Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Pakistani Start-ups Accepted in Silicon Valley Immersion Program

Lahore-based Groopic and Islamabad-based Tunacode have been accepted to be part of this summer’s Blackbox Connect program in Silicon Valley.

Founded by Pakistanis, both companies are start-ups with innovative products whose founding teams are looking to live, learn and network for two weeks at an Atherton mansion this summer from July 15 to 26, 2013.  These young entrepreneurs are a reflection of Pakistan's growing human capital.

This year's summer program of Blackbox Connect is supported by Google.

Groopic is an application that helps put the photographer back into photos with his or her buddies. Eyedeus, the company behind Groopic, emerged from the first batch of companies at Plan9, the Punjab government’s incubator which is named after an operating system project at the Bell Labs in the 1980s.

Tunacode specializes in optimizing complex software to graphic processing units (GPUs).

The two Pakistani companies are among eight non-US start-ups selected to participate this summer by Google for Entrepreneurs partner programs around the world. The remaining six companies are Avocarrot (UK), EgzoTech (Poland), Inpris (Israel), Instabug (Egypt), Melusyn (France) and MyDoorHandle (South Africa).  Here's how Blackbox Connect describes the program:

"Founders will come to Silicon Valley and live at the Blackbox Mansion for the two weeks, where they will have the opportunity to live and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs from all around the world and take part in an intense agenda of meetings and workshops with entrepreneurs, investors, experts and executives. Accepted startups must have launched a technology based MPV and gathered feedback from early adopter/customers. Ideally - but not required - a startup should have raised some investment capital, have a team between 3 to 20 people and have a product or service that can be launched globally".

Here's the curriculum for this year's program:

1. Interfacing with an Investor

Top Ten Mistakes Made in Business Plans
Short Building Elevator Pitching Preparation and Workshop
Perfecting Your Investor Pitch
How to Hold an Investor Meeting
Recruiting and Leveraging an Advisory Board

2. Basics of Venture Capital Investment Options

Founder Vesting Equity
Stock Options for Startup Founders
Introduction to Equity Term Sheets

3. Born-Global Startups

Building the Core Team, Recruiting and Scaling
UX-based Branding
Raising Money in Silicon Valley
First Hand Founders Success Stories
Leveraging Social Marketing
Setting up official US presence for international startup
Legal & Financial Issues of Born-Global Startups

4. Quality Networking Events

Dinners at Blackbox Mansion with local SV community members
Attend other select happening events in Silicon Valley
Demo/Pitch event to investors followed by dinner event

I believe the exposure to Silicon Valley start-up culture via the Blackbox Connect's immersion program can help founders of participating companies to emulate the success of some of the big-name world-renowned companies that have spawned the technology revolution sweeping the world.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Two Pakistani-American Start-ups Among Top 5 Venture Deals 

Pakistan's Growing Human Capital

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans 

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor 

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

US Firms Adding Jobs Overseas 

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend 

Pakistanis Study Abroad

Pakistan's Youth Bulge

Pakistani Diaspora World's 7th Largest

Pakistani-American NFL Team Owner 

Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs Catch the Wave

Pakistani Graduation Rate Higher Than India's


Indian said...

Surprisingly!! anyone who applies and willing to pay the price to go there is accepted.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian: "Surprisingly!! anyone who applies and willing to pay the price to go there is accepted."

Your claim is false!!!!

This program is sponsored by Google and it is paid for and limited to just 8 companies each summer selected by Google.

Read below:

Blackbox Connect is a 2-week immersion program for founders who are based outside the US. Founders 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 is sponsoring this summer's two-week session, from from July 15-26, 2013. Eight startups from Google for Entrepreneurs partner programs around the world will participate.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gigaom report on Plumgrid, a company founded by Pakistani-American and NEDUET alum Owais Naimat:

While many network vendors are busy standardizing code to implement software-defined networking (SDN), PLUMgrid, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., launched itself on to the scene Tuesday, with customers and use cases in tow. The timing could work to the startup’s advantage, and so could its alliances with other network vendors.

PLUMgrid comes to the market with a bunch of partners that can offer virtualized network applications outside of PLUMgrid’s own capabilities. Rather than try to look like the top SDN provider, PLUMgrid is pushing more of an App Store model. The approach is a clear acknowledgment that one company isn’t necessarily the answer to all SDN problems. And the humility could pay off. With a wider feature set, the company could find success.

Along with some other network vendors, including Juniper, PLUMgrid prefers not to support OpenFlow, at least for the time being. One advantage of that stance is customers won’t have to rip out old switches replace them with those with support for the protocol. Instead, PLUMgrid runs everything based on custom technology called IO Visor overlaid on physical infrastructure.

From there, customers can fire up domains through which a bunch of network functions can be implemented. Some features, such as load balancing and routing, are from PLUMgrid itself, while others can be implemented through services other companies can provide. Outside applications come from such partners as Check Point, Citrix, F5 and Palo Alto Networks.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Texas TV reporters' story on visit with some high-tech Pak graduates of UT Austin in Lahore:

LAHORE, Pakistan (KXAN) - It was a beautiful late winter day in Pakistan. The Zacky Farms outside of Lahore was busy with visitors taking advantage of the national holiday to visit the countryside.

Kids squealed with delight as they clambered onto the back of a hay truck offering free rides in front of the farm. Just inside the white washed front gates framed by butter-cream yellow walls accented with ceramic mosaics in shades of blue, tables were set for an outdoor feast.

Our delegation of was visiting Zacky Farms to learn about the sustainable agriculture trends becoming popular in Pakistan. Zacky was a model for turning biogas into power the growing operation that produces organic dairy products, vegetables, and wheat along with free range chickens.

Here, cutting-edge science and technology were being used to rethink how farms are run. I guess it should have come as no surprise I’d run into University of Texas Longhorns using their knowledge and expertise to plant the seeds for a stronger workforce to power Pakistan’s emerging tech industry.

Longhorns in Lahore

“We have really high-powered engineering teams here in Lahore,” said Abbas Yousafzai, CEO of Conrad Labs. a Lahore company specializing in engineering and development support for high tech start-up companies.

Conrad launched in 2009 as the research and development arm for Conformity -- now known as Iron Stratus -- an identity management and internet based single-sign-on startup in Austin.

Yousafzai, a University of Texas at Austin graduate with more than a decade of experience launching successful startups in Austin and California’s Silicon Valley says returning to his native Pakistan was a strategic that allows his company access to a vast network of untapped talent.

“The dedication the intelligence, the amount of talent here, commitment experience, it’s fantastic. You can’t find that anywhere else,” Yousafzai said.

Babar Ahmed, a fellow Longhorn, and CEO of Mindstorm Studios agreed.

“There are a lot of these pockets of brilliance that really come to life in Pakistan that just do these amazing things,” Ahmed said pointing to his company’s success creating games like Mafia Farm, Whacksy Taxi and Cricket Revolution for mobile devices and PCs as proof.

“Our games have hit No. 1 n the United States sitting in Lahore.” said Ahmed. "We did it all out of a room on our own.”

Mindstorm developers also created Cricket Power, The Official Game of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. A high-profile coup that validated what some saw as Ahmed’s risky decision to leave a successful career in the United States to launch a business in Pakistan in 2006.

“If you were to say: ‘Hey, how is it coming back to Pakistan is it all a bed of roses?’ Of course it’s not,” admitted Ahmed, who believes the challenges are worth the reward not only for his company but the growing software, gaming, and animation community in Pakistan.

“Giving people that opportunity, to provide them that chance to try and compete and succeed globally that’s really fulfilling,” he added with a wide smile....


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a National Geographic story on sustainable farming in Pakistan:

Zacky Farms, just outside Lahore, is the brainchild of Zafar Khan, a Caltech-educated software engineer who runs one of the most successful information technology companies in Pakistan named Sofizar. What started off as a recreational venture is now a side-business supplying sustainably produced organic milk, vegetables and meat to nearby Lahore suburbs. The farm is modeled on a cyclical model of minimal wastes and multiple product usage. The cows are fed pesticide-free oats, clover and grass and their manure is used to fuela biogas plant which runs the dairy facility. In an era of electricity load-shedding, such an alternative source of energy at a local industrial scale is immensely valuable to replicate as a development path. The residue of the biogas is used to fertigate the fodder fields and vegetable tunnels, which along with green manuring obviates the use of fertilizers. Free-range chickens grace the fields and there is even a fish farm on site. Zafar and his Ukrainian-born wife are committed to sharing their experiences with other farming entrepreneurs in the country.

Further south in a more rural and remote part of Punjab, famed writer and erstwhile lawyer, Daniyal Mueenudin, maintains a mid-size farm which is exemplifying other kinds of innovations. The farm does not boast ecological farming practices, apart from tunnel farming that can help with land conservation and humidity control. However, Daniyal has changed the social landscape of his area through implementing a “living wage” for all his employees. Noting the high level of inequality in Pakistan’s hinterland, the Yale-educated former director of the university’s Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, is practicing what he preached. He also owns a farm in Wisconsin and could have a comfortable life in the States but his social obligations keep him ensconced in Pakistan for most of the year.

Raising the wage several-fold for works and farm manager, and also offering bonus incentives for performance, has led to positive competition that can help to erode the feudal levels of income disparity which exist in this part of Pakistan. At the same time, Daniyal is also committed to providing new livelihood paths for the agrarian workers as automation reduces farm employment in some areas. He has has fully funded a school and provided a merit-based scholarship for advanced degrees to students from the nearby village. One of the children from this school (the first in her family to even go to school) is now making his way through medical school in Lahore!

Zafar and Daniyal’s stories of commitment to constructive farming for social and ecological good may appear to be outliers but they are catching on and provide hope to a country which is all too often shadowed by despair. In the suburbs of Islamabad, tax incentives and planning rules to encourage farming by urbanites are leading to a growing culture of reconnecting with the land in residential farms. In rural areas, the disaster caused by the floods of 2010 brought forth numerous aid agencies with new ideas for sustainable farming. The Pakistani diaspora, often known in the West for professions ranging from taxi-driving to engineering, may well find opportunities for reconnecting to their land in far more literal ways. With growing commitment from land-owners it just might be possible to use the existential shock of recent natural disasters that have befallen the country into a proverbial opportunity for positive change.


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan to launch Science TV channel, reports Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Science Club (PSC) has launched beta version of Pakistan’s first science, technology, innovation and educational television, Techtv.pk, which will be fully functional by August 14.
Pakistan PSC President Abdul Rauf told APP that with the launch of this channel, people would be able to access significant amounts of information with reference to any topic in a short time through different programmes.
He said today television has become an important part of people’s life as a source of information, entertainment, a great tool for learning and education, and communications.
Many different programme genres have been used to address diverse audiences for a variety of formal and non-formal learning purposes with scientifically measured results, he said.
Abdul Rauf said the channel would air educational programmes in all subjects, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and zoology, offering an excellent opportunity for young people to learn.
“In remote villages, it will help spread education to willing students through distance learning. Educational television will educate masses on hygiene, literacy, childcare and farming methods or on any topic related to day to day happenings,” he said.
PSC President said Techtv.pk would cover all events from Pakistan related to science and technology and educational activities.
It will also offer free online courses of web application development, DIY (do it yourself) projects, project management and other science and technology topics.
He said Techtv.pk also has an entertainment category with science fiction movies, cartoons and science entertainment programmes.
The channel will cover science and technology educational activities in addition to popularising the subjects through disseminating the relevant information and latest progress to students and common people.
Rauf said this television channel can prove to be very useful, easy to access at anytime from anywhere and users can access a significant amount of information with reference to any topic in a short time regardless of geographic barriers, allowing them to consult different points of view as well as hands-on experience through different DIY (do it yourself) projects.
The channel will use interactive and innovative programmes for this purpose that cover topics of science, chemistry, physics, education, technology, DIY projects, e-learning, documentaries, news, interviews, events, experiments and entertainment.
“The main objective of this web TV is to promote scientific culture and the youth’s interest in science, technology and innovations. The channel would also popularise science for laymen and students, seeking to cultivate the spirit of scientific inquiry and the love of learning in its audience,” said Abdul Rauf.


Anonymous said...

Groopic’s Rehan said that Plan9 helped in four key ways: mentorship, networking opportunities, office space, and stipend.

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

Plan9 conducts reviews every six weeks to ensure that startups are on track. After one and a half months they should have a business model developed based on real world feedback; at the three-month mark they should put their alpha product in front of early adopters; and at 4.5 months they should introduce iterations to refine their market strategy. If they can’t meet their goals, they’re out of the program.

Of the incubator’s inaugural round, only eight of the 13 startups graduated.

“The others were eased out. They weren’t serious or committed enough, or they just couldn’t pull it off.”

Rehan and his friends were just one of eight teams to have graduated from Plan9′s inaugural incubator class, but it appears there are more of their kind out there. More recently, Pakistan emerged as one of the world’s biggest locations for individual outsourcing via sites such as odesk, elance, and freelancer.com.

The social and political winds are also shifting.

Internet and cloud technologies have lowered the barriers to entry to compete in the global digital economy; and among Pakistan’s 183 million strong population there are almost 30 million internet subscribers. Meanwhile, voters recently appointed the second successive democratically elected government — the first time that’s happened in the 64-year troubled history of a country whose progress has been sabotaged by regular military coups.


Riaz Haq said...

Lots of places want to become the "next Silicon Valley." But that's much easier said than done, according to a new study from the Kauffman Foundation.

The study compares the nation's top 20 large metros in terms of high-tech start-up density in 1990 and 2010. San Jose leads in both periods. And although the order has shifted a bit, every single one of the top 10 metro areas in 2010 was among the top 20 in 1990. ...Only five of the top 20 in 2010 — Portland, Wilmington, Phoenix, Kansas City and New Orleans — weren't among the most tech-dense cities twenty years ago. Even metros that have begun to climb the high tech ranks recently, like Kansas City and Portland, really "owe their emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems to many years of spinoffs and entrepreneurial spawning," the report notes.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's TechViewAsia on start-up incubator in Lahore, Pakistan:

With a country that has been plagued by various negative connotations in recent years and has been notoriously labelled for being the most dangerous place on earth, it is certainly a surprising fact that Plan9 has created a niche for itself as the most reliable gateway of Pakistani tech industry at national and international levels.

Pakistan has bagged itself an incubator which is competing against time to be the greatest and largest tech/ business incubator not only in the country but also in the Asian region. Punjab Information Technology Board took the plunge and Dr. Umar Saif pulled the right strings to drive the creative chaos along the right direction.

It has incubated around 30 startups over the past one year, 20 have survived and 10 have failed. Some have reached milestones while a few reached to the conclusion that entrepreneurship might not be their cup of tea.

“Tech entrepreneurship is such a powerful concept that if inculcated meticulously can totally rebrand Pakistan and Plan9 is just one such stepping stone,” says Nabeel A. Qadeer who heads this initiative and has huge yet promising plans for 2014.

Currently, Plan9 is acting as a haven for early stage startups that are in dire need of a push to get into the market. Its vast network of mentors from all over the world who are fully committed towards the cause and vision of the incubation programme have facilitated the process in numerous ways.

Why the Need for Plan9?

Plan9 envisions to lay foundations of, and developing an entrepreneurial eco-system, to support the staggering economy of Pakistan. A multi-dimensional strategy has been adopted to achieve this.

A significant percentage of the literate population leaves the country as a consequence of ‘Brain Drain’; by providing economic opportunities to them along with mentoring of white-collared employees of the tech industry, Plan9 aims to retain outstanding IT talents in the country.

The long-term goal of investment by the provincial government is to invite job creators instead of job seekers with the intention of bringing equilibrium and stability, even sustainability, to the job market.

The working model of this incubation programme is different than that of top rated business incubators globally; neither incubation fee is charged for the services provided; nor is equity sought for investment. All facilities are given free of cost for a period of 6 months in every cycle.

Meet the Startups

The third cohort of Plan9 is bursting with immense energy and amazing ideas. Here is what they are working on and their products cater to the needs of local and international markets simultaneously:

Apppulp: Measure a video game’s quality by using one major factor: its ability to engage users over and again.

Appography: Mobile app ‘Vivid’ enables users to tackle customer service issues—by “ending the endless wait and annoyance of a customer service call”

Tourplanner.pk: Online travel portal caters to the inbound needs of Pakistani travelers.

Bu Bio Tech: Develops prosthetic hands that work on neural networks of the human body.

OneStep Solutions: Reinvents driving around smartphone to unlock real-time vehicle information.

Multiplex Pakistan: Develops online specialty stores focusing primarily on baby products.

404 Solutions: Develops a GPS enabled bus tracking system.

edakhla.com: A communication portal between students and universities.

Nutrionize: Developing an online directory helping people identify, connect and review local doctors in their areas.

Court Piece: Development of online versions of Pakistan’s traditional social games.

Pak CNC: CNC Water Jet cutting-machine for industrial purposes.

FANZ Solution: Online ticketing of bus travel.

ServeMe: An online service to connect blue-collar workers to clients.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on growth of computer games development in Pakistan:

LAHORE: It's a city better known for its history and culture, but a new generation of mobile game developers is bringing a slice of Silicon Valley to Pakistan's Lahore.

With open plan offices, mixed gender teams, gourmet catering and an emphasis on a fun atmosphere, the small but growing IT industry worth an estimated $2.8 billion is being led by young entrepreneurs like Babar Ahmed.

Ahmed, 33, left a career as a circuit engineer in Austin, Texas to found Mindstorm Studios in the eastern Pakistani city in 2006 with his brother Faraz.

Today their studio employs 47 people thanks to hits like 2010's “Whacksy Taxi”, which shot to number one on Apple's AppStore in over 25 countries; “Mafia Farm” in 2012 and “Cricket Power”, the official game of the 2011 World Cup.

“The idea was to put Pakistan on the gaming world,” said Ahmed, explaining he was tired of “drawing room talk” among expatriates in the US about how something should be done for their homeland.

Smartphone revolution

Mindstorm is one of several games development studios in Pakistan — mainly based in Lahore but also in the capital Islamabad and Karachi — to have prospered with the spread of the smartphone.

“After the iPhone was launched, the definition of what a game is changed overnight. The definition of what a gamer is changed overnight,” said Ahmed.

While traditional “hardcore” games — typically played on home console systems or PCs — need multi-million dollar budgets and teams of dozens of developers, games designed for smartphones need far less start-up capital.

That has allowed countries in eastern Europe, Pakistan, and the Philippines to become prime destinations for software outsourcing, said Jazib Zahir, chief operations officer at Tintash, another Lahore-based studio that provided the back-office for “Fishing Frenzy”, another top-ten hit.

According to the government, some 24,000 people are now employed in software exports — though the figure also includes more traditional areas like financial software and healthcare.

“One of the advantages that Pakistan brings is we do have a critical mass of people with training and aptitude, an interest in developing software and art and combining them,” adds Zahir, who is also a part-time tech journalist.

Breaking boundaries

At We R Play, an Islamabad-based studio based in a converted warehouse on the outskirts of the city, rows of twentysomethings busy themselves on their computers surrounded by colourful posters, plush toys and action figures.

The company was founded in 2010 by Mohsin Ali Afzal and Waqar Azim, with a major emphasis placed on a modern office space.

“We were sure from when we started that we didn't want cubicles and I wouldn't have a big office,” said Afzal, who returned from UC Berkeley in 2010.

“We wanted to make sure we're sitting with everyone. We encouraged everyone to take ownership of their spaces and gave them (money) to get stuff for their tables.”

Workspace and play is also seen as key at CaramelTech, a Lahore studio founded in 2011 by brothers Saad and Ammar Zaeem which is responsible for coding global 2011 mega-hit Fruit Ninja (which had over 500 million downloads) for an Australian studio.

The office has a designated play room complete with pool table, table football, and X-box.

“Every day at 4 pm they're forced to leave their work and go play upstairs.

We want that culture where people aren't only working but also enjoy themselves,” he said.

Also notable in the games studios is near gender-parity, a striking fact in a country where female participation in the workforce has lagged behind for decades.

People are dressed in everything from Western jeans and t-shirts to hijabs.

For some, convincing their family they are working in a “real job” wasn't easy....


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s 2nd Annual Start-Up Cup competition launched

To promote and assist the local entrepreneurships across the country, the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition launched here on Saturday.

The Start-Up Cup is locally driven business model competition open to any idea. This innovative community-based approach is designed to increase the quality and quality of entrepreneurs in the community.
The US Embassy in Islamabad and the Islamabad Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Chapter, in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council, launched the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition. Entrepreneurs selected to participate in Start-Up Cup will receive coaching through multi-day “Build-a-Business” workshops and regular mentoring to help turn their ideas into a commercial reality. Prize money of $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000 will be awarded to the winner and two runners-ups with the best Start Up concept.
At the opening ceremony, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Islamabad Thomas E Williams, said, “Programs like Start Up Cup foster greater inclusiveness in Pakistan’s economy, particularly for women. The entrepreneurial solutions that arise from competitions such as Start-Up Cup foster inclusiveness, grow economies, promote stability, expand the international supply chain, and spread the exchange of ideas.”
Over the course of the seven-month programe, aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs will learn to design viable business models, develop customers, and launch their start-up business concepts in the marketplace.
This year’s programme will build on the success of last year’s Start-Up Cup, which saw over 400 entrepreneurs compete for one of the top three prizes. Last year’s winning team went on to defeat 170 other entrepreneurs to win the first-ever World Start-Up Cup competition in Yerevan, Armenia.
The 2015 Start-Up Cup in Pakistan will introduce new partnerships with entrepreneurship centres across Pakistan, including the world’s first Women’s Entrepreneurial Centre of resources, education, access, and training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) in Islamabad sponsored by the US Department of State in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council; the Lahore University for Management Science (LUMS) Centre for Entrepreneurship; and Karachi-based technology incubator “The Nest I/O.”
The partnerships between Start-Up Cup and these centres will ensure that newly established businesses receive sustained support and mentoring, essential tools for long-term success. Numerous US Embassy programmes assist Pakistan’s entrepreneurs by increasing their access to financial resources, supporting opportunities for entrepreneurship education, and nurturing an entrepreneurial culture.
There are four base stations for this program, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi with overall prize money of Rs22.5 million.
During the opening ceremony esteemed businessman and Islamabad TiE Board member Imtiaz Rastgar said, “StartUp Cup has only came to Pakistan two years ago and already tremendous feats have been achieved as new voices and ingenious minds have been brought to the fore. One can only imagine how much advantage this competition will bring as the years progress”.


Riaz Haq said...

#Urdu and #English language versions of MIT #Technology review launched online in #Pakistan http://disq.us/8rqepu

Karachi—MIT Technology has launched technology review in Pakistan to spread science & technology awareness to a wider local audience in the aims to foster entrepreneurship and Innovation in Pakistan. This is the latest initiative in a series to create impact in Pakistan. Mr. Jason Pontin, CEO, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of MIT Tech Review, Ken Morse, Founding MD of MIT Entrepreneurship Center and Farrokh Captain, Chairman, MIT Enterprise Forum of Pakistan and . Umar Saif, chairman PITB, Vice chancellor ITU and Editor of Tech Review Pakistan addressed the press at a local hotel in Karachi recently about MIT’s role as a technology leader and its initiative to impart latest knowledge of technology to accelerate adoption of innovation and development of entrepreneurial culture in Pakistan.

The latest initiative in this is to launch MIT Technology Review (TR) in Urdu and English language with the intent to create a new tech generation in Pakistan fully aware of what is happening around the world in technology and innovation. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Pontin noted, “Whenever I visited Pakistan, I realized that here was lack of realism, technology based content that could provide guidance to the local technologists, academia, researchers, scientists and journalism analysis.

“In 2013, I had promised that I will bring the world famous MIT Technology Review (TR) to Pakistan, I am extremely happy to note that after almost two years of extremely hard work we have been able to launch the English & Urdu version of MIT Technology Review Pakistan (TR). With the Pakistan edition the educated and tech-savvy youth of this country can know about the latest technology trends and innovations around the world.

Equally, researchers and innovators and entrepreneurs of Pakistan can show case their work to the international community through this world famous technical magazine.” Mr. Morse, founding father of MIT Entrepreneurship Center, indicated that technology entrepreneurship can be a game changer for Pakistan.

Quoting Economist Intelligence Unit he said, “Waves of technically trained young people — steeped in the latest theories and techniques, and honed by some of the smartest minds in science and technology — do more for raising a country’s industrial competitiveness than all the tax breaks, development aid, and government initiatives put together.” Adding to this he said,” we need to be infected with entrepreneurship virus to gain success. If you have a lot up startups, it’s logical to have a lot of failures.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Lahore's #Pakistani developer’s Wordpress theme Avada is top seller at $10m in sales. #Pakistan #technology http://bit.ly/1YApswO

Avada theme available at Envato marketplace, has become the top selling theme while the developer, Themefusion, has now crossed a milestone of 10 million dollars.

This theme is developed by Haris Zulfiqar and Luke Beck under the company name of “Themefusion”. The two met at Envato, a digital marketplace for creative assets by web designers. In the year 2013, we told our readers that their theme hit a 1 million dollar sale number. Fast forward a couple of years and Avada has continued to show immense growth in terms of new purchases and now, Themefusion has managed to cross the $10 Million milestone on the platform.

Themefusion is also the first ever seller to cross the $10 Million sales mark on Envato Market. When asked if they had any idea they would be so successful by Envato, Luke said that “neither of us had any idea that three years later we’d have achieved this level of success. It’s quite amazing and completely surreal.”

Started as just a two person team, developing themes on the Envato Marketplace, they have now grown to a group of 20+ people.

When asked about a tip Haris would give to other creatives in 2016, he said,

“Always take time to be your best and do what you know is right. Take risks and build up the people around you, listen to your customers and strive to grow in every way possible.”

Freelancing is one of the fastest growing professions around the world and especially in Pakistan, where more and more people are turning to their computers in search of employment. Just a while back, a Pakistani MBBS student made the news for earning half a million dollars through freelancing and now, Haris Zulfiqar along with his other companions, has also proved the potential that lies in freelancing.

Riaz Haq said...

Ruchir Sharma, author of Rise and Fall of Nations, says the most important predictor of future growth is demographics.

Countries with a young and growing labor force have a much better chance of future economic growth and stability than anything else.

Pakistan is doing very well on this measure.

Pakistan's work force is over 60 million strong, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics. With increasing female participation, the country's labor pool is rising at a rate of 3.5% a year, according to International Labor Organization.


Sharma addresses the question of Pakistan's low savings rate by saying "it's a chicken-or-egg issue: it's not at all clear which comes first, strong growth or high savings"


Riaz Haq said...

3 #Pakistan accelerators named among top 20 accelerators of #Asia & #Oceania. #startup #technology http://bit.ly/2ehPtjm via @techjuicepk

Gust and Fundacity recently released their Annual Asian and Oceanian Accelerator Report 2015. Three accelerators from Pakistan were featured in the top 20 active accelerators in the region – who accelerated the most startups in the past year. LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship, PlanX and Invest2Innovate made it to the list.

This year’s report is a follow-up to the report released in 2014 and its main objective is to understand how the accelerator industry has developed in the region, how accelerators are funded and monetized, while providing insights on the direction of the industry in the near future. The report includes some very thoroughly researched statistics for which over 125 organizations were surveyed in the Asia/Oceania region, out of which 54 qualified as accelerators.

According to the report, the region saw a total investment of US $16,842,427. Australia took the lead with US $5,620,000 in investment. Not far behind was India at US $3,981,000, followed by South Korea at US $1,960,460, and China at US $1,920,000. India, however, took the lead by accelerating 568 startups in the year 2015 alone.

Going by the number of accelerated startups, this news does sound good for Pakistan. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. It all boils down to the issue of quality versus quantity. Right now, we have a lot of emerging startups but very few of them are targeting hot markets.

According to the survey, because of the global prominence of Fintech, Internet of Things, Health, and Education, these were the hottest markets Asian accelerators were most interested in. Apart from Health, the rest of the markets remain largely untapped by Pakistani startups. In order to understand this, compare the amount of investment raised by Pakistan’s 54 startups and that raised by China’s mere 13 startups. The need of the hours is to bring a focus towards emerging segments in order to attract international venture capitalists.

The report also featured some insights about how accelerators in the Asia and Oceania Region fund themselves in order to remain functional. 30% of accelerators reported that they either received a mix of private and public funding or were 100% publicly funded. When it comes to generating revenues, most of them, it appeared, invest a small amount in their incoming startups in exchange for some equity. 43% of Asian and Oceanian accelerators earn revenue from startup exits within the short-term (within 12 months), while 62% of them plan to earn revenue from startup exits over the long-term (12 months or longer).