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.

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!

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!


The Battle of Minds in the New Economy


As paradoxical it is to know man seems to have mastered the beasts since ages despite its apparently weak physical build and smaller size, it is intriguing to understand accept that technology has and will only increase this mastery – in this new economy, no more is it about brick and mortar structures any more. I can imagine many corporation heads deriving a sort of satisfaction from that lovely facade, pleasant water fountain, the corner office and brigade of people reporting to the individual.
Hofstede’s study on cultural differences took into account the space being indicative of a particular cultural setting and the power reposed in a position – I wonder if the same study conducted now would keep such high importance on space- power distance is not as important as it used to be. With the possibility of reaching infinity in various spheres now becoming realistic, things are fast changing.

In this new economy, it’s about getting smarter – no more do you need a brigade of semi-competent, highly specialized individuals to run huge departments. Now, you need competent, versatile, technology-savvy, proactive, learning individuals. It’s all about the battle of minds in the new economy – whoever has the best minds would be the winner in the long-term.

Clearly, this would mean new types of work setting, more global cultural exchange, common business terms across a wider world, more emphasis on technology, more emphasis on innovation (not just the regular rut, but actual productive work delivery) and definitely newer, higher and remarkable compensation for those who qualify. Some years into the future, all jobs, except non-tradeable ones, would be benchmarked on global parameters as far as standard of craftsmanship, quality and pay are concerned.

It’s clear the coming decade is going to produce more millionaires than in any previous decade in human history – since every mind is a factory with growth and productivity as output deliverables, innovation being the point of distinction  and the channel (internet and the new media) becoming widely available, the way the world works is bound to change.

The age of industrial revolution is fast fading, the fixed-form factory work environment is obsolete. The sooner we accept it, the better it will be for our future.

The world is changing; the question is are you geared up for it?

How to Spot a Business Opportunity?


The question that many people ask me is that how do I come up with some marvelous entrepreneurial idea that can change the face of this world? How do I provide a service that no one else has ever provided or a product that no one has even imagined about manufacturing yet?

Many people fall into the miserable trap of assuming that unless they have such an idea, it would only be wasted efforts to pursue any opportunity and also that someday such a brilliant idea would be revealed onto them sitting under an apple tree as in the case of Sir Isaac Newton.

If you think that’s going to happen someday, forget it. The opportunity is only available for those who are willing to practically do things and focus on act, rather than dream. I am not at all trying to imply it’s futile to dream, but to keep dreaming could be disastrous. Businesses have been established to satisfy fairly small needs and wants of select group of people such as servicing of hearing aid equipments. Businesses have also been setup of things that are fairly commonly available and consumed such as selling potato chips.

The fun part is that you need to see beyond the obvious – the latent need and establish a business to fill in the gap. As long as there is a gap – and there are innumerable gaps still – you can come up with the relevant business idea and make it a fair success. However, neither waiting for the right idea to be bestowed on you nor jumping in to start anything regardless of the demand-supply gap would work for you.

Keep looking and you’d find many possible gaps around you. You just need to see with a different perspective.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.

– Marcel Proust, French novelist

On Responding to Crisis


Most people project their confidence and charisma through their posture, the way they walk, their ease of communication, their choice of words and most importantly, their eyes.

I happened to bump into an old employee of a corporation earlier in the day who had been asked to leave as a result of corporate restructuring. Having spent a total of 37 years in service, I could clearly see the fear in his eyes when he told me his story; he insisted, “I still had 5 years of service left.” I imagine this person was serving in the lower hierarchy of the company and wanted to desperately meet someone who could change his fate and let him continue for another 5 years.

It’s strange how people give in to fear to let others decide their fate, but it is human nature, isn’t it? I have seen many businessmen go through their dips in life, but rarely do I see that fear in their eyes even in the worst of conditions.

It all has to do with an attitude in life, not with the state of affairs afterall, I conclude.

Business Plans – Why are they needed anyway?


In the opportune times we live today, there are so many problems we are surrounded in as a world citizen that everyone has many issues to take care of and loads of obligations to fulfill. However, for some reason, most of the people keep looking for brilliant job opportunities to make their life.

Entrepreneurship is synonymous to risk-taking, however, the pursuit of this adventure has made fortunes for those who take the responsibility and push themselves through the zeal and passion required for success. It is also referred to as the “Creative Destruction” where new technologies, practices and approaches take over the old methods of doing things bringing betterment to the society at large. Microsoft & Google, for instance, changed the face of how personal computing & internet operates today, but they started off from a garage & dorm rooms.

The most amazing thing about this buzz word is the number of myths surrounding it. Many of the reasons people generally give to themselves for not pursuing it include lack of money, contacts, opportunities, looks, etc. but these are just excuses pushing ourselves back from our goals.

If someone is interested in pursuing a venture, there could be no force that would drive him back. What is needed though is a preparation for the business. Preparation starts from an idea that seems to be potently marketable. It could be as outrageous as opening a kite flying school to as sophisticated as starting on a VLSI microchip fabrication plant, but it is all right as long as there is sufficient demand in the market to cater to.

Whist having an idea won’t work much unless you take a step further to give it a practical dimension, you need to sit down and analyze your product’s estimated demand patterns that you believe would follow. Once you know the size of the market, you would be in a much better position to estimate your share of the pie and prepare feasibility, a.k.a. the Business Plan. This is one of the most important documents you need to prepare as it is the face of the company before the company has a face.

Business Plan
Plan: You have nothing to lose!

In a business plan, you would need to have information on various areas of business establishment, including production, marketing, distribution & logistics and of course, finance. This might look like a grueling task, but if you’re excited about your idea, you should not mind spending some time filtering its applicability. This business plan does two major things: firstly, it forces you to think over your idea’s various aspects and understand the difficulties, dynamics, and details of the business yourself; and secondly, it can be a rather small 20-30 page summary of the proposed business that could be given to potential investors, bankers and other financiers for project’s funding.

Don’t be afraid of this work as you could approach me to assist you for your business plan preparation needs. I have worked with people from a range of industries from hard-core single product start-ups to multiple service-based setups needing to expand. The best thing is that when you have it done professionally, you won’t regret as the costs you incur are actually miniscule in comparison to the benefit you would derive. So if you are thinking about getting your own business off the ground or expanding the scale of operations, make sure you get in touch!

The gist of the matter is that having a vague idea is only as good as having no idea at all, but if you are determined to implement your business, you could be far better off if you do this the right way as Brian Tracy puts it: “A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”

Changing the Game


“Entrepreneurs ignore the status quo, challenge the rules and change the game. We should know.”

That happened to come across in a full-page ad of Mishcon de Reya’s ad in Financial Times Middle East. It’s captivating, and inviting for an individual with a similar instinct to read more into the ad. It’s a Business Dispute Resolution firm, and talks about many of its products throughout their ad copy.

I would take the words “change the game” and take the concept forward with the idea. What is game changing? Game changing is about seeing the same things differently, and introducing a compelling reason for others to replicate the way he/she sees those things. It’s about innovating to find solutions to problems that most of the people have accepted as ‘part of the game’ and constantly forcing energies to deliver results that never were, and often, never thought to be possible as well.

Game changing is about spirit. It’s about belief in what you do. It’s about unwavering focus on things that are important and achievement through unique approaches. It’s when all others keep thinking how to do it, while you complete an assignment or a project.

To change the game, one has to reach a high level of self-confidence: Supreme self-confidence. This is when the inner game is exactly the same as the outer game. When the inside = outside, when you are not bothered about what others say about you or what others think about you, that’s when you qualify to change the game. So go out there, and make it happen.

Ingredients of Entrepreneurship


Entrepreneurship is a combination of three core things (however, please note that it’s not a recipe mix that will always bring out a great entrepreneur – it’s rather more like a perspective of looking at this concept encompassing various aspects of entrepreneurship):

Personality: Includes upbringing of a person, confidence, interpersonal skills, ability to think on the feet and solve issues all the time.

Opportunity: This is the break that one gets to have. Most people I know who are curious to become an entrepreneur seem to be waiting for this perpetually. I don’t think there’s anything such as a big break. Life keeps giving you opportunities all the time, and you can only make good anyone of them if you are ready to. Moreover, an opportunity could be an opportunity for you because of your experience or academic background or interest in a particular domain.

Risk: This is the most interesting part of entrepreneurship. It’s an entrepreneur’s second nature. Risk doesn’t mean going wild with your whims, but actually refers to calculated risks an entrepreneur has to take all the time.

But even with these three, there’s one thing that must be very clear in any business opportunity. That thing is summed up in this one question: “What’s the deal?”

Deal: is all about identifying the core of any business opportunity. It is difficult to focus on this and identify what’s the real deal in a business, but with time, good entrepreneurs command this almost instinctively. I’ll be writing more about “Deals” and deal-making in the coming weeks.