Posts tagged ‘Entrepreneurship’

There are times when I wish I had lots of money

Money has never meant too much to me. Of course all of us need a certain amount to live but I have never yearned for too much of it. As my father used to say: No matter how much money you have, you can only eat 3 meals a day and sleep in one bed at a time. These days you also need some form of transport, a mobile phone and a couple of gadgets … but that’s it!

My parents came from middle class families and they worked hard to bring up 5 kids. As we were growing up, I remember that our home was modest. We ate simple food and wore simple clothes. My mother was a woman who was easily content. She never made any demands. She was happy as long as she had her family around her.  Both my parents worked extremely hard to make sure we had a happy childhood and a comfortable life.

Even when we moved to Hong Kong, initially we lived in a small flat – all five of us kids shared a room. As my father climbed up the corporate ladder, we moved into a larger apartment and began to have more conveniences. But throughout the period we were growing up, we were never allowed to take our blessings for granted; we were taught to value what we had, to work hard for anything we needed. And we did!

As we grew older and started our own careers, these values stayed with us and served us well. However, of late, I have been wishing that I had more money – lots of it! I was speaking to a few friends about it the other day and trying to explain this apparent sudden ‘greed’ for wealth.

The Nestlings with JA and ShahjahanIt isn’t really greed. As we carry on our work with young people who want to experiment with ideas for creating businesses involving innovative products and services, we are happy that P@SHA’s Tech incubator The Nest i/o has provided an oasis for them, has given them access to mentors and a network that they couldn’t have otherwise dreamt of. Yet there is one thing that is still missing … that is the cause of of a lot of frustration and many sleepless nights.

As these kids prove what they can do, as they create their startups and look for investment, we can see how frustrated they are at the lack of a proper angel investment network in the country. There are a growing number of angel investors popping up but, because they haven’t seen much of a deal flow yet, they are rather risk averse.

Some of them feel the need to take a large chunk of the equity and to take control. Working intenselyA few of the startup entrepreneurs have been lucky and have found great investors  who have given them valuations that are fair and they have had to part with only a reasonable amount of equity. But there are others who want majority stake. I have watched helplessly as these young entrepreneurs have struggled with the decision to part with a larger stake of a company that they have invested their sweat and tears in to build. I have even advised some of them that bootstrapping is the best bet.. Generate some revenue, get traction and then talk to investors. What is the point of giving away a large share of your company, begin to feel like employees and lose the passion that drove you to start the venture in the first place, is my question to them.

Working out of The Nest i:oI know it is easy for me to give this kind of advice because I am not in their shoes. Some of them desperately need the funds to take their companies in the direction that they want to. I shouldn’t really interfere. They are, after all, more than capable of making these decisions themselves. Most of them are very smart, have interacted with VCs, Angel Investors, seasoned entrepreneurs, legal experts and peers so they understand what it all means.

But I can’t help it. My heart goes out to them as I see them struggling with these decisions, as I see them engaging with lawyers and investors and discussing all the pros and cons amongst themselves ad nauseum. It doesn’t seem fair that at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, instead of being full of excitement and passion, they are instead having to make compromises.

If only I had a lot of money, I would invest adequate funds in all the startups who show potential – asking in return for only a minimum equity of maybe 4-5% which could be used for a rollover fund to continue investing in more startups. It is a dream I have  that appears to be far-fetched at the moment but hey you never know. It could happen.

I believe that if free flow of funds were available to tech startups in Pakistan, it would result in creating the momentum we need to take entrepreneurship to an entirely new level in this country.

October 24, 2015 at 9:50 pm 2 comments

P@SHA LaunchPad is back!!!

P@SHA Launchpad Logo

Yes we are back with another edition of the P@SHA LaunchPad series which are now in their sixth year.

The vision behind P@SHA LaunchPad is simple – find the best technology ideas and start-ups, bring them in front of the Pakistan IT industry’s most experienced and influential professionals and entrepreneurs and highlight them through online showcases and social media. The purpose is to create a platform where young people with great ideas, and where early-stage companies with innovative products, can have the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of people who ask relevant questions, make suggestions to help develop the idea or product, assist with market identification, mentoring and possibly investment. Ideas with the following characteristics are encouraged to participate in P@SHA LaunchPad Events

  • A new startup with a product or service that you have been working on and wish to launch
  • A young person/team who have an idea for a product or service that you want to pitch
  • Anyone who has a product or service idea that uses technology for Social/Community impact

Startup entrepreneurs and young people with Ideas are put in the hot seat where some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business executives will grill them in front of an audience of their peers. Each category will carry a cash award of Rs.100,000/- for the winners in each of the cities. This year we are planning to hold the event in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on June 24, 25 and 26. The P@SHA LaunchPad event will be held in Peshawar and Faisalabad after Eid. We may add on another city or two if we have the bandwidth to do so. This year we have been fortunate enough to get  the Pakistan Software Export Board to provide partial the sponsorship for holding these events. Thank you PSEB. To apply for entry into the P@SHA LaunchPad event, please fill up this form and prepare your presentations. If you are shortlisted you will be informed by the morning of June 23. You will have 5 minutes to present to a panel of judges in your city and there will be 5 minutes for Q&A. Deadline for entries is 6 pm June 21, 2014. The dates, venues and time for the events are as follows: Karachi – June 24 – IBA Main Campus – 1 pm to 5.30 pm Lahore – June 25 – Lahore College for Women University – 1 pm to 5.30 pm Islamabad – June 26 – in partnership with Kuch Khaas – 1 pm to 5:30 pm Tagit

Judges & participants

The audience

June 18, 2014 at 10:37 am 2 comments

Calling all Tech Innovators!

Awards home page 2013It is that time of year again. P@SHA is on the lookout for innovators in the tech space. We want to recognize and celebrate innovation in the ICT space. This is our 10th year and we are really excited because we know that there are many more techies – young and old – out there who have yet to be recognized. But in order for us to do that, you need to come forward. You can only win if you take part. Go to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013 website and submit details regarding your product or service so that our panel of judges can shortlist the best of the best in each category.

The categories are divided into two distinct parts: Products and Services. There are 17 Product Categories and 12 Service Categories.

Product Categories include:

Best in Communications Applications
Best in E-Government Applications
Best in E-Learning Applications
Best in E-Health Applications
Best in E-Inclusion & E-Community Applications
Best in E-Logistics & Supply Chain Management Applications
Best in Financial Applications
Best in Green & Sustainable IT Applications
Best in Industrial Applications
Best in New Media & Entertainment
Best in Research & Development Applications
Best in Secondary Student Project
Best Startup Company
Best Tertiary Student Project
Best in Tools & Infrastructure Applications
Best in Tourism & Hospitality Applications

Note: Winners in the Product Categories will be required to represent Pakistan in the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Hong Kong in November 2013.

Service Categories include:

Best in Animation
Best in BPO
Best in Brand Development
Best in CSR
Best in Export Growth
CIO of the Year (Private Sector)
CIO of the Year (Public Sector)
Best in Gender Diversity
Best in HR Excellence
Best in Mobile Applications
Best in Managed Services
Best in Project Management
Best in Service Innovation
Best in Social Media (IT Company)
Best in Social Media (Non-IT Company)

 This year the P@SHA ICT Awards will be held in Islamabad for the first time. Email invitations will be sent out after Ramzan.

If you are a technology innovator, or you know of any ICT innovators across the country, make sure that all of you take part in the P@SHA ICT Awards by submitting your product or service to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013. Deadline for entries is August 8 2013. Please don’t wait till the last moment. Apply NOW!

July 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm 8 comments

P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 – Apply NOW!

P@SHA Launchpad Logo scaledGood news! The P@SHA LaunchPad event is back in full force with events scheduled in Karachi on June 22   in Lahore on June 25 and in Islamabad on June 27, 2013.

The vision behind P@SHA LaunchPad is simple – find the best technology ideas and start-ups, bring them in front of the Pakistan IT industry’s most experienced and influential professionals and entrepreneurs and highlight them through online showcases and social media.

The purpose is to create a platform where young people with great ideas, and where early-stage companies with innovative products, can have the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of people who ask relevant questions, make suggestions to help develop the idea or product, assist with market identification, mentoring and possibly investment.

You should be interested in participating in the P@SHA LaunchPad events if you are:

  • A new startup with a product or service that you have been working on and wish to launch
  • A young person/team who have an idea for a product or service that you want to pitch
  • Anyone who has a product or service idea that uses technology for Social/Community impact

Startup entrepreneurs and young people with Ideas will be put in the hot seat where some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business executives will grill them in front of an audience of their peers.

There is bound to be:

  • One startup product/service ready for launch and
  • One innovative idea
  • A social impact product/service

that will no doubt stand out – these will be the P@SHA LaunchPad Stars and all three will be given a cash award of Rs. 200,000 each and highlighted on as many platforms as possible.

The panel of experts and mentors that we have identified in each city will no doubt bring a lot of value to the event and spark lively discussion that will add to the strengthening of the entrepreneurial eco-system.

Deadline for entries is June 18, 2013. 

Fill in this form and we will let you know by the June 19, 2013 if you have been shortlisted to participate. If you are shortlisted, you have to make a 5 minute presentation at the events on June 22, June 25 and June 27.

June 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm 6 comments

Candy Pot does well on App stores worldwide

Very often I am asked why I put so many hours into my work at P@SHA, why whenever I am on a visit to Lahore or Islamabad I try and meet as many people as I can. Admittedly, at the end of a long day trip, I am totally wiped out. So why is it worth it? Or is it worth it at all? I think it is and the reason for that is that in every corner of this country there is interesting work being done in technology – and I love being part of it. I love talking about it. I love cheering on each and every person and company in this space because of their passion, their technical competence and the image they project of a Pakistan that is so different from the one that is projected in Western media.

One such story is that of a young man I met some years ago. He was trying to put up the pretense of being a blogger but had hardly written any posts. He did some microblogging on Twitter and Facebook but generally he was busy tinkering around with Microsoft technology. Having graduated from NUCES-FAST Karachi, he had worked at several companies but the entrepreneurial bug bit him and he  was anxious to start his own venture and take it wherever it was destined to go.But one makes ones own destiny I am told. And Munir  and his partner Amirhave proven that this is indeed true.tart his own venture and take it wherever it was destined to go.They set up Pi Labs which is a company that truly believes in the power

of mobility. This team of young, energetic and dedicated bunch of engineers & designers have always been eager to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Their passion for mobile software and their ability to deliver engaging solutions has brought them much acclaim. Early adoption of Windows Phone 7 meant that they were one of the first companies globally to deliver an app to the Microsoft Marketplace although their expertise is not limited to Windows Phone 7. It encompasses all platforms including iOS, Android and Palm’s WebOS.

The latest in their stable of applications is Candy Pot, a simple yet addictive game. It is a new app available for the iPhone and the iPod touch. There are two versions of the game – a full version which consists of 45 levels and a lite version which comprises 15 levels. As soon as you start the app, you are introduced to the main character – TinTin.

The objective of the game is to somehow move a spherical candy to a candy pot by using the basic principles of physics. A few friends –  biscuit bars, cotton candies and ice pipes – can help with the task. Some of the candies are heavier or bouncier than others. Each type of object is introduced to you at a different level of the game.

Features include 3 delicious worlds, 45 challenges, 2 awesome candy balls, 5 different objects and hundreds of hints to help you get through! This promotional video is worth watching.

Candy Pot has certainly performed well since its launch on November 18th 2011.

  1. Immediately after launch it was ranked in the top 50 games in more than 17 countries including US, China and India in both Puzzle and Family Category .
  2. It was ranked at #1 position in the Pakistani App Store for several days in both the Puzzle and Family Games Category (Above Cut The Rope and Angry Birds)
  3. It was amongst the top 25 in China during the Christmas/New Year holidays in both the Puzzle and Family Games Category.
  4. Candy Pot was amongst the top 10 in India last month in both the Puzzle and Family Games Category

Well done boys! All of us who know you are absolutely certain that this is the beginning of many more interesting apps that will top all stores worldwide.

January 18, 2012 at 10:15 pm 6 comments

Entrepreneurs Roundtable to kick off first meeting in Karachi on Jan 17

If you are an entrepreneur who wants to show off a prototype or get feedback on a new product that you have developed, now is your chance.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012 Entrepreneurs Roundtable (ERT) Pakistan is holding its kickoff event in Karachi from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at T2F 2.0 at 10C Sunset Lane 5, Phase 2 Extension DHA.

ERT Pakistan is a chapter of ERT Silicon Valley. Partners of the event include P@SHA and T2F.

Come prepared to pitch your startup product or prototype. This is an informal meetup of entrepreneurs and promises to be a lot of fun.

So what is the objective or the thought process behind the ERT event? AR Rafiq, who is an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, says that entrepreneurs deserve more than just 30 seconds or 3 min. to tell the story of the idea and the product that they have passionately developed out of their love for technology and nights and days without sleep or rest.

Entrepreneurs Roundtable began in Silicon Valley. The idea was for startup founders/geeks with more focus in the Software, Web, and Mobile space, to meet every month and genuinely share ideas, technical expertise, business experiences, to vent and of course to network. Sometimes ideas attract investment from other attendees and that is really the aim – partnerships, growth, scalability, investment, sharing and learning.

Each entrepreneur is put under the spotlight, either as a speaker to demo or as a participant.

According to AR Rafiq, those who attend must fit the following criteria:

— Out of four functional roles : Founder, Entrepreneur, Developers, Self-inflicted-slave-driver, you have to play at least 3 out of the four leading title roles above. Honestly, if you don’t, you’ll probably get seriously bored by our meetings.

— Our live demos are for real internet or mobile products. We usually *try* to avoid glossy ppt stuff, although with exceptions from time to time.

We welcome entrepreneurs and geeks to join, so long as you are willing to share your experiences and knowledge too.

If you’re an entrepreneur or geek with an idea or better working prototype, let us know so we can schedule you in to pitch at the meetup. Email Abdulrahman Rafiq Copy me too at See you there!

January 10, 2012 at 11:04 am 3 comments

Winner validates funding decision

In April 2010, the Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) applied to the National ICT R&D Fund for a grant to research and develop an Arrhythmia and Sudden Death Syndrome Detection Hybrid Network Based Telemedicine System. The grant amount was Rs. 13.5 million.

So what was the problem that they were trying to solve? This is how they explain it.

Electrocardiography (ECG) is one of the tools of cardiac monitoring. The dilemma is that despite the installation of hundreds of ECG machines in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities are often misdiagnosed or mistreated usually in rural areas due to unavailability of expert cardiologists at the ECG monitoring station. Moreover, most ECG machines presently installed do not have capabilities like High Resolution signal acquisition, remote monitoring, real time data storage and patient database management.

The project proposed to develop a prototype system to demonstrate geographically distributed installation of network enabled ECG recording and analysis stations with normal and High Resolution digital ECG machines capable of self diagnosing a patient for different arrhythmic abnormalities as well as early detection of risks associated with fatal arrhythmias which can lead to sudden cardiac death by running state of the art signal processing algorithm. The system was to provide 24/7 ECG recording and analysis facility with universal connectivity through dialup, Ethernet, GPRS, Radio and Satellite for connection to the central server located in the Cardiac Control Center (CCC) of a Central Hospital. The system would also have the capability to provide expert opinion to patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities by transmitting their physiological data to the cardiologists at a central hospital through a universal communication device already developed in CARE. Here the expert cardiologists would receive ECG data and profile of patients with severe arrhythmic abnormalities and suggest treatment in real time. The ECG record and the patient profile would be stored at the server and a database for patients and their cardiac history would be managed for future reference as well as for off-line analysis and data-mining.

This was the solution that Dr. Shoab Ahmed Khan and his team researched and developed at CARE. This was the solution that won the top prize in the e-Health category in the P@SHA ICT Awards 2011. In November Dr. Shoab, Dr. Zaheer and Dr. Mohsin then accompanied the rest of the innovators from Pakistan, as well as the mentors and judges, to APICTA in Thailand. Here they competed against 162 other products in different categories and in the e-Health category they won hands down and came back with the winners’ trophy.

Last week Dr. Shoab and I went to show the coveted trophy to Dr. Aun Abbas, the CEO of the National ICT R&D Fund. It is important for us to show organizations like the National ICT R&D Fund that their investment in applied research helps innovators in this country to develop technology products that are useful to the citizens of this country and to the world and are actually world class products that can compare with the best in the region.

November 25, 2011 at 11:19 am 3 comments

Pakistan grab two golds & five silvers at APICTA 2011 in Pattaya Thailand

They came, they saw, they conquered. That describes it all. As Pakistan’s name was called again and again earlier this evening at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) 2011, my heart was bursting with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Team work had allowed us to get this far. From the judges, to the mentors – and the nominees, the innovative products, the presentations, the Q&A, the sleepless nights, the hours of work, rehearsals, dry runs – it has all been worth it!

Pakistan was amongst the leaders at the APICTA event this evening. We were right up there with Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia. Our friends from around the region came and shook our hands and remarked “Pakistan certainly has done well!” One could see the respect in their eyes, one could hear it in their voices. They had recognized the fact that Pakistan had truly arrived!

Team Pakistan comprised of 18 products which were benchmarking themselves with 162 competing products from the Asia Pacific region. 48 judges spent two long days evaluating and assessing the “best of the best” from the region.

Pakistan walked away with two golds in the e-Health and e-Logistics & SCM categories and 5 silvers in the Communication, Financial, Security, E-Inclusion & E-Community and E-Government categories. The Center for Advanced Research in Engineering (CARE) once again swept the Awards with the gold in e-Health and the silver in Communication, Security and E-Government categories. Lumensoft Technologies went for gold in the e-Logistics category with Infotech Group taking the silver in the Financial Apps category and Engro-Orix taking the silver in the E-Inclusion & E-Community category. Complete results have been announced on Jawwad’s blog.

We had been worrying about those who didn’t quite make it to the top slots from Pakistan but it was great to see how involved they became in celebrating the wins we had. All of them rose to the occasion and surrounded the winners, hugging them, patting them on the back, showing all-in-all how much the wins meant to Pakistan.

The CARE team comprising of Dr. Shoab Khan, Dr. Zaheer Ahmed and Dr. Mohsin were over the moon. They had worked very hard to get to this stage of the competition this year and as they went up to the stage over and over again to claim their rightful awards, several judges went up to them and offered their congratulations, told them how impressive they were and what a great contribution they were making to the country. Some of them offered to work with them, to form collaborations, to help position their products in other countries.

Abdul Aziz, CEO of Lumensoft, was competing for the second time at APICTA with a maturer product and a presentation that was crisp and clear and delivered extremely well. He last presented in Melbourne in 2009. When I asked him what he felt was the difference between his two attempts, he said unabashedly “My presentation in Melbourne was pathetic – no wonder I didn’t win!” A great example of a CEO who shed his ego, listened to the advice given by mentors and gave a 100 %. Well done!

The Infotech team was just as willing to take feedback and incorporate it into the build up for the Awards. Amir and Suresh presented well, answered every question with clarity and gave it their best. The Silver in the Financial Application category is a difficult one to attain because Infotech was up against some stiff competition. Preparation paid off in the end.

The Engro/Orix team were stupendous in the way they presented Eman in the E-Inclusion and E-Community category. Atif and Zainab put forward a presentation that wowed the judges and got for them the silver. It is a wonderful program and we hope that this win eggs them on to do other more interesting things with technology. As some of us are fond of saying, 125000 technology professionals cannot move ahead into the new developed age without taking the rest of Pakistan with us. It is for this reason that automation products like Eman are extremely important to the development of our community and our rural sector. Thanks guys for a terrific product. We hope to see more from you in the future.

Team Pakistan did us proud today and we were happy to see that the news brought joy to the faces of many and warmed and thrilled our hearts.

We have great plans for Brunei in 2012. Let us put the plans in action now!

November 12, 2011 at 1:16 am 21 comments

The road to funding Social Innovation

It feels great when things finally start coming together, isn’t it?

When Google first gave P@SHA the seed grant of US$250,000 to set up the P@SHA Fund for Social Innovation, we were thrilled at the opportunity this would create for some new entrepreneurial ideas to emerge that would focus on social change and social impact. At the same time we felt the weight of the responsibility and the faith that had been put on us to keep the process totally transparent and merit-based.

The first thing that Badar Khushnood and I did was talk about the kind of people we should involve – people who were above board, who would be committed to putting in time and passion and would work with young people to ensure the success of the ideas that were submitted.

Well, we certainly got lucky with our choice of people. Not only do we have an advisory council which comprises of seasoned professionals and community leaders, we also have a panel of judges who are serial entrepreneurs and whose only mission in life seems to be to plant the seed of entrepreneurship amongst the highly energetic and talented young population of this country.

And there’s no way I could possibly forget our cool Outreach Gurus who are from the Who’s Who of our mainstream and online media scene, have helped organize activities and have spread the word regarding the Fund through the length and breadth of Pakistan.

The advisory council has been great in helping us develop strategy, define parameters and have even reined us in when the need arose.

What do I say about the judges. Jawwad Ahmed Farid, Zafar Khan and Atif Mumtaz have worked long hours to ensure that they painstakingly went through the 300 entries, assessed the ideas, their likely impact and their ability to deliver. If they had had their way, they would have funded a lot more ideas than this limited funding allows us to.

They shortlisted around 64 ideas  and could have just scored on the basis of the entries but they were keen to understand better what it was the nominees wanted to achieve and so they asked for 5 minute videos to be uploaded on YouTube answering 4 key questions. This of course meant that they had to go through all the submitted videos and assess the ideas one more time – a task they undertook willingly and with an excitement that was great to see. They exchanged notes, discussed the pros and cons, the possible impact, the likelihood of success and the ability of these youngsters to bring about change in their communities. Remember, each of these guys lives in a different city and they lead hectic lives. Yet they wanted to ensure that they were being absolutely fair to all applicants and were looking at the ideas keeping in view all the parameters defined in the criteria.

Selecting the first handful of grantees out of several hundred would mean disappointment for many and we were fully aware of that. Since we were limited in the number of ideas we could fund, we still wanted to ensure that we kept the process transparent and merit-based. There is already too much trust deficit in this country and there was no way we wanted to add to it.

Hence the YouTube videos. Hence the long explanation from Jawwad Farid on the reason for the selection of the first batch. Hopefully the applicants have all gone through some learning during the process.

Jawwad also provided free access to pitching and entrepreneurship courses that he has developed from years of experience based on failures and successes that he has personally faced.

The combined experience of Zafar, Atif and Jawwad – who are alumni of CalTech, Stanford and Columbia and have started and run companies, have taught, have consulted in various parts of the world, has been invaluable to P@SHA and the Fund. Thanks guys. What would we do without you?

But take heed – excited as we all are at the announcement of the first batch of winners, the work has only just begun. We need to work with the grantees, assign mentors to them and ensure that they take the first steps toward helping us “to change the world”.

To thank for placing faith in the youth of Pakistan and in P@SHA is a tough task. When I first met the Google team in Islamabad with Badar and we discussed the potential of this country and it’s youth, I had no idea that this would actually amount to anything. But it did and we have never looked back. Thank you Google for your support and thank you for having such a cool, dedicated and committed individual as your Consultant in Pakistan. He is only always a phone call away. Thank you Badar. You rock!

As for the grantees, what can I say? The Alif Laila video floored us all. Their ability to see how technology can add to the depth and scope of what they have already done, warmed our hearts.

The project which would result in the beauty of our language, our poetry and literature being spread to a younger audience, to those who weren’t literate, to those with visual challenges – and to a much wider audience beyond our borders, excited us all.

The Online Handmade shoe store idea may not seem like a social idea but if you look at how it will change the lives and add to the incomes of those craftsmen who produce these beautiful products  – how it will create jobs and increase market opportunity, you will understand why the judges were sure they were a winner.

And last but not least Bloodline. With a network of 200,000 volunteers already on their network actively engaged in catering for blood and platelet donations for dengue, cancer and other patients requiring blood, being able to institutionalize and automate the processes will enable them to create a much bigger social impact.

October 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm 8 comments

Lean Startup Machine is coming to Lahore!

It is so exciting to see a buzz of activity around Startups and entrepreneurial ventures. It’s just what needed to happen in Pakistan. As several of us have been saying over the years, there will never be enough jobs for the number of people that are entering the job market and smart young people should be looking at starting their own ventures and creating job opportunities for their peers. Well it seems it is finally happening.

Some of the entries we have received for the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund show that kids are thinking of solutions to problems using technology but more about that in another post. What’s got me going right now is an activity that is taking place in Lahore October 28-30, 2011. It is called the Lean Startup Machine and is being spearheaded in Pakistan by Umair Moheet Khan, a bright young man who wants to kickstart startups and startup growth in Pakistan.

In a note that Umair sent to me a couple of days ago, he shared the philosophy of the Lean Startup Machine events:

Contrary to popular perception, the phrase “lean startup” implies much more than capital efficiency. It encompasses a paradigm-shifting way of thinking about how to build new companies and products, and how to bring those products to market faster.

At Lean Startup Machine we provide participants with a valuable framework of tools, techniques and resources designed to help early-stage companies identify key customers and iterate their products quickly. Startups face incredibly difficult odds, and the vast majority of them will fail. While lean startup methodologies are not a safeguard against failure, they do provide a foundation for real, measurable improvement.

Lean Startup Machine Lahore will be a weekend event which will be full of activities that are focused on empowering early startups. It will include team building & ideation workshops, elevator pitches, prototyping, speaker and mentoring sessions (both local and international), leader workshops and a lot more. Trevor Owen, the founder of Lean Startup Machine, is flying in from New York to co-host the event. Trevor is a serial entrepreneur who will no doubt spark off a lot more passion into the local startup community.

More details about the event are available on the website. 

P@SHA is supporting the event fully and I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to be there. The question is: How long are you going to wait to register? Registrations are open NOW! See you there!

October 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm 5 comments

P@SHA LaunchPad 2011 at ITCN Asia in Karachi

Are you

  • A new startup?
  • Do you have a new product that you want to launch?
  • Do you have an idea for a product or service that you want to pitch?

The vision behind P@SHA LaunchPad is simple – find the best technology ideas and start-ups and bring them in front of the Pakistan IT industry’s most experienced and influential professionals and entrepreneurs, get feedback and win a cash prize.

The purpose of P@SHA LaunchPad is to create a platform where young people with great ideas, and early-stage companies with innovative products, can have the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of people who ask relevant questions, make suggestions to help develop the idea or product, assist with market identification, mentoring and possibly investment.

Experts will be brought in to mentor and judge startups on product development, business models, identifying markets, design, SEO/SEM and usability. Startups and Idea pitches will be put in the hot seat where some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business executives will grill them in front of the audience.

There is bound to be one idea and one product that stands out – these will be the P@SHA LaunchPad Stars and will be given a small cash award and highlighted on as many platforms as possible.

We plan to have a Demo Pit where young innovators can showcase their idea and talk to experts, potential investors and professionals in much more detail. The idea is to generate excitement and energy around ICT innovation and motivate more young people into starting their own companies and making them successful.

Last year the panel of experts brought a lot of value to the event and sparked lively discussion and debate. We are hoping that with each additional event, the group will energize further.

Dates to watch:
P@SHA LaunchPad: Sept 20, 2011 at 2.15 pm at ITCN Asia, Expor Center Karachi
Last date for Nominations: September 15, 2011

Nominate your startup, product or service idea at NOW and win a cash prize of Rs. 100,000 and be attached to a mentor who will help you shell out your idea and guide you on how to take it forward.

Submissions will be assessed and shortlisted candidates will be asked to present to a panel of judges at the event on September 20. See you there!

September 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm 3 comments

Mindstorm Studios develops official game for ICC’s Cricket World Cup 2011

It’s about time we had some good news associated with the ICC World Cup 2011.

Mindstorm Studios, a Pakistani games development company, announced today that it has successfully developed the “Official Game” for the ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup, an event followed religiously by over a billion fans around the globe.

This is an unprecedented move in Pakistan’s software industry by a self-funded startup; Mindstorm have managed to indigenously design, develop, and deliver an officially licensed title over all leading global game development companies.

“We are extremely excited about creating the official title for ICC’s Cricket World Cup 2011” said Babar Ahmed, CEO Mindstorm Studios. “Cricket has long been a subject closely linked to our organization and we are thrilled to take it to the next level and be a source of pride for our nation on the digital front.”

The game, “Cricket Power” (, is the most advanced 3D browser cricket game developed to date. It features all 14 official teams along with official players, stadiums and kits, and is played directly in the browser. The game is powered by a superior cricket engine at its core, coupled with a pick-up-and-play interface to appeal to casual and core gamers alike.

This is the second time the company has made waves in the Pakistani gaming industry. Many of you will remember that their previous hit title ‘Cricket Revolution’ which won the P@SHA ICT Awards in 2009 and went on to win the Silver at APICTA in Melbourne. Mindstorm Studios has raised the bar in Pakistan’s game development industry with the launch of Cricket Power.

The game is being published by Karkadann Games, an Abu Dhabi Media Company subsidiary, and is currently available at

So what is the big deal, you might ask? The big deal is that Mindstorm Studios is a young startup company from Pakistan. All the software professionals, coders, designers and the management are Pakistanis. It has received no outside funding. The team is self-taught. It has managed to cross all hurdles, conquer all challenges and emerge as a champion. Image has not stopped Mindstorm Studios from achieving their potential, from reaching their goal. It should give other young people in Pakistan hope and confidence that all one needs to do to succeed is have a dream and a plan, and to do whatever one can to execute the plan professionally and not let perceived and real challenges stand in the way.

I for one take great pride in the achievements of this amazing company and I look forward to watching their growth and the continued innovation that I am sure will emerge from their studios. Let us ensure that we celebrate their achievement by posting the news on all our Facebook pages, on our blogs, on Twitter and on as many news sites as possible. Let’s unite in recognizing the brilliant work done by a team from amongst us.

February 15, 2011 at 9:44 am 22 comments

Startup Sunday launched!

Shahjahan Chaudhary, Sabeen Mahmud, Jawwad Ahmed Farid and I had been discussing initiating the “Startup Sunday” activity for several weeks but schedules and travel kept getting in the way. Finally, we decided enough was enough. It was important to fix a date and launch this event with whoever was available.

So the event was set for 5th December at T2F. It was a Sunday so we weren’t really sure how many people would turn up. The idea was a simple one. There was a need for tech startups and people with ideas for starting tech companies or creating tech solutions, to be able to meet on a regular basis, network, share ideas, successes and failures and learn from each other.

And so it was. The day dawned and at 4 pm people started to roll in. In all 40+ people showed up. Quite a substantial number! There was a bit of huddling and networking before proceedings began. Everyone introduced themselves, talked about what they were doing or wanted to do, why they were there.

There was a workshop type session whereby people were broken up into groups of 3, each group comprising of 3 individuals who hadn’t previously met. They were given some time to come up with an idea for a new startup and then each group presented their idea. Some interesting ideas came up – nothing earth-shattering of course given the short amount of time allocated. However, it got people thinking, sharing, getting to know each other, strategizing. Great activity. I am so sorry I wasn’t able to make it but I will certainly be there next time.

Startup Sunday will be held every month in Karachi. Have spoken to friends in Lahore and Islamabad to work with us on organizing a similar activity in those cities. Naturally the format will change each time and new things will be added to so that the meeting continues to provide value to participants. Join the Facebook page that has been set up for this activity.

December 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm 4 comments

Be a part of Startup Sunday – first session on Dec 5 in Karachi!

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Sunday, 5th December 2010 | 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

An open-house event, Startup Sunday is a platform to engage, network, learn, and promote technology startups.

1. Socialize
2. Brainstorm
3. Three Startup Stories
4. Five Inspirations
5. Network

To register, please visit

Startup Sunday

Date: Sunday, 5th December, 2010
Time: 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Minimum Donation: Anything you like. Please support our vision of intellectual poverty alleviation by donating generously.
Venue: PeaceNiche | T2F
Address | Map

Download the poster

December 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm 3 comments

AllWorldNetwork looking for SMEs for Pakistan 25 & Asia 500

If you are a Pakistani entrepreneur  whose business can be called an SME and is growing fast, then you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity that AllWorld Network, Professor Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School in partnership with JS Bank, are launching in Pakistan. They call it the first ever Pakistan 25 which is a ranking of the top 25 fastest growing & dynamic private businesses in this country which are creating the next economy of ideas and jobs..

Can you benefit from increased exposure to potential investors, business partners, customers and suppliers?

The list of winners will be published in national and international media. The Pakistan 25 will then become part of the Asia 500 which will include winners from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Details of the program can be found on the Asia 500 website.

There is no entry fee. The deadline for applications is September 10, 2010

Learn more about the program at Asia 500 or CLICK HERE TO APPLY to the Pakistan 25.


AllWorld Network was established in 2007 by Deirdre M. Coyle, Jr., Anne Habiby and Professor Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business School, after many years of promoting entrepreneurship in the developed and developing worlds.  Recognizing that entrepreneurship drives economic growth and innovation, AllWorld’s mission is to find and advance ALL the growth entrepreneurs of the emerging world by 2015. 


  • The top 5 winners from each country are invited to attend the AllWorld Leadership Summit in October at Harvard University and the Pinnacle Institute with fast-growing companies from around the world.
  • Network and build business relationships with leading fast growing companies. In addition, be trained in business strategy and development by the leading academics and successful international entrepreneurs.
  • Be a member of the exclusive Asia 500 business network and the AllWorld Exchange B2B platform, a unique ideas and information exchange platform to meet the needs of fast growing companies.


  • Be an independent, private, for-profit, corporation or partnership, or proprietorship.
  • Must NOT be a non-profit, holding company, franchise, bank or utility company. Private companies established by government or where government is a majority stakeholder are also NOT eligible.
  • Have 6 or more full-time employees in 2009.
  • Have a minimum 3-year operating history, and revenue (USD) of at least $100,000 in 2007 and $500,000 in 2009.
  • Provide audited statements or an audit letter to confirm your company’s revenues.
  • Smaller and younger companies can apply to be recognized as Companies to Watch.

If you have any questions about the program please contact: Ahmad Jalal Director of New Markets and Pakistan 25 l 100, at:

August 16, 2010 at 11:56 pm 2 comments

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