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 PakWheels.com, 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 Bookme.pk, MandiExpress.pk, KnowledgePlatform.com, Bagallery.com and Roomy.pk.

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 Fishry.com, 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.

Revamped foundation program launched for Cohort 6 at NICL and Cohort 4 at NICQ

The orientation week for the next cohort of NIC Lahore’s revamped Foundation Programme began Monday, November 30, giving its new batch of innovators and problem solvers a taste of what they can expect from their incubation experience.

37 teams from nearly 400 applicants were selected through a rigorous process to make it to this stage. Welcoming them, Saleem Ahmad, Chairman NIC, spoke about NIC’s renewed focus on addressing the most pressing challenges facing Pakistan and inspiring and facilitating a new generation of problem solvers to tackle these through commercially viable solutions: “Over the next several months, you will embark on a transformative journey with members of your cohort, guided by committed mentorship of business leaders and instruction from LUMS faculty and international technical experts.  You will acquire skills necessary to transform your ideas into a thoughtful and investor-ready business plan.” A newly-inducted cohort of 20 startups at BUITEMS in Quetta also participated in the orientation week sessions and will be following a similar incubation plan held simultaneously to accommodate different linguistic and economic needs in Balochistan. To ensure that quality, commitment, and access to opportunities is uniform, the same LUMS faculty have been engaged to deliver similar content at both locations.

Following an introduction to the NIC Team, the newly-inducted startups were called upon to present brief introductions of themselves and their companies. The cohort presented a mix of services and products in an equally diverse set of industries with businesses ranging from Pakistan’s first shariah compliant buy-now-pay-later service; an automatic low-cost roti making appliance; cost-efficient prosthetics for amputees that utilise 3D scanning and printing technology; logistical solutions such as single wheel motorbike trailers to increase cargo capacity; a bio sensor chip to monitor and reduce toxins in crops and improve nutrition; identifying shoplifters in real time by using AI; an e-commerce aggregator for fashion brands that offers a curated and personalised shopping experience for buyers, and a food delivery service that empowers female entrepreneurs who prepare meals at home. As an ice-breaking activity, the teams had also been asked to share the biggest challenge they faced in running their enterprises. Some common and obvious themes emerged from their answers–market segmentation and marketing—but it was a new realisation to understand these in real time while sharing industry experience with others.

Day 2 of the week focused on operational matters and began with Haider Ali, NIC Manager Administration, establishing ground rules and etiquette for participating in the incubation programme to ensure everyone worked together to create a sense of community. Saima and Sahar from the curriculum and planning team then walked the startups through the structure of the programme and the modules that would be covered. Over the course of six months, a completely redesigned curriculum will be delivered by LUMS faculty and international technical experts and comprise six intensive bootcamps. The modules and some of the topics covered by this curriculum include:

1) Design thinking: problem validation, prototype testing, growth hacking

2) Strategy and business modelling: business model canvas, market research, product market fit, data analytics

3) Marketing, branding and sales: branding and identity, digital marketing, Customer Value Analysis, CRM strategy, pricing, sales, advertisements and messaging

4) Finance, accounting, valuation and equity management: accounting & bookkeeping, building financial plans, bootstrapping, understanding and modelling financial statements, projections, understanding valuations

5) Negotiations and legal aspects of entrepreneurship: business law, company incorporation, IP law, tax law, compliance, contract management, understanding key agreements

6) Presentation and communication skills: communication, team and conflict management, crises communication, interpersonal communication, negotiation, pitching

The emphasis is on applied academic programming, supplemented by bespoke workshops, a speaker series and mentorship by LUMS alumni, which will be instrumental in developing ideas into reality.

Adapting to the reality of COVID-19, the current Foundation Programme is taking place entirely online with the hope of adopting a hybrid model if the situation improves in the spring. Mindful of ‘Zoom fatigue,’ the team has ensured that all sessions are designed to incorporate best practices in pedagogical methods that are conducive to learning in online environments.

The second session of the day was led by Mahnoor Anwar, NIC Legal, to explain the contractual obligations and responsibilities of startups and NIC/LUMS.

 

The final day of orientation focused on entrepreneurial mindsets and began with Saima moderating a highly engaging interview with two NIC alumni. Usama Javed, CEO at SEO Drop, a wastewater treatment system that makes waste water reusable, and Faaiz Arbab, CEO at AYECo., a company manufacturing low-cost voice-assisted electric wheelchairs, shared their entrepreneurial journeys, highlighting the role NIC played in enabling them to refine their products, and reflecting on the personal lessons of grit, resilience, and being open to change that they learnt along the way.

The week closed off strong with an interactive session with Dr Alnoor Bhimani, NIC Interim Project Director, on unleashing the potential of entrepreneurship. Dr Bhimani reflected on the growth of tech-based companies in the last two decades, the importance of understanding finance as a tool to inform strategy, and the role of digital technologies and data in allowing rapid expansion. Fielding some insightful questions from the startups, Dr Bhimani ended on a note of positivity, reminding the audience that some of the biggest tech companies emerged during periods of global recession, much like the one we are currently experiencing, and encouraging them to uncover the opportunities that no one else can see.

New Cohort of Innovators and Problem Solvers Joins NIC

The National Incubation Centre (NIC) welcomed a fresh batch of innovators and problem solvers to its Foundation Programme at LUMS in Lahore and BUITEMS in Quetta. NIC aims to bolster the start-up ecosystem of Pakistan by incubating a greater percentage of businesses that scale to address a large commercial opportunity and attract investment capital for growth.

The cohorts were selected through a competitive selection process: only top 10% of a diverse pool of 500+ applicants have been invited to join the completely revamped, free-of-cost programme. Each application was reviewed by multiple members of NIC’s Foundation Council which includes founders of venture capital firms and successful start-ups including Bykea, Finja, Healthwire, 47 Ventures, Indus Valley Capital and Fatima Gobi Ventures.

NIC Lahore’s diverse pool of entrepreneurs hail from Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Kasur and Lahore, and include Pakistan’s first shariah compliant buy-now-pay-later service; an automatic low-cost roti making appliance; cost-efficient prosthetics for amputees that utilise 3D scanning and printing technology; logistical solutions such as single wheel motorbike trailers to increase cargo capacity; a bio sensor chip to monitor and reduce toxins in crops and improve nutrition; identifying shoplifters in real time by using AI; an e-commerce aggregator for fashion brands that offers a curated and personalised shopping experience for buyers, and a food delivery service that empowers female entrepreneurs who prepare meals at home.  NIC Quetta’s expanded outreach resulted in recruitment of entrepreneurs not only from Quetta but also Gwadar, Kachi, Loralai, Mastung, Panjgoor, Pishin, Sibi, and Washuk.

Inaugurating the orientation week, Saleem Ahmad, Chairman NIC, spoke about NIC’s role in inspiring and facilitating problem solvers: “Over the next several months, you will embark on a transformative journey with members of your cohort, guided by committed mentorship of business leaders and instruction from LUMS faculty and international technical experts.  You will acquire skills necessary to transform your ideas into a thoughtful and investor-ready business plan.”

Over the course of six months, the completely revamped curriculum will be delivered by LUMS faculty and international technical experts and comprise six intensive bootcamps covering: 1) design thinking, 2) strategy and business modelling; 3) marketing, branding and sales; 4) finance, accounting, valuation and equity management; 5) negotiations and legal aspects of entrepreneurship; and 6) presentation and communication skills. The applied focus of academic programming, supplemented by bespoke workshops, a speaker series and mentorship by LUMS alumni, will be instrumental in developing ideas into reality.

Harnessing the entrepreneurial energy, imagination and talent of these dynamic individuals, a range of specialised support services will help them cultivate their ideas into compelling investment opportunities that will support economic development of Pakistan.

LUMS Appoints NIC’s Foundation Council

Furthering its mission of training a generation of future business leaders, the National Incubation Centre (NIC) at LUMS is delighted to appoint a new Foundation Council (FC), comprising of leadership of some of the most successful Pakistani start-ups. “NIC is thrilled to elicit support from Pakistani role model entrepreneurs for our future generation of problem solvers. I’m confident that our continued efforts to connect ideas with people and capital will yield positive outcomes for Pakistan”, said Saleem Ahmad, Chairman, NIC Advisory Board, speaking of the formation of the Council.

Making up the Council, are dynamic Pakistani entrepreneurs and investors including: Aatif Awan, Founder and Managing Partner of Indus Valley Capital, a Pakistan-focused early stage Venture Capital fund that has led investment rounds for Atoms, Airlift, Aimfit and Bazaar; Saba Gul, Founder and CEO of Popinjay, an ethical e-commerce retailer with a supply chain spanning Pakistan, Vietnam and China. MIT-educated engineer turned entrepreneur, she was most recently a Director of Product at VentureDive, a technology studio in Karachi; Hamza Iqbal, Founder of Healthwire, a health-tech start-up incubated at NIC LUMS (formerly LCE) which has raised US$700,000 from 47 Ventures; Junaid Iqbal, former Managing Director of Careem Pakistan and Careem Pay, is an investor and partner at Mentors Fund, and Chairman of Salt Arts, a music, art and entertainment agency; Muneeb Maayr, Founder at Bykea, the largest network of motorbikes serving on-demand transport, logistics and payment services in Pakistan. Previously, Maayr was Co-Founder and CEO at Daraz.pk, Pakistan’s leading ecommerce platform, acquired by Alibaba Group, and Qasif Shahid, CEO and Co-Founder of Finja, a fintech start-up focused on providing accessible financial services to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and their stakeholders. The Council will be joined by NIC Advisory Board members Saleem Ahmad, Zehra Hyder Ali and Ali Mukhtar.

The Foundation Council, together with the NIC Advisory Board, will provide guidance to the Foundation programme by selecting its sixth cohort of aspiring entrepreneurs from a large and diverse pool of applicants; and coaching, mentoring and connecting them for success. Funded by Ignite, the Foundation is an immersive six-months long programme designed to help young Pakistani entrepreneurs develop their ideas into an investor-ready business plan, benefit from a network of experts and business leaders, culminating in a capstone Investor Summit.

The renewed vision for NIC is focused on problem solving in high impact areas for Pakistan—agriculture, education, environment, health, financial inclusion and applications using machine learning and artificial intelligence—with success determined as fundraising for growth. “Raising capital from investors is incontrovertible evidence of commercial viability and conviction in the entrepreneur team, and our new FC embodies just that”, commented Saleem Ahmad, about the choice of council members. Dr. Alnoor Bhimani, Dean, School of Business, LUMS, added, “Our start-up community has a lot to learn from the successes and mistakes of our FC members in navigating to great success; while FC members will have a gratifying engagement with the next generation of innovators and an opportunity to contribute to their success.”

NIC Lahore aims to build a comprehensive entrepreneurial ecosystem, with LUMS at its epicentre, and support of Ignite, Ministry of Information, Technology and Telecom, and Fatima Ventures, to help maximize the growth potential of Pakistani entrepreneurs. NIC’s renewed vision expands upon the LUMS ‘Learning without Borders’ agenda that aims to create an environment of inclusion, unity, and boundless knowledge to develop innovators, leaders and change-makers who can contribute to the community and economic development of Pakistan.

NIC Announces Appointment of Advisory Board

The National Incubation Centre (NIC) at LUMS is pleased to announce the appointment of its Advisory Board, chaired by Mr. Saleem Ahmad, Senior Advisor at Afiniti, world’s largest applied artificial intelligence company. He, along with a strong team, will bring extensive leadership and expertise in entrepreneurship to both NIC Lahore and NIC Quetta.

Mr. Ahmad is an alumnus of LUMS, LSE and Wharton and brings over 25 years of experience in investing and managing private equity, hedge and venture funds globally. Other members of the Board include Dr. Ayesha Khanna, Co-founder and CEO of ADDO AI; Ms. Zehra Hyder Ali, Founder and CEO Ghonsla; Mr. Ali Mukhtar, Founder and CEO Fatima Ventures; and Mr. Ahmed Hussain, Director and Chief Strategy Officer at Service Sales Corporation. Dr. Alnoor Bhimani, Dean Suleman Dawood School of Business, LUMS, will continue to provide oversight as NIC’s Interim Director.

The NIC offers incubation and acceleration programmes for innovative businesses. The Centre’s vision encompasses the creation of stronger linkages with LUMS’ Centres, academic programmes, faculty and students; the incubation of start-ups with strong potential for growth and impact; and enabling entrepreneurs to enter partnerships with domestic and international organisations. The renewed vision for NIC focuses on developing high impact solutions for Pakistan in the areas of agriculture, education, environment, financial inclusion, health, and applications based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

NIC’s on-going recruitment campaign for its sixth cohort of start-ups also aims to highlight these opportunities for future incubation (for details please see: www.niclahore.com/apply).

NIC will engage participation in programmes to power the formation of innovative and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystems in Pakistan. It will be establishing its footprint as the leading incubator, accelerator and entrepreneurial hub in the nation. The Advisory Board and its emergent strategies for NIC will strengthen the LUMS community, help the country’s entrepreneurial space, and boost its economy and global stature. NIC looks forward to opportunities for collaboration within LUMS and beyond.

About NIC
The National Incubation Centre (NIC) is contributing to the economic development of Pakistan by promoting entrepreneurship, especially among youth and low-income communities at the risk of social and financial exclusion. Launched under the partnership of Ministry of Information and Technology and Telecom, Ignite, Fatima Ventures and LUMS, the NIC Lahore regularly conducts training workshops to kindle the spirit of entrepreneurship in the youth of Pakistan. The centres both at Lahore and Quetta foster creativity, design and encourage selected incubatees to develop companies that have high growth potential.

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.

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.

Developing a Strong Social Media Strategy for Start-ups

It is impossible to imagine establishing a business without it having a social media presence. Some of the most prominent social media platforms have more than 2 billion active users collectively. This is the primary reason why these platforms have become pivotal in raising brand awareness. For start-ups with a set and limited budget, a social media platform can be very effective.

Here is how you can develop a strong social media strategy and use all social and digital media platforms for the benefit of your company:

Come up with a Solid Plan

Just because social media is accessible to everyone doesn’t mean that whatever is being put out there is going to be well received. More so, a social media strategy and plan requires thorough research and an effective plan that ensures the posts don’t derail.

Divide Your Target Audience into Groups

It is imperative that you understand who you intend to send the message to; whether it is being done overtly or subtly. A detailed research over who you intend to target is the most significant aspect of developing a plan. This can be made easier once you identify what the interests of the cluster you wish to target are; these can include occupations, education, gender, background, hobbies et cetera.

Know What You Are Up Against

Knowing one’s competition is also extremely important to research who else is conducting something similar on their social media profile. It is imperative to identify what both the small and large scaled companies are doing. If your competitors are producing their own content or if they’re publishing already available content. If they are doing the latter then you have your work cut out for you and in order to earn your credibility, original content may be the way to go.

Define Your Milestones

Once the above has been identified, then the plan needs to be extended long term with set milestones you wish to accomplish overtime. Every decision that is being made for your businesses social media presence must be driven by the data and should be bound by time.

Use Platforms Suitable for You

Not every platform is suitable for every business. Therefore, identifying which one works best for the idea that one wishes to project is one of the initial steps. Not every platform serves the same purpose or uses the same policy as the others. This step goes hand in hand with identifying your target audience as well. For example, Facebook is considered applicable for all because of its wide reach. Twitter on the other hand is suitable for businesses that wish to encourage engagement and distribution of content. Similarly, for a B2B business LinkedIn may be the best idea.

Creating Awareness

Social media networks are the best way to create expansive brand awareness not just through viral posts but also by allowing you to assign ambassadors. Social platforms encourage exposure and promote the idea of loyal customers. For this to become a natural response of your customers, it is important that you create a logo that is simple but worth remembering.

Building Content Strategy

Content is always the backbone of every marketing campaign. Content that encourages readers to share it and is both easy to fathom while being informative. This includes more than just articles and blogs and also understanding what the reader is expecting from the content being pushed out. All of this must be paired with a decent strategy that acts as the glue.

Be Open to Feedback

The best way to make the most of your social media presence is to collect instant feedback by monitoring your customers’ discussions. This way, you will be able to find out how your target audience feels about your brand and use these opinions constructively to improve your approach. Most importantly, social media help you provide your customers with the real-time customer service and immediate feedback. Alternatively, you can also monitor users’ opinions on your recently released product, detect any potential customer experience issues and solve them on time.

Unsurprisingly, integrating social media marketing with the digital marketing campaign allows startups to reach broader audiences, promote their brand effectively and deliver personalized and real-time customer experience. As a result, they can generate higher revenue and better conversion rates.

NIC Lahore’s Investor’s Summit for Batch 3

On July 13th, Saturday; the National Incubation Center Lahore organized it’s third investor’s summit for the qualifying start-ups of cohort 3. After weeks of preparation, start-ups from NIC Lahore, Quetta, and Peshawar, Gwadar and Takhleeq pitched their ideas to a panel of investors hoping to spur some interest in them.

The session was incredibly successful as ideas that cater to some of the most pressing problems within the country were addressed through businesses that are all set to change the face of their respective industries.

Faisal Sherjan, the Project Director began the highly anticipated summit and wished the start-ups the best of luck. Following is the order of their pitches:

  1. The summit kick started with our start-up based in Karachi called Ghumo.pk. The start-up focuses on solving the innumerable problems within the hospitality industry in Pakistan.
  2. SabziBox followed with their start-up based in the farming industry. The founder spoke of their enthusiasm to change the face of grocery shopping and farming by empowering home owners and local farmers.
  3. From NIC Peshawar, Bera pitched their idea claiming to redefine the Peshawari chappal concept in Pakistan with their unique and innovative stylistic approach to the age old shoe.
  4. E-flow presented next with an idea that provided an effective solution to ending the ever elusive load shedding problem in the country.
  5. This was followed by Lahore’s Apna Furniture that focuses at providing home and office owners the comfort of purchasing furniture through simplistic and hassle free procedures.
  6. ParentsEase was next with their online platform offering insurance packages to individuals and how they ensure an easy and simple way to get insured.
  7. Save Every Drop (SE Drop) presented next with their sought after innovation that recycles waste water by removing arsenic from it thereby, solving the water scarcity predicament in the country.
  8. From NIC Quetta, Sun Spark Inverter presented later – this was another innovative inverter that caters to load shedding.
  9. NIC Lahore’s Smart Switch provided a solution to a problem many are unaware of – the extra charges in the electricity bill and the energy consumption one doesn’t know of.
  10. Next was Nano IT from Peshawar creating immersive experiences through virtual reality. They allow one to literally experience the excitement of being on a chairlift and feel the water splashes of being on a boat et cetera.
  11. From NIC Quetta Gul technologies pitched their life saving smart helmet for coal miners allowing monitoring and evaluation of the miner’s health.
  12. Monumental Studios from Quetta pitched their start-up that provides videography and documentaries that showcase the rich Baluchistan culture.
  13. pk from NIC Lahore presented next advocating the tabooed topic of mensuration and how they intend to make this a household conversation and equip women through their app.
  14. Mountainise presented their intelligent solution for both social and digital media marketing.
  15. From Lahore, StrawHat a digital smart helmet that wishes to bring the numbers of bike accident numbers down to 0. Their product comes with a number of features – the most interesting being limited mobility until the helmet is worn.
  16. Milkify presented their cooling mechanism and balancing mechanism that ensures milk purity and amount – changing the face of the gawala
  17. From NIC Quetta’s WECO presented their chick incubator running from a self-designed thermostat that only needs air to function.
  18. Fori Fixer from Quetta spoke of their start-up that provides labor such as carpenters and mechanics through their app.
  19. Dillevery from Quetta presented an idea to that helps save time for women on the go.
  20. NIC Lahore’s Send2World presented their idea for the freight forwarding industry by making it super convenient for all.
  21. VectorInks pitched their domain adamant to save the time and quality of work being produced by designers.
  22. From Takhleeq we had ZAPS creating single sole shoes with multiple skins allowing one to save money without compromising on style.
  23. A Total Parco Startup, the Mad Hatters pitched next talking about their travel based start-up exploring the many faces of Pakistan.
  24. From Gwadar we have a female led start-up Agri Irrigation that helps curb the water scarcity issue in that respective area.
  25. The Cookery Lahore from Batch 2 pitched incredible initiative that provides healthy alternative to home cooked food and facilitate the food industry through home based bakery owners and several others.
  26. NIC Lahore’s SOOP – Schools On Our Phones talked about how they help save time, money and the environment while providing teacher and school efficiency by digitizing entire school systems.
  27. Another dedicated woman leading The Robotics Club to encourage hands on learning and encouraging a child’s desire to build, code and play! She intends to eventually establish her own school.
  28. Smart Trolley from Quetta presented next coding products being purchased and generating the bill before one reaches the cash counter.
  29. From NIC Quetta we have Asaan Booking making sure you get everywhere on time. Their platform allows e-ticketing, reduction of cost and a lot more. Traveling just became less of a hassle.
  30. NIC Quetta Aprus. The startup provides a technology that provides AI driven electro-surgical units that provide immense precision and the pride that comes with technology that is “Made in Pakistan.”
  31. Our last start-up was from Lahore Alrrish Du Ciel brings the Summit to a close with her maternity and modesty wear clothing brand working towards introducing comfort and style in the fashion industry for the working woman and mother.

The pitches were followed by interactive sessions and meetings between start-ups and investors allowing the latter to inquire further in ideas that managed to interest them. The Summit itself was a sight to behold as the ideas were not just well-received by incredibly appreciated and validated by innovators in the investment industry looking for bright minds and smart solutions to problems that have existed for years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We at NIC Lahore are extremely proud of how far our start-ups have come and wish all those who had meetings with the investors, the very best of luck for a brighter and better future – for both their business and for Pakistan!

Onwards and Upwards; towards greener pastures.

Smart Helmet – Save Lives; One Coal Mine at a Time

There are several problems existing within various departments of Pakistan’s mining industry. The most significant one is the fact the rate at which coal miners lose their lives because of otherwise manageable factors. These factors range from uncontrolled hazardous gases such as methane and carbon monoxide that are constantly being released in the environment.

According to recorded stats around 3 lac workers have notably been associated with this profession in Balochistan alone.

It was recorded that in just one year more than 160 coal mine workers lose their lives in several mines across the province.

The founders of Smart Helmet, Ali Gul, incubated in the National Incubation Center Quetta was inspired to create this product when four coal miners from one family lost their lives due to poorly managed mine circumstances. More than 300 workers are known to be facing serious problems during a year. These incidents are routinely affairs in Balochistan.

The President of All Pakistan Labour Federation, Sultan Muhammad Khan claimed that about 0.3 million laborers employed across the province as each site consists of more than 1,000 mines including Chamalang, Luni, Harnai, Mach, Duki, Marwar and Low range area of the province. Furthermore, around 33 cases of death and 70 cases of injuries had been reported during the last year in the province due to negligence of the authorities concerned. The main reason of deaths in the mines was reported to be lack of oxygen and explosions caused due to methane gas.

Being personally affected by the coal mining incidents in Baluchistan, Ali Gul designed and developed Eye Smart helmet for coal mines worker.

The feature of eye smart helmet is to detect the hazardous gases, the temperature, rise in humidity, body oxygen levels and heart pulse level with voice communication in Real time. This further allows the helmet to generate an SOS call and alert coal miners with its sate of art dust mask. The helmet tracks real time location with a unique miner id.

The data generated is displayed on a desktop to allow easy monitoring of the activities being conducted by the coal miners.

Using Machine learning on sensor data projects the future mine environment parameters and worker’s health related for time stamp.

The National Incubation Centers across the country are always focused in seeking unique ideas that contribute to the greater good of both, the country and of humanity.