Once again, Plan9 – Punjab Information Technology Board’s Tech Incubator, has dent the entrepreneurial space with its biannual flagship event – The Launchpad, a pitching competition to secure six months long incubation at Plan9.
The event kick started with Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board, addressing aspiring and budding entrepreneurs about the Plan9 alumni and how they can be one of them. He said,
For me entrepreneurship is a way to empower the youth of Pakistan, which is why I fight for it every single day! Remember you are the future of this country, don’t let us down!
The four days long entrepreneurial fiesta kicked-off on the 25th of January with Startup Expo, where more than sixty startups from across Pakistan participated to showcase their products.
Startups coming from various domains such as robotics, VR, sports-tech, health tech, fin-tech and arts, made the event experiential, engaging audiences of various age groups and backgrounds. Companies like Careem, Zong, Xiamoi, Pakwheels, FINJA and Bookme were also seen at Startup Expo.
The main highlight of the day was the team of Idea Croron Ka – Pakistan’s first startup reality show, judging the startups. Six startups – Studentary, Brain Games Studio, Noerric Technologies, Textte, JF Labs and PharmaTrax, emerged as the stars of the day winning their tickets to pitch at the show.
The winners were announced by the man himself, Nabeel A. Qadeer, Anchor and Content Producer Idea Croron Ka and, Director Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development Punjab Information Technology Board. He added,
Just five years ago when we initiated the startup culture with Plan9, only a handful of aspiring entrepreneurs would show up. And now it’s a joy seeing flocks of entrepreneurs emerging from every corner of Pakistan filled with passion to change the world with their ideas. By all means, entrepreneurship is the way forward!
The second day of the event saw rigorous training sessions designed exclusively for the startups shortlisted for The Launchpad. The day followed the theme of The Training Terminal in which the startups went through a drill of the business world in four stages.
Each startup had to go through each stage to receive the entry card called, The Boarding Pass, to qualify for the next stage. From Business Ethics to Ideation, Business Modelling and Pitch Training, all the basics were covered on this day.
Day three was full of elevator pitches, that is, the first round of pitching competition to win incubation at Plan9. Out of more than 1000 applicants only 97 had earned their way to the elevator pitch round.
At the day end, only 20 finalists were announced for the next and final day of The Launchpad. The winners of elevator pitches were given training for their final day pitches by Plan9 team through the night.
On day four, the final round of pitching, the twenty finalists pitched their business models once again, but this time in an elaborate, seven minute long pitch followed by three minutes of QnA by the judges.
The panel of judges comprised of big names from the IT industry of Pakistan:
Faizan Laghari – Chief Disruption Officer TCS; Sadia Khurram – General Manager Punjab, Careem; Abdul Hadi Dar – Regional Director, Govt. & Corporate Sales & Services Central Region, Zong; Qasif Shahid – Cofounder & CEO Finja; Murtaza Saeed – Vice President Professional Services, VentureDive; Bilal Ahmed Choudry – Director Global Services VentureDive; Maqsood Shahzad – Director Technical Services, Inov8 Limited; Ali Aziz – Founder & CEO Shopistan.pk; Ahmed Khan – Founder & CEO Cheetay, Faizan Aslam – Founder & CEO Bookme.pk, Bilal Athar – Cofounder & CEO Wifigen, Mustafa Najoom – Country Head, 1839 Ventures, Talaal Burny – Manager Ecosystem Affairs & External Relations, Careem Pakistan, Rameeza M. Khalid – Founder & CEO Transparent Hands, Ammar Ali Ayub- cofounder, Nearpeer.org, Qasim Asad Salam – Founder & CEO CampusFeed, Ali Rashid – Cofounder Car Chabi, Irfan Ahmed – Founder & CEO Babyplanet.pk and Amna Quraishi – Venture Partner Sabcon.
The 11th episode of The Launchpad Lahore chapter came to an end with 10 startups winning incubation at Plan9:
- Zeus Urban Farms: A hydroponics solution for urban farming committed to building and sustaining a community of urban farmers to address the food requirements of a metropolis.
- JF LABS: An agritech startup that provides drones to enhance the efficiency of cultivation process.
- ShipIt: An app that connects international travelers having extra baggage space with people who want to get or buy products from other countries.
- YOVO: A platform helping businesses to communicate over multiple channels through hosted IVR and PBX solutions ensuring the smooth flow of business processes.
- Water9: A water filtering mechanism that uses the power of ozone in addition to reverse osmosis to eradicate water borne diseases in fruits, vegetables and meat.
- vSWAT: World’s first 4D VR jacket for gamers that provides haptic feedback for cold/heat and pressure for richer VR experiences.
- InovoTech: A device that detects the water level in household tanks and controls the water supply accordingly empowering the households to monitor the water levels through their smart phones.
- RepairWala: A repair dispatch service for fixing phones and laptops providing services at doorstep through their shared economy business model.
- Smart Mirror: A smart mirror with an LED that displays widgets such as weather, messages, social media apps and emails directly from smart phones.
- ReArts: An agent platform for booking and managing upcoming performance artists.
The event was closed by Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman, PITB, giving an inspirational note to the aspiring entrepreneurs:
This country belongs to you and the generations after you, so take your rightful place in this country. I hope you get to a point where you can actually make a positive impact on the economy of Pakistan. Let us bear ourselves of the duty to make sure our future generations get to the point where even they can contribute towards making a sustainable Pakistan.