Ultrabootstrapping the ‘Naeem Zafar’ way!
The man had already run two workshops yesterday when he walked into T2F in Karachi to run a session on “Ultrabootstrapping” for P@SHA and TiE Karachi. Sabeen Mahmud and I were grateful that he had so readily accepted our request to speak to technologists and entrepreneurs in Karachi at such short notice. It just shows how ready Naeem Zafar is to share his experience and his knowledge.
Each time I meet Naeem I am awed by his personality. He has accomplished much in his life, through hard work and his ability to grasp hold of opportunities and run with them.
Despite his achievements, he is a very modest, very approachable, very down-to-earth individual who believes in empowering others through sharing and mentoring. He teaches Entrepreneurship at the Haas School of Business, University of Berkeley, he runs Concordia Ventures, he has written 6 books and is the President of the Organisation of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America (OPEN). In addition to all this, he finds the time between semesters, to fly to Pakistan and speak at various fora including several universities across the country.
Having announced the workshop only a couple of days earlier, we were not sure how many people would turn up but they all came. The room was full of young entrepreneurs and some older ones who were all there to learn how they could bootstrap a business. And learn they did!
There was nothing complicated in what he suggested. He simply shared how he used various free tools and networks to conduct his business. The Internet, he said, had flattened the world so there was nothing keeping us from starting a business and running it successfully irrespective of which part of the world we were living in. He shared examples of Pakistani youngsters and companies who had done it.
Naeem Zafar showed how he used LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, websites, Google Adwords and online survey and research tools to run his business, to recruit teams, to collaborate, to expand his network and to market his products online – most of it for free, most of it at zero cost.
The one clear message that came through in his talk was that it was available out there but to benefit from it, you had to put in the time and effort to learn, to research, to create content, to use what was available. Of course you had to know where to look and you needed some initial direction to get you started. Naeem’s talk yesterday did just that. Everyone I polled said they had learned something new, something they could use.
After the workshop Naeem was surrounded. People put specific questions to him. I listened in to some of the queries and the advice he gave. He was honest, he was forthright, he made suggestions, gave advice, cleared up misconceptions and set several of them on the right track. Thank you Naeem – from P@SHA, from TiE Karachi and from all the people whose lives you touched yesterday. Thank you for sharing, thank you for caring enough about entrepreneurship in this country, thank you for taking the time. May God bless you.
The networking continued well beyond the allotted time of the workshop as people ordered coffee and sandwiches and cupcakes and cheese twisties and stuck around chatting and sharing.