Meeting bright young people is always such a pleasure

April 10, 2008 at 8:34 am 12 comments

I am glad I was able to make the trip to Rawalpindi on April 4 to co-host SI # 8 with NIIT and Atif Mumtaz of Brightspyre. This is the second time that an SI session has been held at an Academic institution. The last one was SI # 6 at LUMS in Lahore. The NIIT team, headed by Dr. Arshad Ali, did a fantastic job of making all the arrangements.

Mentoring at its best - Rashid Khan of Ultimus with a group of kids

There had been some pre-event jitters with a few people wondering whether holding it at a university would dilute the purpose of SI. I really wish the negativity would cease. We need to be realistic but upbeat nonetheless. SI is just a name. The purpose is to provide a networking platform for the support, mentoring and coaching of young entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs. This was missing and the gap needed to be filled. People got together. It is the collaboration, the selfless giving up of time on the part of busy entrepreneurs, to help build an ecosystem, that is making these events successful, in addition to the young people themselves who are the key.

They are the ones with the passion, with the innovative ideas, with the zest to move ahead and change the world. We are only the guides, the sounding boards who may or may not always have the right answers but whose intent is to be there for them and provide whatever it is of value that they need from us.

There have been suggestions that perhaps it would make sense to split up these events into SI and SI Junior because the needs and requirements of the two segments does vary. This is worth thinking about and we would appreciate everyone’s input on this.

Let us look at all angles

Now back to SI 8. A roomful of maybe 75 participants – mostly students, some young alumni and a dozen or so entrepreneurs – some startups, others more seasoned. As usual, the evening started off with introductions. It is always important to know who’s who and what they do – to put a face to a name. Then there was a barrage of questions from the youngsters present. All the questions were answered honestly and openly.

Atif and I then had a brief pow-wow and we decided, that as had been done in Karachi at SI # 7, we should split the kids up into smaller groups with one mentor each to thrash out ideas. Very quickly teams were formed and Rashid Khan of Ultimus, Amir Jahangir of CSF, Vickram Crishna of Radiophony, Atif Mumtaz of Brightspyre, Osama Hashmi of CDF Software, Adnan Shaukat of Capital Radio, Nadeem Sahab from the Jang Group/GEO CSR Initiative were surrounded by enthusiastic young people.

When the representatives of each group came back, they were all raring to go. One after another they came up and shared their ideas and the input they had received. The audience, the entrepreneurs and the students fired questions, made suggestions, agreed or disagreed and discussed possible business models. There were even a couple of offers of “come and see me and we will assist you in making it happen.” There were also suggested tie-ups between a couple of teams whose ideas appeared to have synergy. All in all, a real buzz was created.

I have moderated most of the SI sessions in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad – and I must admit that I continue to be amazed and heartened, both at the contribution made in terms of time, thoughts, ideas and advice by entrepreneurs but also by the innovative ideas and the enthusiasm that the young people exude. The fact that some of these young people are also looking at using technology to provide solutions for social and operational problems, warms my heart.

SI sessions will continue in all 3 cities and there is some thought that we should take them to other cities – Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Sukkur. I look forward to continuing to work with various people and organizations on the SI initiative. There will be shortcomings, as there usually are when things are evolving. As long as all of us continue to do our bit, we can overcome all these challenges.

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Syed Talha Izhar  |  April 10, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Congratulations Jehan for holding yet another SI session.
    These SIs’ are proving to be really helpful for us and we look forward to more of these.

    Jehan we met our mentors in Karachi and Islamabad, now the next thing a mentor will ask us is to write a Business Plan and we usually know nothing about it. Why not the next session in Karachi include this in the agenda?

  • 2. Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry  |  April 10, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Dear Ma’am, Hope you remember my name.Currently, i am the President of SOFTEC 2008 & completing my final year undergraduate studies at the FAST-National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Lahore Campus.I just wanted to ask if the SI session be held at FAST-NU Lahore in collaboration with our IEEE-NUCES Student Branch of the campus.Thanks and regards!

  • 3. Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry  |  April 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Ma’am, people working in Dr.Umar Saif’s BumIpn, Chopal startups and NEWT Lab are all FASTians and alumni of FAST-NU Lahore.I wanted to organize the SI session with your & Mr.Badar Khushnood’s collaboration at SOFTEC 2008 for all the Engineering, Business and IT graduates attending the event but due to the prevailing adverse situation in Pakistan and the security concerns of the Government and various other groups, me & my fellows have decided to postpone this year’s incidence for few months. Now the event will happen on 30th – 31st August, 2008 instead of 19th – 20th April, 2008.Hence, i would like if SI session can be arranged from this other platform available.

  • 4. Adnan  |  April 10, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    where, when and how are these sessions announced?
    coz i have tried for some time to find about them before they happen but was not able to

  • 5. Adnan  |  April 10, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    is this blog the only place to find out when and where SI session is going to be held or is their any official web or something providing this info

  • 6. Jehan  |  April 10, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    @Talha, let me discuss your request with the rest of the team. No reason it can’t be done if there is enough interest.
    @Adnan, the SI sessions are announced on this blog, on Jawwad Farid’s blog (, on Faisal Qureshi’s blog (, on, on the P@SHA blog ( and on various other bloggers’ sites as well as on the sites of academic institutes if it is held at an academic institute. An SI website is in the works and will be up soon.
    @Rafaeel, I don’t see why we can’t do it at FAST. Let us take this offline and have a conversation by email.

  • 7. TEE BEE  |  April 10, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Dear Ma’am,

    I have been a frequent reader of your blog and some others related to the technology and entrepreneurship in Pakistan. I have started Pakistan’s video sharing website. You can check it out at
    I was wondering if I could get hold of the videos of SI sessions held up so far or if possible you could upload it to VidPK. As a site dedicated to Pakistani videos, it would be of great value to everyone who is interested in technology and becoming an entrepreneur.

    Thanking you in advance.

  • 8. Tania Aslam  |  April 11, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Wow mentors and audiance interactions in pictures simply shows thats its was another successful event held by PASHA.

    Congratulations Jehan and EC members of PASHA.

  • 9. Jehan  |  April 11, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Thanks Tania – yes it was indeed successful but I think congratulations should go out to Atif Mumtaz of Brightspyre, to Dr. Arshad Ali and the kids at NIIT, and to all the entrepreneurs who participated. P@SHA is just one peg in the hole and we hope to continue to contribute to make these events happen.

  • 10. Atif Khan  |  April 11, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Congrats… seems like you pulled off another great session.

    I still havn’t attanded one. looking forward to the next one in Krachi, Inshallah!

    keep us posted!

  • 11. shaz  |  April 17, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Hi there,

    just wanted to drop by and mention that you are doing a commendable job leading PASHA. Pray that you take the pakistan software industry to greater heights.


  • 12. uzairsukhera  |  March 13, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Dear Ma’am
    What’s the status of the SI sessions now? We wish to hold a similar startup insider session at College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, National University of Science and Technology through our ICT and Entrepreneurship Club.

    What will be the formal method for making the request? Please let me know if you can arrange a session at our campus.

    Uzair Sukhera
    Vice-President ICT&E Club


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