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!



Trying Again…


I read an inspirational story somewhere that I would like to share for everyone’s benefit:

As I was passing  by  the elephants, I suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not.

I saw a trainer near by and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

I was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Moral of the Story: Try, try and try again, until you succeed

Lessons from Life


Here are few of the lessons that I learnt over the years about life:

  1. You can never make everyone happy, and you’ll be far happier not even trying for that.
  2. Family is not just a group of people you live with, it’s much more.
  3. Friends are an integral part of your life and good friends are often realized after testing times.
  4. Education and literacy are two different concepts. Classrooms won’t teach you everything to become educated.
  5. Life is not in the magnanimous goals, but the little moments that one often takes for granted.
  6. You would miss your school life as soon as you get out of school, and the yearning would only increase.
  7. Money can’t buy everything, but many people that come in your life would struggle to understand this concept.
  8. No matter how much you care about them, few people will be ungrateful and unfaithful – you would have to move on.
  9. The two most important words in any language are ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
  10. If you want true happiness, give someone your genuine help without thinking about any reward.
  11. You have to keep your business/profession separate from your personal/social life – and know when it’s either.
  12. Compromise may not be a beautiful concept, but it isn’t as ugly as people tell you it is. It helps you remain humble while keeping your aim high.
  13. If you want wisdom, an easy route is to talk to people under the age of 7 or over the age of 70.
  14. The art of asking the right questions is half the knowledge.
  15. Moderation is the path of safety.
  16. When you’re a ‘nobody’, most people would almost always ignore you; as soon as you’re on your way to growth, success or prosperity, most people would almost always give you more attention than you would expect. Don’t think too much about them – just learn from their behavior. That’s how the world works.
  17. Always be thankful to God for both what He gave you, and what He didn’t.
  18. Get on terms with ‘failure’ – if you accept it faster, learn from it and move forward, you’d be better off.
  19. Long run is not always so long. So keep investing some time, energy and money for the long run.
  20. The ability to keep things in perspective will take you places. Most of the things that happen to you won’t matter in a decade’s time or at least in the perspective of an entire lifetime.
  21. You should gel in with all kinds of people, but never lose your own color because if do the latter, you are no longer you, but just another one of them.
  22. Accept your mistakes. Correct them and apologize quickly, if needed.
  23. Learn from wherever and whomever it is possible.
  24. Travel would broaden your mind, but only if it’s open in the first place.
  25. Don’t accept what everyone tells you at ‘face value’ – most things you hear would need a discount factor before they come near reality.



They say every man is born twice, the second time when he earns his reputation amongst people.

– Avatar

In personal and professional lives and also in businesses, earning the believability of others is an obvious imperative. Key businesses and business people have gone far and wide to keep earning this reputation for believability through their actions and choices, time and again.

J&J’s Tylenol fiasco was an obvious example, where the imperative for the company’s employees who made sure their commitment to ethical operations was unwavering and was not affected by any short-term repercussions on their numerical bottom line. They earned a reputation. They earned the believability of their customers, prospective customers, investors, media, government and the general public as a whole.

When one walks into any of the thousands of global branches of the McDonald’s franchise, he/she expects a certain quality of food to be served in a certain kind of environment. Ray Kroc’s commitment to living up to the Q S C V (Quality, Service, Cleanliness & Value) meant no compromises, to the effect that now they’ve developed a kind of believability amongst those that go to McDonald’s and even those that don’t.

This is not an overnight transformation, but a conscious effort at earning your share of the customer’s trust – which takes years, and sometimes generations.

LU’s Pied piper was something that stood as an image for three generations now based on the consistent delivery of their brand promise.

It’s not only about survival of the fittest. It’s about more. It’s about getting to know your customers and letting them know you. Earning believability is the second life most corporations fancy, but to live through the small moments each day to grow and nurture that believability is what most of these most would not focus on. Hence, the customer’s preferences.

Two Important Questions


These are the two most important questions you need to ask in most cases:

  1. Is this thing/situation/person/work the way you want this to be?
  2. If not, what are you doing about it?

If you keep asking yourself these two questions and keep answering them to the best of your abilities, you’ll keep improving your life and everyone will love you for it.

Evolution of Freelancing

Freelancing is not a new phenomenon. It has been there from the time people started working and using currency; only the form of work was different. Initially, all temporary work, mainly labor work, was done by freelancers (daily wage workers), then came the era of project-based freelancers (contractors) which especially gained momentum in the field of real estate development and property building and finally people started to use flexi-working as a form of freelancing where some people specialized in handling short-term gigs, rather than then-stable fixed, regular jobs.

Back in the day when internet was not very common, the concept of telecommuting was not very popular largely because it was not quite practical. When internet came in, people started to use it as an entertainment and communication vehicle, however, in no long time did people realize the kind of opportunities they could grasp through working online. Everything started to turn on the internet from photography to writing to coding. However, the idea of getting work done online as well as working online did not click with many of the professionals.

When people started to notice significant other players jumping in, the utility of the online marketplace went up as now there were more and more opportunities to work online or combine a chunk of your work with online work and enjoy the perks of telecommuting. As every other bandwagon appeal, the concept picked up amongst the buyers and sellers of all kinds of work. With so many players in the market and little background to judge the people on, the costs went down and quality started to get compromised on many deals. So, again, many of the players went back to real world or at least mixed their portfolio to have some “real” players and some online. For instance, buyers kept hiring offline and online and freelancers kept searching for work on internet as well as in the real world.

Meanwhile, some freelancers kept working hard to build their online repute. They changed the web space overall. Now, in the web space, freelancers fall into two main categories in every domain: the good ones and the not-so-good ones. Until the new, struggling ones don’t fall into the first category through sheer effort, hard work and dedication, they are considered a probable part of the second category.

For the not-so-good ones, the road is rough and much work need to be done. Sometimes, they would also need to put up a lot of effort and search work offline too.

For the good ones, it’s far more interesting, and a lot more paying. They often have queues of buyers who are willing to pay a premium for the brand these good providers have developed.

However difficult it might be, one thing is certain that a lot of hard work and time need to be devoted with a clear vision and focused approach to register a mark into the first category.

Impact of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is all about seeing opportunities. It’s also about creating opportunities, where everyone else just sees risks. It’s about perspective. It’s a mindset. After the credit crisis spiral, the world has seen a depression, the worst ever any working person has seen in his lifetime. It was bad. It is bad. Many analysts forecast a turnaround in this year, some skeptics seem unsure of even this suggesting that the remnants of this terrible disaster are going to haunt us for decades to come. As true as that might be, have you noticed that during these crises years, there have been many new millionaires around the world? Howcome people from the emerging markets are making their mark more and more amongst the richest people in this world?

It is about mindset. Once you start developing an ability to see the positives in and around yourself, you start noticing opportunities much faster than others do. Availing those opportunities makes you feel better about yourself and make others feel you’re better than them. What these people have difficulty coming to terms with is that it’s not about risks, it’s about calculated risks. Hence, these could be different for every person. Perhaps someone with a lot of engineering knowledge would find it easier to set up the factory floor operations, whereas someone who has only been associated with accounting might find it very risky. The same accountant could also see opportunity in what many others find risky.

The idea is to intentionally change your approach to looking at things, consciously looking out possible opportunities everywhere. After some time, you won’t have to make a conscious effort on the same and you’d look smarter.

The world out there is changing; for entrepreneurs, this is a blessing in disguise. Tomorrow belongs to those who work on them today.