A good beginning to the P@SHA LaunchPad activities

July 14, 2010 at 7:38 am 3 comments

Planning any event is both an exciting and arduous task and when you are limited by time and resources, you sometimes wonder why you took it on at all (here is a picture of me praying that all goes well).

Standing in the Dome Room of the Royal Palm Golf Club and Resort in Lahore surrounded by 200+ excited young people on a Saturday afternoon, I had my answer. This was why. I was in a room full of talented and motivated young people. The energy was electrifying. It was these young people with their ideas, their passion and their commitment to excel that made it all worthwhile.

The volunteers (spearheaded and led by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry) had been there for hours. There wasn’t really that much to take care of but whatever needed to be done, they had taken care of it. This included having the backdrop and banners put up, lining up the presenters, copying and testing the presentations on one laptop to save time, preparing the badges, testing the connectivity so that tweeting would be possible, making sure the scoring sheets were ready for the judges, that the microphones and multimedia projector were working, that the huge cheques were placed in an accessible spot – in fact all the nitty gritty that goes into event management. All I had to do was hang about worrying for no reason at all until people started arriving. Rafaeel and I even had time to compare the Apple iPad and the Chinese made iPed. Not surprisingly there is no comparison between the two. The iPad is far superior! 😀

I met a lot of old friends and made some new ones. Once the judges showed up we huddled and went through the score sheet discussing the criteria, the number of entries, time allotted etc. The judging panel included luminaries like:

Zia Imran, MD, PSEB
Zafar Khan, Founder of Sofizar Constellation
Dr. Umar Saif, Founder, Saif Center for Innovation
Ibrahim Qureshi, Director of Raffles
Nadeem Aslam Malik, VP Strategy & Business Development, Infotech
Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant, Google

A very high-powered panel indeed and their commitment to entrepreneurship in Pakistan was obvious from the fact that they had committed to being there for the next 5 hours assessing ideas and providing feedback.

I started with a very brief intro as to the whys and whereofs of the event and naturally mentioned the sponsor organizations PSEB, Microsoft and Sofizar Constellation who had made the event possible through their generous sponsorships. I also mentioned the CIO Pakistan team who was not present at the Lahore event but had provided online support by promoting the event.

The list of ideas and products presented included:

Max99 – a Chatroom oriented platform with some interesting Business Models. A  connected experience by aggregating various features like Unlimited Chat Rooms, MultiKicking Game Rooms, Private Chat, Color chat, Translation Bots, Voice Messages, Offline Messages, Flood Control,  Social Networking, Photo Sharing, Presence Based Messenger and strong Security Features.

Vcred.com – VCred is a unique web-based service that enables organizations to make smarter and more cost-effective decisions through instant online verification of educational qualification, employment history and references.

FaceXS – a 3D Face Recognition device that uses advanced technology capable of identification and verification of human Faces in less than a second and addresses all the problems that are associated with much hyped fingerprint and hand geometry systems. It even works with dirty and wet faces!

TouchSlate PC – a PC tablet

Exam Master – A web based application developed in .Net 2.0 Framework with C# as development language and MS SQL SERVER 2005 as database.
It separates Login and Control Panels for instructors and students. There is a Randomization of the algorithm to ensure the shuffling of questions, an Online Timer and number of questions prescribed by the teacher.  It is biometric enabled and there is a maintenance of the performance history and exam continuity in case of power failure.

BudEx – This group creates Web, mobile and Facebook applications that are primarily focused on solving everyday trivial problems. The idea they presented at the LaunchPad event was a recent Facebook app that they launched “BudEx” which  is a friends based parcel delivery service that uses social media for its purpose.

Green – a concept of packaging multiple solutions in one mobile application compatible with all kinds of mobiles developed in the MXIM Framework. Its biggest strength lies in its flexibility to customize itself with the personal needs and requirements of each and every type of individual. Green is an application ledge offering different mobile applications to use from. It also has the capability of upgrading itself without the manual download of a newer version of same application every time. Any new application can be added to the ledge and it will appear in the user’s mobile without any hassle.

Findnumber – When you change your mobile/home/office number, get it updated on findnumber. Now if someone needs to find your new number, they can enter your old number on findnumber and they will get your new number. Not only that they can also register on the site and share their new contact numbers with their friends, colleagues, etc. You can use settings to customize who can/cannot have access to your new number.

SchoolGuide.pk – A web based application that allows parents to search for schools in Pakistan, read and write reviews and interact with other parents via question and answers, stories and advice, and school groups.

PakReviews – Are you looking for the perfect dress for your cousin’s wedding but don’t know where to go? Do you want to hire the services of a professional photographer but aren’t sure which one to contact? Do you want to impress your in-laws by taking them to some fancy restaurant but are confused when it comes to deciding which one? Or do you simply want people to hear you out? If such is the case, then the creators of PakReviews says that it is the place to be! At PakReviews, you can find reviews on just about anything pertaining to Pakistan; be it fashion, education, business or entertainment.

Hozaa –  a group of computer vision researchers, enthusiasts, and professionals who share the common goal of developing next generation products that have automated understanding of visual content (images and videos) as their core building block. Hozaa, which is video search engine in the works, is a step in that direction. Hozaa makes large video repositories searchable by recognizing unlimited number of objects, concepts, and events in videos and by generating appropriate content specific textual tags that could be used for search purposes within existing text based search infrastructure.

naqshaBiz – a very powerful visualization tool, which uses Microsoft’s Bing Maps Silverlight Control enabling organizations to see patterns that would be otherwise invisible. It is often very difficult to ‘see’ patterns in a typical organizational database, but relatively easy to see patterns and relationships in maps and other graphical material. naqshaBiz makes it possible to  visualize  demand and supply separately as well as  together. . Such spatial and GIS analysis and databases provide visual results with countless business and operational applications.

CyberLancing – Freelancing portal in which the buyers will be from all over the world but the providers will be just from Pakistan.

A garments designer application and initially the scope of which is custom design tshirts that people wear. Unlike the conventional way of buying, you can change the color of your tshirt, draw graphics on it, put your own custom text before you can actually buy the customized tshirt. This idea has already been initiated by a few service providers in US market but this is absolutely new in our local market.  We have seen a few shirts done is custom fashion, but no one is offering this service to those who will wear these shirts eventually.  Additionally, we want to compete US service providers by equipping our designer with easy to use garments designing tools. It would be a designing portal where not only people will design their tshirts, but they can also design dress shirts, ties, hoodies and their suitings in next phase.

Nibula – a web platform that connects organisers, attendees and sponsors while enabling organisers to create a network for their group, society or chapter and maintain events. It’ll be a one stop platform to subscribe events related to any field of life and share them with friends and colleagues at school with a built-in module to sell tickets. The organisers can see who the attendees are and what they are saying about it. Nibula is unique because it provides organisers with tools to create full featured event portal, with ability to sell tickets instantly though web and mobile app. The service will get the leverage of existing UGC sites like Facebook and twitter to share the events.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA) or Cost per Sale (CPS) marketing is emerging very fast in Western world and in Pakistan it’s yet to be introduced. Behind the CPA technique its very simple formula i.e. Credit will only be given to selling party when they generates any action (sale). We would be providing a state of the art platform to keep track of the progress for both Advertiser (Sales) & Web Master (Earnings).

The youngsters did a great job in presenting their ideas and products. The ideas that generated a lot of discussion included Hozaa (the winner in the Idea category). Several of the judges felt that if they delivered on the promise of the idea, it could be a billion dollar idea out of Pakistan. The challenges were however great and they needed to work on addressing them. A couple of the judges offered their assistance in brainstorming the idea that is already on its way toward beta. Not surprising therefore that Babar Khan who presented the idea walked away with one of the cheques!

Another idea that generated a lot of excitement was the SchoolGuide.pk presentation by Ahmer Mumtaz. He clearly said that they were not looking for investment; just ideas. And that is what Ahmer got. Judges felt that the product was well developed and that it had a lot of merit. Several of them said that if something like that had existed when they were looking for schools for their kids, they would have used it for sure. Suggestions were made on how to extend the idea to generate more interest and make it a revenue earner.

Farhan Masood made a very slick presentation of his product FaceXS which is still a startup although the product has been bought and is being tried by various industry segments in Pakistan. A hardware-software solution, it was judged to be a very sophisticated and extremely affordable solution that could be marketed locally and internationally. Farhan walked off with the cheque for the best product pitched.

What was also exciting about the event was the live tweeting that was taking place from the venue with feedback coming in from people who were not in Lahore or not present at the venue. Great job done by the Tweeples.

The networking that followed was of great value as many of the youngsters surrounded the judges and other experienced professionals, firing questions at them and asking for advice. Overall a very satisfying event that ended with some of the youngsters wanting to know when the next one was :).

Entry filed under: Posts.

There are names & there are names :) P@SHA LaunchPad: the Karachi event

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