Bookmarking Desi Innovators & Ventures

LUMS introduces the first batch of The Foundation incubator at LUMS Center of Entrepreneurship

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry June 20th, 2014

LCELUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, recently inaugurated by Pakistan’s leading businessmen, including Syed Babar Ali and Mr. Abdul Razzak Dawood, has already inducted its first batch of startups into The Foundation business incubator.

LUMS, the nation’s most prestigious higher education institution, built the Center for Entrepreneurship with the vision to make it the largest breeding ground for sustainable, high-growth and high-impact businesses in Pakistan.

The management of the center, headed by Mr. Khurram Zafar, an entrepreneur himself, as well as an independent council of leading entrepreneurs of the country scout for promising upstart businesses all over Pakistan and inducts the most promising ones into this four month program. The Foundation offers co-working space, utilities, internet, and other administrative support to the startups as well as access to a network of world-class mentors, business leaders and investors who guide and groom these young, passionate entrepreneurs. The center is also collaborating with investors to put together a seed stage investment fund for the startups as well as collaborate with business center developers to offer subsidized office space to the graduates of the Foundation program.

The teams that have been inducted as the first batch of The Foundation includes, Cognitica which develops augmented reality based mobile and marketing solutions. Beed, based on research done at LUMS, this team is working on making all broadcast content interactive with the aid of smart phones. Savaree, this company is building a trust-based, ride share social network that allows drivers to monetize the free passenger seats in their cars by posting routes and connecting with riders that share that route. Bugdev Studios, a team of very passionate mobile game developers and designers that build and publish creative, fun, action-packed games that make people think, feel and enjoy.

Other start-ups include BizClout, a one-stop solution to fully e-commerce enable SMEs with-in 15 minutes using a proprietary content management and ecommerce platform. The company offers value-added products to promote and market these online brands as well. MARO, oven baked bread (tandoori Roti and Naan) is one of the most commonly consumed food item in Pakistan and MARO aims to setup a network of ‘Tandoors’ that provide healthy bread and an immaculate consumer experience at the same price as traditional ‘Tandoors’. Appography, the company aims to improve the customer experience by introducing a visual navigation IVR (Interactive Voice Response), in a clutter-free, simplified and more consumable manner on customer smart phones.

Speaking about the Center, the Executive Director, Mr. Khurram Zafar said “Entrepreneurship is the future of our country and LCE aims to scout the best entrepreneurs from all over Pakistan and provide them everything they need to succeed and turn their dreams into realities.”

The Foundation is one of the many innovative projects under the LCE banner with other centers in progress such as the Skills Commercialization Centre and a Corporate Innovation Center amongst others.

 

 

Plan9: A Vision and A Will

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry August 6th, 2013

“Roofi, in our meeting with Mian Shahbaz Sharif, it has been decided to set up a Government Technology Startup Incubator. Dr. Umar Saif has been asked to make a proposal regarding it.”  A friend informed me over a phone call when I was in Canada. He was amongst the people who attended the first public meeting of IT professionals with Punjab’s Chief Minister last fall at Arfa Software Technology Park. Though I am no longer an ardent fan of incubators after experiencing various startup ecosystems, but a country like Pakistan where there are no government grants and incentives, I thought it was a right move provided it being executed well. Some of us had seen the PSEB experiments in the past so my only concern was that they need right people in the team to make it a successful program. Therefore I immediately wrote a note to Dr. Saif with few suggestions and he was quite kind to reply promptly.

If there’s one industry in Pakistan where entrepreneurship is erupting nowadays, it would be none other than the technology sector. The low startup capital required for a technology company as well as the general appeal of computers to young minds make it the go-to industry for anyone hoping to make their mark on the entrepreneurship landscape. And in that sector, if there’s any one organization that has emerged as a hub for tech entrepreneurship, it would be Plan9 – PITB’s Tech Incubator (more…)

 

The Social Media Experts, Transforming Entrepreneurial Dreams Into Realities | Coffee Shop Gurus

by Rohan David Emmanuel August 27th, 2012

 

Team | Coffee Shop Gurus

Team | Coffee Shop Gurus
Back L-R: Hasan Talal, Momna Chaudhry, Buraira Gerwal, Jaiser Abbass, Muhammad Asid
Front: Rohan David

Coffee Shop Gurus (A project of Green & White Pakistan) is a Social Enterprise of Social Media Experts. It is Pakistan’s First Real Entrepreneurial Incubator platform that promotes entrepreneurs working in any domain. Yes! It does not matter that whether you are starting a Home Bakery or making some Mobile App, Coffee Shop Gurus incubates them all from the grass root level. Here young entrepreneurs join hands with experts and bring to reality their entrepreneurial ideas. Promoting women entrepreneurship in Pakistan is a high priority.

During the incubation process the entrepreneurial ideas are put through strict process that polishes the idea. Due to a number of gurus attached to single idea, the attendees of the program get various view point about the same thing which helps in building a true market analysis. Coffee Shop Gurus aims to establish Pakistan’s first true incubation center that nurtures number of businesses all together in one place. We strongly believe that future of Pakistan is in the hands of youth and promoting youth for entrepreneurship at the time of economic depression is the best contribution to boost the development of Pakistan.
Making to the training process takes a lot of scrutinization of the entrepreneurs. After the nomination of the entrepreneurial projects and the interview process, the projects that make out alive are ready to be the part of Coffee Shop Gurus training process. To make the entrepreneurial projects successful, they go under rigorous training for 5 weeks. The meetings are held every Saturday, during the training session, which are mandatory for the entrepreneurs to attend. The week breakdown is: Week 1: Idea Tailoring & Branding, Week 2: Business Planning, Week 3: Marketing on Social Media and Internet, Week 4: Sales & Networking & Week 5: Reviews.
The syllabi and training process of Coffee Shop Gurus has develop after almost 2 years of research work on environment of incubation on the Pakistani Culture. The process has been exactly tailored to the requirements of this region. With a great deal flexibility with in the program, it can also be replicated around the world with almost no changes. The project holds the honor of conducting various country wide researches on social media and its behavior in Pakistan.
Coffee Shop Gurus is also building a knowledge base on entrepreneurial content by transforming the foreign content on entrepreneurship according to local requirement on research basis. Coffee Shop Gurus’ Blog can be visited at and do not forget to look for our Social Media case studies. Don’t forget to like Coffee Shop Gurus on Facebook.

 

Coffee Shop Gurus @ TEDxSummit, Doha, Qatar

The Lighter Side of Coffee Shop Gurus

 

My Biz Pakistan Initiative

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry August 16th, 2012

While we are different personalities, there is one vision that brings both Nabeel Akmal Qadeer and myself on a common platform i.e. “Educating, Motivating and Inspiring Pakistani Youth”. Both of us want students to follow their passion and field of choice after graduation.

In order to achieve these objectives, we launched a startup, went to educational institutes in various cities, and tried whatever we could do at our end to help the ambitious lot. Last year, both of us left Pakistan to pursue higher studies in management that we have successfully completed recently.

So Nabeel recently called me up and shared this initiative “My Biz Pakistan”. My immediate response was “What’s so different in that?” Nabeel said “It has what we were lacking before.” Then he continued to elaborate why it’s different and I somewhat agreed to the root cause why we failed in the earlier iterations of our plans. In short, it was the lack of resources at hand. Though I am not part of this team, the plan discussed by Nabeel totally resonates with how we should support Pakistani Startups. It’s time to mature our angel investment market.

Many of you might know about Amer Qureshi. Amer is a highly experienced Australian Chartered Accountant, Business Advisor and Author. Born in Pakistan, but having spent most of his professional life in Australia, Amer has developed a passion for helping business owners, entrepreneurs and professional improve their lives. This passion has led him to write four books, develop numerous seminars and TV Shows with the aim of motivating and inspiring people. An excellent speaker and presenter Amer has contributed to the development of a large number of professionals and business owners in Australia, Pakistan, Dubai and Qatar.

My Biz initiative has been developed with Amer’s vision to help the young Pakistanis become entrepreneurs and take control of their lives. My Biz Pakistan would provide training, tools, networks and access to Angel funding for starting small businesses. The angels would also act as mentors to these young entrepreneurs. It is not a charity, a micro finance institution, an NGO, a government authority or anything of the sort. This is a setup where few Pakistani Business Leaders are trying to make a difference.

The angel investors will fund innovative business ideas that are considered to have great potential for success. The funding arrangements are negotiated between the investors and the entrepreneurs, however, the organization would provide the framework, ideas and advice and help you through the process. Typically for small startups, the funding will be limited to between PKR 50,000 and 200,000 and will be made in stages on achieving agreed milestones.

Both Investors and Entrepreneurs can work with My Biz Pakistan. Terms for both the parties are mentioned at http://www.mybizpakistan.com. For students, the My Biz Ambassadors in your city and your university are your first point of contact, and will be able to provide all the necessary information and advice that you need. In the event of any additional assistance, you may also contact one of My Biz consultants. If you want to be the ambassador at an educational institute, you can also apply for that by following the application process at http://www.mybizpakistan.com/join-us.html

Moreover, the inside scoop is that some former CEOs of multinationals would soon be joining the My Biz Board, and that the organization has already engaged investors from Australia and Dubai. If you have a good proposal, they can invest right away. So what are you waiting for?  Now you don’t have an excuse that you are short of cash to take the jump.

 

Ashar Nisar | The .PK Man | Entrepreneur of the month

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry March 27th, 2011

Every day we come across website addresses trailing with “.com.pk”, “.net.pk”, “.org.pk”, “.edu.pk”, “.gov.pk” or simply “.pk”. To land on this site, you also typed “entrepreneurs.pk”. However, majority people in my network don’t have an idea who operates this “PK” thing for us. It is sad to mention that even many IT Professionals and Computer Science students in Pakistan don’t know about PKNIC (Pakistan Network Information Center (Pvt) Ltd.), the registry responsible for the .pk country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for Pakistan since most of the people acquire domain name via resellers with a hosting plan. Those who know about PKNIC are unaware of the fact that it is owned and run by Mr. Ashar Nisar, A Pakistani – American who graduated from UET Lahore in the 80s. (more…)

 

Few famous Risk Takers of the Land of Pure

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry August 29th, 2010

A pictorial tribute to some of our famous risk takers and DOERS who are acknowledged worldwide.

 

 

Innovation occurs in periods of adversity

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry August 24th, 2010

One fifth of the country has been affected by the recent floods in Pakistan and 20 million people need our support. Apart from individuals, I am thankful to all the organizations that I am associated with who stood by my side and are doing whatever they can.

The first question that came to our mind was “What is the immediate need of the victims that we have to address?”  The obvious answer was food and water. There is water everywhere but none safe to drink. Outbreaks of cholera are common in large floods and arranging safe drinking water to many millions of people is of extreme importance. Hence we decided to look out for water solutions as it is not possible to deliver mineral water everywhere.

Last year I saw the following  talk amongst the TEDGlobal 2009 videos where Engineer Michael Pritchard introduced his revolutionary product “Life Saver Bottle”.

I was still wondering that how can we use the same idea here that we received an email from Mr. Azhar Mateen who told us about a similar system that they have developed in Pakistan. Instead of bottle, it is more of a manual filtration plant. The plant is capable to treat the flood water directly and its capacity is more than 1000 liters per hour. Since electricity is not available in the affected areas, the system is capable to run without electricity. He further told us that they are donating 10 plants  for free and can provide us similar system on no profit no loss basis for only PKR 250,000 whereas such a system would cost much more if we’ll try to import it. The company behind the project is Tauseef Water owned by Mr.Tauseef Anjum of Tauseef Enterprises Ltd.

The following video is the live demo of the working system.

Moreover, a friend emailed me the following poster which showed steps of making a good sand water filter. Additional details about this can be downloaded from here.

I somewhat felt really happy that people are coming up with amazing ideas to help out their fellow countrymen. Burt Rutan once said that “Innovation occurs in periods of adversity”. I would request all readers to step up and come out with such innovative solutions & initiatives that can be used to help our brothers and sisters. Since we have to rebuild these areas, smart relief efforts and superior infrastructural & residential planning is the need of the hour.

In the waters of the devastation hitting Pakistan lies a chance to reinvent our condition by washing away the regrets of the last 63 years and laying the foundations of a new temple. But only if we have the courage and vision to think on these lines.

 

P@SHA – TiE Lahore Interactive Talk with Imran Sayeed

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry July 26th, 2010

P@SHA and TiE Lahore are joining hands with LUMS to bring to all entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs an Interactive Talk with Mr. Imran Sayeed, a very distinguised entrepreneur and technologist from the US.

Imran Sayeed, a serial entrepreneur, a consultant, an engineer, a mentor, a rainmaker, and a great supporter of many initiatives in Pakistan including the OPEN-MITEF initiative would be in Lahore on July 29.

Imran is the Senior Vice President, Global Architecture, Application Development and Management Practice and leads all commercial sector industry practices for Keane, a global BPO and IT Services company with ~14,000 professionals worldwide. Industry practices include Financial Services, Insurance, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, Retail, Hospitality & Travel and Energy, and together comprise most of the key business lines and customers for Keane.

Imran Sayeed came to Keane through its acquisition of netNumina, a boutique technology strategy and consulting form that he founded and grew from a 15 person startup to one of Computerworld’s Top 100 emerging companies. netNumina won more than 30 of the leading financial services & pharmaceutical institutions in the world as clients, raised more than $25MM from venture capitalists and strategic investors and received more than 20 industry awards for its work. (more…)

 

Murad & Mannan : Entrepreneurs of the Month

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry July 3rd, 2010

I have been a gaming freak all my childhood whether it be ground games or the video/computer ones. The people of my age have experienced all those wonderful Atari (shown below) and Nintendo gadgets till we entered the age of 386 and 486 to play the DOS Based “Dangerous Dave”. A lot has happened to the E-Gaming Industry since then with faster and most of the times more violent games emerging which an EA Sports Lover like me cannot handle. Moreover with the emergence of Internet in late 90’s in Pakistan, my primary interest shifted from playing games to explore internet technologies.

I think it was the start of the second quarter of 2007 when during a meeting at LUMS, somebody told me that there is a guy in town named Ahmad Murad Akhter who is the CEO of a company called SMCo. Technologies and has formed a website called MobileGames.PK. I didn’t pay much attention to it then. September 2007, one of my seniors at FAST-NU while strolling with me at the driveway of NUCES Lahore Campus told me that he has joined Murad’s company as a Software Engineer. The only expression at my face at that point of time was “A Proper Game Development Company in Pakistan?”. By that time, I didn’t know about Shehryar Hydri’s ventures as well. I felt that Murad is just having fun and his adventure would be over in next couple of months as they would not be able to compete with GameDev Giants. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They survived and currently are one of the biggest game development companies in Pakistan.

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K-Jam : Entrepreneurs of the Month

by Rafaeel Akbar Chaudhry May 16th, 2010

Jamil Goheer and Khurram Mir at APICTA 2008

I clearly remember it was December 2006 when I got to know about a Pvt Ltd. Company working within the CS Department at LUMS. I was like WoW! Why don’t we have such a culture here at FAST-NU.  Later, I got to know that men behind this venture are ex-FASTians who graduated a year before I actually came to FAST Lahore.

After June 2007, we extensively started hearing about this company which called itself the First Quality Assurance Company in Pakistan mainly because by that time Khurram Javed Mir, the CMO of the company was out from LUMS with an MBA degree. He definitely had a plan how to take this company forward. I remember how people used to gossip about this company especially their batch mates. Some liked the idea considering that their companies can now outsource the QA work whereas some were of the view that what a stupid idea they have come up with as every software company has its own QA department. In the opinion of the second lot, they were definitely a failure.

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