PASHA Launchpad 2013

PASHA organized an event, Launchpad 2013 this year in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. Now, they’re also planning to hold one in Peshawar. I attended as an observer in their Karachi event and thoroughly enjoyed how people came to pitch their start-up and social innovation ideas to the forum. The format of the event is a mix of initial screening format used by VCs or angel investors with a pinch of flavor of the famous ABC channel program, Shark Tank. People/teams (22 in all) came over for a 5-minute open-format for presentation their pitches. The good points of the event were:

Pash Launchpad 2013
Pash Launchpad 2013
  • It provided an opportunity for the budding entrepreneurs to interact with the more experienced businesspeople and get a critical review of their idea, start-up or social innovation approach.
  • This created a platform for investors to get investment propositions in worthwhile projects.
  • The program facilitated the entrepreneurs need for connections to hone their initial business ideas.

I noticed a couple of things that could improve this event:

  • First, these events should be covered through a Google Hangout network – through this a lot more people can see the speakers, meet and advise them later on.
  • Second, they should allow the attendees to ask questions. The only people who could ask questions were judges; and expanding this to allow the attendees to ask questions as well could be great. One way of making it possible in the short available time is to have a live link where the attendees can send in their questions letting the moderator decide and play an active role in questions selection, if something worthwhile is asked.
  • Third, they should have a place where all the business ideas and the contact details of the presenters is put up, so that if someone wants to contact them later on, they can.
  • Fourth, they should contact people outside of the IT industry to come over – people who are savvy investors and can really vouch projects through effective funding and mentoring.
  • Fifth, they should link other communities and companies that promote entrepreneurship in the country and connect these to this event. It’s a great initiative by PASHA but it doesn’t have to remain that way. It’s better to connect to others who share the similar purpose of promoting entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
  • Finally, PASHA should get in touch with several international incubators, investors, VCs, angel investors and other communities and link them up to make it a bigger event.

I believe these kind of events are making an effort in the right direction and doing something much-needed for the country, so this is commendable. Kudos to the organizers. I would also congratulate the judges who took the time to come over to help with the cause. All I’m trying to say here is that if they’re doing a good thing in the first place, why don’t make an effort to make it count on a bigger level.

Middle Class

What does middle class mean?

“The most perfect political community must be amongst those who are in the middle rank, and those states are best instituted wherein these are a larger and more respectable part, if possible, than both the other; or, if that cannot be, at least than either of them separate.”                                                                                                                                                    – Aristotle

The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.

– Aristotle

These arguments below speak to the different ways the strength of the middle class affect economic growth and stability:
  • A strong middle class promotes the development of human capital and a well educated population.
  • A strong middle class creates a stable source of demand for goods and services.
  • A strong middle class incubates the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  • A strong middle class supports inclusive political and economic institutions, which underpin economic growth.
  • Historically, middle class has brought around all the revolutions, and brought changes for the better.
  • Middle class is usually a healthy section of the society, where physical and mental abilities of the society usually peak.
To sum up, a strong middle class is a prerequisite for robust entrepreneurship and innovation, a source of trust that makes business transactions more efficient, a bulwark against credit booms and busts and a progenitor of virtuous, forward-looking behaviors, such as valuing education. Moreover, middle class spending usually creates the most prominent multi-layered economic multiplier effect, since most of such spending would trickle down many levels.

   “I have to live for others and not for myself: that’s middle-class morality.”

– George Bernard Shaw

Retailing Trends

I came across this excellent McKinsey China podcast on e-tailing trends and thought would share the highlights and the links with my readers. I have also added my insights into the blog post:

The super-charged growth of online retail is changing this dynamic and creating incremental consumption. Millions of newly minted shoppers can now log on and purchase goods they could only dream of acquiring just a few years ago. By 2020, China’s e-tailing market may reach $420 billion-$650 billion in sales and add 4-7 percent to the nation’s private consumption. – McKinsey China

Retailing moving from location based to occasion based: With real estate getting more and more expensive, retailing has pivoted its focus from location driven business operations to occasions-based business focused on weddings, birthdays, etc etc.

Logistics & Delivery centers: With the growing e-commerce retailing space and upcoming smaller players in the market, the logistics and delivery centers market has a lot of potential for growth.

Payment gateways: Newer payment gateways need to be introduced for different market sets. Regional or Country-driven systems would emerge and then hook up with the global payment gateways. The importance of foreign exchange management and treasury operations would rise.

Mobile based solutions: With mobile penetration growing in developing countries as well, there would be a higher need for mobile based solutions for retail sales, advertising, consumer need assessment and market reach.

E-commerce platforms: More and more players would emerge, smaller ones of which would focus on niche markets with product differentiation as their key to growth.

Supply Chain Management professionals and solutions: There is going to be more need of supply chain management professionals who would likely have a degree in language as well. A good chunk of products would manufacture in China and knowing Chinese would create a definite connection with the suppliers. Also, more organized supply chain solutions would need to emerge, systems catering to the SME end of the market, not just the big players.

Less jobs for women in retailing; more jobs in logistics (mostly for men): Since traditionally, retail has been a major employer of people, especially women, there will be a decrease in jobs in the traditional retailing sector as companies reduce their square footage of retail space. This could lead to growing number of women entrepreneurs in this vertical with the requisite experience, but energies would need to be channeled in accordingly for that to happen.

Lifestyle change from routine jobs to unstructured enterprises: The nature of work would change for a vast majority of people who would now not expect to work in the safe, secure 9-5 shifts that are time-focused, but instead work on a flexible, results-based (efforts-focused) working model.

Clearly, the retailing landscape will drastically change in the next 15 years with several new names emerging and leading the show.

 

Positive Stimuli

Hello Sunshine!! 🙂

Ever noticed that when someone posts a message on Facebook saying “Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone!”, a lot of people start replying by saying “Happy birthday” on that same chain. Did the person request a greeting? No, not really but expression of gratitude often tends to create a emotional liability on many of those connected, so some of them just want to be part of the group you just thanked to. Also notice, some people just realize they missed the train, and didn’t greet you before and end up doing that on the chain.

Former need positive stimuli and the latter group often prefer reminders – it’s not a good or bad thing, but understanding this simple fact of life can help you manage yourselves and your affairs better.

Being positive makes you look attractive, and people want to connect to you in the hope that you would in the end shed some of your positivity on them and this is partially true as well. Regardless of what people think or say about you, if you’re consistently positive and focused on the way you live, you’d slowly change the way others around you start to feel.

 

Updates to fellow Entrepreneurs

Hi Everyone,
So, this post comes after a while. All around this time, these were some new developments that have happened:

– ‘Entrepreneurs Tub‘ has been finalized as the name of this group. We’ll be using this for further networking and discussion of opportunities. Feel free to join and contribute.

– I got to speak to a friend at Invest2Innovate about Entrepreneurship, Accelerator Programs, Venture Funding, Feasibility and Business Plans and discussion forums.

– Also, I worked on finding ways to take our discussion forum to the next round – have some ideas around that which I plan to try out soon.

– People, there was a StartupWeekend held in Karachi in November. I’m keen to know how was it from people who were there, pitched their cases or attended it otherwise.

That’s about it from my end for now. Keep rocking. Cheers!

First Karachi Entrepreneurial Meetup!

So we finally got to have our first meetup last Saturday. It was exciting, inclusive and full of amazing discussions on different businesses/projects and ideas.

Projects & Ideas in Action
Projects & Ideas in Action

We started off with a writing business where the entrepreneur had issues of project management and coordination, getting the right people on-board and retaining their interest, staff motivations on longer term and collections from a certain segment of their customer base (which apparently, formed a major portion of their overall customer base).

Everyone started suggesting places to go to and we had project management resources pooled up, one of them being Basecamp which is used across several organizations to manage projects and there were other open source project management softwares as well. For getting the right people on-board, there were ideas of qualified project auctioning within the writers and finding possibilities of letting few writers work full-time instead of all being on part-time basis. For effective collections, milestone-based collections were suggested to make sure payment follow through remains.

Issues discussion – How to Solve them?

The focus was kept on an open discussion on finding answers to the most pressing problems to entrepreneurs, but the answers had to remain practical. The comments were well-received and some ideas were decided to be implemented thereon.

We also had a fashion clothing line entrepreneur who already had a successful business, however, she had issues of labor productivity but more than that, an issue of having a qualified, working assistant that was able to write well, understand things and do many of the small things that the entrepreneur was herself spending time on. On further investigation, it turned out that majority of the work that she outlined was based online – so there were suggestions of trying to hire a virtual assistant to support the workflow. This concept was relatively new to her as a practical possibility and when she found there might be a way to not only hire this resource online, but he/she might as well not be living in the same country, she was surprised. There were questions as to whether such resource would actually be useful or another drain on the cash flow and there were answers the likes of Odesk and Elance There’s a lot that can be worked around – you can get contractor/provider ratings and assess experience of these contractors based on the recommendations received, and other projects handled. I’ll write a detailed post on this later sometime.

Engrossing Discussions

We also had an emerging AppPreneur working on his ideas and views on effective social marketing and getting quality from the employees. Once we finished this first section, we moved onto the discussion on 2 inspiring business stories that showed how much potential businesses actually have and where you’re willing to increase your stakes for something you’re passionate about, it often pays off in a multitude of ways.

One of our fellows had requested to put his business proposal out there so that if anyone were interested, they can be connected on a one-to-one basis. Considering it was a jump into totally different industries, participants were not much interested in that business proposal.

Pursuing Passion – Not for the faint-hearted

Our final section included a deep discussion on new ideas – 2 ideas were discussed here – both of them were linked to improving social entrepreneurship. Participants became comfortable enough to come out to argue the feasibility and question the model assumptions – this was very much what we met for in the first place – and there were certain thoughts as to where and how to approach to move forward.

On the housekeeping end, based on the immensely interested emails and responses, we decided to hold our next meetup online. This would mean people beyond and outside of Karachi would be able to participate as well and this was essentially the idea due to which I suggested our next meetup to be managed online. It’s still a question as to how to effectively manage this online where everyone can contribute responsibly and be creative as well – video conferencing, online collaborators, skype, etc. were options on the table, but things are to be decided over time on this.

I would call this meetup an overall successful one – we ended up going over by an hour because everyone wanted to and immediately connected across the audience, great ideas came about and were discussed and actionable work items were decided for entrepreneurs. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions everyone and special thanks to all the participants to make the meetup a reality!

Cheers!

Nooruddin

Karachi Entrepreneurial Event – Followup

I put up the survey online two days ago, on Wednesday around noon expecting I’d likely get 5 good participants in a week’s time. I’m thrilled to announce that in less than 48 hours, I have already received more than double the participants and there are more coming in.

We’ve started the process of channeling the applications already and would have a meetup soon to reflect and work upon the hidden entrepreneurial potential and what we can do with it here.

I look forward to the event and would post updates on this for everyone when the event materializes.

Karachi Entrepreneurial Meetup

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over  again while expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

Many entrepreneurs are oozing with ideas to discuss and implement across the world today, and many of them often find themselves stuck in a fix – unable to find a solution on how to do something or not sure on what are the best ways to approach a problem.

In Karachi, city, there are hundreds of budding entrepreneurs lacking a platform to discuss ideas and come to solutions, network in the community and get inspired. Some common issues faced are:

– Where to start?

– How to channelize the business development aspects?

– What about the payments?

– What form should the business be in?

– How to go about the hiring process? What are some hesitations in hiring people?

– How to go about alpha- and beta- prototyping?

– How to do needs analysis? How much is the market demand, if any?

In order for people with the right credentials to sit, discuss and resolve mutually, I am starting off a platform – the Karachi Entrepreneurial Meetup. If you are interested to make a difference and feel you really can add value while benefiting from a regular meetup exercise, please register your vote and contact details in the survey here.

I’ll be sorting out applicants and will send out an invitation to all the finalized candidates – the idea is to keep it meaningful, not necessarily a large event. I’d be happier to have 5 people who contribute to the cause than 25 who are there without any firm interest. I hope to get in touch with as many of you as possible so that we can make things happen around here.

 

Good luck Entrepreneurs!