Posts tagged ‘P@SHA’

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

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 http://goo.gl/XiNWN2 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

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: http://goo.gl/wqWNS0.

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 https://vimeo.com/86613312

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 http://goo.gl/UsVUR. 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 services@pasha.org.pk 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: http://goo.gl/AENZq. 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

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 http://goo.gl/UsVUR 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

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

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 http://bazaar.wi-tribe.pk 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 pdc2012@wi-tribe.pk

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

P@SHA is the proud user of SmartXS!

As P@SHA expands its resource capacity, we thought we should have an Attendance system to document who comes in at what time – not that this will ensure how productive they have been during the day – but nonetheless it seemed like a cool thing to do.
So how did we go about it? Well it seemed only natural to contact Farhan Masood who runs Solotech. His innovative products have been P@SHA ICT Award winners in 2010 and 2011 and have grabbed the Silver award at APICTA.
Farhan suggested that we instal his SmartXS hardware and software solution which is selling like hotcakes throughout the country as well as elsewhere.
Solotech’s SmartXS was developed following a pitch that Farhan made at the P@SHA LaunchPad event in Lahore which he in fact won. He used the winner’s cash award to work on the initial design of the product which many people had told him was not a feasible product to invest in. He is glad he didn’t listen to the naysayers because today this product generates a large portion of the revenues for Solotech.
At first I was hesitant about installing this flashy new technology at the Secretariat. One of the main reasons was that I thought it would be too expensive. Fortunately Farhan made sure it wasn’t and so P@SHA is now the proud owner of a Made-in-Pakistan product that is working superbly. Thanks Farhan. Thanks Solotech.

January 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm 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

Team Pakistan wins accolades even before the Awards announcement!

As we sat together in the Final Judges’ Briefing this morning viewing the results of the APICTA 2011 competition, there were mixed emotions – a great deal of pride for all those who had embarked on this amazing journey with us and a feeling of satisfaction at the results Team Pakistan has achieved this year. Stephen Lau, an APICTA stalwart and the Chairman of the Hong Kong Computer Society, came over to Jawwad Farid and me and said “It has  been heartening to see how Pakistan’s performance at APICTA has evolved over the years.” He remembered how we had begun with a consolation prize in the form of a “Special Mention” at APICTA in Hong Kong in 2004 and another Special Mention at the event in Macau in 2005. Our very first APICTA win had been in Chiang Mai in 2006 and I remember how thrilled we had been to bring the Award home for the first time.

This was also the year that Alchemy Technologies had participated at APICTA and Jawwad and his team had been absolutely shattered that they hadn’t won. That was when he embarked on his own personal mission (with me as his partner in crime)  to ensure that all APICTA participants were coached and mentored prior to their participation even if it meant torturing them by depriving them of sleep and making them do several dry runs after getting them to turn their presentations around. This has been our practice every year. It starts in Pakistan and goes on till the moment they go before the judging panel. And it works.

Every year Team Pakistan has brought more and more accolades by performing brilliantly. I speak here of not only the Awards they win. I am referring to the perceptions they change through networking, developing relationships in the region and putting their hearts and souls into presenting their products before distinguished judges from the region.

Bill Liu from Singapore walked in on one of our mentoring sessions day before yesterday and remarked “Gosh you work them hard! It shows your passion and commitment to the growth of your sector and the people who work in it.” We never miss an opportunity to introduce Bill to the talent from Pakistan. This year he had long conversations with Dr. Shoab Khan from CARE, Salman ul Haq from Tunacode and Abdul Aziz from Lumensoft. One could clearly see how impressed he was at what they had to tell him about their products, the innovation, their business models and the breakthroughs they had made. This is what I mean when I say that our teams change perceptions each time they participate.

The Toffee TV duo of Rabia and Talea won the judges’ hearts not only with their work but also with the “wrapping” that was a part of their presentation. The judge from Indonesia wanted to know why they weren’t thinking of turning their content into Bahasa – and that if they ever looked at doing it, they should connect with him. He was so thrilled with toffeetv.com that he insisted on having a picture taken with them when the judging session was over. Rabia has so enjoyed the entire experience of preparing for APICTA in the last few weeks that following her presentation she was totally overwhelmed. She came and hugged us and thanked us for “allowing her” to be a part of the process. “It has taught us so much and we have come so far along the roadmap that we had been thinking of embarking on but would never have dreamed of moving along as fast as we have done,” she said. It is statements like these that make everything we do so worthwhile.

Judges and mentors like Jawwad Ahmed Farid, Zafar Khan, Nadeem Aslam Malik, Badar Khushnood, Sultan Hamdani and Zia Imran have played such a vital role in the development of the teams over the years. They are the P@SHA mentors – they are the ones who throw so much passion and dedication into the exercise and make us a team to watch out for.

This year we brought 19 products to APICTA to compete with a total of 162 products from the region. In very competitive categories like New Media & Entertainment and E-Learning, we made our presence felt. The Head Judge in the New Media & Entertainment Category – Kelly Hutchinson from Australia – said to me yesterday that she was absolutely blown away by our teams and she was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and talent of fellow-judge Zafar Khan. That was so wonderful to hear.

Salman ul Haq of Tunacode was brilliant and on such a high when we walked out of the R&D category. The judges in his category were impressed at the calibre of his research and with his depth of knowledge. He said to me “It does not really matter if I win or not. I have knocked their socks off with my research, and I have learnt so much in the process.” That is the spirit young man. We could do with many more like you.

Syed Saad Hussain of Five Rivers Technologies showed off the Photo Editor application that has been the top application in all categories, across all geographies on the Blackberry App store. It is like having a mini Photoshop app on your mobile. The judges actually took pictures, applied filters and manipulated the images with glee. If it hadn’t been for the Augmented Reality solutions that the Hong Kong teams came up with, he had a sure shot at one of the top slots in his category. He did us proud with his impeccable presentation, with the faultless demos and with the confidence that he exuded. Well done Saad!

What can one say about the team from CARE? They are professionals with a depth of knowledge that they have accumulated over the years. Having them with us at APICTA has added a new dimension to our entries. Having them as part of our industry has added a new maturity.

I could go on and on but it’s time to get ready for the Awards Dinner event. More later!

November 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm 3 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 Google.org 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 audible.com 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

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