Posts tagged ‘Innovation’
This is one of the rare times that I have been unable to accompany the Pakistan delegation to the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) since I took over as President of the Association. To say that I was unhappy at not being able to go with them, would be an understatement. One of the greatest joys in my job at P@SHA is to recognize talent and innovation and promote and project it – talk about it, shout from the rooftops so that the world will realize the brilliance of the young people of this country. So not being able to go and witness their brilliance in Brunei was disappointing to say the least.
And brilliant they were!! Yet again!! Only 7 products were nominated from Pakistan this year. Of these 4 came away with Silver Awards. Of those 4, we had the amazing Dr. Shoab Khan, CEO of CARE, with their product Secure High Data Rate Wideband Networking Radio Waveform with Multiple Access for Software Defined Radios in the Communications Category, Munir Usman and Amir Ali Jiwani, CEO and CTO of Pi-Labs for their products Candy Pot/Feed Garfield in the very competitive New Media & Entertainment Category, Tunacode with their product gKrypt and a joint nomination from EME (NUST)/CARE/Shifa – the Network Enabled Retinal Image Analysis and Screening System for Grading and Diagnosis of Diabetic Retinopathy.
As Jawwad Ahmed Farid, our Chief Mentor for APICTA, says “we breathed a sigh of relief when we saw Dr. Shoab Khan walk into the Empire Hotel in Brunei because he is our Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad rolled into one. We know he is going to bowl everyone out and/or go for a huge SIX”. And that’s certainly true. CARE continues to innovate and produce great applications that compare with the best in the world.
What is extremely heartwarming is the performance of two startups in the most difficult categories at APICTA – Security and New Media and Entertainment. Pi-Lab’s Candy Pot/Feed Garfield Game Engine and Tunacode’s gKrypt made the judges sit up and take notice. Such work out of Pakistan always surprises technology gurus from the rest of the world but I think as year after year our technologists show what they are capable of, the judges are becoming used to seeing such innovation from our ICT industry.
The preparations for Team Pakistan’s participation at APICTA began weeks before the team travelled to Brunei. Jawwad Farid sent templates, tutorials and guidelines so that the teams would start preparing themselves for the task ahead. He and I bullied participants so that they would take the time from their busy schedules to concentrate on their presentations. Zafar Khan took the lead in Lahore and helped participants in Karachi via phone and email as well. I had to soothe the feathers of the Chief Mentor when he thought that nominees were not responding as quickly as he wanted them to. People like Rabia Garib and Talea Zafar put in time to help with storyboarding and presentation preparations for a couple of the participants. Powerpoints went back and forth from Lahore and Islamabad to Karachi and several iterations later they were still being fine-tuned.
At APICTA I wear 3 hats – Economy Coordinator, EXCO Member and Head of Delegation. It requires a lot of multitasking but it is a labour of love and I thoroughly enjoy it. Since I knew that I would not be going this year, I had to make sure that I delegated the work to friends within the delegation.
Sadaf Ali from my team at P@SHA, was given the role of Economy Coordinator. I know a couple of our CEC members were a little nervous about a total novice taking on this important task but I had faith in young Sadaf and I am proud to say that my faith was not misplaced. From the time she took on the task weeks before flying to Brunei, she took to it like a duck to water. I was copied on everything so I knew exactly what she was up to. She was pro-active and competent and the feedback from Brunei shows that she did a much better job than I would have. Well done Sadaf!
Another young woman in the delegation was Syeda Areej Kamal from NED University. She didn’t win in the Tertiary Student Category because there was some extremely tough competition in terms of technology as well as student projects already generating over US$40,000 in revenue. The support that those projects receive in terms of training, participation costs over the year at various events and investment by government in their projects is what helps those kids from countries like Hong Kong to perform brilliantly each year. We need to take a look at what we are missing out on by not offering similar support to our youngsters. However, if you had seen Areej’s presentation, you would be amazed. It wowed our mentors and judges during the late night mentoring sessions at the Empire Hotel in Brunei. They shared it with me and I was blown away. Well done Areej. We are proud of you.
My EXCO duties were shared by Jawwad, Zafar and Sultan who are very popular at APICTA and who’ve made many friends in the region. They, and Badar Khushnood, have as judges won the respect of counterparts from the Asia Pacific and Pakistan is lucky to have such passionate and dedicated professionals representing us. Badar covers his own costs (as did Faizan Siddiqi this year) to travel to APICTA, to provide great feedback to nominees during the prep sessions and to generally be there as part of the supporting team that projects our country and our industry so phenomenally. Thanks guys. Where would we be without you?
The Head of Delegation duty was transferred to Sultan Hamdani – and who better than our Sultan to head a delegation to Brunei. The man is a total charmer and gets people to do whatever is needed whenever its needed and finds creative solutions to any problem that may creep up.
As you can see, the team was in good hands… and yet like a mother hen, I worried nonetheless. I kept bugging them with emails and messages on GTalk. The night before the results were announced I didn’t sleep because I was so anxious. First thing in the morning I kept pinging them to ask if there was any news coming out of the Final Judges’ meeting. I was on pins and needles. It was as if my life depended on it. I needn’t have worried though. Team Pakistan didn’t let us down. They held the flag high and did us proud. Thank you guys and girls. Thank you for allowing us to hold our heads up high once again.
Other relevant posts:
APICTA Photo Blog – Arrival
Many of us have often had heated conversations about the difference between education and learning; about the dire need for making education a fun experience; about bringing learning to life instead of letting it lie between the pages of a book. With multimedia, interactive learning and initiatives like the Khan Academy, this is indeed beginning to happen in some small way – probably not fast enough or widely enough – but nonetheless it is happening and that’s wonderful to see.
Another area of concern for many of us has been the lack of an attempt on the part of government and educationalists to focus on creating a passion and interest for science and technology amongst the young in our country. This is of course not restricted to Pakistan. All over the world there is concern that not enough young people (especially young girls) are opting for the sciences.
It was therefore a pleasure to visit the Robotics Labs in Karachi and see the kind of things they are involved in. The Robotics Lab is a high tech initiative targeted
towards the young generation of Pakistan who want to develop a passion for Science. At the lab the kids have the opportunity and resources to learn cutting edge technologies in Robotics, Programming, iPad Game Development, 3D Scanning, 3D Modeling, 3D Printing and many more through interesting workshops held throughout the year. The children get to use the state-of-the-art equipment including laptops, robotics kits and high-end software. The modern, secure, air-conditioned facility offers an un-interrupted power supply and has high speed access to the Internet.
The vision of the Robotics Labs, according to co-founders Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf, is to create a learning environment for children where they can come, learn and get exposure to “practical science”. With the world changing at a fast pace and technology taking over literally all aspects of our lives, it is imperative that our children are taught and given such hands-on opportunities from an early age. They are also able to determine which areas are of particular interest to them so that when they are choosing a discipline in high school or college level, they are aware of the opportunities in science and technology that are open to them.
In order to create awareness amongst students and parents in Karachi, the Robotics Lab has been hosting field trips for schools in which the students are given hands-on experience of Robotics. Besides this, most of the courses are also offered in after school workshops and in summer/winter camps. The Robotics field trips have been very popular amongst both children and their teachers.
Our objective is to create a ‘National Impact’ through Robotics education and equip the young generation with the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century, say the founders of the lab. If you have a child or a neice or nephew or a younger brother or sister who is free this summer, it is worth looking at enrolling them into the summer camp. You will be surprised at how much they learn and how excited they get about the potential use of science and technology in the real world.
Students, graduates, aspiring developers, professionals and virtually anyone in the development community is invited to create their very own PC and Mobile software applications and be part of the contest.
wi-tribe Bazaar supports Windows Desktop as well as Mobile Apps for Android, Blackberry and Symbian. Although there has been a worldwide surge in the mobile apps industry, there is a ripe market opportunity within the local market of 22 million internet users. With wi-tribe Bazaar, you have the added opportunity to develop desktop software applications to reach a potentially untapped and lucrative consumer market.
There is a lot of talent in Pakistan that is often not recognized. There are applications that are developed that don’t have a chance to be tested or sold because a platform for showcasing such applications is not always available. With the Pakistan Developers Challenge 2012, wi-tribe is presenting young developers with an opportunity to test out their products in the local market. It is a great opportunity not to be missed. A number of key organizations have therefore agreed to partner with wi-tribe on this challenge. P@SHA is one of them. Our mandate is to encourage innovation and showcase talent.
Don’t miss the opportunity of joining the Pakistan Developers’ Challenge 2012. Register to participate NOW. wi-tribe believe this contest to be more than a platform for showcasing your talents; it will also contribute towards a new market opportunity, within Pakistan.
How to Participate:
In order to participate, contestants must follow the simple steps below:
1. Read through the ‘terms and conditions’ of the contest (available online)
2. Select one of 9 categories that best describes the software application they are developing or have developed
3. Register for PDC2012 by visiting http://bazaar.wi-tribe.pk and fill in the online form in the ‘Seller FAQs’ section.
Once registered, wi-tribe Bazaar will email contestants the PDC2012 submission form and the Developer’s Agreement, both to be completed and sent back along with 2 copies of the software application on separate CDs to:
Pakistan Developers Challenge 2012,
c/o Marketing Department,
14N, F-8 Markaz, Islamabad
5. After a thorough quality check, the software will be published on wi-tribe Bazaar with a confirmation email sent to the contestant.
6. Once published, the software is open for promotion and downloading.
Awards & Cash Prizes:
With PDC2012, contestants can win a number of cash prize awards, based on the following categories:
· Biggest contributor award (institutions only): Rs. 100,000
· PDC 2012 Grand prize: Rs. 100,000
· Runner up – Best Software: Rs. 50,000
· Best Student Software: Rs. 30,000
· Most popular: Rs. 10,000
· Highest ratings: Rs. 10,000
Exclusive jury awards:
· Best concept: Rs. 25,000
· Best design and UI: Rs. 25,000 (Rs. 10,000 each)
· Awards for best of each category
· Anti-virus & anti-spam
· Internet and Networking
· Mobile Applications
· PC Widgets
· System Utilities
With 17 prizes being awarded, the PDC2012 promises to be an exciting opportunity for developers.
For more information, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
News for software developers who want to sell their software locally online! Wi-tribe has just announced the beta launch of wi-tribe Bazaar – Pakistan’s first Buy and Sell software portal – as a platform where Pakistani software developers can sell and monetize their software. The portal, as all things wi-tribe, is slick and the User Interface is very simple to use. This is in beta so developers are warned that there might be a few bugs – and these should be reported so that they can be fixed.
The basic categories that they have defined in the portal include:
- Anti-virus & anti-spam
- Internet & Networking
- Mobile Applications
- PC Widgets
- Systems Utilities
So all a software developer has to do is fill in the details in the online application form, mention the price, provide a description, the OS the app runs on and send it to w-tribe alongwith a sign up fee of Rs. 1000. According to the information on the portal, wi-tribe will get a contract to the developer within 7 days. In accordance with the contract, the developer will get 65% of all revenues minus taxes. There are some pre-requisites though. The software must have had a minimum of 100 downloads and should have been on the portal for at least 3 months. The shopping experience for buyers is very simple – add to shopping cart, use the scratch card and download! You can also create a wish list if you are not sure how many products you want to end up buying.
According to Ali Fahd, Director Marketing wi-tribe, the wi-tribe Bazaar is powered by wi-tribe scratch cards, allowing the purchase of software through scratch cards available at over 600 locations throughout Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Faisalabad. There is no hassle or requirement of credit cards or other e-commerce payment methods. Understanding the Pakistani market, they are aware of the fact that consumers in Pakistan are familiar with scratch cards and use them frequently for various services. So why not software?
“wi-tribe Bazaar is our effort to support, encourage and proliferate the local IT industry and software developers in particular,” says Ali Fahd. “We understand that there are a lot of developers with products that they would like to sell in the local market. We are also aware of the challenges in monetizing software and applications (apps) in Pakistan. With wi-tribe Bazaar, software developers will enjoy a significant portion of the revenue share as the main beneficiary. The software and apps can be priced at Rs.100, Rs.250, Rs.500 or Rs.1,000 by the developer. wi-tribe Bazaar also offers hundreds of free applications, which will support developers in building and reaching a larger market.”
Currently, wi-tribe Bazaar supports Windows Desktop and Mobile Apps for Android, Blackberry and Symbian. It is a robust platform for selling any windows software and mobile applications such as games, system utilities, wallpapers and customized themes. The platform is open to all types of developers who would like to bring either their commercial product or even a final year university project to their target market, says Ali Fahd.
wi-tribe state that they are only acting as a catalyst by providing the platform. To help build a local ecosystem of software and apps, wi-tribe has taken a conscious decision to open the platform to all – not just to wi-tribe users. They will aggressively market the wi-tribe bazaar in Pakistan.
Test drive the beta version at http://bazaar.wi-tribe.pk.
Provide feedback on the Bazaar to email@example.com.
wi-cam, a CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) Management and Administration tool, developed by students and graduates of KICS-UET using open-source technology, allows broadband companies, such as wi-tribe, to remotely configure and manage CPEs, while receiving instant notifications and access to live data. Not only does this result in an improved customer care experience, it also enables customers to continue enjoying seamless connectivity.
Wi-cam was the result of a strategic public-private partnership that wi-tribe entered into with KICS-UET to conceive, develop and launch a fully funded research and development program, enabling the innovation of this breakthrough feature-rich management tool. With wi-cam, wi-tribe and UET jointly demonstrate that sourcing local development of critical customer service innovation is not only possible, but also essential to the proliferation of technical capabilities within Pakistan.
In his speech on the occasion, Dr. Tanveer-ul-Haq, VP Technical at wi-tribe impressed on the fact that wi-tribe believes in the potential of Pakistani youth. He said that all over the world universities are the research grounds for a lot of industry innovation and this needs to happen more in Pakistan.
At KICS-UET, researchers are keen on capitalizing open source technologies and developing cost effective solutions for local telecom and IT industry, said Dr. Waqar Mahmood, Director of KICS-UET. wi-cam is a product built with local talent and it has helped KICS-UET researchers better understand software needs of the telecom industry, he said.
UET has established collaboration with international research organization of high repute such as Broad Institute of MiT Harvard, International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada, University of California Barkley, Purdue University USA, Caviam Networks USA, CISCO Systems, European Language Authority, Microsoft research and many others. Several companies have opened their design and training centers in the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. It has attracted US$8.3M worth of equipment funding from Huawei Technologies China.
wi-tribe should be congratulated for investing in local R&D. It is by increasing the research and development capabilities of our universities that the industry will flourish at a much faster rate and the innovation ecosystem will be further strengthened.
Very often I am asked why I put so many hours into my work at P@SHA, why whenever I am on a visit to Lahore or Islamabad I try and meet as many people as I can. Admittedly, at the end of a long day trip, I am totally wiped out. So why is it worth it? Or is it worth it at all? I think it is and the reason for that is that in every corner of this country there is interesting work being done in technology – and I love being part of it. I love talking about it. I love cheering on each and every person and company in this space because of their passion, their technical competence and the image they project of a Pakistan that is so different from the one that is projected in Western media.
of mobility. This team of young, energetic and dedicated bunch of engineers & designers have always been eager to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Their passion for mobile software and their ability to deliver engaging solutions has brought them much acclaim. Early adoption of Windows Phone 7 meant that they were one of the first companies globally to deliver an app to the Microsoft Marketplace although their expertise is not limited to Windows Phone 7. It encompasses all platforms including iOS, Android and Palm’s WebOS.
The latest in their stable of applications is Candy Pot, a simple yet addictive game. It is a new app available for the iPhone and the iPod touch. There are two versions of the game – a full version which consists of 45 levels and a lite version which comprises 15 levels. As soon as you start the app, you are introduced to the main character – TinTin.
The objective of the game is to somehow move a spherical candy to a candy pot by using the basic principles of physics. A few friends – biscuit bars, cotton candies and ice pipes – can help with the task. Some of the candies are heavier or bouncier than others. Each type of object is introduced to you at a different level of the game.
Features include 3 delicious worlds, 45 challenges, 2 awesome candy balls, 5 different objects and hundreds of hints to help you get through! This promotional video is worth watching.
Candy Pot has certainly performed well since its launch on November 18th 2011.
- Immediately after launch it was ranked in the top 50 games in more than 17 countries including US, China and India in both Puzzle and Family Category .
- It was ranked at #1 position in the Pakistani App Store for several days in both the Puzzle and Family Games Category (Above Cut The Rope and Angry Birds)
- It was amongst the top 25 in China during the Christmas/New Year holidays in both the Puzzle and Family Games Category.
- Candy Pot was amongst the top 10 in India last month in both the Puzzle and Family Games Category
Well done boys! All of us who know you are absolutely certain that this is the beginning of many more interesting apps that will top all stores worldwide.
On Tuesday, January 17, 2012 Entrepreneurs Roundtable (ERT) Pakistan is holding its kickoff event in Karachi from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at T2F 2.0 at 10C Sunset Lane 5, Phase 2 Extension DHA.
Come prepared to pitch your startup product or prototype. This is an informal meetup of entrepreneurs and promises to be a lot of fun.
So what is the objective or the thought process behind the ERT event? AR Rafiq, who is an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, says that entrepreneurs deserve more than just 30 seconds or 3 min. to tell the story of the idea and the product that they have passionately developed out of their love for technology and nights and days without sleep or rest.
Entrepreneurs Roundtable began in Silicon Valley. The idea was for startup founders/geeks with more focus in the Software, Web, and Mobile space, to meet every month and genuinely share ideas, technical expertise, business experiences, to vent and of course to network. Sometimes ideas attract investment from other attendees and that is really the aim – partnerships, growth, scalability, investment, sharing and learning.
Each entrepreneur is put under the spotlight, either as a speaker to demo or as a participant.
According to AR Rafiq, those who attend must fit the following criteria:
— Out of four functional roles : Founder, Entrepreneur, Developers, Self-inflicted-slave-driver, you have to play at least 3 out of the four leading title roles above. Honestly, if you don’t, you’ll probably get seriously bored by our meetings.
— Our live demos are for real internet or mobile products. We usually *try* to avoid glossy ppt stuff, although with exceptions from time to time.
We welcome entrepreneurs and geeks to join, so long as you are willing to share your experiences and knowledge too.
If you’re an entrepreneur or geek with an idea or better working prototype, let us know so we can schedule you in to pitch at the meetup. Email Abdulrahman Rafiq firstname.lastname@example.org. Copy me too at email@example.com. See you there!
In April 2010, the Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) applied to the National ICT R&D Fund for a grant to research and develop an Arrhythmia and Sudden Death Syndrome Detection Hybrid Network Based Telemedicine System. The grant amount was Rs. 13.5 million.
So what was the problem that they were trying to solve? This is how they explain it.
Electrocardiography (ECG) is one of the tools of cardiac monitoring. The dilemma is that despite the installation of hundreds of ECG machines in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities are often misdiagnosed or mistreated usually in rural areas due to unavailability of expert cardiologists at the ECG monitoring station. Moreover, most ECG machines presently installed do not have capabilities like High Resolution signal acquisition, remote monitoring, real time data storage and patient database management.
The project proposed to develop a prototype system to demonstrate geographically distributed installation of network enabled ECG recording and analysis stations with normal and High Resolution digital ECG machines capable of self diagnosing a patient for different arrhythmic abnormalities as well as early detection of risks associated with fatal arrhythmias which can lead to sudden cardiac death by running state of the art signal processing algorithm. The system was to provide 24/7 ECG recording and analysis facility with universal connectivity through dialup, Ethernet, GPRS, Radio and Satellite for connection to the central server located in the Cardiac Control Center (CCC) of a Central Hospital. The system would also have the capability to provide expert opinion to patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities by transmitting their physiological data to the cardiologists at a central hospital through a universal communication device already developed in CARE. Here the expert cardiologists would receive ECG data and profile of patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities and suggest treatment in real time. The ECG record and the patient profile would be stored at the server and a database for patients and their cardiac history would be managed for future reference as well as for off-line analysis and data-mining.
This was the solution that Dr. Shoab Ahmed Khan and his team researched and developed at CARE. This was the solution that won the top prize in the e-Health category in the P@SHA ICT Awards 2011. In November Dr. Shoab, Dr. Zaheer and Dr. Mohsin then accompanied the rest of the innovators from Pakistan, as well as the mentors and judges, to APICTA in Thailand. Here they competed against 162 other products in different categories and in the e-Health category they won hands down and came back with the winners’ trophy.
Last week Dr. Shoab and I went to show the coveted trophy to Dr. Aun Abbas, the CEO of the National ICT R&D Fund. It is important for us to show organizations like the National ICT R&D Fund that their investment in applied research helps innovators in this country to develop technology products that are useful to the citizens of this country and to the world and are actually world class products that can compare with the best in the region.
They came, they saw, they conquered. That describes it all. As Pakistan’s name was called again and again earlier this evening at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2011, my heart was bursting with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Team work had allowed us to get this far. From the judges, to the mentors – and the nominees, the innovative products, the presentations, the Q&A, the sleepless nights, the hours of work, rehearsals, dry runs – it has all been worth it!
Pakistan was amongst the leaders at the APICTA event this evening. We were right up there with Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia. Our friends from around the region came and shook our hands and remarked “Pakistan certainly has done well!” One could see the respect in their eyes, one could hear it in their voices. They had recognized the fact that Pakistan had truly arrived!
Team Pakistan comprised of 18 products which were benchmarking themselves with 162 competing products from the Asia Pacific region. 48 judges spent two long days evaluating and assessing the “best of the best” from the region.
Pakistan walked away with two golds in the e-Health and e-Logistics & SCM categories and 5 silvers in the Communication, Financial, Security, E-Inclusion & E-Community and E-Government categories. The Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) once again swept the Awards with the gold in e-Health and the silver in Communication, Security and E-Government categories. Lumensoft Technologies went for gold in the e-Logistics category with Infotech Group taking the silver in the Financial Apps category and Engro-Orix taking the silver in the E-Inclusion & E-Community category. Complete results have been announced on Jawwad’s blog.
We had been worrying about those who didn’t quite make it to the top slots from Pakistan but it was great to see how involved they became in celebrating the wins we had. All of them rose to the occasion and surrounded the winners, hugging them, patting them on the back, showing all-in-all how much the wins meant to Pakistan.
The CARE team comprising of Dr. Shoab Khan, Dr. Zaheer Ahmed and Dr. Mohsin were over the moon. They had worked very hard to get to this stage of the competition this year and as they went up to the stage over and over again to claim their rightful awards, several judges went up to them and offered their congratulations, told them how impressive they were and what a great contribution they were making to the country. Some of them offered to work with them, to form collaborations, to help position their products in other countries.
Abdul Aziz, CEO of Lumensoft, was competing for the second time at APICTA with a maturer product and a presentation that was crisp and clear and delivered extremely well. He last presented in Melbourne in 2009. When I asked him what he felt was the difference between his two attempts, he said unabashedly “My presentation in Melbourne was pathetic – no wonder I didn’t win!” A great example of a CEO who shed his ego, listened to the advice given by mentors and gave a 100 %. Well done!
The Infotech team was just as willing to take feedback and incorporate it into the build up for the Awards. Amir and Suresh presented well, answered every question with clarity and gave it their best. The Silver in the Financial Application category is a difficult one to attain because Infotech was up against some stiff competition. Preparation paid off in the end.
The Engro/Orix team were stupendous in the way they presented Eman in the E-Inclusion and E-Community category. Atif and Zainab put forward a presentation that wowed the judges and got for them the silver. It is a wonderful program and we hope that this win eggs them on to do other more interesting things with technology. As some of us are fond of saying, 125000 technology professionals cannot move ahead into the new developed age without taking the rest of Pakistan with us. It is for this reason that automation products like Eman are extremely important to the development of our community and our rural sector. Thanks guys for a terrific product. We hope to see more from you in the future.
We have great plans for Brunei in 2012. Let us put the plans in action now!
As we sat together in the Final Judges’ Briefing this morning viewing the results of the APICTA 2011 competition, there were mixed emotions – a great deal of pride for all those who had embarked on this amazing journey with us and a feeling of satisfaction at the results Team Pakistan has achieved this year. Stephen Lau, an APICTA stalwart and the Chairman of the Hong Kong Computer Society, came over to Jawwad Farid and me and said “It has been heartening to see how Pakistan’s performance at APICTA has evolved over the years.” He remembered how we had begun with a consolation prize in the form of a “Special Mention” at APICTA in Hong Kong in 2004 and another Special Mention at the event in Macau in 2005. Our very first APICTA win had been in Chiang Mai in 2006 and I remember how thrilled we had been to bring the Award home for the first time.
This was also the year that Alchemy Technologies had participated at APICTA and Jawwad and his team had been absolutely shattered that they hadn’t won. That was when he embarked on his own personal mission (with me as his partner in crime) to ensure that all APICTA participants were coached and mentored prior to their participation even if it meant torturing them by depriving them of sleep and making them do several dry runs after getting them to turn their presentations around. This has been our practice every year. It starts in Pakistan and goes on till the moment they go before the judging panel. And it works.
Every year Team Pakistan has brought more and more accolades by performing brilliantly. I speak here of not only the Awards they win. I am referring to the perceptions they change through networking, developing relationships in the region and putting their hearts and souls into presenting their products before distinguished judges from the region.
Bill Liu from Singapore walked in on one of our mentoring sessions day before yesterday and remarked “Gosh you work them hard! It shows your passion and commitment to the growth of your sector and the people who work in it.” We never miss an opportunity to introduce Bill to the talent from Pakistan. This year he had long conversations with Dr. Shoab Khan from CARE, Salman ul Haq from Tunacode and Abdul Aziz from Lumensoft. One could clearly see how impressed he was at what they had to tell him about their products, the innovation, their business models and the breakthroughs they had made. This is what I mean when I say that our teams change perceptions each time they participate.
The Toffee TV duo of Rabia and Talea won the judges’ hearts not only with their work but also with the “wrapping” that was a part of their presentation. The judge from Indonesia wanted to know why they weren’t thinking of turning their content into Bahasa – and that if they ever looked at doing it, they should connect with him. He was so thrilled with toffeetv.com that he insisted on having a picture taken with them when the judging session was over. Rabia has so enjoyed the entire experience of preparing for APICTA in the last few weeks that following her presentation she was totally overwhelmed. She came and hugged us and thanked us for “allowing her” to be a part of the process. “It has taught us so much and we have come so far along the roadmap that we had been thinking of embarking on but would never have dreamed of moving along as fast as we have done,” she said. It is statements like these that make everything we do so worthwhile.
Judges and mentors like Jawwad Ahmed Farid, Zafar Khan, Nadeem Aslam Malik, Badar Khushnood, Sultan Hamdani and Zia Imran have played such a vital role in the development of the teams over the years. They are the P@SHA mentors – they are the ones who throw so much passion and dedication into the exercise and make us a team to watch out for.
This year we brought 19 products to APICTA to compete with a total of 162 products from the region. In very competitive categories like New Media & Entertainment and E-Learning, we made our presence felt. The Head Judge in the New Media & Entertainment Category – Kelly Hutchinson from Australia – said to me yesterday that she was absolutely blown away by our teams and she was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and talent of fellow-judge Zafar Khan. That was so wonderful to hear.
Salman ul Haq of Tunacode was brilliant and on such a high when we walked out of the R&D category. The judges in his category were impressed at the calibre of his research and with his depth of knowledge. He said to me “It does not really matter if I win or not. I have knocked their socks off with my research, and I have learnt so much in the process.” That is the spirit young man. We could do with many more like you.
Syed Saad Hussain of Five Rivers Technologies showed off the Photo Editor application that has been the top application in all categories, across all geographies on the Blackberry App store. It is like having a mini Photoshop app on your mobile. The judges actually took pictures, applied filters and manipulated the images with glee. If it hadn’t been for the Augmented Reality solutions that the Hong Kong teams came up with, he had a sure shot at one of the top slots in his category. He did us proud with his impeccable presentation, with the faultless demos and with the confidence that he exuded. Well done Saad!
What can one say about the team from CARE? They are professionals with a depth of knowledge that they have accumulated over the years. Having them with us at APICTA has added a new dimension to our entries. Having them as part of our industry has added a new maturity.
I could go on and on but it’s time to get ready for the Awards Dinner event. More later!
It is so exciting to see a buzz of activity around Startups and entrepreneurial ventures. It’s just what needed to happen in Pakistan. As several of us have been saying over the years, there will never be enough jobs for the number of people that are entering the job market and smart young people should be looking at starting their own ventures and creating job opportunities for their peers. Well it seems it is finally happening.
Some of the entries we have received for the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund show that kids are thinking of solutions to problems using technology but more about that in another post. What’s got me going right now is an activity that is taking place in Lahore October 28-30, 2011. It is called the Lean Startup Machine and is being spearheaded in Pakistan by Umair Moheet Khan, a bright young man who wants to kickstart startups and startup growth in Pakistan.
Contrary to popular perception, the phrase “lean startup” implies much more than capital efficiency. It encompasses a paradigm-shifting way of thinking about how to build new companies and products, and how to bring those products to market faster.
At Lean Startup Machine we provide participants with a valuable framework of tools, techniques and resources designed to help early-stage companies identify key customers and iterate their products quickly. Startups face incredibly difficult odds, and the vast majority of them will fail. While lean startup methodologies are not a safeguard against failure, they do provide a foundation for real, measurable improvement.
Lean Startup Machine Lahore will be a weekend event which will be full of activities that are focused on empowering early startups. It will include team building & ideation workshops, elevator pitches, prototyping, speaker and mentoring sessions (both local and international), leader workshops and a lot more. Trevor Owen, the founder of Lean Startup Machine, is flying in from New York to co-host the event. Trevor is a serial entrepreneur who will no doubt spark off a lot more passion into the local startup community.
More details about the event are available on the website.
P@SHA is supporting the event fully and I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to be there. The question is: How long are you going to wait to register? Registrations are open NOW! See you there!
- A new startup?
- Do you have a new product that you want to launch?
- Do you have an idea for a product or service that you want to pitch?
The vision behind P@SHA LaunchPad is simple – find the best technology ideas and start-ups and bring them in front of the Pakistan IT industry’s most experienced and influential professionals and entrepreneurs, get feedback and win a cash prize.
The purpose of P@SHA LaunchPad is to create a platform where young people with great ideas, and 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.
Experts will be brought in to mentor and judge startups on product development, business models, identifying markets, design, SEO/SEM and usability. Startups and Idea pitches will be put in the hot seat where some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business executives will grill them in front of the audience.
There is bound to be one idea and one product that stands out – these will be the P@SHA LaunchPad Stars and will be given a small cash award and highlighted on as many platforms as possible.
We plan to have a Demo Pit where young innovators can showcase their idea and talk to experts, potential investors and professionals in much more detail. The idea is to generate excitement and energy around ICT innovation and motivate more young people into starting their own companies and making them successful.
Last year the panel of experts brought a lot of value to the event and sparked lively discussion and debate. We are hoping that with each additional event, the group will energize further.
Dates to watch:
P@SHA LaunchPad: Sept 20, 2011 at 2.15 pm at ITCN Asia, Expor Center Karachi
Last date for Nominations: September 15, 2011
Nominate your startup, product or service idea at http://goo.gl/2dfmS NOW and win a cash prize of Rs. 100,000 and be attached to a mentor who will help you shell out your idea and guide you on how to take it forward.
Submissions will be assessed and shortlisted candidates will be asked to present to a panel of judges at the event on September 20. See you there!
The winning apps will receive awards and will be published on the Ovi Store for everyone to download and enjoy.
There are four categories of applications that developers can submit. These are:
Do you have an idea for an app that will help individuals reduce their personal carbon footprint? Or perhaps help people to make environmentally sound decisions in their daily lives? Then this is the category for you.
Think of great, eco-friendly apps that help save the environment.
Bring on the fun with cool apps that put the user and the device to the test. Here is your chance to submit apps that are all about FUN! This includes music, multimedia, and of course games!
Do you have an idea for an addictive or simple game that helps you enjoy a long bus journey or to entertain you and your friends? What about a way to customize or make simple functions like emails or photographs more fun?
The business productivity category is for apps that make doing business on-the-go easier. Develop apps that keep tabs on your stock, quotes, give you personal bank info, and even allow you to open, read and store work files.
This category is for mobile applications that make consumer’s daily lives easier and help them to be more efficient. Think of new and easy ways to organize life with utilities or personal finance applications or simply fun new apps to remind you of important deadlines or meetings, lessons or lectures.
Make life easier with super user-friendly apps for home, work or school.
All eligible entries will be evaluated by the panel of judges based on the following criteria:
- Quality / Functionality: the application or service must be fully functional and run successfully on a Nokia device.
- Usability / Creativity: the application demonstrates superior user experience (UI, graphics, etc.) e.g. by leveraging the latest technologies.
- Uniqueness, novelty value and innovativeness: display creativity in applications, use established technology in a unique way, leverage the latest technologies, etc. In addition, the submitted app should not be available in Nokia’s Ovi Store before the start of the contest.
- Commercial viability / Market potential in Pakistan: ability to fulfill the users’ needs, customer adoption, local relevance in Pakistan.
- Nokia platform compatibility: cross-platform compatibility.
HOW TO SUBMIT AN APP
Submitting an app to the contest is easy and fast. Just go to http://mea.nokia.com/makemyapp, click on the “Submit” button and follow the step-by-step instructions. Shortlisted entries will be invited to present their idea and demo of the app on a Nokia device to the Jury Panel. Participants will be informed about the presentation date and venue by email.
The Apps should be for the NOKIA S40, S60 and S^3 Platfroms.
WIN A CASH AWARD TO CARRY ON YOUR WORK
The winner in each of the four categories will get 400,000 PKR..
In addition, there are special prizes in the Think Green category:
- The second prize winner in this category will get 80,000 PKR and a Nokia smartphone.
- The third prize winner in this category will get 50,000 PKR and a Nokia smartphone.
- There’s also a surprise prize for a recycling app, or an app for environmental education.
The deadline for submissions is June 30th 2011
For any queries: write to firstname.lastname@example.org
P@SHA is a partner with Nokia in this activity.