Posts tagged ‘Pakistan’

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

Young innovators are what Pakistan is about

Most people around the world see Pakistan very differently from the way that you and I (Pakistanis) do, and from the way it actually is – maybe because they have never been here; maybe because they believe the myopic coverage on mainstream media; maybe because they have never met the hundreds of thousands of amazing people from Pakistan who are striving to make the world a better place. I strongly believe that we should talk about these people, ensure that others know who they are and what they are doing. Some of them are working on mass philanthropic efforts; yet others are working towards improving the economy on a broader scale … and then there are the young ones who are breaking all stereotypes and working on the cutting edge of technology.

FawwadOne such person, who I am fortunate enough to know, is Fawad Ejaz Bhatti, the CEO of Trequant. Fawad is a passionate young man working to improve the lives of people who suffer from tremors.

I first met Fawad last year when he was studying at NUST in Islamabad. He submitted his Final Year Project for the Tertiary Student Award Category at the P@SHA ICT Awards and won. The judges were very impressed not only with what he was trying to do but also with his attitude and his temperament.

The winners from Pakistan at APICTA 2014He went with us to the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Jakarta in 2014 and presented Trequant to an international panel of judges and was declared a Runner Up in that category, with Osama Maruf – also from NUST – taking the top award in that category for his product Smart Seth. We could not have been more thrilled. The pride we felt at  the recognition that these young men had attained for themselves and for Pakistan, made everything we have ever done to support them, and others like them, totally worth it.

 Many young people work on Final Year Projects at university as just assignments; they take part in business plan competitions and award programs but once they graduate, they lose all interest in the projects that they  had once spent so much time on.

Not so with Fawad and his team of innovators. I continued to be in touch with Fawad on social media and followed what he was doing in the final year of his undergrad education. Last year he became part of The Nest i/o External incubatee program and I connected him with Shehryar Hydri, CMO of Convo who is a fabulous mentor.

TrequantEarlier this year Trequant joined the Plan 9 Incubator in Lahore. I met him and his team again last week when I visited Plan 9 to catch up with some of the teams there. The Trequant team showed me the watch they had made for tremor patients and told me what it could do. Tremors are a neurological disorder in which hands, head or legs shake involuntarily. Until now patients with tremors have found it difficult to get assessed. The Trequant Tremor Quantifying device enables patients to not only self-assess; it also allows the doctor and family members to monitor the patient’s progress. A dedicated application is able to analyze and track the tremor patterns.

Trequant goodiesSounds amazing, doesn’t it? It fills my heart with so much pride to see these youngsters come up with a product like this. Fawad gave me a package while I was there – the package contained, amongst other things, a personalized letter that I didn’t read there because I thought I might become emotional.

The letter is something they have been sending to some mentors and supporters who have motivated and helped them in their journey … and that is indeed sweet and considerate of them. There is a customized portion though and mine said “Dear Jehan, Hope you are well. Thank you Jehan. Thank you for always believing in me from the very first day. Your motivational talks and words of strength are the reason we have reached this far. We admire your work not just for us but for the tech scene of Pakistan. We at Trequant are on a mission to help 300 million tremor patients around the world using wearable technology. Since you have personally believed in us from the start, we are writing to you to give you the updates.” They then go on to provide the updates and end with this message: ” What we need from you is your vote of confidence and Hunaid, Jehan and Fawwadsupport all along our journey. We want to touch the lives of as many tremor patients as possible. Your support can help us achieve that.”

Fawad, there is no doubt that you and your team are on a mission, on a journey that will benefit a lot of patients around the world. It will be a privilege for me to do whatever I can to support you on your journey. You can always count on me to be there whenever you need me. Well done … and God bless you.

October 23, 2015 at 1:56 pm 2 comments

It is that time of year again

1237091_10153283046220327_631662539_nWhen we first started the P@SHA ICT Awards 12 years ago the goal was simple. There were a few of us who were fed up of hearing people say that there was no innovation happening in Pakistan, that there was no talent, no creativity – in fact some even claimed that we didn’t really have an IT industry.

Debating with them was of little use. We knew that we would never be able to talk our way out of that perception. So what could we do? Why not just show them, we asked ourselves – and indeed in the past 12 years we have!

From the very first year – 2003 – we were surprised at the number and the quality of entries for the P@SHA Awards from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. At first we received nominations from only known P@SHA member companidr-shoab-khan-of-care-makes-his-markes but as people found out that our mission was to recognize innovation in IT no matter whether the company was a member or not, the numbers increased as did the diversity in the kind of companies that applied.

And what a ride it has been so far! Each year we continue to be absolutely amazed
at the quality of products. Some of the same innovators continue to develop new products but each year there are new companies that emerge. Companies from Peshawar and Hyderabad have also started participating and in some cases, 1233464_10151608297625759_1747260324_nwinning! That is a wonderful sign. Pakistan is a large country with talent galore. All we have to do is give people a chance – and there will be no limit to the kind and quality of products that we will continue to see each year.

Celebrating innovation in the Pakistan IT industry is one of my favorite things to do. There is so much to celebrate, so many young people (and some older ones too) who prove again and again that we are a country brimming with talent and creativity; where people with wonderful ideas start companies and transform their ideas into dreams and faisal-khan-gets-gender-diversity-awardproducts that conquer markets, create impact and win awards and accolades.

Has your product ever been recognized? Maybe that’s because you haven’t submitted it to the Awards judging committee. Each year dozens of judges adjudicate and pick the best out of the best.

If you happen to be in Lahore or its vicinity on Monday evening, don’t forget to register to attend the P@SHA ICT Awards.  There is no registration fee but registration is essential I hope to see you there!Invite - PASHA ICT Awards 2015



October 9, 2015 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

Want to attend a fully paid 2 week Startup Immersion Program in the US?

blackbox program logoThe first time I heard about Blackbox Connect was when Mary Grove from Google for Entrepreneurs wrote to me in April 2013  telling me how excited she was to announce that GfE was going to be powering Blackbox Connect‘s Summer 2013 class,. What she said next was even more exciting. She asked if P@SHA would like to invite a startup from our community to participate. As you can imagine, there was only one answer I could give to that question – a resounding YES!

Blackbox Connect is a 2-week immersion program for founders who are based outside the US. Founders will come to Silicon Valley and live at the Blackbox Mansion where they have the opportunity to live and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs from all around the world and partake in an intense agenda of meetings and workshops with entrepreneurs, investors, experts and executives.

Google for Entrepreneurs  covers the cost of the Blackbox Connect program (including airfare, tuition, room & board)  for one founding team from each country.

Criteria for eligible startups are as follows:

— Must be based outside the US

— Only founders (not employees) may attend; up to 2 of the founders can attend

— Founder attending must be proficient in English

— Start up must have launched a technology based MVP (minimum viable product) and gathered feedback from early adopter customers. If product is B2B, then feedback from prospective customers is acceptable.

This was how P@SHA became the official partner for the Blackbox Connect Google for Entrepreneurs funded program in Pakistan.

The first participants selected to go from Pakistan were Groopic and Tunacode (yes I know I said that only one team from each country would be sponsored but the Blackbox team was so impressed with the quality of applications that we sent that they selected two). The second time around the same thing happened – Appography and SMSAll were selected by Fadi Bishara – the founder of Blackbox Connect.

-Ideally, but NOT required: startup should have raised some investment capital, have a team between 2-20, and have a product or service that can be launched globally.

Last week P@SHA put out a call for applications for the next program which will be in the fall. Have you applied? Many of your peers have. If this is the first time you are hearing about this program, and you are interested in applying and expanding your business globally, please go to theApplication Link:

Benefits of participation in Blackbox Connect two week program:

  • Blackbox Connect speakers mentor, inspire and impart their knowledge and experience with the participants in a genuine Silicon Valley Way
  • You live and work within a comfortable environment that is conducive to learning and sharing
  • There are Network events to gain access to Silicon Valley’s best resources of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors
  • Membership of the Blackbox global community
  • By Demo Day, Blackbox Connect Entrepreneurs deliver a refined and compelling presentation, conveying clarity of their vision and direction, understanding what it takes to get  funded by experienced US and global investors and realizing goals for the long term success of their startup

To catch a glimpse of what Entrepreneurs took away from the Blackbox Connect program, have a look at this video

For the last two programs we received about 60 applications. Our local panel of judges went through them and selected the top 10 – 12. This shorter list was sent to the Blackbox Connect team who then interviewed all the shortlisted candidates and finally selected the participants. So who will be the lucky ones for this program? It could be you!!!

June 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm 3 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

Breaking News: A P@SHA LaunchPad perk for a winner or two from Karachi

If the offer of cash awards and expert mentoring at the P@SHA LaunchPad events wowed you, there is JUST ONE MORE perk for a winner or two from Karachi that I need to tell you about.

If the judges think that one or two or all three winning ideas from Karachi are ideas that are likely to become our next tech stars, P@SHA will connect them with Dot-Zero, the new community, co-working space coming up in Karachi next month. Dot-Zero is one of the grantees of the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund and they have agreed to incubate some of the P@SHA winners (who require working space).

Dot-Zero is the brainchild of three tech entrepreneurs – Farzal Dojki, Imran Moinuddin and Atif Azim who were later joined by one of our very successful entrepreneurs Yusuf Jan, of Mixit Inc. fame, as a Board Member and an Angel Investor.

Farzal, a graduate of UT Austin, worked for 3 startups in Pakistan before founding Next Generation Innovations in Karachi. He is also a co-founder of Venture Dive, another local startup.

Atif’s claim to fame amongst other things is that he was the founder of Perfigo, a technology startup in Silicon Valley, which was acquired by Cisco Systems. He went to Imperial College London &  Stanford before founding Perfigo.

Imran is also a graduate of Stanford and the founder & CEO of Nex Degree. His organization catalyzes the growth for four socially conscious startups.

So what is Dot-Zero? Briefly, it is a not-for-profit community working space that hopes to be the fertile ground from which innovative tech starts will emerge. It is a space where networking, collaboration and an exchange of ideas will flourish. For more details regarding the project, check out this complete slide deck.

It is an amazing project that still requires some funding so if you have some extra money lying around that you want to contribute, do contact the Dot-Zero team.

In the meantime, we are trying to see if we can find some perks for aspiring entrepreneurs from Lahore and Islamabad as well.

Karachi Plug and Play from Farzal Dojki

June 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm 2 comments

Additional information on the P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 process

P@SHA LaunchPad logoAs most of you are aware, registrations for the P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 close tomorrow at 5 pm. If you haven’t registered your idea or startup product/service yet, go do it NOW! You can apply to participate in the P@SHA LaunchPad events at We have already received a lot of entries from across the country. The Oversight Committee will go through them on June 19 and we will notify the shortlisted candidates on the evening of June 19.

There are three categories this year:

  • Innovative Idea for an ICT product/service
  • Startup with an Innovative ICT product/service
  • Innovative Idea which uses ICT for Social impact

There will be a winner in each category in each of the three cities (i.e. a total of 9 winners). If you have applied from any city other than Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad, you need to email and inform us which of the 3 cities you will be able to present in.

This is the process that will then be followed:

1. June 19 evening – Shortlisted Candidates will be informed. They will have to confirm that they will present their idea/startup on the following dates:

KARACHI – June 22 – Karachi Marriott – 3 pm to 6 pm

LAHORE – June 25 – LUMS – 5 pm to 8 pm

ISLAMABAD – June 27 – from 5 pm to 8 pm (Venue To Be Announced)

2. On the Presentation day in each city, shortlisted candidates will be asked to present a 5 minute pitch regarding their idea/product or service. This will be followed by a 5 minute Q&A session. The Panel of judges comprising experienced IT entrepreneurs from the local community in each city will determine the winning idea in each category. To assist you in preparing your pitch, we are attaching a template here P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 Template. You do not have to use this – it is meant to give you a sample of what is expected from you.

3. Judging Criteria – Each idea or product/service will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Does it solve a Business, Individual or Community problem?
  • Is it innovative?
  • Is there a viable market for it in Pakistan or elsewhere?
  • Does such a product already exist? How is this one different? What is the competitive advantage?
  • What is your business model? How will the idea be sustainable?
  • Is the team able to deliver on the idea?
  • Communication Skills – your ability to present the idea well

4. Mentoring – The winning ideas will be assigned mentors to help them develop the idea/product/service.

5. Cash Award – Each winner in the three categories in each city will receive Rs. 200,000 to help them develop the idea/product/service.

6. Register to attend the event – Whether you are shortlisted to present or not; whether you have submitted an idea or not, you are welcome to attend the events in each city. Though there is no registration fee, you will however have to register to attend the events at: Please only register if you are planning to attend the events so that we can make arrangements accordingly.

Watch this space as another exciting announcement will be made TONIGHT!

June 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm 2 comments

Charter for Compassion Pakistan launches Ramzan Challenge 2013

CfC Ramzan Challenge photo

The Charter for Compassion Pakistan has launched the Ramzan Challenge 2013, the objective of which is to teach school students and university students the importance of compassion and social welfare. These students will be trained to become “Agents of Compassion” who can subsequently become the role models for others in society.

The Charter for Compassion Pakistan is a local initiative based upon the Charter for Compassion, a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national differences, inspiring worldwide community-based acts of compassion. The document was drafted by a multi-faith, multi-national council of thinkers and leaders. It is a cooperative effort to restore compassionate thinking and action to the centre of religious, moral and political life. The Charter for Compassion initiative in Pakistan is led locally by volunteers based out of Karachi.

The Ramzan Challenge 2013, is a program where the Charter for Compassion Pakistan plan to bring about a change in society and the mindset of our youth by educating them of the importance of social welfare in our community. The program will be communicated all across social media, schools/ universities and leading institutions all over Pakistan.

The aim is to attract a hundred (100) participants from schools, universities and other institutions on a nationwide scale. The last date for registration is June 28. The orientation session will be held a day later. All participants will be divided into teams of five (5) individuals and will be given time (5 days) to come up with a social welfare project of their choice.

The next step will be to counsel these teams on the projects that they share with CfC and then train them on how to implement and execute these projects on the ground. After a successful execution of the project, all teams will be invited to present their work through documentaries, pictures and presentations. The winners will be decided by a panel of prestigious judges comprising of diverse entrepreneurs and corporate personalities.

“Agents of Compassion” will also be tested for their leadership skills, encouraging teamwork and effective learning. As seed money, the best project will be given PKR 100,000.00. Winning Agents of Compassion will receive mentorship from a leading entrepreneur and leader of Pakistan. The awarded group will also be given complete media coverage on a radio station and T.V channel. One of the selected projects will be carried forward and implemented for an entire year under the supervision of an Assistant Project Coordinator.

Remember the last date for registration for this challenge is June 28, 2013 so REGISTER NOW!


June 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm 1 comment

An important question for Indian and Pakistani visa officials

Wagah postWhether you are a Pakistani applying for an Indian visa or an Indian applying for a Pakistani visa, the road ahead is a challenging one for you. I have been fortunate in that I have a strong sponsor in the form of Nasscom who are P@SHA’s counterparts in India. However, even then there are stumbling blocks especially if you are applying for a Triple Entry or Multiple Entry visa. Let me tell you about some of them.

So if you are applying for a triple entry visa, you are asked what your port of entry will be – Delhi/Mumbai/Wagah. How is one supposed to know if during a 12 month period one will have to go to a meeting to Mumbai/Bangalore/Pune which would mean entering via Mumbai OR if one will be going to a meeting in Delhi/Gurgaon/Chennai which would entail going through Delhi. You are also expected to know which hotel you will be staying at. Really ridiculous. So what does one do? Either get a crystal ball or guess and keep your fingers crossed that those will be the cities you will be going to and that the relevant hotels that you have mentioned will have rooms available should you need to stay there.

And before we have a barrage of anti-India statements, our government does the same. It is called reciprocity.

Stranger still is what happened this year to one of our delegates who had booked Hotel A in Mumbai to stay at but when she discovered that it was miles away from where the conference was, and that everyone else was staying at Hotel B, she tried to cancel the room in Hotel A and book a room in Hotel B. She was told by Hotel A that she would be charged for one night (which is normal) so she decided to stay in Hotel A for one night and then move to Hotel B for the days that remained. At the airport, in the column on the Residence Permit where she was asked to fill in the name and address of the hotel she would be staying at, she put in the name and address of Hotel B because that was where she would be spending the larger portion of her stay.

Big mistake! When she got to Hotel A, she was told that they could not put her up for the one night because the Residence Permit had the name of Hotel B on it. They would be breaking the law if they allowed her to stay. The hotel management was very nice; they called the other hotel and arranged for her to move to Hotel B the same night but it was a hassle and it was tiring and time-consuming for the poor lady. She looked absolutely harassed by the time she checked into Hotel B where we ran into her and she related this entire story.

My question to both governments – Do we really have to do this to each other? Who designs these forms? Don’t they think the whole thing through? Can’t they make things easier. Even the US that is so security conscious, gives a country visa to us. Why should India and Pakistan not do the same for each other? Let us do away with the city specific visas and the defining of ports of entry. Harassing business people and family visitors doesn’t keep out the terrorists. They have their ways and get in somehow.

Another update is that the Indian CID has taken a liking to me. I have been travelling to India for the past 12 years on business but it is only in the last two years that I have been visited by the CID. They are polite enough and I guess they are just doing their job but surely their time could be better utilized elsewhere rather than checking up on me and asking me why I am there, how long was I going to stay, the exact details of my flight back, what i was going to do while I was in India etc. etc. Come on guys – have I suddenly started to look more suspicious than I did before? Surely not!  I also object to the fact that although I had told you that 8 more colleagues of mine were arriving the next day, you didn’t come to check up on them. Why do I get all the love? 😉

March 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm 3 comments

Jugnoo Media launches Duddoo Aur Dhobi – an app for South Asian toddlers

It is such a delight to see that local companies are actually beginning to develop interesting and engaging content in local languages for kids. We have seen how popular Toffee jugnooTV has become since it was first launched and now a new company – Jugnoo Media has launched a fabulous mobile App for the iPhone and iPad. We are told that they are also working on an Android version which will be out soon.

Duddoo Aur Dhobi, as it is called, is based on two popular Urdu nursery rhymes “O Baba duddoo’a” and “Dhobi aaya”. It is an app that provides a highly interactive and immersive environment for children. The app has lyrics and characters based on South Asian themes, heroes, stories and traditions thus providing context.

I first caught sight of it when one of the founders of Jugnoo Media, Zia Imran, sneaked it into the home of our mutual friend Zafar Khan, CEO of Sofizar one evening. Zafar’s young son Zacky was hanging around the living room and Imran took out his iPad and started playing with the app which was still in beta mode. His intention was to get Zacky to test it out for free (Zafar, please note: your son was deprived of a beta testing fee).

The little one took hold of the iPad and start playing very intuitively with the application and was totally engrossed in it the entire evening. He showed it to his mom and his dad and there was no question about how much he loved the app. All of us knew that it would be a hit. I convinced Imran to load it onto my iPad mini the next day and have been playing it myself whenever I get a chance.

Going through Facebook statuses of friends one day, I noticed the following message put up by Sadia Khan who is COO of Autosoft Dynamics:

Raem and Anya’s latest favorite song and app on the ipad – Urdu based nursery rhyme, Duddoo aur Dhobi! Check it out friends and family. Its been made by a Pakistani company and I give it top marks on engaging kids. Both of my kids for the first time in a long while want to play with the same app. I have even caught myself unwittingly humming the duddoo and dhobi song – do check it out and let me know what you all think!! P.s. its free for now so I’d download before they start charging!!!

So it is not only kids but also their parents who are really taken with this app.

Jugnoo Media’s mission is to create wholesome entertainment and educational content for kids of all ages (I guess that means I am included too). This is good news for South Asian parents who think there is a dearth of good localized content available in electronic format.

Jugnoo means ‘Firefly’ in Urdu, Hindi and other regional languages of South Asia. The venture is named Jugnoo Media because the founders were simply enthralled by the vast presence of this small insect while growing up. They say that in the old days, it was the norm for young children to run after these beautiful insects and attempt to catch them. Some would put them in glass bottles to make lanterns. In today’s day and age, this beautiful and fragile insect is under severe threat. As cities become large, paved and cemented with less and less natural habitat, the jugnoo has virtually disappeared from large cities of South Asia.

Local culture, heritage and languages are on the defensive; being squeezed out by the massive global culture which emphasizes cultural homogenity at the expense of cultural diversity. It tends to be more material than spiritual and is devoid of local context. Jugnoo Media wants to change that. Its first project is to build immersive digital toys in local languages that are based on popular nursery rhymes of the region. Good luck guys! We look forward to seeing more apps/games/stories coming out of the Jugnoo Media stable (or should that be ‘garage’)?

February 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm 3 comments

Well done Team P@SHA!

APICTA-2012-Day-Two-BannerThis is one of the rare times that I have been unable to accompany the Pakistan delegation to the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) since I took over as President of the Association. To say that I was unhappy at not being able to go with them, would be an understatement. One of the greatest joys in my job at P@SHA is to recognize talent and innovation and promote and project it – talk about it, shout from the rooftops so that the world will realize the brilliance of the young people of this country. So not being able to go and witness their brilliance in Brunei was disappointing to say the least.

And brilliant they were!! Yet again!! Only 7 products were nominated from Pakistan this year. Of these 4 came away with Silver Awards. Of those 4, we had the amazing APICTA-2012-Hongkong-ReceptionDr. Shoab Khan, CEO of CARE, with their product Secure High Data Rate Wideband Networking Radio Waveform with Multiple Access for Software Defined Radios in the Communications Category, Munir Usman and Amir Ali Jiwani, CEO and CTO of Pi-Labs for their products Candy Pot/Feed Garfield in the very competitive New Media & Entertainment Category, Tunacode with their product gKrypt and a joint nomination from EME (NUST)/CARE/Shifa – the Network Enabled Retinal Image Analysis and Screening System for Grading and Diagnosis of Diabetic Retinopathy.

As Jawwad Ahmed Farid, our Chief Mentor for APICTA, says “we breathed a sigh of jawwad-farid-2012-Decrelief when we saw Dr. Shoab Khan walk into the Empire Hotel in Brunei because he is our Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad rolled into one. We know he is going to bowl everyone out and/or go for a huge SIX”. And that’s certainly true. CARE continues to innovate and produce great applications that compare with the best in the world.

What is extremely heartwarming is the performance of two startups in the most difficult categories at APICTA – Security and New Media and Entertainment. Pi-Lab’s Candy Pot/Feed Garfield Game Engine and Tunacode’s gKrypt made the judges sit up APICTA-2012-PASHA-090and take notice. Such work out of Pakistan always surprises technology gurus from the rest of the world but I think as year after year our technologists show what they are capable of, the judges are becoming used to seeing such innovation from our ICT industry.

The preparations for Team Pakistan’s participation at APICTA began weeks before the team travelled to Brunei. Jawwad Farid sent templates, tutorials and guidelines so that the teams would start preparing themselves for the task ahead. He and I bullied participants so that they would take the time from their busy schedules to concentrate on their presentations. Zafar Khan took the lead in Lahore and helped participants in Karachi via phone and email as well. I had to soothe the feathers of the Chief Mentor when he thought that nominees were not responding as quickly as he wanted them to. People like Rabia Garib and Talea Zafar put in time to help with storyboarding and presentation preparations for a APICTA-2012-PASHA-094couple of the participants. Powerpoints went back and forth from Lahore and Islamabad to Karachi and several iterations later they were still being fine-tuned.

At APICTA I wear 3 hats – Economy Coordinator, EXCO Member and Head of Delegation. It requires a lot of multitasking but it is a labour of love and I thoroughly enjoy it. Since I knew that I would not be going this year, I had to make sure that I delegated the work to friends within the delegation.

Sadaf Ali from my team at P@SHA, was given the role of Economy Coordinator. I know a couple of our CEC members were a little nervous about a total novice taking on this important task but I had faith in young Sadaf and I am proud to say that my faith was not misplaced. From the time she took on the task weeks before flying to Brunei, she took to it like a duck to water. I was copied on everything so I knew APICTA-2012-PASHA-010exactly what she was up to. She was pro-active and competent and the feedback from Brunei shows that she did a much better job than I would have. Well done Sadaf!

Another young woman in the delegation was Syeda Areej Kamal from NED University. She didn’t win in the Tertiary Student Category because there was some extremely tough competition in terms of technology as well as student projects already generating over US$40,000 in revenue. The support that those projects receive in terms of training, participation costs over the year at various events and investment by government in their projects is what helps those kids from countries like Hong Kong to perform brilliantly each year. We need to take a look at what we are missing out on by not offering similar support to our youngsters. However, if you had seen Areej’s presentation, you would be amazed. It wowed our mentors and judges during the late night mentoring sessions at the Empire Hotel in Brunei. They shared it with me and I was blown away. Well done Areej. We are proud of you.

My EXCO duties were shared by Jawwad, Zafar and Sultan who are very popular at APICTA and who’ve made many friends in the region. Pak team minus SajjadThey, and Badar Khushnood, have as judges won the respect of counterparts from the Asia Pacific and Pakistan is lucky to have such passionate and dedicated professionals representing us. Badar covers his own costs (as did Faizan Siddiqi this year) to travel to APICTA, to provide great feedback to nominees during the prep sessions and to generally be there as part of the supporting team that projects our country and our industry so phenomenally. Thanks guys. Where would we be without you?

The Head of Delegation duty was transferred to Sultan Hamdani – and who better than our Sultan to head a delegation to Brunei. The man is a total charmer and gets people to do whatever is needed whenever its needed and finds creative solutions to any problem that may creep up.

As you can see, the team was in good hands… and yet like a mother hen, I worried nonetheless. I kept bugging them with emails and messages on GTalk. The night APICTA-2012-Day-Two-End-of-Daybefore the results were announced I didn’t sleep because I was so anxious. First thing in the morning I kept pinging them to ask if there was any news coming out of the Final Judges’ meeting. I was on pins and needles. It was as if my life depended on it. I needn’t have worried though. Team Pakistan didn’t let us down. They held the flag high and did us proud. Thank you guys and girls. Thank you for allowing us to hold our heads up high once again.

Other relevant posts:
APICTA Photo Blog – Arrival

APICTA Judging Brunei -Day 1

Team Pakistan picks up four Silvers at Empire Hotel in Brunei

More photos of Team Pakistan from APICTA 2012

Some of the coolest people who were judges at APICTA 2012 from Pakistan

Profiles of Team Pakistan at APICTA 2012

December 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm 7 comments

Leasing a car?

If you are planning to lease a car, you better make sure that you are able to make the payments on a regular basis to the bank because if you don’t, this could be your car!

I first saw this car in the basement of my office building months ago and I wondered why no-one cleaned it or took care of it. Then I saw the tyres had gone flat and the amount of dirt on it had increased.

One day I asked the chowkidaar whose car it was. It was then that he told me that this was a car that had been repossessed by the bank for non-payment and hence it just stood there until it met its fate – probably the bank would sell it and try and get part of its money back. One would think that if they want to sell it at a good price, the least they could do was to keep it in good shape. Ah well, who am I to make any suggestions? It’s just that it hurts me to see a car being treated thus.

October 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

In Memory of Rita M. DeSouza

On life’s journey very rarely do you meet  people who not only make an impression on you but who also contribute to and influence your growth, your values and your development as a human being. Rita M. DeSouza was one such person. Learning of her death on May 25 at the age of 92 made me feel a sense of deep personal loss. She was a good soul who did so much for so many. I was sorry that since i was traveling I could not attend her funeral and pay my last respects. She had been a part of my life since High School as the Principal of St. Lawrence’s School in Karachi but our relationship did not stop there.

It has been a long time since I graduated from High School but throughout my college and university years and then as I entered professional life, Rita DeSouza was always there taking pride in whatever I achieved and guiding my development. She was the kind of educationalist who cared about her students, about the young people under her care, someone who followed their careers with a great deal of interest and took pleasure in their success and in their achievements.

A group of us who were in school together visited her regularly on her birthday, at Easter, at Christmas and New Year. She looked forward to our visits with great anticipation and often told her family and friends about this “special group of former students”. She never forgot to call us on special occasions like Eid to wish us Eid Mubarak. Whenever she saw anything about us in the newspapers or saw an interview on television, she would call and say how proud she was of what we had done and the way in which we had conducted ourselves. Her praise always meant so much because it was honest and sincere.

Rita DeSouza was a wonderful conversationalist. Each discourse with her taught you something new but she was also a great listener (a quality very few have). We talked to her about everything – our careers, our personal lives, our problems, our challenges, our successes, our failures. And the advice she gave very often helped us look at things from a different perspective and discover new solutions.

Rita DeSouza was an amazing human being. She was a great teacher, an efficient administrator, a role model for many, a humanist, a caring and loving person and a mentor and guide. She cared so much about this country and never really wanted to live anywhere else even though she was not short of options. Of late she had been very concerned about the political and societal changes taking place around us. She was also concerned about the quality of education and tried to do whatever she could to advise and work with various groups to improve the standards. She was a strong member of the community and an active participant. She was often seen visiting people who were old and sick or who needed attention.

I remember when I last visited her she was bedridden but still mentally alert. Her kidneys were giving up. The doctors had advised that she undergo dialysis but she had refused. She was adamant that she had lived a very full life and wanted to leave this world with dignity and grace and not tied to a machine. Those of us who knew her and loved her respected her decision.

Rita DeSouza had always been a fighter, a very strong human being. She had overcome a number of medical problems but had remained active and independent even after her husband Cyril’s demise. She wanted to die the way she had lived – with courage and grace. She didn’t want to linger and I am so glad she got her wish. We will of course miss her but the memories will sustain us and she will no doubt continue to live through the many young people whose lives she guided and whose values and ethics are strong because of her.

Farewell Mrs. DeSouza! You will always be remembered. You were a wonderful role model, a tremendous mentor and a great friend to all who knew you. You will continue to live in our memory and in our hearts. Rest  in Peace. God has a special place in heaven for people like you.

Article in Tribune:

June 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm 5 comments

Making learning fun!

Many of us have often had heated conversations about the difference between education and learning; about the dire need for making education a fun experience; about bringing learning to life instead of letting it lie between the pages of a book. With multimedia, interactive learning and initiatives like the Khan Academy, this is indeed beginning to happen in some small way – probably not fast enough or widely enough – but nonetheless it is happening and that’s wonderful to see.

Another area of concern for many of us has been the lack of an attempt on the part of government and educationalists to focus on creating a passion and interest for science and technology amongst the young in our country. This is of course not restricted to Pakistan. All over the world there is concern that not enough young people (especially young girls) are opting for the sciences.

It was therefore a pleasure to visit the Robotics Labs in Karachi and see the kind of things they are involved in. The Robotics Lab is a high tech initiative targeted
towards the young generation of Pakistan who want to develop a passion for Science. At the lab the kids have the opportunity and resources to learn cutting edge technologies in Robotics, Programming, iPad Game Development, 3D Scanning, 3D Modeling, 3D Printing and many more through interesting workshops held throughout the year. The children get to use the state-of-the-art equipment including laptops, robotics kits and high-end software. The modern, secure, air-conditioned facility offers an un-interrupted power supply and has  high speed access to the Internet.

The vision of the Robotics Labs, according to co-founders Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf, is to create a learning environment for children where they can come, learn and get exposure to  “practical science”. With the world changing at a fast pace and technology taking over literally all aspects of our lives, it is imperative that our children are taught and given such hands-on opportunities from an early age. They are also able to determine which areas are of particular interest to them so that when they are choosing a discipline in high school or college level, they are aware of the opportunities in science and technology that are open to them.

In order to create awareness amongst students and parents in Karachi, the Robotics Lab has been hosting field trips for schools in which the students are given hands-on experience of Robotics. Besides this, most of the courses are also offered in after school workshops and in summer/winter camps. The Robotics field trips have been very popular amongst both children and their teachers.

Our objective is to create a ‘National Impact’ through Robotics education and equip the young generation with the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century, say the founders of the lab. If you have a child or a neice or nephew or a younger brother or sister who is free this summer, it is worth looking at enrolling them into the summer camp. You will be surprised at how much they learn and how excited they get about the potential use of science and technology in the real world.


May 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm 5 comments

Join the wi-tribe bazaar Pakistan Developers’ Challenge 2012

wi-tribe, in partnership with P@SHA, HEC, Microsoft, Intel and Dell has launched the wi-tribe bazaar Pakistan Developers’ Challenge 2012.

Students, graduates, aspiring developers, professionals and virtually anyone in the development community is invited to create their very own PC and Mobile software applications and be part of the contest.

wi-tribe Bazaar supports Windows Desktop as well as Mobile Apps for Android, Blackberry and Symbian.  Although there has been a worldwide surge in the mobile apps industry, there is a ripe market opportunity within the local market of 22 million internet users. With wi-tribe Bazaar, you have the added opportunity to develop desktop software applications to reach a potentially untapped and lucrative consumer market.

There is a lot of talent in Pakistan that is often not recognized. There are applications that are developed that don’t have a chance to be tested or sold because a platform for showcasing such applications is not always available. With the Pakistan Developers Challenge 2012, wi-tribe is presenting young developers with an opportunity to test out their products in the local market. It is a great opportunity not to be missed. A number of key organizations have therefore agreed to partner with wi-tribe on this challenge. P@SHA is one of them. Our mandate is to encourage innovation and showcase talent.

Don’t miss the opportunity of joining the Pakistan Developers’ Challenge 2012. Register to participate NOW. wi-tribe believe this contest to be more than a platform for showcasing your talents; it will also contribute towards a new market opportunity, within Pakistan.

How to Participate:

In order to participate, contestants must follow the simple steps below:

1.       Read through the ‘terms and conditions’ of the contest (available online)

2.       Select one of 9 categories that best describes the software application they are developing or have developed

3.       Register for PDC2012 by visiting and fill in the online form in the ‘Seller FAQs’ section.

Once registered, wi-tribe Bazaar will email contestants the PDC2012 submission form and the Developer’s Agreement, both to be completed and sent back along with 2 copies of the software application on separate CDs to:

Pakistan Developers Challenge 2012,
c/o Marketing Department,
wi-tribe Pakistan,
14N, F-8 Markaz, Islamabad

5.       After a thorough quality check, the software will be published on wi-tribe Bazaar with a confirmation email sent to the contestant.

6.       Once published, the software is open for promotion and downloading.

Follow wi-tribe Bazaar (@witribeBazaar) and use #PDC2012 for contest news and updates.

Awards & Cash Prizes:

With PDC2012, contestants can win a number of cash prize awards, based on the following categories:

·         Biggest contributor award (institutions only): Rs. 100,000

·         PDC 2012 Grand prize: Rs. 100,000

·         Runner up – Best Software: Rs. 50,000

·         Best Student Software: Rs. 30,000

·         Most popular: Rs. 10,000

·         Highest ratings: Rs. 10,000

Exclusive jury awards:

·                 Best concept: Rs. 25,000

·                 Best design and UI: Rs. 25,000 (Rs. 10,000 each)

·                   Awards for best of each category

·                   Anti-virus & anti-spam

·                   Business

·                   Communication

·                   Games

·                   Graphics

·                   Internet and Networking

·                   Mobile Applications

·                   PC Widgets

·                   System Utilities

With 17 prizes being awarded, the PDC2012 promises to be an exciting opportunity for developers.

For more information, you can email us at

May 4, 2012 at 5:19 am Leave a comment

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