NICL Conducts 1st Design Thinking Workshop in UCP Lahore

On September 2nd 2019, the National Incubation Center Lahore team including Faisal Sherjan, Yaser Amir Awan, Kaleem Ullah, Aqsa Munir and Maria Sadaf conducted a Design Thinking Workshop at the University of Central Punjab (UCP) incubation center, Takhleeq.

The team at NICL is a believer of passing on lessons learnt through the many opportunities the facility exposed to the future and current generations. Shahid Khan’s incomparable Design Thinking Workshop 2019, left the team fully equipped to execute workshops that can help students and faculty members understand problem statements and develop a more solution oriented mindset that makes them “fall in love with the problem” and not fear it.

The NICL team members mentioned above arrived at the UCP Lahore campus with the following problem statement in mind:

“Students are not solving real industry problems in their final year projects.”

The incentive of the workshop was to accomplish the following:

  • Identify reasons that seem to be preventing students from solving industry problems.
  • Identify the consequences if the problem is recurrent.
  • Identify the most pressing problem within the system and
  • Develop possible solutions to counter the problem.

The Identification Process

The team used the taught tactics to assist the faculty members and students present in the audience devise a list of problems. The most common ones identified ranges from students lacking basic knowledge and went as vast as the impact of society on one’s mindset when it comes to wanting to solve real problems existing within the industry.

 

 

Additionally, they also explored and learnt that the industry in the 21st century also seems less interested in innovating and wanting to solve the preexisting problems. This seemed further connected to discrepancies within the education system of Pakistan. Furthermore, it was discovered through discussion that both faculty and students lacked a strong motivational and inspirational model which was made problematic by the gap between the university’s theoretical learning’s and the industry’s practical implications. Lastly, another prominent problem that surfaced was the financial constraints experienced by students that kept them away from solving the problems.

Analyzing the Consequences

Once the problems were identified, it was important to ensure the audience understood what the possible consequences of those could be and how they would impact both the university and the industry. Upon further inquisition and discussion, it was learnt that the industry would eventually fall apart if the problems were ignored much longer. More so, the problems already existing would exponentially increase and thereby increase the cost of living for all. It was also observed that continued ignorance of the problems would lead to an industry that was not only non-productive but also far behind the industries of the world.

This would automatically translate into how the university education of our country is perceived by the world – it would evidently be deemed insufficient and thereby impact the nation’s stability putting the academic and industry credibility to question.

Coming up with Solutions

Keeping both the problems and the consequences in mind, the participants were then advised to devise a set of solutions on the basis of the problem statement that was initially introduced. One of the most imperative solutions were sought to be focused on empowering research and development sectors within the country that would further allow improvisation and improvement of the curriculum.

The students and faculty also realized that this would further groom the students and shape their intellect and ability to curate ideas from a very tender age thereby ensuring their level of preparation to jump into the business world when the time is right. Another important and often overlooked solution was to encourage extensive communication between the faculty and the industry members. This was advised to be further assisted through projects and FYPs.

The most important solution was to replace the conventional ways of teaching by disregarding the “Ratta system ” and instilling a more practical and hands-on ideology instead. This would only be possible if the actual problem is given due diligence with the development of skills through capacity building activities that would encourage and increase practical learning.

The team at NIC Lahore has identified how the gap between university teaching and industry requirements continues to produce mediocre and ill-prepared entrepreneurs and also discourages bright ideas from coming forward. To cater to this problem, we have introduced these inspired sessions to attempt to bridge the gap and ensure our nation’s ability to thrive is not put into jeopardy and no talented is gone to waste.

GoCane Launch by AyeCo

Ayub Yaqoob Engineering Company (Ayeco.) was incubated at the LUMS National Incubation Center Lahore in their first cohort. Founded on July 5th 2017, the company is currently the only locally manufacturer for health tech assistive devices in Pakistan.

AyeCo launched the first ever Pakistani Produced Smart Wheelchair called GoBee. The company has gone on to modify their wheelchair for various impaired individuals. In 2019, they have returned with another refined product for the visually impaired. On July 25th they launched their Smart Guiding Assistive Walking Device, named Go-cane, for the blind community in Pakistan.

The company has already received more than 100 pre-orders prior to the launch.

Go-cane

This invention relates to a smart, rechargeable, battery-powered electronic device for the visually impaired, which instruct the individual to walk, maneuver themselves on the stairs, and warns a blind person of dangerous obstacles on the road. This device can be attached to any ordinary cane. It comes equipped with sensors that collectively give feedback in the form of vibrations to facilitate the user by detecting the height, direction and the orientation of the obstacle in their way. It also comes in both indoor and outdoor modes for better workability.

To launch this incredible product, the company organized an Assistive Tech Conference in collaboration with the National Incubation Center Lahore. The CEO of the company, Faaiz Arbab welcomed his guests and spoke to them in detail about the importance and scope of AT, its need in Pakistan, standardization and hallmarking, infrastructure Development, future Goals and a lot more.

Unveiling the GoCane®

The launch was attended by some of the most notable personalities that included Amjad Saqib from Akhuwat, Dr. Izhar Ul haque hashmi from PWTD (Punjab Welfare Trust for the Disabled), Amna Anees from US Counselette, Humara Bano from Special Education department, Punjab University, Dr Shaheen Pasha from Special Education department, University of Education, Farah Naaz from Christoffel-blindemission Christian Blind Mission e.V. (CBM), Hassan Tareen Assistive device specialist at Lums, Asim Kareem (Visual Impaired) Assistant Professor. Dr. Bakhtawer who is a dentist, Yousaf Saleem, a first Pakistani blind judge.

Dr Sarah Ikram from King Edward Medical University. Faisal Sherjan Director NIC.  Wajid Hussain from ROSP (Rights of Special Persons). Dr. Anees ur Rehman President Daikh Bhaal Organization shared their thoughts regarding this initiative in Pakistan.

Faaiz Arbab and AyeCo have also exceeded all expectations and proven that when one has a vision, there is no obstacle great enough to become a hindrance. Arbab has accomplished various milestones that have made him a notable and reliable name for all those who have suffered at the hands of their impairment. We wish AyeCo the very best of luck and are extremely proud to not just have been associated with their launch but to also have witnessed their growth as a company.

5 Legal Prerequisites Before Establishing a Company

Whenever an entrepreneur implements an idea in the form of a tangible business, legal prerequisites need to be taken into serious consideration in order to avoid trouble. Not considering legal fundamentals can prove to be costly and can hurt any business in the long run. Research is therefore imperative in order to fully comprehend what the government requires entrepreneurs to obtain before they invest their energy, time and money into establishing a business.

The paralegal team at NIC Lahore has made it fairly simple for all our incubated start-ups with the following listicle. If you’re an entrepreneur struggling to prioritize your pressing legal tasks, here are five things that need to be addressed immediately:

  1. Develop Your Co-Founder Agreement

A co-founder agreement is not necessarily a legally binding contract. However, it is an agreement between founders about key issues. This entails the co-founder relationships, their responsibilities to towards the company, structure of the company including, vesting schedules, exit strategies, ownership of intellectual property and such other matters integral to the running of the Company.

  1. Define your Company’s Legal Structure

The company’s structure defines how it is defined legally. Primarily, there are three main business types. These include a sole proprietorship, a partnership and corporation. In most parts of the world the core impressions and functions remain the same. In a sole proprietorship all consequences fall squarely on the founder making them personally liable for possible debts et cetera. A partnership entails a legal relationship and are formed through an agreement between individuals to run a business as co-owned. Lastly, a corporation is a separate entity from the promoters and shareholders of the Company therefore liabilities of the Company are the responsibility of the Company and has no bearing on the promoters or shareholders of the Company.

  1. Get your Permits and Licenses in Order

If your business requires a license, then delaying the task may be a bad idea. Required licenses based on the business are usually specified by the state based on what the business entails to begin with. Where some may require special licensing, others may only require an operating license; identifying the need should be one of the first steps. Additionally, permits allow the government to regulate businesses that may be in direct correlation to the public.

  1. Register Your Business

If you intend to convert your startup into a company recognized under law, then you must not delay registering your business. Registering your business can save a lot of trouble for everyone involved in a platitude of ways. Registering your business enables you to ensure no one else uses the business name and it becomes a separate legal entity thereby limiting the founder’s liability.  Add that they become more inevitable, enhances brand image etc.

  1. Be wary of Business Laws and Regulations

There are three main regulatory branches a business falls in; these are organizational, employment and taxation. Founders are required to immediately identify and define their structure. This means claiming whether their start-up runs on sole proprietorship or not. Additionally, the type of business one intends to run further defines tax laws for them and streamlines employer regulations and perquisites as well.

Therefore, starting a business and executing an idea is always exciting; but without the legal matters in place, the entire situation can go South as soon as it begins. Make sure the above 5 points are in place for your business and avoid possible damage at the hands of legal ignorance.

Dangers for Startups – Recruiting Friends as Investors

Usually when startups go into business they decide to trust their family and friends as long-term investors. Stats have reported that a huge percentage of these startups receive more than 50 billion dollars’ worth of investment from their family and friends.

On the one hand, getting your family and friends to invest in your idea is advantageous in many personal and legal elements. On the other hand, there are several factors that overrule the advantages and make recruiting family and friends as investors a step into the dangerous territory.

When family and friends invest in your startup, equity will immediately be divided to ensure equal shares. Over or under evaluation is often a possibility that can lead to legal penalties. Following are some of the things that need to be considered gravely when stepping into the dangers of recruiting relatives:

  1. The Pressure is Far Too High

If your relative wishes to invest their life’s savings in your idea, that is probably not a good idea. When you know what is at stake from the investor’s end added the personal relationship, the pressure becomes far too high. The pressure to be able to return the investment in the form of profit can drive you to take decisions that may not be fruitful in the long run thus jeopardizing the whole process altogether. A small scaled investor may not put that kind of pressure on you and often allows the startups the space needed to grow at a reasonable pace.

  1. Their Involvement May be Bothersome

When family members become investors, the boundaries get blurred. Therefore, their investment in your idea has the tendency to exceed the monetary limitations. They often require constant updates and even expect their involvement to be imperative in the decision-making process.

Even though, it is reasonable to keep them informed; their involvement in the day-to-day may become problematic. Investors with extensive experience are often allowed interference in business decisions of startups because of what they might bring to the table. Allowing relatives that level of participation can be more damaging than helpful.

  1. Strengthen the Business Idea

It is imperative that your business plan be a strong one, especially when dealing with relatives. Often relatives don’t push us to the extreme we would like to be pushed at. They overlook loopholes an outsider investor may not. This is a deceptive fault that can be detrimental for the business when it comes to profit and longevity.

  1. Don’t promise what can’t be delivered

Just because you are excited about the venture you are endeavoring on, it does not mean you promise what you cannot accomplish. More so, when relatives invest money in your idea, they must be informed of all possible risks and downfalls. Not only is this important to ensure their expectations are not exceeded but also to ensure your relationships do not get damaged.

  1. Avoid putting relationships at stake

There is no surprise in the fact that sometimes businesses fail, and ideas do not work out as anticipated. When something like this happens, you may be unable to return the money to the investors. It is important to always anticipate a possible downfall when getting into a new business venture. Also, voice your anticipations honestly to your investors.

There are many advantages to hiring investors from the outside as opposed from within your social and familial circle. Hire a lawyer as well as they may be able to guide you better when looking for tangible and profitable investments.

The Importance of a Sales Strategy for a Startup

Any business or company that designs a product or service, must at one point sell it. Often when businesses are in their startup phase they focus on not just developing the product but on marketing as well. Lost in the above two steps, they often overlook and fail to provide the required attention to sales. This is something that can be detrimental to the growth of their business.

Therefore, it is important for companies to invest the same amount of effort on developing a strong sales strategy. There is no denying that a well-orchestrated marketing strategy places a business and its services on the roadmap to visibility, a sales plan allows them to make profits out of their product. The gist of a good sales plan must include:

  1. Acquiring new customers.
  2. Retaining previous customers and
  3. Making more sales.

This article answers some of your pressing concerns that must have arisen during the Sun Tzu and Sales Panel discussion arranged by NIC.

Why Must you have a Sales Plan?

A sales plan is more focused on acquiring new customers and therefore must be developed keeping that in mind. This allows you to understand that the targeted individuals do not know about the product and must be informed. To address their concerns from all angles, a thorough strategy must be devised. Here I what this allows you to do.

1. It improves your team’s return on investment

A plan or a strategy ensures you have the big picture in mind. It allows you to focus on obtaining new clients and identify if your current strategy works for you or not. It also allows you streamline areas that are most profitable. You can devise tactics and maximize results while keeping in mind your budgetary limitations.

2. It ensures you Hire People Beneficial to your Business

Startups often overlook the importance of hiring a good sales person. This allows you to have set goals and adhere to methods that are beneficial as well. Doing so allows you to set reasonable expectations and track your own growth over the months.

Developing A Strong Sales Strategy

To develop a strong sales strategy, you must follow the 6 steps provided below:

Priority 1: Make a spreadsheet of your customer journey and see how they behave before and after the sales.

Priority 2: Analyze the journey and come up with smart ways to reduce the cost to ensure increased customer contentment.

Priority 3: Ensure you integrate your sales plan with your marketing plan.

Priority 4: Come up with a key sales strategy and track its growth.

Priority 5: Identify a process of your sales activity and them build resources to maximize profit from it.

Priority 6: Stay patient and don’t expect immediate results. Consistency of investment will be fruitful.

If the right approach to expanding one’s business is adhered from day 1, any idea can go a long way. So, don’t ignore your sales plan and ensure all things are in order before going into business.

 

 

NIC Startup Prosthetics; Replacing Limbs, Changing Lives

Neurostic is a biomedical enterprise dealing with a variety of medical equipment from Decision Support Systems to Prosthesis. It is the brain child of a graduate of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Asad Raza who in 2016 set out to change the face of prosthetic world for the globe.

It was as a fresh graduate and an immaculate mind that Raza felt a lag in the medical equipment being used and produced in Pakistan. The equipment being produced was deemed unfit and was considered almost primitive in comparison to the current market.

The materials used for the prosthetics were proven to provide discomfort. They represented a product that was expensive and required replacement frequently. Raza mentions how the material that could be found within Pakistan’s local Sialkot market served a far better quality than what was being developed and bought from the international seller.

Upon research it was learnt that Sialkot being the hub of sports equipment and its production held the capacity to become a large prosthetic market. Raza mentions how it was research and exposure that made it apparent that the level of expertise required was the same that already existed.

However, the quality of the material needed to change in order to ensure convenience for the user. After making prototypes several test runs were conducted to ensure the product being marketed was worth the while.

It was during this time that Asad found himself incubated with National Incubation Center Lahore formerly known as the Lahore Center of Entrepreneurship (LCE), where he was able to sign a contract with the an International Donor. It was this milestone in the development of the product that exposed Raza and his company to the international market.

Through this incentive he was able to employee more than 25 people and created several other jobs at a relatively lower strata.

Since initiation, his company has experienced an 800% growth in revenue featuring Raza himself in the Forbes 30 under 30 list of 2018.

The prosthetic range at Neurostic includes Achilles 1000, Achilles 1 and Achilles X. All three are made out of a carbon fiber foot with a dynamic ankle, adjustable heel and an aluminum body with an 18 month long warranty. They have a restoring foot force and an adjustable body comes with a low to high impact level to meet the various needs of the users.

Raza claims the inspiration came from watching his father shift jobs and loses his credibility in the midst of it. He claims;

“When you’re working somewhere the good that you do easily gets sidelined when you leave the workplace. When I saw that is what made me want to do something on my own. To be able to watch the impact of the work I do.”

Asad spoke of the scale at which he wishes to take his product. His aim is to target the African and Afghanistan market to counter their medical lacks. He believes that the feasibility and practicality of the product is what should matter. Despite it being the digital age, Raza is of the belief that efficiency is more important because a successful product is one that is useable to the world.

He claims that his wish is to take neurotics to a global scale and allow his innovation to save millions of lives. The healthcare startup aims to provide low cost and high quality wearable and implantable medical devices for the developing world.

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.