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.

AYECo. Introduces Smart Canes for the Visually Impaired

From the first batch of graduates of the National Incubation Center Lahore, Faaiz Arbab, a student in the electrical engineering graduate program at Lahore University of Management Sciences’ (LUMS) urbanized a voice-operated smart wheelchair called GOBEE. AYECo. is the first and only manufacturing company in Pakistan producing Smart Wheelchairs and assisted devices. Their wheelchairs can be operated from a mobile application and relives the user from relying on any physical attendant for movement. AYECo. is also working on other assisted devices.

Taking his successful, useful and progressive start-up a step further; AYECo. Is now introducing smart canes for the visually impaired. Smart Cane is an electronic device to help people with visual disability to find a path without hitting obstacles.

What motivated AYECo.?

Low vision and blindness are important public health problems. People with visual impairment usually need support and assistance unless they get vision rehabilitation with the provision of low vision devices, orientation and mobility training and counseling for making specific modifications in their living environment for proper adaptation towards performing day to day activities and social integration. Most electrical low vision devices cost an arm and a leg, and that is the primary reason why the poor in Pakistan cannot afford it. The average cost of an imported blind man stick is almost $400.

According to the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association (JPMA), there are 2 million people in Pakistan, who are visually impaired and almost 1.7 million of them are not affording a cane which costs $400.

The Solution They Offer

We live in an amazing time in terms of finding technological solutions for people who have lost their sight. Each day seems to bring a new medical or electronic solution, making the world more accessible for physically impaired. AYECo. Is researching on electronic blind man canes for the blind community of Pakistan. The start-up intends to produce a smart, effective cane which will cost no more than $50.

After struggling with and manufacturing multiple prototypes of the Smart Cane made, the start-up has finally perfect their product.

The first prototype was not fold-able and demonstrated difficult vibration pattern. The second prototype was modified and made a compact remote with the electronic circuitry embedded in it. In this way, Smart Cane become a fold-able device.

The Smart Cane has a rechargeable battery and can easily attach a white cane to it. AYECo. intends to launch the Smart Cane in Pakistan. Their aim is to provide cheap technological solutions for assistive devices in Pakistan.

They wish to make Smart Cane more compact and connect it with smartphones so that it can help the visually impaired navigate with ease. We wish the team at AYECo. The very best of luck as they improve the lifestyle of the physically impaired in Pakistan, one futuristic product at a time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tentative schedule for the event is:

  • 9:30 AM – Welcome

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

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

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

  • 11:30 AM – BREAK

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

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

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

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

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

  • 2:00 PM – Closing Remarks

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

 

Note: To read original article click here.

The Importance of Deadlines for Entrepreneurs

There are several elements that work for regular employees but cannot be applied to entrepreneurs. However, what stays relevant and significant for both are deadlines. Deadlines are imperative when it comes to setting and achieving goals. For entrepreneurs, it is imperative that their deadlines be strategically specific and not capricious. It is only then that they can allow one to excel towards their goal and experience small wins on the daily as opposed to always stressing about bigger goals set for a longer future.

However, not exhibiting or following deadlines with a clear head can backfire. Some entrepreneurs get stressed and react whereas others get so caught up in the deadlines that they neglect major business priorities. For business newbies it is important to learn how to do things effectively. Deadlines can be daunting, but they can also excite, inspire and give your team the motivation and purpose. Here are some reasons why deadlines are important for entrepreneurs:

  1. You become liable for your goals

It is imperative for entrepreneurs to take the sole responsibility of several aspects of their business in order to ensure things ensue in the right direction. Deadlines have the power to grab one’s attention and that is how they define the varying levels of importance set for different tasks. Hence, regardless of who sets the deadline, if the objective is singular, it instills a strong sense of liability for attaining goals.

  1. They encourage positive impetus

Strategically set deadlines ensure entrepreneurs work towards meeting them. Approaching a deadline often spurs emotions and that is what induces in them the desire to act upon their feelings thus meeting or evading a deadline. Meeting deadlines instills a strong sense of positive impetus because it translates as a success. It enables entrepreneurs to believe in them and get excited for bigger deadlines. Despite the magnanimity of a deadline; meeting one is always positive.

  1. They tend to instill Creativity.

For entrepreneurs who feed on success, deadlines become a challenge that forces them to engage with their work creatively. They see deadlines as an opportunity for them to prove their own worth. It has been recorded that renowned individuals like Steve Jobs were known to set unattainable deadlines, primarily to set a singular objective for his team and force them to think creatively to meet it. Deadlines should be used to fuel creativity and should not be leveraged by entrepreneurs looking to remain motivated.

  1. They help Prioritize

When one sets a deadline, it helps them value not just their time but the time of everyone involved. It helps entrepreneurs struggling to make it big to organize and manage themselves and therefore, prioritize tasks not just for themselves but for their entire team. This is what enables them to keep the momentum going and not meet a standstill when it comes to meeting bigger deadlines that matter. Deadlines help say no when one feels like they’ve been stretched too thin.

  1. They keep you on your toes

Deadlines are a great way to identify what needs to be said yes to and what needs to be ignored. Setting a deadline helps entrepreneurs say no to various tasks and thus never compromise on the quality of the work being done. However, it is important to not slack and say “no” to pressing tasks out of sheer laziness. Setting deadlines to meet the expectations of the clients ensures that you stay on your toes. Additionally, it also ensures that entrepreneurs make only those promises that they can deliver. As an extension, this teaches them the integrity to run their business.

  1. They allow space for small failures and successes

For entrepreneurs with a team in place, it is significant to delegate. Seeping into everyone’s decision making process can become quite problematic and can only add to unnecessary delays. Therefore, as an entrepreneur or the founder of a business, one must allow the space for small failures and successes merely to identify what type of deadlines work for everyone. This helps establish and set productive, effective and strategic deadlines for everyone in the team, in the long run.

  1. Meeting Deadlines Builds Buoyancy

When one starts meeting small deadlines on a regular basis, it tends to establish a strong sense of faith and belief in one’s team in the long run. It equips entrepreneurs to approach bigger and more important deadlines with a strong sense of buoyancy. This is very effective in inducing customer happiness and enables more team members to take on more responsibility.

  1. Helps Assess Success

There is no denying that meeting deadlines helps entrepreneurs assess the calculable progress of their business. It helps them assess their own performance and the performance of their team members.

There are many opportunities that exist in the entrepreneurial world. These vary from international grants to opportunities that can change the face of a small business as we know it. Setting deadlines and approaching them seriously allows entrepreneurs to meet more significant deadlines in an organized and strategic manner and that is what helps them upscale their business.

Startup weekend 2018 – Sign up Now!

One of the most prodigious startup competitions of Pakistan is back! This time around it’s even bigger and better than before. Fifty-four hours of intense competition, coupled with an unparalleled entrepreneurial learning experience, await you at Startup weekend 2018.

The event would be held at NIC Lahore, from 16th to 18th November 2018.

Techstars Global Startup weekend, powered by the tech-giant Google, is an internationally recognized competition that offers a platform to the budding entrepreneurs to present their creative ideas, hone their entrepreneurial skills, and execute their plans.

National incubation center (NIC) opens the doors to the vast entrepreneurial world. Participants are given the opportunity to interact with the renowned and adept entrepreneurs of the industry, and subsequently augmenting their team-building and networking skills.

Wining team is honored with a chance to convert its ideas to reality through a fast track incubation at NIC itself!

DAY 1

Being a 3-day event, startup weekend’s first day would kickoff with the participants checking in, followed by an opening ceremony where guests and speakers would reminisce their past experiences regarding the event.

After that, participants would pitch an idea in 60 seconds, and through voting, 20 to 30 ideas would be qualified for the remaining rounds. Day 1 would come to an end with a scrumptious dinner.

Day 2

On the second day, the remaining participants, now in teams, would be exposed to rigorous counselling and mentoring sessions with acclaimed entrepreneurs and coaches.

This would entail an unprecedented experience of building effective and coherent business models under their guidance.

Day 3

On the third and final day, the participants would present their business models in front of a panel of reputable judges, followed by a critical Q&A session. The third day would finish with the dinner and a closing ceremony where the names of the winners would be disclosed. NIC would award the winners with an incubation opportunity at its highly-specialized and capacious, internationally recognized, entrepreneurial facility.

Besides the incubation opportunity, Startup weekend offers a plethora of benefits to the participants. Through networking, they would be interacting with the brightest minds of the entrepreneurial milieu. Being an internationally-recognized prestigious event, Startup weekend allows its participants to compete with the contenders from other startup weekends around the globe.

Some of the judges and coaches from past events include notable names like Zafar Khan (CEO Sofizar), Shayan Zaeem (Co-founder Caramel Tech Studio), Sajjad Kirmani (CEO Infogistics), Tosheeba Sarwar (Founder Management Outfit), and Amena Hasan (CEO Business for Social Progress), Faisal Sherjan (Director National Incubation Center, Lahore), Huamyun Mazhar (Founder, Chairman, CEO CresVentures) etc.

The venue for the event is NIC Lahore. The National Incubation Center Lahore (NIC Lahore) is a first of its kind Incubation & Acceleration platform, launched under the public – private partnership of Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom, IGNITE, Fatima Ventures & Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

It provides state of the art facility established to nurture startups during their early phases whereby they provide affordable space, shared office spaces and included services, hands-on management training, marketing support and, often, access to financing.

The registrations for the event is open and the entire registration process can be accessed online.

To register: https://www.facebook.com/276793985720254/posts/2258612317538401/

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/startupweekendlahore/

#TGSW #SWLHR

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.

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.

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.

Connection between Hands-on Founders & Successful Startups

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

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

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

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

Being Open to New Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investing in Cooperative Pedagogy

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

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

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