Aspiring entrepreneurs and tech industry experts gathered on Saturday to discuss a new paradigm for bringing about positive social change through technological innovation and supporting young talent.
The gathering was organised at a local hotel by Moftak Solutions, a Pakistani IT business solution provider, to launch its Jumpstart Pakistan entrepreneurship initiative.
Under the initiative, Moftak aims to connect start-ups with chief executive officers (CEOs) of successful technology companies who can “shepherd” young talent and invest in their enterprises to help their businesses mature.
During the day-long event, speakers including tech company CEOs, experts, strategists and aspiring entrepreneurs shared ideas and tips for helping new enterprises get off the ground and contribute to sustainable development. New industry trends were also highlighted during the sessions.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Asad Umar, who joined via videolink, said job creation was a critical area of concern in the country at the moment.
He said that a single firm is less likely to develop compared to firms in a business cluster, which is believed to be beneficial for productivity. Umar said that knowledge transfer also increases as the size of a business cluster expands. The Silicon Valley in the US is considered an example of cluster-based growth.
CEO of Moftak Khurram Mujtaba floated a “Margalla Hills model” for entrepreneurship as opposed to the Silicon Valley model, in which venture capitalists usually invest money in an enterprise but do not actively help with the business strategy and development.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mujtaba said the Margalla Hills model approach, to be applied in the Jumpstart campaign, will allow CEOs of tech companies to invest in startups in exchange for equity.
The CEOs will go on giving a sense of direction --- without micromanaging the enterprise --- to the young entrepreneurs running the start-up, until the founders of the startup were in a position to take over the administrative role, he said.
“The CEOs are already looking to invest in start-ups and make money off them,” Mujtaba said. “In this case, they might have a hands-off business in a couple of years and retain the equity.”
This approach aims to offer training and assistance that is missing from existing technology incubation programmes, according to Mujtaba. The model was well-received by representatives of academia and industry.
Roots School CEO Faisal Mushtaq said the entrepreneurship culture was improving in Pakistan. “There is always risk involved in such ventures but the youth have to take the chance.”
During a “shepherd’s pie” session, young entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to the CEOs invited to the event. One of the startups, Creanyx by students from FAST university, even received an investment offer during the pitch session.
The audience also appeared to be inspired by a presentation given by a young entrepreneur, Mubashir Hassan, from Gujranwala, who wanted to improve his family’s goat farming business through technology.
Moftak representatives said they were trying to get together 1,500 start-ups over the next five years under the Jumpstart campaign. Even if a small percentage of the ambitious target number was able to raise $1 million in investment each, they will provide a significant boost to the local economy and entrepreneurship culture, they said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2014.
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