Founder Institute’s initiative: Bringing Silicon Valley to Karachi

Published: September 14, 2014
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Young professionals, graduates to be trained by experienced startup CEOs. CREATIVE COMMONS

Young professionals, graduates to be trained by experienced startup CEOs. CREATIVE COMMONS

KARACHI: If you are an aspiring entrepreneur who plans to launch his own venture but lacks the knowledge essential to build up a successful technology company, you might want to show up at “Bringing Silicon Valley to Karachi, an overview of what it takes to startup in Karachi”.

The event, which promises to bring the collaborative knowledge-sharing of Silicon Valley to Karachi, is being organised by Founder Institute (FI), the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch programme based in the US.

The institute, which is in the process of launching its Karachi chapter, helps aspiring founders across the globe to build technology companies. It runs an early-stage accelerator and global launch network that helps entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring technology companies, its website says.

While entrepreneurs in many countries made the most from this programme, the nearest chapter Pakistanis could go to was in Ahmedabad, India.

However, that visit required a visa, making the process complicated and difficult. This was the reason the programme’s director, Hassan Qureshi, decided to bring this to Pakistan.

“I wanted such training for myself but none was available in Pakistan,” said Qureshi, explaining what led him to bring FI to Pakistan.

In its five years of operation, the programme has helped launch over 1,230 companies across 66 cities and six continents, making it the world’s largest startup accelerator. It was covered by prominent publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week and TechCrunch to name a few.

“We will teach our students the same things that are taught to the founders in Silicon Valley – how to find a company, the legal aspects and revenue models for example,” FI’s co-director Sumaan Azmi told The Express Tribune while referring to their four-month, part-time programme, which they plan to commence in January 2015.

Silicon Valley is respected all over the world for creating the world’s best technology companies, according to the officials. “Over the years, we’ve learnt that the Silicon Valley mindset can be replicated in other entrepreneurial ecosystems and we can benefit greatly from the growth of technology companies locally.”

Karachi has a fast growing startup ecosystem. However, what many people don’t know about all of the resources available to them is the differences between these resources or what resources are right for them, says the website.

“The programme will revolutionise the local startup scenario by bringing in global best practices through its extensive network and support from around the world,” it says.

The FI’s local representatives are in the process of organising information events for applicants. “We would like to have 30 people enrolled to start our first batch,” Azmi said.

While there is a $450 fee for the full course, FI will offer 100% scholarships to women – subject to their eligibility to the programme, according to Azmi. Those admitted will receive expert training, feedback and support from experienced startup chief executive officers (CEO).

The local CEOs understand the mindset of home entrepreneurs, thus best suited to mentor these aspiring founders, Azmi says.

The FI has already got on board some of the industry’s leading startup CEOs. Some of these mentors include Afaque Riaz Ahmed, founder and Chairman, Board of Governors, Karachi Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship (KITE) – also the venue for the aforesaid event; Badar Khushnood, Google Country Consultant for Pakistan and Farzal Dojki, founder and CEO of Next Generation Innovation.

“We are talking to many other CEOs who are also the founders of their companies. We plan to have about 25 top CEOs on board to mentor this programme,” Hassan Qureshi, the director, said.

The target audience for this are young professionals and fresh graduates. “Our job is to create a startup eco-system and provide aspiring entrepreneurs with a platform,” Azmi said. These graduates will have to take it further because it is mandatory for them to form a company. “We [FI] are not building employees, we are building companies,” Azmi said.

The writer is a staff correspondent 

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2014.

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