Successful Pakistani Entrepreneurs & Their Stories

Young entrepreneurs are met with various challenges that sometimes push them beyond their potential to bear. However, it is at times like these that they must remember that Alec Baldwin once said; ‘Success begets success.’ If you are an entrepreneur venturing through a new idea and want to make it big, it is important to keep those who’ve been on a similar journey before you as a reminder. Just the awareness that no one before you made it big while being unscathed can be a comforting thought for all those entrepreneurs going through a rough patch right now. Here are 6 such Paskistani entrepreneurs who never surrendered in the face of challenges and remained steadfast and determined in their desire to make it big:

  • Zia Imran

Zia Imran is an inventor, a motivational speaker and an entrepreneur. He is an active member of the SPRING accelerator team in Pakistan and builds home automation and energy saving devices. He is also the CEO of Vahzay (Pvt) Limited. Under this establishment he produces software, IT products, and other services. Zia is also one of the founding members of Plan 9 Pakistan. With more than 15 years of experience up his sleeve working at Silicon Valley Zia’s success story and his position in the market is the best reminder whenever you feel like surrendering in the face of a difficulty that feels far too big to be overcome.

  • Monis Rahman

Monis Rahman is the founder & CEO of Naseeb Networks. This is a business-centered social network that helps with online job recruitment. Rahmad also initiated that now infamous website Rozee.pk in 2006 making it easier for millions of people to find jobs while sitting right at home. Rehman also co-founded eDaycare.com along with various other companies, ranging from Internet startups to chip design consultancies. Despite having started his career at Intel and later working as the Director of KASHF Foundation, Rahman made a decent name for himself as a successful entrepreneur and was even featured in New York Times, CNN, InfoWorld, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Spider.

  • Ali Rehan

Ali Rehan is the Co-founder of Eyedeus Labs and Ingrain. After graduating from LUMS Rehan also founded Groopic Inc., and led a team to build, release, and market the Groopic App, a mobile application which enables people to take group pictures and include the photographer as well. His startup received raving reviews from international media. Rehan also co-founded Ingrain, an advertising platform allowing users to place involuntary and independently beset online videos in real time. This breakthrough has allowed solving hardware related problems in Pakistan. Eyedeus was shortlisted for the Google Blackbox Connect entrepreneurship accelerator in 2013 as well.

  • Maria Umar

Maria Umar is the founder of Women’s Digital League providing work opportunities and digital training to Pakistani women. Through Project Artemis/Goldman she was mentored by some of the best business professors and motivational speakers who belonged to the Silicon Valley. Umar was later nominated as a Thought Leader by Ashoka Changemakers. Throughout her tenure at the online digital outsourcing sphere she was able to take her company to new heights by winning the Early Stage Award in the Changemakers “Women Powering Work” competition. Umar has been featured as an innovative leader by both the local and international media including names like Forbes and Dawn.

  • Zafar Khan

Zafar Khan is the CEO and Founder of Sofizar, an Internet marketing company that sells products to customers internationally through Facebook marketing. Sofizar is based in Lahore and has been very successful and lucrative. Khan also founded Engro Digital which is a chemical and processing plant interacting sensory data with machine learning based analytics. Zafar has led his company into a profitable endeavor and is an inspiring role model for all those looking to do the same.

  • Farhan Masood

Farhan Masood is an inventive entrepreneur, who has won several international awards for novel influences. He has won various awards such as The Asia Pacific ICT Awards and the MIT Enterprise Forum BAP award. He is the CEO of SoloInsight and SoloTech Labs located internationally and locally respectively. His company provides inventive solutions orchestrated on the basis of customer’s needs. He is also the founder of Go Green Pakistan through which he promotes patriotism and under the banner connects likeminded people cross country.

So the next time you feel like you’ve met a roadblock on your entrepreneurial journey, venture through the success stories of these influential Pakistani entrepreneurs.

Predicting if a Business Idea is Good or Not

When coming up with an idea for a startup, it is often difficult to identify and predict its potential and success rate in the market. This is especially true when something state of the art and innovative is introduced; there is no bench mark for comparison.

It is always difficult to anticipate and inquire whether an idea was successful because it was fundamentally a good one or if it was the investment that made it succeed.

It is true that entrepreneurship is nothing short of a gamble. Entrepreneurship is the exploration of finding an idea that is worth pursuing.

So if you wish to predict if a business idea is good or not, here are the key features that need to be identified:

Document Expectations about Your Business

There are many things that you need to identify; start with understanding why you’re even pursuing the idea, what is the incentive behind it? Does the idea aim at ensuring some sort of betterment in the grand scheme of things? What is it that sets you apart from other businesses in the market offering the same services? If what you’re offering is a product or a service; what do you intend to solve through either? Why should someone invest in your service?

If there is a solution that already exists; how is what you’re offering any better?

Talk to Potential Customers

There are a lot of entrepreneurs who do not think about speaking to their potential customers and that is a rookie mistake. Talking to possible clients can help you avoid make possible mistakes. Speaking to them can help you validate assumptions you’ve made in the past and questions you intend to answer in the early stages of your business.

Talking to more than just a handful of customers can help you gain perspective over what you intend to accomplish through your business. You might also end up gaining insight that can be valuable for the growth of your business.

What are People Willing to Pay?

When coming up with a business idea, it is also important to know what your service or product might cost your customers. The next step is to see if they are willing to pay. The answer is either going to tell you whether or not the price you are willing to pay is appropriate or if it needs to be altered.

Jut by paying close attention to the response of your customers, you can identify whether or not you are offering a price they will accept or not.

Take Constructive Feedback

As imperative as it is to meet with people who support your idea, it is equally important to meet the ones who don’t. It is important that you pry people to identify possible loopholes; ask around why someone who anticipates your idea to fail does so. This might enable you to identify the weaknesses in your plan and cater to them beforehand.

This does not mean that all loopholes need to be addresses; but the feedback might enable you to counter them if the need arrives in the future. It is always a smart idea to walk into the field well-prepared to receive blows from all corners.

Stay Lithe

The most aspect to ensure your business idea is a successful one is by staying flexible in making changes to it. You can always ensure your customers find it easy to approach you when providing feedback. This way, you and your idea can remain adaptable and meet the needs of the clients in the best possible manner.

This approach to help you identify the strength of business idea can also be helped by starting small. This doesn’t mean you always remain in the planning phase; but starting small with the intention to make it big always helps.

PayCard; the Smart Way to Make Payments

The National Incubation Center at LUMS Lahore has always encouraged and taken in startups that stan for what they believe in. Diversity and contemporary nature of the businesses is something that the startups of NIC are known for. Under this prestigious influence NIC is the proud incubation center for PayCard, a smartcard that

PayCard is the brainchild of a LUMS alumnus Shujaat Ali. It is a contemporary card that allows you to make your over-the-counter payments within a second by simply waving your PayCard in front of a scanner.

It is a newly introduced and a highly convenient and secure contactless payment method that harbors no hassles of PIN codes or signatures.

This is a digital wallet that aims to helping users make transactions in a quicker, easier and a user-friendly way. Paycard started its journey by enabling smart cards with “Near Field Communication” capabilities to make transactions by simply tapping the card on a special terminal to pay.

In order to test the product, the founders of Paycard introduced it within the LUMS Superstore. The product has been taken by Futureonics Pvt. Ltd to ensure maximum productivity and minimum cause of complaints. The founders have demonstrated due diligence by ensuring that not only does their product understand but also follows the rules and regulations of The State Bank of Pakistan. Under this understanding the founders and the minds at Futuretronics have integrated this state of the art product with the SIMSIM wallet. This amalgamation ensures our users are provided the security of transactions.

On July 12th 2018, PayCard was lucky enough to sign a contract with Futureonics and FINJA. Under the promising guidance of NIC and hosted by the establishment itself, this new collaboration is intended to bring the SIMSIM wallet on board with the PayCard platform.

As a result of this fin-tech collaboration, PayCard is all geared up to ensure the experience of making payments is made much not just easier but far more exciting for our users.

It intends to offer them a plethora of nifty ways that will allow our users to maintain their budgets, manage their funds, block their cards without delay in case of loss or theft. Our users will also have the super convenient option to transfer funds to friends or family with just a tap along with several other futuristic features that come with our PyaCard.

PayCard ensures that the priority is always the users. They strive towards providing them convenience, one tap at a time.

Education, An Awakening by Ilm Ideas 2

Ilm Ideas 2 focuses on improving the condition of the supply and demand of education in Pakistan. It is a 4 year program that runs locally and is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DIFD) and is managed by Cambridge Education. The intent of this program is to develop and support innovative educational establishments to ensure the demand of education in Pakistan is being met. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things it ensures that the youth of Pakistan is well-endowed and literate.

The program itself focuses on 3 primary strands:

  1. It supports startups establish their business ideas that work towards improving the quality of education. This is where the National Incubation Center at LUMS Lahore steps in and scouts for startups working under the said category.
  2. Once that has been accomplished, IIM2 may provide them with grant funding to ensure the outcomes of the business plans are being met effectively.
  3. Most importantly, the program ensures that new and innovative ideas are being continuously supported even after the program ends.

In order to accomplish the three strands meritoriously and to guarantee plausible improvement in the education system of the country, NIC LUMS plays a pivotal role.

How NIC Scouts for Promising Startups

NIC is an established incubator in Lahore and holds one of the strongest networks of investors, education mentors, alumni network, facilities and other useful amenities. The establishment is already responsible for incubating several new and innovative education institutions. Under the funding of ILM2, NIC set out to look for visionaries in the education sector that desired to potentially change the face of education in Pakistan.

At the same time, NIC also believes in catering to the education facilities often found at the bottom of the pyramid. Under this approach, supported by the likes of Akhuwat and other similar foundations, NIC took over approximately 20 education micro entrepreneurs last year under a different program, training youth from low income communities, out of which 15 ran their own schools. NIC is a firm believer of balance, equity and diversity. The micro-entrepreneurs taken under the guidance were located in areas ranging from Bedian Road, Walton, Cantt, Mughalpura, Nishat Colony, Sadar, Manalwala, Kotlakhpat and others.

Inspired and motivated by a similar approach, higher in the pyramid of social hierarchy, under the funding of ILM 2, NIC was able to incubate approximately more than 10 educational-technology (ed-tech) companies as well. The most promising ones amongst them were Grassroots, Edkasa and BigBytes.

BigBytes is a group of Technology Educationists. The startup belongs to the current cohort of incubated businesses at NIC Lahore. The incentive of this establishment is to teach people how to make use of the tools of technology, and their creative faculties to solve real-life problems. The business was initiated by a community of tech enthusiasts through collaborative, hands-on learning. Their aim was to introduce robotics and the latest technologies in the schools of Pakistan by conducting workshops and establishing the model of a tech-focused makerspace.

Grassroots Consultants provides management consultancy services, as well as edTec solutions in the education sector. One of the solutions they developed and deployed is “School Service Quality Management” program.  Through this solution they are able to obtain monthly feedback from a sizable sample of each school’s parent community on how satisfied they are with the education services being delivered and the performance in light of specified performance indicators.

The received information is then digitally captured into a designed Education Service Score Card and then circulated to School Heads and their Management. This allows them to keep track of the progress of each school through close monitoring. The technology and the processes used are relatively low costing, more so, they are customizable and highly effective. Grassroots is currently working on deploying similar solutions at a lower cost for public schools as well.

EDKASA – Our Success Story

The founders of this business Annum Sadiq and Fahad Tanveer displayed immense skill, talent and experience in their respective fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amongst the plethora of accomplishments under the ILM2 program, the one greatest success story is EDKASA. This business aims to increase access to qualitative secondary education by making available top notch teachers across the country through a collaborative online learning platform. The platform allows live, cooperative and interactive classes connecting one teacher to approximately 100 students at a time. Using the EDKASA Direct product, students from anywhere in the country can join the platform just as long as they have access to the internet. Autonomously, EDKASA aspires to make available its ‘teacher stream’ to its own franchisees. The incentive behind this is to target those students who cannot directly connect to the platform thus ensuring that this unavailability does not impact their academic exposure.

EDKASA was able to receive an investment of up to £150,000 by the Ilm Ideas 2 program. This allowed them to pilot test their business model and to conduct more market research to increase accuracy and efficiency of their approach. EDKASA achieved a flopping sum of £ 1.5 Million  from the ILM2 program because of various factors. The most promising ones included its potential to scale, its likelihood to reach young people in poorer communities who were at a risk of dropping out of schools and lastly, EDKASA’s committed team of highly ambitious, driven and innovative individuals.

Story Kit

Story Kit or, Kahani Se Kitab Tak is another program incubated at NIC that works towards for teaching children the Urdu language through story telling. The organization works on developing products for historical sites and monuments, such as, Wazir Khan Mosque. It aims to substitute the methods of teaching Urdu currently by introducing children to Urdu literature and folktales through stories while also organizing free Story Kit sessions on weekends in schools located in the relatively low income areas. Developed by Pakistani–Canadian writer, translator, and essayist Musharraf Ali Farooqi the Kahani Se Kitab Tak program partnered with Children’s Global Network, Pakistan State Oil, British Council also a brand called Leisure Club, introduces children to Urdu literature while ensuring their learning of the language.

Story Kit has partnered with Knowledge Platform, Alif Ailan, British Council, Ferozsons Lab, PSO, Arbisoft and is launching a product specifically targeting exclusive schools like Lahore Grammar (LGS), International School Karachi, Beaconhouse Newlands, Roots Millennium, SICAS, LACAS and others. They are currently working on marketing their products and simultaneously targeting more schools to branch out their services and reach a wider audience.

Education, An Awakening!

The National Incubation Center stands firm over the belief that innovative learning is the future and the best way to enable the youth of today for a more promising tomorrow. Keeping this view in mind, the implementation of the ILM2 program allowed NIC to scout and home some of the sharpest and most pioneering minds in the country. Through this inventive approach, NIC was able to provide stable grounding for establishment to the likes of BigBytes, Grassroots and EDKASA. The forces at NIC LUMS believe that an investment in the innovative minds of today through knowledge pays the best interest in the future of the country.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Impact Challenge – Defying Limitations

The KP Impact Challenge is an enterprise of the KP Government in collaboration with the National Incubation Center Lahore located in LUMS and The School of Education. The united effort of the three aspires to provide better prospects to the youth of the province. KPIC seeks to sustain them in a manner that encourages entrepreneurship and facilitates them to become active earners without the rut of job quests.

With the assistance of its School of Education (SoE) the National Incubation Center Lahore (NIC) implemented the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Impact Challenge successfully. The main incentive of this project is to empower youth, located in the relatively lesser developed areas of Pakistan so they may establish and run enterprises to ensure a maintainable source of revenue.

The target audiences of this incentive are individuals between the ages of 18 and 30. Like many similar projects successfully executed by NIC, KPIC looks to sustain already established businesses or assist individuals in developing one from the ground up. It is a platform that encourages and expedites pioneering and inventive minds and business ideas that have what it takes to thrive in the business world.

How NIC goes about the KPIC Project

Individuals interested in the prospects of a sustainable future were required to submit their applications through several portals that were readily accessible. Potential candidates used WhatsApp, courier or GUST and LUMS NIC received the applications in clusters of thousands. Once received, contracts were signed to initiate the promise of a better and more lucrative future.

More than 900 applications were received, they were shortlisted in 100’s and a flopping total of 45+ were later shortlisted.

Once selected, the candidates were then brought to LUMS to commence their training. To make the transition easier for them, candidates were even provided accommodation. NIC believes in assisting the candidates to the very extent they require. Whether this is the filling of the applications or the training, creating investment briefs or deriving an exclusive business plan – if a candidate shows potential and determination, NIC ensures they are met with a better future.

Through moral handholding and constant mentoring, enough support was provided to ensure implementation. Once their training was successfully complete, they attended the Investors Summit organized in KP by the local government of the area. The intention of this summit was to further beseech investments for their business ideas. These ideas were later provided with sufficient grants to supplement the investments.

The Diversity of Businesses Homed

The applications received revealed the diversity of the business ideas brewing in the minds of the young entrepreneurs. Amongst them one was the Doctor’s Dairy Farm initiated by Waleed Omar. His business aimed at eradicating contamination from the milk being delivered within the province. His plan was to establish a farm that would ensure organic milk production that was hygienic. With a degree in veterinary sciences, Omar believed he possessed the expertise to not only provide pure milk but to also create awareness among the masses of its importance.

Similarly, we had Mishal Khurshid and her idea of TaleemArt. With a Master’s in Education, Khurshid’s business idea was to provide an extraordinary learning environment equipped with state-of-the-art technological facilities. She planned to develop a consulting firm consisting of educational, financial, and management experts that could provide technical assistance to the private schools of the community for provision of services such as curriculum development, teacher’s training, administrative management, child care and counseling, school building overhauling, staff support program, institutional planning, and infrastructural extension recommendations.

These two ideas were merely a drop in the bucket when viewed in correspondence to the plethora of others received.

KPIC Main Features

One of the most prominent features of the challenge was the selection of universities across KP. The faculty members were selected and trained with the objective that they would eventually take their roles as entrepreneurship trainers. The faculty members went through a process that entailed their participation as trainees in the first cohort, observers in the next and co-trainers in the third. As a result of this, they would be provided with the expertise to conduct the workshops at their universities independently. Nonetheless, these would be supervised by the NIC teams to ensure quality control.

The worth of the challenge was not in the streamlining process of the businesses, nor does lie entirely in the training of the faculty. The true assessment of the KPI challenge was in ensuring accessibility of the local universities for the entrepreneurs.

The syllabus used in the training process was specifically designed by the team at NIC LUMS. The intention behind it was to guarantee understanding and the assurance that through following it, the trainees would reach the set benchmark and be able to gain independence in the upcoming cohorts.  The drive behind the meticulously drafted syllabus was also to ensure that the qualitative performance expected and received from the universities in KP was equivalent to the ones being received at LUMS.

The Investors Summit

The Investors Summit held on April 26th, 2018, was a success, to the say least. Notables who attended it included the chairman of PTI, Imran Khan himself, Mr. Mohammad Tariq Khan, Secretary for Tourism, Sports, Archaeology and Museums, Culture and Youth Affairs; Mr. Pervez Khattak, Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shabana Gul, Faculty Member IMSciences and Dr. Qazi Waheed, Assistant Professor Entrepreneurship.

The availability of this platform allowed the startups to address their business plans in front of a wider audience and be able to speak about their venture with a new found confidence and future in mind.

The National Incubation Center stands firm over the belief that entrepreneurship and enabling the rural youth to accomplish their entrepreneurial dreams can guarantee a palpable future for the country. Keeping this view in mind, the implementation of the KPI challenge was to yoke the same skill, dedication, drive, passion and commitment in them. Through the successful execution, NIC was able to involve the rural youth in the economy of the country through the creation of jobs.

Connection between Hands-on Founders & Successful Startups

Reports have claimed that startups that have hands-on founders not just witness their firm to thrive but are also more likely to preserve their employees.

It is true that once a founder has established a firm, they’re caught up with the nitty gritty. Their job doesn’t end with the idea but continues with recruiting human force to execute notions, they have to develop partnerships and come up with solid business strategies that promise both longevity and are lucrative. These are just some of the many responsibilities under a founder’s belt. These individuals are often pulled in all directions and can easily get lost in the rut of mentoring and monitoring.

Often the founders get caught up in the grand scheme of things, overlooking and possibly remaining oblivious towards the more menial tasks. This is a rookie mistake. Researches have proven that it is these tasks that hold more significance in the long run. Managing human resources and ensuring the right energy is being spent on specific tasks is primary. Providing and receiving regular feedback is secondary.

Through research and time, it has been proven that managing members within a team is worth a lot more of a founder’s time. Under the branch of this management fall several aspects such as evaluations conducted at regular intervals, setting realistic prospects, sharing mileposts, pursuing progress and setting futuristic goals in order to run startups that flourish.

Being Open to New Learning

Though several founders may struggle with the above mentioned ideas, they can always be learnt through networking and through keen observation. They can learn to anticipate responses based on stimulus being provided by them to their employees and can even come up with new tactics to implement their learning in a productive manner.

Researchers conducted thorough surveys to understand the basics of running an effective startup and aspects where several founders lacked. The main categories were:

  1. Setting reasonable expectations,
  2. Instituting goals shared by all members of the team,
  3. Reviewing the performance of involved personnel and
  4. Providing constructive feedback.

It was learnt that founders that were more hands-on inclined towards using these tactics frequently as opposed to those who tried to micro-manage. Self-analysis under the magnified lens of the four categories can help founders come up with business plans that are more balanced and well endowed.

To ensure complete transparency, hands on founders are known to track their own progress under the four categories.

It is important for founders to visualize themselves as leaders and mentors and therefore comply to similar approaches. As advisers they are always required to come up with a management style that is thorough and inclusive. They are mandated to identify how impactful the distribution of work is. Founders that outsourced the more demanding and less challenging tasks to their employees faced increased employee-dissatisfaction in comparison to those with a rigorous approach. The latter are likely to retain their employees and thus increase the performance of their startups by a decent percentage.

Founders that avoid micro-managing all the tasks send a positive message of trust and reliability and can therefore maximize productivity. Though, understandably, it is often difficult for founders to let go of the administrative decisions and consequently end up governing all tasks. Employee reliance and delegation allows them to shift focus on the significant aspects of their startup that are often directly associated with its growth.

Investing in Cooperative Pedagogy

Often founders select training programs that are more time consuming and expensive. These are often less prolific and more difficult to implement given time management. Founders are often more invested in running their firms full-time and therefore require a more cooperative and inclusive approach.

In order to accomplish that with minimum time wasted, founders must always seek mentorship within the network. This leads to a more personalized sense of understanding as it allows specified discussions with effective solutions. It might also regulate how well a startup thrives in given circumstances.

As a founder, there is always a lot on one’s plate. However, in order to ensure that only the more imperative and required tasks take up that room, a founder must mindfully delegate and built a trustworthy and reliable network and management. Only then can they enhance the productivity of their

NIC Lahore and AYEco – A Voice Controlled Wheelchair

The National Incubation Center Lahore is a firm believer of giving light and resources to the innovative and unique. The team has the insight to recognize ideas that hold the potential to produce magnificence. Such is the case for one of our incubated startups that produced a state of the art and contemporary device specifically for the disabled. On July 5th 2018, AYEco launched the first ever voice controlled smart wheelchair.

Faaiz Arbab, a student in the electrical engineering graduate program at Lahore University of Management Sciences’ (LUMS) incubated at NIC Lahore, urbanized a voice-operated smart wheelchair called GOBEE.

How It Operates?

To add ease and convenience for the paraplegic and quadriplegic, this voice controlled wheelchair can be operated through a mobile phone application. With a ‘Call N Go’ feature, the user can summon the wheelchair from a distance of up to 15 kilometers. This unique piece of technology responds to the vocal stimuli and follows the provided commands. The device has an instilled ability to maneuver its way through all possible obstacles in its path and find its owner without a hiccup.

The Exceedingly Inimitable Features

With a vision and final product in mind, Arbab began the innovative designing of this wheelchair several years ago while still being a student of engineering. Despite his best efforts, Arbab always felt room for improvement and hesitated from submitting this state of the art product to NIC Lahore. However, the idea was revisited by him as a graduate student at LUMS. NIC Lahore homed at LUMS provided Arbab with an environment and support needed to give to a technology that would change the face of wheelchairs. Here are some of its most refined features:

 

  • Equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi facilities.
  • Remote control operation facility that goes up to 100 feet.
  • Water resistant
  • Anti-rust exterior
  • Anti-sweat seat
  • A powerful dual 3200 RPM motor allowing an inclined drive up to 300
  • Long life battery power with 2 batteries of 18Ah each
  • Drive power up to 40km per charge
  • Charging time as low as 100 minutes
  • Bright LED lights for active maneuvering at night
  • Emergency stop and call button
  • And a battery status bar assimilated on a Joystick module.

 

Arbab plans to continue refining the design of the wheelchair. He has expressed his intent to eventually equip in the future by equipping it with an IP Camera and Artificial Intelligence technology.

NIC Lahore Launches GoBee on July 5th

The National Incubation Center Lahore provided Arbab and his product with a platform to officially launch GoBee into the market. Hosted at NIC Pakistan’s 1st voice controlled smart wheelchair was presented on July 5th 2018. Several distinguished personalities and noteworthy businesspersons attended the ceremony. This plethora of distinguished members included the likes of Dr khalid Jameel, Almas HaiderRafia Ilyas, Zahra Abbas, Dr Anam Najam, Ilyas Saeed, Shafeeq u Rehman, Dr. Izhar, Aftab Nazir, Shiekh parveiz, Imtiaz, FatimaSaima Ashraf, Ayesha Malik, Syed Faraz jamal, Aman Ullah Riaz, Taqwa, Ali Imran, Mansoor Ahmed Golra, Farhana Ayub, Abbas razi UllahDr Sohail Ahmed, Dr Hassan Tareen Dr Irfan Gull, Amir Naseem and several others.

Faaiz Arbab, has also been acknowledged for his determination, skill and execution by the National Design Awards (NDA) Pakistan. The establishment has designated GoBee for the 2018 Consumer Product Design Award.

Through his company, Ayub Yaqoob Engineering Company (AYECo), Arbab has already begun internal distribution of the product within the Pakistani market. However, he intends to make this product a universal asset once his agreement with International Health Regulations (IHR) of World Health Organization (WHO) reaches completion.

Faaiz Arbab intends to ensure GoBee is evidently exported across countries and we at NIC Lahore wish him the very best of luck.

In Pakistan, could entrepreneurship be the key to tackling youth unemployment?

Economic perspectives of youth are extremely poor and unemployment rates staggering high. Even when jobs are available there is often a mismatch between the skills youngsters can offer and those required by the employers. Poverty, social instability and political violence are on the brink and this is why addressing the youth employment challenge ranks high on the international and local development priorities for sustainable and inclusive development.

LUMS NIC, Lahore under the funding of Citi Foundation and management of British Asian Trust set out to change address this narrative for the greater good under Citibank’s global Pathways2Progress programme.

 

NIC Lahore – Making Youth Entrepreneurship a Viable Path

With the Urban Youth Project NIC Lahore did what several couldn’t. Through generous funding received from the donor, NIC paired with some of the biggest microfinance institutes of the nation to put belief into practice. With a versed understanding between them, Akhuwat and Kashf Foundation, the NIC Lahore team received a whopping sum of more than 100 applications out of which 60 micro entrepreneurs from various low income communities of Lahore were taken in and trained.

Driven by a singular intent – NIC Lahore set out to increase employment opportunities for the youth struggling to make ends meet. Through the establishment of this initiative; qualities of dedication, reliability and substantiality amongst a plethora of others were the sought qualities in people scouted from low income communities.

NIC Lahore is a firm believer that those who possess a skill should be treated with undue deference, regardless of their background.

These capable beneficiaries were welcomed with an eager approach to ensure inclusivity and shun the demarcation of “us” and “them.” They were provided an environment that was not intimidating to ensure maximized productivity in what could have otherwise been an unfamiliar setting.

Predominant recipients were either running their own schools, academies, salons, tailoring stores, mobile shops, electronic repair stores, printing presses or small scaled management companies. Needless to say, NIC Lahore identified that where the receivers lacked mentoring support and guidance, passion and commitment was something they had in abundance.

 

In what proved to be a successful partnership, NIC LUMS and Akhuwat pursued entrepreneurial ideas that promised durability. After a taxing procedure of selection, a personalized assessment sheet was developed by the NIC Lahore team to identify priority areas of the participants.

 

 Furthermore, an even more rigorous and thorough curriculum was commissioned to ensure experiential learning without linguistic barriers. Under these aspirations and with the hopes to target the said demographic, was developed a now standardized curriculum called “Kamyaab Karobaar” (Successful businesses).

The designed curriculum covered imperative components varying from key features of pragmatic entrepreneurship, to running a business cycle. It elucidated identification of business plans, execution, pre-feasibility, sales, marketing, accounts, book-keeping, inventory, time management, financial access, presentation and interpersonal skills.
Out of the businesses that were incubated, a majority went on to increase their profit percentages by an average of 20 per cent each.

Entrepreneurs were exposed to successful mentors who had undertaken similar journeys in the past. The intent of this was to perpetuate compassion and plausibility of business ventures when pursued through proper channels of assistance.

 

Amid one of the mentors was Rukhsaar Khan, a salon owner who once struggled to initiate a business in Lahore only to abandon it and restart her journey later in Dubai. Not only did Khan’s journey prove as an inspiration and hope for beneficiaries who met resistance, her desire to return to her homeland to start yet another venture, a salon training facility, served as a ray of optimism.

 

NIC will be releasing seed funding to 12 successful micro entrepreneurs trained under the said project.

Amongst them is Rabia Ashiq, a 24 year old school owner.

Rabia’s reception towards the training and curriculum is what scored her a prominent position and ranking in the Citi Foundation notable women. She now demonstrates a willingness to expand her business and encourages more young business owners to take the same chances as she did.

Through the Urban Youth Project, the NIC Lahore team was able to practice the power of the youth as common wealth for the world. It wishes to promote equality at every scale throughout the country, regardless of the economic, social or geographic limitations. The program aims to approach a particular income group and aspires to ensure similar opportunities are made accessible in the future.

“I always thought LUMS was an institute serving the upper class. But after attending the training under the Urban Youth Project, I realised the institute gave me a much larger perspective to life. I not only learnt how to effectively increase sales and promote my business, but I also learnt why this institute is one of the leading institutes in the country. The staff at LUMS gave us confidence to believe in ourselves and we will never be grateful to UYP sponsors for giving us this incredible, life changing experience.”
Muhammad Shehryar, 22
Jewellery Shop in Nishtar Colony, Lahore.

LUMS NIC Welcomes Cohort 2 in true Entrepreneurial Spirit

For our summer season, the National Incubation Center located inside LUMS Lahore, the team set to seek unique entrepreneurial ideas among Pakistan.

The anticipation was well-received when applications came pooling in, in batches of hundreds. As per protocol, a legitimate in-house screening process was designed to shortlist participants from hundreds to a distinctive 54.

These startups met the team at NIC Lahore in an environment that facilitated, promoted and encouraged their innovative ideas.

Based on the initial pitches, these 54 businesses later presented their refined ideas to the Foundation Council. The esteemed judges weighed in the startups on the bases of discrete criteria including:

  • the strength of the founder,
  • potential of the idea,
  • existing traction and
  • the promising impact of the business on society.

The metrics of the above combined with the clarity and thoughtfulness of the presentations was deliberated over the day long consultation. The documented data was then consolidated and 31 final teams were selected for incubation.

NIC Lahore is known for sustaining its prestige when it comes to incubating businesses that promise a societal change and implement unique ideas.

The finalized 31 teams initiated their incubating journey on Monday 2nd July 2018. To commence the grueling, insightful 6 month long journey, the National Incubation Center at LUMS Lahore, welcomed the teams for an interactive orientation session.

NIC believes in innovative thinking and strong connections to build successful businesses. Keeping this approach in mind, the startups attended an insightful, engaging and motivational talk by Yousuf Hussain, the CEO of Ignite.

Through experience and exposure, Hussain took the members of each startup through an entrepreneurial journey. He reminded them of the flux that shifted the 80% GMP in 1775 in Asia to the West due to a prevalent lack of innovation and entrepreneurship.

To instill in the minds of the team members Hussain not only provided them with an insight to business but to the strategic workings of NIC Lahore that lead to success stories of the likes of PakVitae.

Faisal Sherjan, the Director of NIC, Lahore also took to the podium to aid the startups. He helped them understand the identification process of customers and how the startups can maximize productivity through the use of resources and facilities provided by the NIC institution. To teach and follow discipline, the teams were given some basic operational guidelines, rules and regulations.

A diverse range of businesses was observed in the respective cohort. The startups ranged from education, technology, transportation, food, lifestyle, fashion, sports and health. Their innovations were a direct comment on the heterogeneous entrepreneurs that exist in the country.

Several interactive activities were also organized to build familiarity between the startups to build a healthy and holistic work environment for the future.

The session ended on a high note opening avenues for startups to take their businesses to new entrepreneurial heights.

LUMS – Supporting Women Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Gender rights and equal opportunities for women have always been a debatable concept. This is especially true for third world countries like Pakistan. For a very long time, women have been deprived even the acknowledgement that they may possess skills that can help them excel in the professional world. Despite making up more than 60% of Pakistan’s population, their craft has often been overlooked and considered non-lucrative for Pakistan’s economy.

However, the narrative is in a flux and has been for quite a while. Under this mutability comes the hopeful inventiveness of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) National Incubation Centre (NIC) Lahore in cahoots with Karandaaz Pakistan. NIC won a competitive bid under the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2017-18. This led to a productive partnership between NIC Lahore and Baluchistan University of Technology and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) to scout women led business venture like none other.

The National Incubation Center (NIC) Lahore was inaugurated by Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Ms. Anusha Rahman Khan at a ceremony held at Lahore University of Management Sciences on December 23, 2017. NIC Lahore will house the first ever Makers Lab in Pakistan, a modern facility equipped with the latest technologies and smart equipment to bring ideas to life. The 23,000 square feet space not only houses the incubator and accelerator but also provides business acceleration services to incubated companies, a Smart Lab, a Design Thinking Lab and various libraries along with an in-house auditorium.

 

 

 

 

Driven by set guidelines and definitive objectives, the collaborative forces of NIC and BUITEMS sought high growth women led businesses and micro businesses. Their agenda; to further incubate them through the provision of a custom designed world-class curriculum and state of the art facilities paired with professional mentorship and the hopes of becoming a part of the grand business narrative.

After the tireless exploration, women led businesses were further connected to necessary financial sources, information and a network of well-versed facilitators. Furthermore, the micro entrepreneurs were enabled through a rigorous training curriculum at BUITEMS incubation center.

Since these steps were initially taken; 24 micro entrepreneurs were inducted in Quetta and 10 high growth businesses were incubated at NIC Lahore.

After the gruelling process of each business analysing itself to meet set bench marks, taking in the guidance and expanding their vision; the women entrepreneurs graduated on March 9th 2018. This ceremony entailed further empowering of their businesses allowing them to continue growing even after they left the direct guidance of the mentors at NIC.

To be viable graduates, NIC Lahore in collaboration with Karandaaz Pakistan hosted an Investors Summit allowing the women entrepreneurs to put learning into practice in front of a panel of esteemed judges from the managerial body, Karandaaz, Pakistan. The 26 businesses pitched their revamped, redefined and more mature pitches towards the judges. They demonstrated not only their growth under the guidance of NIC but also their approach towards a more sustainable business future.

In efforts to monitor impact, effectiveness and sustainability, the NIC management team used statistics based indicators to ensure NIC’s Key Performance Indicator’s (KPIs) are monitored throughout the structured incubation program.

The NIC regulation proved worthwhile when two high growth businesses; Aero Craft Engine founded by Sarah Qureshi and Zari Faisal Designs founded by Zarlasht Faisal, along with 14 micro entrepreneurs from Quetta received grants and equity investments.

Breaking Barriers: Sarah Qureshi sets out to take over the Aerospace Universe

With a PhD degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cranfield University, UK, Sarahh Qureshi set out with a team of four including herself, to introduce a sophisticated new feature into the aerospace universe.

Qureshi is a powerhouse on her own with a Private Pilot License (PPL) and 70 hours of Flying Experience and familiarity in acrobatic flying. Driven by the passion to soar through the sky and to eliminate global warming, Qureshi and her team put together state of the art technology. With the added feature of reduced carbon footprint, her team designed a revolutionary contrail-free aero-engine.

This aero-engine is a unique pressure based condensation system devised specifically for airborne applications. It is a novel addition to the family of gas-turbine components. Not only does the technology reduce the aviation industry’s contribution to global warming by effectively eliminating contrails, but it also signifies a positive contribution of the aviation industry itself. It enables them towards meeting the global challenge of water scarcity by creating localized rain in the process.

Sarah Qureshi’s technology holds the potential to shift the negative impact of aviation to a positive contribution towards the environment.

This sophisticated and unique research project even won the Clean Technology Competition for the 2016 Clean Equity Conference, Monaco and was shortlisted for a few other environmental technology innovation competitions.

The concept is inimitable and the design is patent-protected. Its reliability, minimalism, and ease of implementation within the ecosystem are what set it apart. The design and the technology involved in its development are synergistic with the current technology employed by aero-engine manufacturers. Another unique specification is that it is a supplementary device and can therefore be cohesive to existing aircraft engines.

After being housed at NIC Lahore for four months, Qureshi and her team managed to receive decent investments from Karandaaz allowing them to pilot their project. With a financial plan in place and investors pegging their success, Aero Craft Engine is all set to take the aerospace industry by storm and NIC couldn’t be more proud.

The National Incubation Center Lahore believes in and strives to instill experiential learning through all the entrepreneurs it incubates. With the sole intention to breed sustainable, high-growth and high-impact ventures in Pakistan, NIC stands proud under the success of the Women Entrepreneurship Challenge with the promise that more female-led businesses will continue to flourish under their experienced wings.

So if you have an idea that you believe deserves to be heard and given an opportunity, then LUMS National Incubation Center is the place to be. Put ideas into action and send us your brief at salwa.akhtar@lums.edu.pk so we may scout, home and breed your dream into reality.