NIC LUMS Initiates ‘Entrepreneur in Conversation’ series; Strengthens Foundation Council

DECEMBER 30: The National Incubation Centre Lahore (NICL) at LUMS is on a renewed mission to contribute to Pakistan’s economic development by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. Its latest initiative, the ‘Entrepreneur in Conversation’ series, features some of Pakistan’s brightest entrepreneurial minds discussing their innovative solutions to combat the country’s many challenges.

The talks are helmed by Saleem Ahmad, Chairman NICL. “We hope that these informal and interactive sessions will serve as an opportunity to learn from entrepreneurs who are solving Pakistan’s big problems, and thereby creating lasting impact. In the process, we hope to inspire a generation of young problem-solvers who can learn from these entrepreneurs’ path-breaking journeys,” Mr. Ahmad commented.

Through this series, NICL is aiming to provide young entrepreneurs a platform to engage directly with industry leaders and learn first-hand from their start-up journeys. The speaker series highlights their failures and successes, and more importantly, how they overcame challenges to create enduring success. These innovators, disruptors, and visionaries have succeeded in impacting industries, and have built companies that are positively changing the way society operates. These talks are available on NICL’s Facebook page and websites.

The inaugural session, held on December 22, featured Usman Javaid, Co-Founder and CEO of Ricult Inc., who talked about his journey of establishing an agriculture technology start-up. This LUMS and MIT-educated innovator is transforming the agriculture sector by helping farmers escape the cycle of poverty, through the use of data analytics, which supports financial inclusion for smallholder farmers in Pakistan and Thailand.

The second talk on December 28, showcased the experiences of an artificial intelligence expert and NICL Advisory Board member, Dr. Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI. Named one of South East Asia’s groundbreaking female entrepreneurs, Dr. Khanna is not only a strategic advisor on artificial intelligence, smart cities and fintech to leading corporations and governments, but also a published author and a featured speaker at major financial and technology conferences. She spoke about Pakistan’s opportunity for advancement with AI and passionately advocated for gender parity in technology.

The third talk, held on December 30, with Qasif Shahid, CEO and Co-founder of Finja, a fintech start-up and member, NICL Foundation Council, had Mr. Shahid share how his company is digitally disrupting and democratising lending in a PKR 10 trillion Pakistani market with very low penetration levels. He broke the news about Finja’s successful US$9 million raise from bluechip fintech funds who have invested in Pakistan for the first time.

Upcoming sessions feature Suneel Sarfraz Munj, Co-Founder of, on January 1, and Shabahat Ali Shah, CEO, National Information Technology Board on January 4.

Additionally, NICL has further strengthened its Foundation Council (FC) with experts in agriculture, financial inclusion, e-commerce, and venture investment. The new members include Faisal Aftab, Managing Partner and Executive Director of Lakson Venture Capital, who has over 15 years of investment experience, and is a limited partner of 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital fund, and a Board Member of many Pakistan based start-ups, including,,, and

LUMS alum, Usman Javaid, Co-Founder and CEO of Ricult Inc., has also joined the FC. Mr. Javaid has extensive corporate experience in Pakistan with Engro, Nestle and Telenor, where he was part of the team that launched EasyPaisa.

Badar Khushnood, Co-Founder of, a B2C and DTC e-commerce platform empowering businesses and artisans across Pakistan, will also strengthen the FC, with his experience of co-founding Bramerz, a leading full-service digital media and marketing company. He was also the first domestic consultant to global technology companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter, and serves as an Executive-in-Residence (EIR) at LUMS where he is helping curate the MS in Technology Management & Entrepreneurship programme.

The Foundation Council, together with the NIC Advisory Board, will provide guidance to the Foundation Programme by helping coach, mentor and train its sixth cohort of aspiring entrepreneurs. At present 37 start-ups from Lahore and 20 at BUITEMS in Quetta have been inducted to NICL’s Foundation Programme, which comprises a redesigned curriculum delivered by LUMS faculty and international technical experts across six intensive bootcamps.

Funded by Ignite, the Foundation is an immersive six-month long programme designed to help young Pakistani entrepreneurs develop their ideas into an investor-ready business plan and benefit from a network of experts and business leaders, culminating in a capstone Investor Summit.

5 Things you learn at a Design Thinking Workshop

Design Thinking is a revolutionary process that has taken over the business world. It allows creative solutions to complex problems, allows collaborative innovation and ensures the results are humane. To instill all of the above and more in our incubated startups, NIC has organized a 5 day design thinking workshop for the entrepreneurs.

Here are 5 things you can expect to learn at a design thinking workshop:

  1. Prepare for the Unknown!

During a design thinking workshop, your learning is more hands-on thus reducing reliance on gadgets. It is an experiential learning environment that allows and enables more hands-on work that moves at a quicker than usual pace. Therefore, be prepared to be taken by surprise because this is a learning process that will provide profound insights within a short span. The unexpected is a vital element in such a workshop because to break the mold, the entrepreneurs need to be taught how to unlearn and learn through a design thinkers mind.

  1. Take Steps Collectively

Though in the grand scheme of things, the 5 day workshop teaches design thinking but there are several more minute aspects that go with it. More than anything else a driven and passionate entrepreneur learns about their team members allowing empathy. Empathy is key in enabling the creative side of the brain. This understanding is pivotal in pushing ingenious boundaries that are invigorating and overwhelming all the same.

  1. Breaking the Mold

In order to learn something new one must always unlearn a facet of the old. Such a workshop provides a refined culture for the attendees. Thus, it allows them to be more confident in their own creativity and allows them to break the mold they believe they need to fit into otherwise. It teaches listening, analysis, synthesis, testing, resolution and a plethora of other useful skills that work as enabling forces in the future of the entrepreneur. However, as the mold breaks don’t be overwhelmed by the ambiguity of the learning process.

  1. Be Open to the Likelihood of failure

The whole idea behind a successful business it to make the user feel they need the product as opposed to vice versa. This is why it is often difficult for entrepreneurs to welcome and realize that the possibility of failure is high. The product is designed on the basis of user needs that are often undiscovered; even by themselves. A design thinking workshop welcomes failure as a learning curve. It makes the entrepreneurs less afraid to fail and more likely to come up with effective solutions.

  1. Prepare to face the Music

It is very important to challenge ourselves as we step into the professional world. A design thinking workshop will challenge you to understand the process itself. So be prepared to face the music and learn, to welcome challenges and be in the moment of not knowing the solution to something only to figure out the most creative way to do it.

NIC understands the significance and relevance of equipping its startups to the very brim. So if you’ve had the opportunity to be incubated with NIC, don’t miss out on the chance to attend Shahid Khan’s 5 day design thinking workshop in September.

Tech Leadership Summit 2019 to kick off on 10th January with speakers from Forbes, Amazon, HP and Microsoft

Tech Leadership Summit 2019, presented by OPEN Lahore, TechTalk, and CareAxiom will take place on January 10, 2019.

The invite-only event will feature a number of reputable speakers from Amazon, Microsoft, TechJuice, and Forbes.

New technologies and startups are emerging every day. From blockchain to Virtual Reality, Internet of Things to Artificial Intelligence, new technologies are changing every aspect of our lives every single day. With more and more people moving towards a digital and connected future, it is important to identify the role of technology in our lives and have a meaningful discussion over where the future is heading towards.

And who is better suited to talk about the future than the representatives from the companies who are actively striving to bring it to fruition?

That’s why OPEN Lahore, Tech Talk, and CareAxiom have joined hand to invite speakers from Amazon, Microsoft, TechJuice, and Forbes to talk about future technologies and their impact on our lives.

Tech Leadership Summit 2019, which will be held on 10th January, will feature notable industry leaders such as Salman Akhtar, President OPEN Lahore, Fahad Aziz, Contributor at Forbes, Rizwan Malik, Senior Product Manager at Amazon, Fatima Rizwan, CEO of TechJuice, Iram Nawaz, HP/Microsoft Representative, and Muneeb Khawaja, VP CareMerge.

The tentative schedule for the event is:

  • 9:30 AM – Welcome

  • 9:45 AM – Introduction to OPEN Lahore: Salman Akhtar (President, OPEN Lahore)

  • 10:00 AM – The Exponential Thinking & Future of Technologies: Fahad Aziz (Forbes)

  • 10:45 AM – Fireside Chat with Rizwan Malik (Sr. Product Manager, Amazon)

  • 11:30 AM – BREAK

  • 12:00 PM – Components of a true cloud-based application. Muneeb Khawaja

  • 12:15 PM – Faster Innovation, Faster Releases: Continuous Integration: Furqan Razzaq

  • 12:30 PM – Building a Testing Framework for Cloud apps: Mudassir Ali

  • 12:45 PM – 10 Ways To Market Your Products Free Of Cost, by Fatima Rizwan (Founder TechJuice)

  • 1:15 PM – Evolving Role of Technology Leaders: Iram Nawaz (HP/Microsoft)

  • 2:00 PM – Closing Remarks

The event will be held at the National Incubation Center (NIC) located inside Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and it is invite only. You can follow this link to submit an application to get an invite.


Note: To read original article click here.

Neurostic, a startup incubated by LCE bags a gold award at Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA)

Asad raza

TAIPEI: Neurostic, a startup incubated by the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship bags a gold award at Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA), an international competition featuring participants from 17 countries across the Asia Pacific.

Neurostic has won the gold award at the prestigious APICTA Award held in Taiwan. It is a ‘Clinical Decision Support System for Diagnosis of Movement Disorders’ led by Muhammad Asad Raza and is incubated by the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship.

Muhammad Asad Raza, CEO Neurostic shared his experiences of what moved him into researching and creating the diagnostic tool “While doing research on Parkinson’s disease I came across a patient who was not able to sell his property because his signature had changed because of tremor in his hand due to Parkinson’s disease, that day I decided I will create something that helps these patients live their everyday life comfortably”

As many as 28 teams from Pakistan participated in the event that took place in Taiwan capital, said a statement issued by the The Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA). Pakistan finished 4th in the overall awards count, ahead of economic powerhouses Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and China.

Pakistani participants received accolades from foreign judges who said even the youngest of teams had shown the caliber of work being done by the Pakistan tech sector.

As part of its efforts to bring innovation by Pakistani IT companies to the forefront,P@SHA said it took a delegation of 41 people to Taipei for the 16th annual APICTA Awards, a four day event that is deemed as the Oscars night for the Asia Pacific ICT. 

As many as 28 teams from Pakistan competed against 236 from 17 economies across the Asia Pacific and were judged by over 60 seasoned professionals.

The regional Awards ceremony invites applications from 17 economies, including Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, China, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Pakistan.

The judging was done by industry veterans, tech professionals and renowned thought leaders and VCs from all across the Asia Pacific region, said the statement.


Karandaaz Pakistan and LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship Host First-Ever FinTech Disrupt Challenge in Pakistan

FDC 2016

Karandaaz Pakistan and LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship (LCE) closed FinTech Disrupt Challenge 2016 with the announcement of 3 winners. The challenge took place at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship in Lahore.

The FinTech industry has seen an incredible growth around the world, with investments in this sector rising from $1.8 billion in 2010 to $5.2 billion in the first quarter of 2016 alone. The FinTech industry in Pakistan is in its nascent stages and is faced with issues of access to finance and limited mentorship. Recognizing the enormous potential of FinTechs to develop easily scalable solutions by leverage technology, FinTech Disrupt Challenge 2016 galvanized Pakistani startups to propose innovative products and services in areas like payments, financing, insurance, savings and investment for grants up to 10 million PKR.

The ultimate goal of the challenge is to build strong business relationships between key actors of this movement. Banks, government regulators, incubators, complementary actors from the FinTech industry assembled together at FDC2016 to hear 28 shortlisted startups present their ideas in front of a panel of experts. Leading industry practitioners like Nadeem Hussain and Qasif Shahid gave keynote speeches at the event about “Unbundling Commercial Banks” and “Design Mechanics for Setting Up FinTech Operations in Pakistan” respectively.

FDC 2016 culminated with the announcement of 3 winners, Ricult Pakistan, agri loans for small farmers; Paysys Labs, innovative biometric solutions for authentication; and Publishex Solutions, carrier billing platform for mobile apps. Following further due diligence and agreement of mutually developed growth milestones, these startups shall be eligible for up to PKR 10M in milestone based funding from Karandaaz Pakistan. The 10 finalists – chosen from a shortlist of 28 high caliber startups who presented their elevator pitches in round 1, were grilled in round 2 by six judges – Romana Abdullah, CEO Highpoint Ventures; Asad Azfar, Chief Investment Officer at Karandaaz Pakistan; Amaar Ikhlas, Head of Branchless Banking at Bank Alfalah; Yasser Bashir, CEO Arbisoft; Naeem Zamindar, CEO and Country Director at Acumen Pakistan; and Mohsin Termezy, Digital Transformation Specialist and Product Head at TPS.

Ali Sarfraz, CEO of Karandaaz said, “FinTech Disrupt Challenge 2016 presented a unique opportunity for fresh startups and those in their idea phase to be imaginative and creative about complex problems in the financial sector. Through this initiative, we, at Karandaaz Pakistan, have provided much-needed impetus to FinTechs, validation of their ideas, financial support and mentorship. I congratulate the winning teams and look forward to seeing these FinTechs lead financial revolution in Pakistan.”

“Access to seed capital is a major impediment to startup growth in Pakistan and we are glad to partner with Karandaaz Pakistan to address this gaping hole in the ecosystem. I hope that others follow suit and are able to financially support young, innovative startups so they can grow into large businesses of tomorrow spurring economic and jobs growth,” said Khurram Zafar, Executive Director of LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship.

About Karandaaz Pakistan
Karandaaz Pakistan is a not-for-profit company (registered under Section 42) established in August 2014, promotes access to finance for small businesses through a commercially directed investment platform, and financial inclusion for individuals by employing technology enabled digital solutions.

Talk: From Founding to Funding – A YotaScale Story

abbas yousafzai public event


A successful cloud systems management company is coming to share its journey from founding to raising funds at LUMS. This is a rare opportunity for you to learn how to grow a company and tips & tricks of raising funds.

YotaScale is applying machine learning and data science to cloud systems management. The platform helps companies reduce costs while optimizing performance for their cloud infrastructure deployments. YotaScale has raised a seed round from key investors including former Foundation Capital partner and VMWare executive Ashmeet Sidana, former VP Engineering at VMWare and Director at Facebook Jocelyn Goldfein and former CEO Oracle On Demand and Stanford Cloud Computing professor Timothy Chou. YotaScale was recently profiled in an exclusive in the Wall Street Journal.

About Abbas Yousafzai:

Abbas Yousafzai is the co-founder and CTO of YotaScale. Prior to YotaScale, Abbas was the CEO and Chief Architect at Conrad Labs where he helped numerous startups scale their businesses and engineering teams resulting in several acquisitions in the cloud and software security space.

About Asim Razzaq:

Asim Razzaq is co-founder and CEO of YotaScale. Prior to YotaScale, Asim was Senior Director of Engineering at PayPal and eBay where he ran the cloud infrastructure and helped build the PayPal Developer Platform from zero to a billion dollars in payments volume. He has lead engineering for multiple early and late stage startups in Silicon Valley and Austin with two of the companies exiting to Netsuite and Navitaire.

Sign up for the talk using this form till Monday August 22, 2016.

Event Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Event Time: 4:00pm

Event venue: LUMS (specific venue will be shared in the confirmation email)


Open Day at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship

With the third batch heading towards the end of their incubation program, it is time to scout the next batch of promising startups from the country. And what better way to get the word out than by holding an Open Day – a day where everyone is invited to come to The Foundation at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship.

Why hold this event? Because there are young and passionate entrepreneurs out there who like to know about the life in a business incubation center (and the business incubation center of LUMS, to be exact). They have lots of questions and queries regarding how they can have their startup incubated here and what are the requirements. For some, it is a chance to discuss their business models and see how they can make it better to improve their chances of getting incubated at LCE. So whether someone wants to know what LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship actually is and how this place can help them with their business idea or how the system of equity works, Open Day is the day!

Held for the second time at The Foundation on July 2, 2015, this day, like the previous one, saw about 200 people coming in throughout the day. Presentations covering the entire working of LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship and how one can become a part of it were delivered at regular intervals throughout the day from all over. Participants who came were both students and professionals; some wanted to discuss their business idea before they can apply for incubation, some had questions about different incubation programs and equity models, some wanted to know what opportunities are available to them and some others simply wanted to know about the place and its working. Overall, the day was full of hustle bustle of excited, young people who kept the management engaged throughout the day with their questions and queries.

Looking at the passion and excitement of the participants, we could easily foresee that there will be some really promising ideas on our panel in the next batch.

LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship Turns One

LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship Turns One



LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, the flagship experiential development platform of LUMS, has turned one year old.

An exclusive ceremony was held at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship (LCE) where the center alumni and current startups, leading entrepreneurs, successful businessmen, LUMS management and faculty joined the LCE management team to honor the achievements of the Center and to appreciate the astounding efforts made by its startups, who are working tirelessly to uplift the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the country.

Since LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship began its operations, it has mentored and groomed over 80 entrepreneurs and the startup businesses have created a total of over 120 direct and 350+ indirect jobs. The combined annualized revenues of the startups based on last month’s figures is approaching $250,000. These startups have also raised nearly $600,000 in investment from local and foreign investors. Moreover, the combined valuation of the businesses at which these startups have raised money at, or have had investor term sheets offered, is over $5 Million.

Talking about the past 12 months since inception, Khurram Zafar, Executive Director LCE said, “It has been an amazing ride! The incredible success our startups have enjoyed is a testament to the amazing talent and entrepreneurial passion of our country’s youth. By August, the center would have contributed over 28 high-growth potential businesses to the Pakistani economy. Hopefully many will keep growing and create additional jobs and wealth creation opportunities for its founders, employees and investors while solving real, local problems.”

During the ceremony, Maaz Kamal, Founder and CEO Interacta, an LCE alumnus from the first batch announced that Interacta has secured $220K seed funding from a local investor. This news was welcomed with a jubilant applause. Interacta is the third startup from LCE to have secured funding.

Addressing the guests, Vice Chancellor of LUMS, Dr. Sohail Naqvi said, “About a year ago, we jumped into the unknown and launched LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship. It was a true entrepreneurial venture. We were passionate but a little scared of how it will roll out. Today, it’s suffice to say that LCE is a phenomenal success. My heartiest congratulations to the management of the center and all our well-wishers for their support and encouragement.”

The third and current cohort of startups at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship consists of 16 startups, more than double the size of the previous cohorts and is scheduled to graduate in August.

Graduation Dinner for Batch Two of The Foundation

Graduation Dinner for Batch Two of The Foundation



Graduation/farewell dinner for batch 2 took place on the 8thApril, 2015 at the Executive Dining Hall, LUMS. It was a special night to mark the achievements of the startups and say farewell to all. CEO’s of batch one were also among the invites as The Foundation alumni. Jewelry Design Pro,, Fictive Lab, Food Hub and Grab Deals were all present at the ceremony however, H&O Services and Papercut could not make it to the graduation dinner. Khurram Zafar, Executive Director LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, Zartash Afzal Uzmi from LUMS faculty, Abid Malik, Managing Partner RVC Group and management of LCE were among the hosts.

During the dinner lively conversations were exchanged. After the dessert was served, the progress of all startups, both batch one and two, were discussed.

Jewelry Design Pro, a team of four, is fully functional and is generating revenue already. Their recent achievement is a visit to Pakistan Institute of Fashion & Design where they presented their business model and were highly appreciated by the Dean of the institution.

Another successful startup AutoGenie, which is also a four people team, has generated revenue of more than five lac rupees, providing around 300 jobs. Recently they’ve signed a deal with ZIC motor oils.

A five people company, Fictive Lab, is also generating revenue. Moreover their Wi-Fi enabled touch switch plate is a hit product.

Fastest food delivery service provider, Food Hub, has managed its way into not just getting 50 customers on board but is also in negotiations with two UK based investors and finalizing the terms of agreement.

A squad of seven, Grab Deals, working out of Faisalabad have managed to list 20 businesses on their portal and are near to their launch date.

From batch one, BizClout and Maro Tandoors are two examples of successful startups and are performing really well. BizClout has 100 to 200 customers using their e-commerce enablement product. According to their CEO Sheraz Saeedy, they get approximately 40 to 50 orders a month. Whereas Ali, the CEO of Maro Tandoors was excited as he told about the revenue from their one tandoor, which is in millions. They have hired eight workers and are offering 18 flavors of naan. Ali was also extremely pleased to mention that his work and achievements have been personally appreciated by Syed Babar Ali.

Abid Malik, Khurram Zafar, and Zartash Uzmi each gave a word of advice to the startups, congratulated them and wished them all the luck for their future.

The ceremony finally came to an end with the distribution of graduation certificates, mugs as souvenirs and a happy group picture.

Intellectual Property Rights and Legal Advise | Ahmed Irfan Aslam

Intellectual Property Rights and Legal Advise | Ahmed Irfan Aslam



“You have an idea; you share it with a friend of yours. He says yeah you can make money out of it, so you pitch it to LUMS, they like the idea and you are here. Beyond this stage, I don’t expect that a lot of you would have a conversation amongst yourselves about what kind of enterprise you want to have or what kind of relationships you want to define or where do you want your venture to be six months down the road? Six years down the road? Or sixty years down the road?” says Ahmed Irfan Aslam, partner at Salahuddin, Saif and Aslam and previously a legal advisor to the Government of Pakistan on Trade and Investment Laws.

Visiting LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship for a mentoring session on “Intellectual Property Rights” for our third batch, Ahmed Irfan Aslam started the conversation by focusing on two things. First being a legal mutual understanding between the co-founders and second about the protection of the business idea.

While explaining the essentials of team selection, he told the startups to choose their teams carefully in order to avoid future headaches. Further, he insisted the co-founders to be honest and open about their conversations with each other since day one and let that person go who cannot bring anything unique to the table, after all its merely business, and one cannot allow his emotions to cloud his judgment.

The next step, according to Mr. Aslam, is to structure a clear and concise legal document, the founder’s agreement, and choose such a legal structure which doesn’t bring the business crashing to the ground.

“Protect your idea. File for your ideas protection. Secure your business name. Your name is your identity, protect it.”, urged the lawyer. He not only clarified the difference between a patent and copy right but also explained the importance of the two.

Whether to go for a partnership or a company? How to build a stock option mechanism? What is a vesting schedule? How to structure in a tax efficient way? These were the main questions that troubled the startups. He answered every element of all the queries that the startups put forth.

“The choice of your legal structure depends on your business model. However you should always structure it in a way as to avoid tax and not become burdened by our very own company.” advised Ahmed Irfan while bringing this productive discussion to an end.

He boosted the morale of all the startups, congratulated them and wished them luck on their way to becoming a multi-million enterprise.