Pakistan's first business-themed reality show still has long way to go

First episode of Idea Croron Ka went on air last week

Waqar Mohammad March 22, 2017
The show is based around ideas from globally successful shows namely Shark Tank in the US and Dragon's Den in the UK

The first episode of Idea Croron Ka -- a reality series loosely based on globally successful shows such as Shark Tank (originated in the US) and Dragon's Den (from the UK) – proved that the show has a long way to go.

Idea Croron Ka introduces a never-before-seen format to Pakistani TV, one where startups are given the chance to pitch their ideas to investors.

The investors, including the likes of Netsol CEO Saleem Ghauri, Acumen Fund CEO Naeem Zamendar, Cress Venture CEO Humayun Mazhar and Dr Umar Saif, who is acting as business adviser on the show, seem to be of good repute and are a well-informed panel. However, one couldn’t help but question some of their decisions.

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The first pitch by husband-wife duo Wajiha and Kashan to, an online fashion classified marketplace that allows users to buy and sell fashion items from each other’s wardrobe, seemed weak; in fact, Dr Saif had to step in and help the couple.) However, it is important to note that the couple had put a lot of effort to perfect the pitch but nerves got the better of them on the day. Even Dr Saif didn't speak enough about the company or product and instead chose to focus on e-commerce in general. When OLX was mentioned as an example of an already established business offering similar services, the Affordable.PK team responded well by showing how their business model is different from that of OLX.

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The pitch seemed to go from bad to worse when it came to finances. When investors asked about income, burn rate, and when the company expected to hit profitability, the team was unable to provide any solid answers. And when Cress Venture CEO Mazhar tried to ask about the figures, host Nabeel Qadeer interjected and invited Dr Saif on stage — an unnecessary move.

What was really surprising was when the company was asked what they would do with the money, they said they would grow to x number of users and x number of listings, without mentioning how they would achieve it. While nerves during pitches is often forgiven by investors, startup founders not knowing exact figures regarding their business is tantamount to ‘suicide’ at such a stage.

To my utter surprise, however, they ended up receiving funding. They had initially asked for Rs15 million against 15% equity but in the end were able to secure Rs10million for 30%, valuing the company at just over Rs30 million.

This raises a few questions:

  1. How are they valuing the company?

  2. Were there enough questions asked around the market share of such a company?

  3. How were the investors so easily persuaded in regards to what the money would be spent on?

Situations like the one mentioned above overvalue companies. More importantly, without a thorough think-through, isn't the company's success at risk? After all, money alone does not guarantee the success of any company.

The last pitch of the show was by ‘Eye Automate’, a company that aims to serve disabled people by creating wheelchairs and home automation systems controlled by eye gestures.

This time around, a few good questions were asked about production-cost and competition. Netsol CEO Ghauri made a valid suggestion – the company should focus on creating a prototype instead of seeking investment at the moment, which would help them towards raising larger funds in the future.

Some of the questions and negotiations were undoubtedly removed in a bid to cut down time to fit the slot. This means we don’t get to see the entire show.

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In summary, the host of the show may have been overbearing but investors were very friendly and patient and the show overall is a positive move for Pakistan. It will provide opportunities to businesses that otherwise might not get.

If the channel broadcasting the show is serious about changing Pakistani TV shows for the better, it must start a new trend in editing and reducing the ‘marketing’ aspect a little. Further, the investors on the show need to be more hands on. They didn’t get to where they are by making decisions on whims. Yes, the public is still new to pitching ideas and running businesses, but if we want the ‘Crème De La Crème’ of businesses then we must raise the bar.  The show, however, is poised for success, and I sincerely hope we can measure it by the fruit it bears.

The author is a LLB Graduate from UK. He is running a Web development agency, has a keen interest in Web Technologies, business models and politics and tweets @waqardm

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happy feet | 4 years ago | Reply Honestly, being pregnant is no merit to get unfair advantage. Did anyone bother to ask, how would she play her role once the child is in this world? Will she divide her attention? Isnt that unfair to the child? And now I will be the devil for asking obvious questions. The show is a great start. It will leave its mark. Errors and omissions can and will be pardoned. Perhaps, its the simplicity of the show which might not sit well with an audience like I am. However, the target demographic would definitely be inspired.
asad | 4 years ago | Reply good idea; has to be executed to deliver great results. consider facilitating amateurs through some professionals after initial screening of business proposals
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