It was a day like no other …
We had been preparing for this day for weeks, and now it was upon us. It was October 14th. Would things go according to plan? Would it all pan out? Would 8- 10 weeks of 20 hour work days and sleepless nights pay off? Would people show up at all? All these questions raced through my mind as I drove to the Sheraton at 6 a.m. on the morning of the 14th. I had a breakfast meeting with Zafar Khan, CEO of Sofizar, who had flown in from Lahore especially for the two events.
The P@SHA Tech Crunch Gong Awards event was to start at 10 am. Presenters, judges and participants started showing up early. Great sign. Showed the enthusiasm people felt. P@SHA was holding this event for the first time. The response to Call for Entries had been tremendous. And now here we were all there waiting for the pitches to begin.
A panel of 8 judges would assess the pitches:
Zafar Khan of Sofizar
Jawwad Ahmed Farid of Alchemy Technologies
Adnan Haider Co-Founder of Lootmaar and currently working as a consultant for IBM
Imtiaz Noor Mohammad, a Marketing guru and a blogger
Azhar Rizvi of the Tech Angel Network
Yusuf Jan of Mixit Technologies
Faisal Khan of Ovex Technologies
Fawzia Salahuddin of Alchemy Technologies.
The Gong lady was Rabia Garib, Editor-in-Chief of CIO Pakistan. She would make sure that people’s nerves were shattered by the sound of the gong if they didn’t conclude when they were supposed to. And so she did. My nerves were shattered the most as I stood in close proximity to her. Boy did she enjoy hitting that gong!
Around 160 people showed up. We had thought there’d be around 100. And they stayed through the session from 10:00 am until around 3 pm when we ended with lunch. Some brought their lunch plates to The Demo Pit area so that they could network with participants and look at demos of products in greater depth.
Why the hell did they all stay? Could it have been because Samir Feroze started his pitch by asking if any of them had wasted time and added calories by trying to locate the best lassi in town – ANY town – whether it was the town they lived in or one they were visiting? Because, he admitted, that he had added several inches to his own waistline by searching for the perfect lassi. All you had to do to ensure that others didn’t suffer the same fate, was to yell out to YellO.pk.
Or did they stay because Mehdi Hasnain eloquently talked about the need that MamooinPakistan fulfilled for those who are thousands of miles away from their homeland – things like arranging medical visits to hospitals and/or doctors for ailing parents, getting copies of birth certificates or university degrees, looking up land records, arranging for airline tickets, making funeral arrangements, etc etc.
Or was it the service that Usman Siddiqui of The Readers Club pitched that caught the imagination of those who were present? Renting books online and having them delivered to your doorstep – thus making reading more affordable. Of course the example that Usman gave made one author and his agent cringe ;). The Readers Club had Jawwad Farid’s book Reboot in its collection which means people didn’t have to spend Rs. 990 to read it <sigh>.
Or maybe it was Fariha Akhtar’s pitch for a project that she has visualized which she calls vFight that will deal with reporting and fighting of harrassment against women. She received quite a few suggestions from judges on how to take this forward and where to get funding for the project.
Or could it have been the Izhar brothers, Talha and Haris, with their passionate pitches for an SMS based photo service and a mood-based location based service? They presented with confidence and fielded the questions put to them by judges who were tough but fair.
And these presentations were just the tip of the iceberg. There were many more to come – all passionately presented. The judges would certainly have a difficult time choosing the winners.
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