Startup Expo 2015 was held at the Pak-China Friendship Centre Islamabad during the weekend. The expo was one of the biggest gathering of startups and entrepreneurs from all over Pakistan. The first of a series of annual events, it provided startups with a platform to interact with their future customers and experienced mentors that took part in the expo.
The event was a collaborative effort by the Startup Magazine and Entrepreneurial Development Institute (EDI).
The product exhibition area was open to all visitors while separate sections for networking sessions, keynote speeches by leading entrepreneurs, syndicate session and lunch were available for ticket-holders
Startup Expo 2015 was a one-day event. The expo consisted of the Top 100 shortlisted startups from the country. The top startups were selected from a wide variety of categories and they competed to be chosen for several different awards.
Amongst the lot of all startups that participated in the event, most belonged to the field of information technology. This is a good sign for the emerging market of Pakistan which lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to consumer products that assist people using technology and digital information.
Award Winners of the Startup Expo 2015
All 100 startups presented their products to thousands of visitors and participants. The exhibition was open to all judges and visitors throughout the day. Amongst all the 100 startups competing for the awards, 9 were chosen to receive awards in different categories.
The judges spent two hours to announce the 9 award winners where each award was presented by a different person. All award presenters were experienced entrepreneurs and gave knowledgeable speeches prior to announcing each award. The list of award winners is given below:
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Travly: It is an app that provides travelers to plan their journeys accurately while in the comfort of their homes. The app is powered by 404 Solutions, which itself is a tech startup at Plan9. The developers hope to “evolve” their app to become the sole app for all travel requirements.
Social Entrepreneur of the Year
Lettuce Bee Kids: Founded in 2010, the organization aims to help children from the streets to reach their potential. They provide the psychological, social and financial support that is needed to assist deprived children into becoming a healthy part of the society. The organization also aims to bring the society closer together and establish stronger connections between the members of society.
Female Entrepreneur of the Year
H n H Designer: It is a business venture started by Irum Farooq which deals with handmade designer products like Wallets, Handbags and Mobile covers.
Technopreneur of the Year
XGear: It is an app that provides the driver with access to mechanical information about their vehicle and assist in making informed decisions to keep it in top condition. The app allows the retrieval of advanced information like fault codes and prognostic data with ease.
Home-based Business of the Year
Toolstobake: It is an online store which has a wide range of baking supplies available at the fingertips of the users. Established in 2012, the store is run by three sisters who began from a kitchen table but now they offer unique baking supplies and baking courses.
Commercial Service Business of the Year
Tourplanner.pk: An online travel portal that assists inbound travelers in Pakistan it provides information. Pricing and booking facilities for hotels. With a slogan “Hassle free travel”, the service can help even international travelers and tourists.
Venture Funded Business of the Year
Fori Mazdoori: The service helps the labour connect with potential employers through the use of Smartphone and web apps. Not only that, the service can be utilized with SMS based commands. The service is limited in its reach but still quite useful nonetheless.
Innovative Entrepreneur of the Year
ParathaParty: What looks at first like any Islamabad restaurant with a ‘dashing’ name, is actually quite unique in its approach towards dining. The restaurant serves parathas (if the name didn’t give it up), desi chutnees, achar and salads.
Best Social Startup of the Year
Youth Impact: Youth Impact aims to provide development in leadership skills using their Youth Leadership Development programs. It is a group of qualified trainers who also wish to teach wilderness programs to young students.
A Good Start with Potential for Improvements:
In a bleak economy like Pakistan’s, all business startups with great potential are of great help. The expo intended to promote and simulate existing and potential startups towards sustainability. Such events and learning platforms help a great deal to all the future entrepreneurs in setting and reaching their targets. But even an event like this had its downsides.
Issue 1: Transparency in selection procedure
First of all, the top 100 startups were selected based on an unknown criteria and the inclusion of several years old established businesses made the selection all the more questionable.
The event managers did not even mention the number of startups that were nominated for the top 100 and what the application procedure was.
While many promising startups were not in the list, others never knew about the awards and were left with no options but to wait for next year for the participation, or even the nomination.
The trend continued and the awards were given out without providing probable motivation for the selection of winners.
Issue 2: Not enough investors and businessmen
Secondly, the event’s true potential could have been achieved had the target audience been investors and leading businessmen from the corporate sector. It could have assisted the ‘proper’ startups in getting the funds they require to implement their plans to the best of their abilities.
Transparency and targeting the proper audience could have made the event much more valuable for future entrepreneurs.
Given that it was the first one, we hope that the event managers can mend their mistakes and keep up this initiative to help startups from Pakistan.
Source: Startupexpo, Startup.org