‘021 Disrupt’ to change Pakistan’s technology landscape

Entrepreneurship conference hosts 200 startups, workshops on new trends


Our Correspondent November 05, 2017
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: This is the most interesting period in the history of e-commerce, said Sam Mallikarjunan, a keynote speaker at Pakistan’s largest entrepreneurship conference ‘021 Disrupt’.

The most powerful leader is one who tries to bring changes globally, make an impact felt worldwide and is never discouraged, said Mallikarjunan, who arrived from the United States and is an executive strategist at HubSpot Labs, during a session, titled 'Beyond Startup: How to Make a Dent in the Universe'.

The event drew top venture capital firms and tech celebrities from the Middle East, Singapore and the US. The two-day conference, organised by The Nest I/O, hosted over 25 institutional investors and 200 startups. Local and international speakers conducted interactive workshops on key technology trends shaping the future.

For the first time in Pakistan's history, startups were given the opportunity to directly interact with leading investors who had invested in global household names such as Careem, Udemy, Behance, Canva and Stripe.

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"Each year, entrepreneurship empowers roughly 25 million people around the globe," said US Consul-General Grace Shelton during her welcome address. Do not be afraid to fail as many successful entrepreneurs have encountered setbacks in realising their dreams, she told participants of the event.

According to Shelton, entrepreneurship can be risky and not every entrepreneurship activity is a success, in fact most fail, but the lessons learnt during the process are absolutely worth it. The founders of big entities like Google, Facebook and Careem dared to disrupt and to dream big, she added.

Punjab IT Board Chairperson Dr Umar Saif, who increased the board’s size from 70 to 1,000 people, said technologically, it is a whole new world and industries like telecommunication, media and IT will be disrupted and changed dramatically in the next five to 10 years.

"Pakistan is an important market and it's bigger than the population of Australia and New Zealand combined in terms of internet users. Hence, everyone needs to take Pakistan seriously," he said.

The government needs to regulate and bring in legislation and better policy framework, he said, during a talk, titled 'Fireside Chat: Digital Transformation of the Punjab Government'.

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Some of the leading international investors that participated in the conference included Abraaj Capital, Wamda Capital, Golden Gate Ventures, Middle East Venture Partners, Wadi Accelerator, Sarmayacar and 500 Startups. Apart from international investors, 16 institutional investors from Pakistan also attended to shortlist startups to invest in.

Speaking at the conference, [email protected] and The Nest I/O President Jehan Ara said, "We conceived this conference in the hope of bringing together players from the local and international startup ecosystem to spark meaningful conversations and ignite interesting and innovative ideas that could solve the global challenges we are faced with today."

In order for our ecosystem to grow it is important that the requisite support is provided to the talented young entrepreneurs in this country, she said.

An investor, Charles Ludwig from Oman Technology Fund said ‘021 Disrupt’ marks the beginning of a new era of openness and innovation for Pakistan.

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Jamal | 3 years ago | Reply All talks and no play.
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