Pak Wired: RepairDesk Launches System for Mobile Repair Businesses

 

Founder of RepairDesk, Usman Butt, earned a degree in Finance, and began his career in software development. After gaining valuable insight into business and marketing strategy, he launched, IMEI Unlock, a service provider that unlocks cell phones. He was soon approached by mobile repair shops around the world for assistance, and the idea for RepairDesk was born.

Essentially, RepairDesk is a cloud-based Point of Sales system that simplifies and organizes workflow for mobile repair businesses. It’s a platform that allows users to “manage store inventory, generate & track repair tickets,
 monitor sales, and manage customers.” RepairDesk received the help of LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, a Lahore-based incubator for new startups in Pakistan.

Cloud-based POS systems have become increasingly popular amongst retail businesses. These systems are keeping entrepreneurs informed, secure, and on top of their work. Not only are they convenient, but according to an Entrepreneur.com interview, the prices are also more appealing than that of older alternatives.

“Traditional POS systems typically charge you a software license fee per register and then a yearly maintenance fee of 18 to 20 percent for upgrades. The problem with this model is that if you’re unhappy with your purchase after, say, a month, you’re out the full cost upfront. SaaS is more of a partnership model in that you pay a monthly fee only and nothing upfront. These monthly fees cover software, support, backups and future upgrades.”

Features

The more a repair business grows, the more likely they are to need a solid system for organizing money and customers. So what’s the value behind the product, and do businesses really need it?

RepairDesk allows users to keep track of items for repair, set deadlines, assign employee certain tasks, save customer information, collect deposits, print repair tickets, and manage invoices and receipts. The idea is to maximize efficiency, from the time a customer walks in, to the time they return to pick up their device. RepairDesk also notifies employees when certain supplies are running low, and gives in-depth analytics that help businesses anticipate demand.

Interested businesses can request a demo or sign up directly from the RepairDesk website. They offer 3 plans for businesses – starter, standard, and advanced, depending on the number of employees and the number of stores a business operates.

Hitting the Jackpot

One of the primary reasons for this startup’s promising beginnings is their lack of competition. While there are plenty of POS systems out there, none cater to the mobile repair industry in a comparable way.

Finding just the right niche right off the bat is rare. Entrepreneurs usually have to immerse themselves in the industry before being able to discover a legitimate market gap. Luckily, Usman stumbled upon his market gap and didn’t hesitate to capitalize on it.

As it develops, Usman plans to expand RepairDesk slowly, and vows to hold off on selecting from a pool of interested investors  for the time being.

Pak Wired: Emerging Incubator – LUMS Entrepreneurial Center

 

In the past few years, Pakistan has seen a surge in popularity for the startup fantasy, and a rise in the number of new and emerging startups. One of the biggest problems facing new talent is the lack of mentorship and funding, which more often than not is the cause of failure for startups that otherwise may have a lot of promise.

There are many incubators in Pakistan now that offer accelerator programs, mentorship and guidance, access to investors, and some even provide facilities. One new and notable incubator is the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS) Entrepreneurial Center.

LUMS Entrepreneurial Center

This is a new institute that has begun in LUMS, and it is a separate and independent institute within the university. The LUMS Entrepreneurial Center describes its mission to “become the largest breeding ground of sustainable, high-growth commercial and high-impact social ventures in Pakistan.”

The vision for this Center is an all-inclusive platform from which to launch talented teams and individuals. To this end, “LCE aims to build a comprehensive entrepreneurial ecosystem, with LUMS at its epicentre, that will bring together everything and everyone required to maximize the growth potential of Pakistani entrepreneurs.”

The impact of this Center remains to be seen, but given its location and resources, it is bound to become the new focus for startup development and support in the area. With the kind of facilities and experienced staff it has, the Center will be able to offer new startups many networking opportunities as well as exposure.

LUMS and Entrepreneurship

LUMS, however, is not new to entrepreneurial ventures. There are several programs affiliated with the university that promote the growth of new business ideas and embody the entrepreneurial spirit, and LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship is just the newest one of these.

LUMS Entrepreneurial Society (LES) hosts a Young Leaders and Entrepreneur’s Summit (YLES) every year. ENVISION is another event led by LES, and other tech events such as Hackathon and Start Up Weekend have also been held on the LUMS campus. For more details about these and other events, click here.

Importance of Incubators

Incubators play an important role in supporting budding businesses and helping new ideas grow into their potential. While some people worry that revealing or sharing their ideas before developing them fully might diminish their worth somewhat, ultimately getting a boost from an incubator is one of the best ways to safeguard against failure.

For a more detailed list of incubators present in Pakistan, check out this article at TechInAsia.

Getting a Spot In The Foundation

The business incubator project of the LUMS Entrepreneurial Center is called The Foundation. The Foundation has a program of mentorship, which will provide participants with advice and assistance from experienced professionals.

Teams from all over Pakistan are welcome to apply to for a spot at The Foundation. There are to be three cycles every year in which people will apply and participate, with each cycle lasting approximately four months. This means the program will be running all year long, and its speed will ensure that as many people as possible will be accommodated and benefitted.

The submissions for the first round of applications for The Foundation have passed, though interested people need not worry because applications will likely be open again soon for the next round.

Participants will benefit from continuous support and feedback, with an overall review at the end, which will determine the level of support successful startups will require. Upon The Foundation’s recommendations, select teams will receive exposure to investors and will be assisted in acquiring the resources they need to get their businesses going.

An added benefit is that qualifying teams will be provided with temporary office space to give them a professional working area and a head start on developing an organised setup.

This is a great new opportunity for anyone with good ideas, and especially for startups struggling to find some support.

Pak Wired: Savaree Takes Carpooling To The Next Level

 

Are you tired of taking Daewoo and fussing with public transport? Are rising rickshaw prices driving you nuts? Or just trying to get a ride from a friend and no one wants to go your way? If so, then the makers of Savaree app have found a solution for you.

Credit: Savaree Facebook

Savaree is a carpooling app that is open source and free to use, which allows users to find rides to places they would like to go. The service is free of charge, though it is expected people who ride along might want to chip in for sundries like snacks.

Need A Savaree?

Here’s how it works: Drivers planning a trip will update their route on the app, along with what time they will be going. Anyone wanting to ride along can check if anyone is driving to the same destination, and if the time coincides.

Savaree goes a step further than just showing who is going where when, and also “matches drivers with passengers that belong to the same institute or organization, who have a much higher probability of matching interests and personal preferences.” This makes it easier to find people going the same route, and because of this, “people are much more likely to engage in carpooling.”

Currently, features of the app include: posting routes and estimated time of departure, and the ability to search this out either by location or planned journey. Users can expect a ‘Badge Incentivization’ feature and ratings and feedback options to be added on soon. The app developers have also disclosed that they are working on enabling GPS tracking which will make the service safer and easier to manage.

The Team Behind Savaree

Savaree was developed as a response to what the app makers felt was a significant need in our society today. They explained in an interview with Appistan: “In the last few years, traffic in Lahore has gone from bad to worse. Carpooling has successfully reduced traffic and distributed the burden of driving in many countries around the world. Why not try to introduce carpooling here? Given the security situation in our country, can we come up with something that will reduce people’s hesitation and help them share rides?”

Savaree was envisioned and developed by Madeeha Hassan (@mad_world89) and Qasim Zafar (Facebook page), and later Zuhaira Farooq (@ZuhairaFarooq), Ahmad Jabbar (Facebook page) and Faisal Basra (@faisalgeek) also joined their project.

Explaining their motivation behind this free service, they said, “it never should be all about the money, and it never is all about the money. There is more to life than that. Every once in a while, you should do something just for the sake of helping somebody out.”

Madeeha Hassan and Qasim Zafar got their start at the 2014 Lahore Civic Hackathon, anevent where various app and web developers “create civic solutions for Lahore.” While they did not place in the top three contestants, they won the title of Audience Favorite.

After this, they went on to compete at the LUMS Entrepreneurship Challenge, a competition that received over 700 entries from all over the country. Savaree came in at third place and impressed everyone with their prototype.

They recently launched the app version that is currently available, on April 15th. You can get it here. It is available on Google Play and versions for Windows and Apple devices are being worked on.

But Is It Safe?

The foremost concern when using this app is safety. In an interview, the app makersexplained: “The idea behind Savaree is to try to encourage carpooling while maintaining trust among the carpoolers.” This issue of trust is important enough that one requirement when registering to use the app is that users must submit their NIC numbers.

While this may improve users confidence in the process, it would be advisable for people using this app to check this information thoroughly before agreeing to rides. It is expected though that as carpooling through this app becomes more common and people are able to put up reviews and ratings of drivers, it will be easier to judge which rides are a good idea and which aren’t.

Innovative Startup

Savaree has launched and developed in a relatively short period of time and though it’s app is still being developed, it is impressive. It is this sort of innovation that can assist in alleviating common problems for people and perhaps ultimately finding solutions for reducing air pollution by cutting down the number of drivers on the road in Pakistan. The app has a lot of potential, and it is with anticipation that we are waiting to see where it goes next.

Pakistan Observer: GRAND FINALE OF BUSINESS PLAN

Lahore:Virtual University (VU) organized All Pakistan Business Plan Competition (APBPC) 2015. The grand finale of the competition was held at M.A Jinnah Campus Lahore here on Friday. This business plan competition was a platform to give a practical shape to innovative thinking and ideas among students across the country.

Competition was divided into two phases; in first phase a total of 65 business plans were received from 25 universities of Pakistan out of which top 10 plans of seven universities were shortlisted for the second phase. Panel of judges for the grand finale included Khurram Zafar (Executive Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship, LUMS), Muhammad Ashfaque (Deputy General Manager, SMEDA), Muhammad Asif (SMEDA), Irfan Siddque (UCP, Lahore) and Ms Sakeena Alam (Askari Commercial Bank).

The News: Annual StartUp Cup competition launched

Islamabad:he US Embassy in Islamabad and the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Islamabad Chapter, in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council, launched the 2015 Pakistan StartUp Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition. Entrepreneurs selected to participate in StartUp Cup will receive coaching through multi-day “Build-a-Business” workshops and regular mentoring to help turn their ideas into a commercial reality. Prize money of $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000 will be awarded to the winner and two runners-up with the best startup concept.

 

At the opening ceremony, Thomas E. Williams, deputy chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Islamabad said, “Programmes like StartUp Cup foster greater inclusiveness in Pakistan’s economy, particularly for women. The entrepreneurial solutions that arise from competitions such as StartUp Cup foster inclusiveness, grow economies, promote stability, expand the international supply chain, and spread the exchange of ideas.”

 

Over the course of the seven-month programme, aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs will learn to design viable business models, develop customers, and launch their startup business concepts in the marketplace. This year’s programme will build on the success of last year’s StartUp Cup, which saw over 400 entrepreneurs compete for one of the top three prizes. Last year’s winning team went on to defeat 170 other entrepreneurs to win the first-ever World StartUp Cup competition in Yerevan, Armenia.

 

The 2015 StartUp Cup in Pakistan will introduce new partnerships with entrepreneurship centers across Pakistan, including the world’s first Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) in Islamabad sponsored by the US Department of State in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council; the Lahore University for Management Science (LUMS) Center for Entrepreneurship; and Karachi-based technology incubator “The Nest I/O.”

Daily Times: Pakistan’s 2nd Annual Start-Up Cup competition launched

ISLAMABAD: To promote and assist the local entrepreneurships across the country, the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition launched here on Saturday.
The Start-Up Cup is locally driven business model competition open to any idea. This innovative community-based approach is designed to increase the quality and quality of entrepreneurs in the community.
The US Embassy in Islamabad and the Islamabad Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Chapter, in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council, launched the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition. Entrepreneurs selected to participate in Start-Up Cup will receive coaching through multi-day “Build-a-Business” workshops and regular mentoring to help turn their ideas into a commercial reality. Prize money of $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000 will be awarded to the winner and two runners-ups with the best Start Up concept.
At the opening ceremony, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Islamabad Thomas E Williams, said, “Programs like Start Up Cup foster greater inclusiveness in Pakistan’s economy, particularly for women. The entrepreneurial solutions that arise from competitions such as Start-Up Cup foster inclusiveness, grow economies, promote stability, expand the international supply chain, and spread the exchange of ideas.”
Over the course of the seven-month programe, aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs will learn to design viable business models, develop customers, and launch their start-up business concepts in the marketplace.
This year’s programme will build on the success of last year’s Start-Up Cup, which saw over 400 entrepreneurs compete for one of the top three prizes. Last year’s winning team went on to defeat 170 other entrepreneurs to win the first-ever World Start-Up Cup competition in Yerevan, Armenia.
The 2015 Start-Up Cup in Pakistan will introduce new partnerships with entrepreneurship centres across Pakistan, including the world’s first Women’s Entrepreneurial Centre of resources, education, access, and training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) in Islamabad sponsored by the US Department of State in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council; the Lahore University for Management Science (LUMS) Centre for Entrepreneurship; and Karachi-based technology incubator “The Nest I/O.”
The partnerships between Start-Up Cup and these centres will ensure that newly established businesses receive sustained support and mentoring, essential tools for long-term success. Numerous US Embassy programmes assist Pakistan’s entrepreneurs by increasing their access to financial resources, supporting opportunities for entrepreneurship education, and nurturing an entrepreneurial culture.
There are four base stations for this program, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi with overall prize money of Rs22.5 million.
During the opening ceremony esteemed businessman and Islamabad TiE Board member Imtiaz Rastgar said, “StartUp Cup has only came to Pakistan two years ago and already tremendous feats have been achieved as new voices and ingenious minds have been brought to the fore. One can only imagine how much advantage this competition will bring as the years progress”.

Dawn: Resolving carpooling woes: The hitchhikers’ app

“I come from Sadiqabad, that’s half an hour from Rahim Yar Khan. It’s the last city in Punjab before you enter Sindh and the first one when entering Punjab from Sindh,” Madeeha Hassan says as she explains the location of her hometown. Locations, and how to get to them, are very important to Madeeha who has gone ahead and created Savaree, Pakistan’s first carpooling mobile application. And as with most invention, it was born out of necessity. “I have been out of my hometown and living in Lahore since 2007 when I joined Government College University to study biotechnology,” she says with a grin. “Bio and molecular technology is however completely opposite to what I ended up doing!”

Madeeha admits that coming from a small town she was at first really scared to find herself in a big city like Lahore. “I would hide myself from the world. You could always find me in the library with my laptop. Everyone around me seemed so knowledgeable about things; the girls seemed so sharp and sure of themselves that they would give me such a complex. I felt I was no competition for the local Lahore girls. There were times when I wanted to run back home but then I thought I was in Lahore because my father had sent me there to study and he had done so because he had 100 per cent confidence in me. I couldn’t let my father down,” she smiles.

Madeeha then also found employment in Lahore. “From 2011 to 2014, I worked as a user interface designer. That’s also how the idea first came to me. I lived in Gulberg and my office was at quite a distance from there in Thokar. Most of the time I overslept, which resulted in my missing my van and then I had to go to work in a rickshaw,” she says.

The app was first introduced at the Lahore Civic Hackathon competition back in January this year. “We were a team of four people, myself and Qasim Zafar, who are co-founders and Ahmed Shoaib and Farhan Ahmed who are developers,” she states.


No car? No problem! A simple app designed by a small town girl may soon solve your carpooling woes


Madeeha Hassan
Madeeha Hassan

“At the hackathon we got two days to develop and pitch an idea. I came up with Savaree, which was always there at the back of my head, and it won. My boss Yasser Bashir at Arbisoft, a rapid web applications company I used to work for then, pushed me to take my idea further, so here I am,” she adds.

That’s how Savaree was launched in April. “Well, at least the web app and mobile app were ready then. They are in use by some already,” she shares.

Right now Madeeha is busy in an accelerator programme for Savaree at the Lahore School of Management Sciences (LUMS). “We are growing the idea at i2i or invest 2 innovate, as it is also called, at LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship. Basically it is a startup incubator. We are in the process of short listing startups to ready it for pitching to investors,” she says.

“From Lahore, we intend taking Savaree to Islamabad, then Karachi and then the entire country. We want it as a lift app for the Third World.”

She explains further about the app, “Please do not compare it to Uber, which is more of a taxi service. Savaree is more community-focused, connecting people while changing the entire idea of getting a ride.

“The app links or connects you to people you may or may not know within an organisation or university. You need to sign up with your enterprise or organisation email id. That’s what we work with. So the people you are going to carpool with either belong to your organisation or university.

“Of course, when you need a ride, you won’t sit in just any car that stops for you. So Savaree puts you in touch with people who work in the same office, building, premises or organisation as you, generally employees of any sizeable organisation or students. It works through app currency or virtual currency. For instance, you can buy a bucket of Savaree miles. Like if you travelled 10 miles a day, those miles can be transferred to the driver. And then if those drivers want to they can cash the miles with us. People can also transfer amounts through credit card but when I first thought of coming up with such an app I was thinking of students and students are usually pretty much broke. No credit cards there,” she points out.

About privacy concerns when sharing information with them, Madeeha assures us “The information or data gathered by us about you is secure. We have a disclaimer which says that, too. There are features that you can open yourself if you want open carpooling that would allow you to catch a ride with someone from outside your organisation, too. But there, too, we are giving you this option of travelling with someone who belongs to some other organisation or university just so you know where they are from.

“To prevent further misuse we have a gender filter as well, where girls can ride with girls. Being a girl myself, I’m very careful about such things. I even checked your Twitter profile before agreeing to meet you. What struck a chord was you calling yourself a ‘tomboy’,” she laughs. “I have myself always been a tomboy, playing cricket and all.”

And then she starts grinning again at something she just remembered. “When I first thought about the need for something like this, my elder brother thought it was a hookup application!”

Express Tribune: Carpool initiative: Up for sharing a savaree?

The mobile phone app 
offers a platform to those seeking rides with people willing to drive.

The mobile phone app offers a platform to those seeking rides with people willing to drive.

LAHORE: Her experiences with the unpredictability of public transport in Lahore inspired Madeeha Hassan to look for a solution – a fast and easy way to bring commuters willing to carpool onto one platform. Her brainchild developed into an open source ride-sharing mobile phone application aptly named, Savaree.

The founders of the app say this is the first carpool mobile phone app in the country…it aims to provide drivers and ride-seekers the opportunity to coordinate, share and explore routes to bring potential carpoolers together. The app was launched on Monday.

Hassan, cofounder of the app, said, “As a student and later a professional, I always wanted to know about carpool opportunities and people travelling on the same route…I was always on the lookout for a ride.”

A biotechnology graduate from the Government College University, Lahore, Hassan hails from Rahim Yar Khan. “My commuting experience mostly involved running after rickshaws and juggling commitments when commuting on public transport.” That is how the young biotechnologist-turned-graphic-designer says she had the idea for the app. The idea was first pitched in January at the Lahore Civic Hackathon – organised by Code for Pakistan – the feedback the founders received there encouraged them to pursue the idea. “Our app was awarded the audience favourite…that was really encouraging,” Hassan said.

She said a pre-development market survey of 1,000 people, indicated that almost 95 per cent of the respondents wanted such a service. “One of the major reasons mentioned was the unreliability of public transport,” she said.

It took almost two and a half months for Zuhaira Farooq and Faisal Basra, the developers, and their marketing teammate Ahmad Jabbar to develop the app.

Once downloaded, the app asks if the user is a driver or a passenger followed by a series of queries seeking information regarding the route they want to travel, their pick-up and drop-off points and the vehicle number plate and model. Once a profile is created and the route selected, the app offers the users some suggestions and after a mutual agreement, the user is set to carpool. But the developers have identified one important challenge – security. “We require all our users to enter their national ID card details on the app,” Hassan said. The team hopes to partner with the NADRA to create a verification system for users. The users also have an option of selecting a public or a private ride. “We understand that most people will not give strangers a ride, or ride with strangers…this is why we have offered ride options.” For those who want a private ride, the app works on connections and offers users a list of carpoolers from the same organisation or educational institution.

“Carpooling isn’t very popular in Pakistan, mostly because most of us live in fear and suspicion,” Qasim Zafar, Savaree co-founder, said. Zafar, a senior year student of electrical engineering at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, teamed up with Hassan during the hackathon. “But carpooling with a colleague or a classmate at the university puts a lot of fears to rest.” This is what the team aspires to cash on – organisation-based potential carpoolers.

Zafar said that the app also proposed a fare for each ride depending on the route, distance travelled and the number of riders. He said the idea would work based on an agreement between the carpoolers. While sharing a ride on a motorcycle is fairly common, Zafar said that wasn’t the case with cars.

For now, the team is targeting students at the LUMS. They hope to take the app to other universities in a week and later to business organisations.

Zafar said they were looking into developing additional features including GPS tracking and community-based feedback of drivers. “This will help us make carpooling safe and reliable for our users,” he said.

Zafar said that security concerns, social trends and “elitist attitudes” were discouraging elements where carpooling was concerned. “We understand that these issues will pose challenges regardless of how hard we try but feedback is important to us and can help us overcome these challenges.”

Express Tribune: Technology entrepreneurship: Pakistani startups on way to join billion-dollar club

Investment in country’s startups at this point a smart bet. STOCK IMAGE

Investment in country’s startups at this point a smart bet. STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: Be it social networking giant, Facebook, video chat and voice calls application, Skype or mobile game developer, Supercell, all have one thing in common: once tiny startups, they are worth billions of dollars today.

One great idea – Facebook, for example – has literally changed the way today’s businesses market their products and reach customers. That’s how technology can affect our lives – not to mention Mark Zuckerberg, the entrepreneur behind the social networking giant, is now worth well over $30 billion.

Can a similar idea emerge out of Pakistan? Can the country produce the next billion-dollar startup? Maybe, it can.

Industry experts, such as Lahore University of Management Sciences Center for Entrepreneurship’s Executive Director Khurram Zafar, believe some Pakistani startups have the potential to join the Billion-Dollar Startup Club – companies that are valued by venture capitalists (VCs) at $1 billion or more as described by The Wall Street Journal.

One of the founding board members of Plan9 – a technology incubator of the Punjab Information Technology Board, Zafar says technology entrepreneurship ecosystem in Pakistan is at a tipping point and investment in the country’s startups at this point will be a smart bet.

Despite lack of access to capital, the single largest hurdle facing Pakistani startups, many entrepreneurs have already earned rave reviews in the technology world. This young pool of talent reflects the country’s potential in the field of information technology.

Take for example, Convo Founder and CEO Faizan Buzdar, a multi-platform social network enterprise. The company raised $5 million from a top-tier VC firm, Morgenthaler Ventures, in 2013 and earned a lot of appreciation from technology focused publications. President of the United States Barack Obama also praised Buzdar, stating people like him could help promote innovation in America’s technology industry.

Farhan Masood, Founder of SoloMetrics, is another talented entrepreneur that earned international recognition for producing the world’s fastest retina and face scanner algorithm. In 2014, Masood signed a joint venture with Mace Security International, an American company that manufactures personal defence, safety and security products.

Lahore’s Mindstorm Studios, according to experts, is another startup that has the potential to make it big. In 2010, its gaming app Whacksy Taxi hit the top spot on App Store in more than 25 countries. The company had developed the official game for 2011 Cricket World Cup, which was previously made by leading game developers Electronic Arts United States and Codemasters of the UK.

Its latest app, War Inc: Nations Fury already has installs ranging between 500,000 and 1 million – one of its users spends up to $5,000 a month on the games, indicating the potential the company has.

With access to capital, Zafar says they can market their games on a big scale and become a global player like Supercell – the Finnish mobile gaming company, which earns Rs46 billion in profits before tax and was founded in a country that has half the population of Lahore, according to Zafar.

When it comes to discussing the country’s IT workforce, one can’t rule out Rafay Baloch. The 21-year-old computer science student of Bahria University was recognised as the world’s top security researcher in 2014.

Baloch, who aspires to run his own information security company, clearly reflects the kind of talent and potential the country produces.

These are only a handful of examples of the large pool of talented IT workforce that is shaping the future of Pakistan’s small IT industry ($2 to $3 billion). Almost all of these entrepreneurs have made the headlines well before the recent wave of technology incubators and other startup support initiatives.

Plan9 was the only technology incubator for local entrepreneurs that had some kind of official backing but it was limited to Lahore only. However, more programmes have been launched recently to boost the country’s startup ecosystem. For example, The Founder Institute, a leading entrepreneur training and startup launch programme, recently launched its Karachi chapter. It promises to create a Silicon Valley-like startup ecosystem in Pakistan and launch over 30 meaningful and enduring technology companies per year in the city.

The Nest I/O, a technology incubator of Pakistan Software Houses Association, is the latest addition to this growing segment. Given this incubator has the official backing of the country’s IT industry and partners with over 30 startup hubs around the world, it can certainly provide a much-needed platform for the country to produce the next billion-dollar startup.

Express Tribune: Stay connected: Free internet to be provided at public parks, Mashhood says

Minister for Education Rana Mashhood. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Minister for Education Rana Mashhood. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: The government has decided to provide free internet at public parks by setting up Wi-fi hotspots there, Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at an event, titled Ilm Bazaar, organised by ILM Ideas and the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF).

He said that the government, in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID), had introduced various technologies to promote learning. He said the steps had yielded good results in remote areas.

Ahmad said that the Punjab government was committed to introducing and implementing the world’s best practices in the education sector. He said that radio would be used as a source of instructions at classrooms. Satellite vans would also be sent to schools in remote, less-developed areas to facilitate learning there.

The minister said that the DFID’s Punjab Model of Innovative Education programme had been replicated in three other countries. He said four million children were enrolled in schools last year exceeding the set target of 3.4 million.

Ahmad said that IT labs at schools would work as e-libraries from 3pm to 6pm. E libraries would also be set up at colleges.

Education experts at the event favoured innovative ideas to meet various challenges faced by the education sector. They stressed the need for taking ground realities into account while working on sustainable innovative solutions. The panelists included Zehra Zaidi from the ILm Ideas, Roshaneh Zafar from the Kashf Foundation, Ahsan Jamil from the Aman Foundation, Anfal Saqib from the DFID and Khurram Zafar from the LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship.