App developer: Missing the Silicon Valley bandwagon starts the journey for Khan

The man behind the Facebook app that made $90,000 in a week.

Farooq Baloch February 08, 2012


Employment offers from Microsoft or Apple – and that too in the world’s IT hub Silicon Valley – is the ultimate dream for most IT professionals. Sharyar Muhammad Khan, a young talent from war-stricken area of Swat, was fortunate to have offers from both. Although he missed the chance to jump on the Silicon Valley bandwagon, he did fairly well in building one of his own in Pakistan.

The 28-year-old CEO of Smart Web and Mobile (SWAM) Technologies is educating both Pakistani students and professionals about iPhone application development amid earning valuable foreign exchange by selling smartphone applications to the world, particularly the United States.

SWAM Tech, an Islamabad-based IT company, that Khan founded in 2009 had grossed $90,000 in a week by selling its Facebook app for iPhone and Android-powered smart phones around Christmas and New Year season. It also won The Indus Entrepreneurs Startup City 2011 – Pakistan chapter of a Silicon Valley-based group of successful entrepreneurs – that foster entrepreneurship globally.

Khan is also teaching an iPhone application development course at NUST in Islamabad. The two-month course is offered to IT professionals – not aware of this technology – as well as NUST students interested in the subject. Khan also uses the classroom as a hiring ground by offering jobs to talented students after evaluating them for two months.

“I got interested in information technology after getting my first computer in 1998,” Khan said in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune. He added that he joined NUST in 2002 where the research and development environment helped him move in the right direction. Right after his graduation, Khan left for Stanford University, US where he worked as a research scientist.

At Stanford, Khan was supervised by Les Cottrell – a nuclear physicist and a member of the Nobel Prize winning team that discovered quarks in 1990. Khan’s research paper titled “Quantifying the Digital Divide in South Asian Countries” was published in Computing in High Energy Physics, 2007 Victoria Canada.

Khan said his paper caught the eyes of Microsoft as he was approached from a recruiter from its research department for a job. “I could not avail it because I did not have a work permit,” he said.

In 2010, he had another opportunity when a recruiter from Apple contacted him for a job. “He got my details from a Silicon Valley-based mailing list of iPhone developers to which I subscribe,” Khan said.

To avoid work permit issues, these companies prefer hiring app developers from within the US, Khan said.

All that I have achieved would not be possible without two men, Khan said, his father Noor Muhammad Khan and his mentor Arshad Ali.

Ali, who is the Director General of NUST, SEECS, got him started on the idea of starting a company based on mobile application development. NUST provided him with office space and equipment to start-up the company.

His father – with his 30-year experience of managing a tyre factory and a hotel resort in Swat – financed his son and helped him with the management of SWAM Tech. The company’s success has become more important for the Khan family as both their businesses were severely damaged during the army operation in Swat.

The company is currently working on several applications, including social role-playing games, for iPhone and other smart phones to bring home more dollars from the world’s largest market of smartphone apps.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2012.


Adnan | 11 years ago | Reply

Such a talented Nation we are.

Niazikhan2 | 11 years ago | Reply

hats off TO kHAN sAHB..

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