 8 comments

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