Startup Insiders Session # 6 in Lahore
Much as we had wanted to be at SI#3, it was not to be. However, we decided this time that there was no way we could miss SI#6. So we huddled into Imran Zia’s Honda Civic with him at the wheel, and set off on our way from Islamabad to Lahore, early on Sunday morning while normal people slept in and began their day launguishing (a true sign of madness on our part i must admit).
Jawwad has already described the trip somewhat so I will not dwell any further on it. Actually I am trying with great difficulty to get over it 😉
Hardly had time to check into the PC and have a quick lunch before we headed in the direction of LUMS. Here is a snapshot of our enthusiastic group on our arrival at LUMS.
My friend Subroto Bagchi, co-Founder and COO of MindTree Consulting in Bangalore, writes in the Preface of his book The High Performance Entrepreneur:
I like to see myself as a journal-keeper of sorts. When MindTree Consulting was started with nine other co-founders in 1999, I felt that I had two duties. One, helping with the task of building the organization. Two, watching the process unfold, so that it could be narrated to people who could benefit from our experience and in turn launch their own endeavours.
Exactly what the entrepreneurs who have been panelists at the SI sessions have been trying to do! (SI enthusiasts may be interested in knowing that I have already convinced Subroto, during a recent visit to Mumbai, to speak at an SI session in Pakistan – maybe Jawwad and he could do a double act since they are both authors).
What amazed me more than anything was the Management of LUMS who are often referred to as a very bureaucratic bunch. They were anything but that. Dr. Zahoor ul Hassan, the Vice Chancellor was warm and welcoming and made us feel right at home. Then he just sat back and let things take their course. No interference. No trying to steer the discussion in any particular direction. In the true spirit of the event, he let the young audience take control. Thank you Dr. Zahoor. We will be back.
And as for Dr. Umar Saif, the combination of professor & entrepreneur – he was an absolute darling! I don’t think I have ever seen him without a smile – except maybe in this picture where he seems to be in a contemplative mood – must be something FQ said!
With his experience as an entrepreneur, he added value to the discourse – although for most of the time he just sat back and listened, totally absorbed and maybe a little amused by our passion and excitement. Eh Umar? Thanks to him for volunteering the LUMS venue and working with Imran Zia on making it happen.
Zia is of course something else! He not only drove to Islamabad to be with us at SI#5 and the P@SHA CEO Lunch in Islamabad, he drove us, as Jawwad has reported, at the acceptable motorway speed limit, to Lahore AND much more important than anything else, he provided the Pizza Hut pizzas and soft drinks at the event. What a chap! Great guy to know. He is not as loud as the rest of us but his background is an impressive one – a graduate of Cornell University, seven years at Oracle in Silicon Valley, a failed venture in the Valley before he moved to Lahore to chill out and decided to stay and start VahZay. We are so glad he did. His new business is a roaring success, P@SHA is lucky to have him and we count him amongst our greatest supporters and friends. He also plays the role of UN Peacemaker whenever required.The best part of the event for me was meeting some of the people I had only known via blogs – Adil Saleem of 2’s Complement, Hasan Mubarak from Lahore Metblogs, the team from Shophive.com and several young men and women who are comtemplating starting new ventures. My fellow panelists – Zafar Khan of Sofizar, Jawwad Farid of Alchemy, Fahd Bangash of Amaana, Imran Zia of VahZay, Faisal Qureshi of Kolachi, Umar Saif of Bumpin’ and ChOpaal, Imran Chishti of Alchemy and Nadeem Malik of Infotech (referred to as the marketing guru by Jawwad) – patiently answered all questions fired at them from different parts of the room. And surprisingly, they actually paid attention to the yellow cards which were used to steer us back onto the topic at hand whenever we started to waver. And, boy, did the kids use them! Empower a room full of young men and women and they go bonkers!
FQ and Jawwad were brilliant as usual and more conversations took place during the refreshment break and after the event as groups of young people surrounded all of us to try and get specific input on issues, to get advice on the direction their businesses should take, or just to bounce off ideas.
We missed our regulars – Adnan Agboatwalla or PixSense, Osama Hashmi (our SI partner at Green&White), Mansoor Adenwalla of KMB and Ali Raza Sheikh (they have tried to be a part of multiple city events – next time Lahore is a must guys!)
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