021Disrupt, Pakistan’s premier entrepreneurial and innovation conference organized by The Nest I/O, has successfully run between November 30th – December 5th. Currently, in its 4th year, the conference continued its mission to connect local and international investors, innovators, and technology leaders with the startup and entrepreneurial community of Pakistan.
Happening virtually this year, the conference ensured increased accessibility to everyone across Pakistan and beyond, who are interested in accelerating the growth of the ecosystem. Despite the engagement challenges of hosting an online conference, 021Disrupt witnessed a digital footprint of 7300+ entrepreneurs, investors, influencers, professionals and students attending the conference from all over Pakistan.
Over 65 international and local disruptors shared the next big ideas that will change the face of tech and entrepreneurship in Pakistan in the coming years. Moreover, over 550 startups engaged with 31 local and international investors and mentors in 315+ office hours!
Building upon the momentum of previous years, there were significant announcements at the conference this year that will majorly change the investment and entrepreneurial landscape of Pakistan:
- Indus Valley Capital launches applications for the Indus Valley Wapistani Track, a dedicated program for returning Pakistanis;
- Lakson Investments Venture Capital leads $1,000,000 Pre-Series A round of funding of Roomy.pk – a lodging and hospitality startup,
- Fatima Gobi Ventures announces the first close of its $20 million debut fund, Techxila Fund I, investing in SafePay and Invest Hub, graduated cohorts of The Nest I/O. Previous investments include SastaTicket.PK, announced in 2018 at 021Disrupt, Airlift, and Taajir.
- I2i Ventures and Sarmayacar launches Early Stage Investors’ Guide for Pakistan, a playbook for how to invest in local startups;
- 10Pearls has acquired TwoDots, a Karach-based design studio.
With this year’s theme focusing on forging brave new worlds, the conference also explored the impact of the pandemic on the entrepreneurial landscape of Pakistan and how it demonstrated resilience and growth worldwide. 021Disrupt celebrated the confidence that local and international investors are manifesting in the ecosystem, with Pakistani startups raising $45 million in 2020 alone.
Conversations That Matter
The conversations this year revolved around major themes of building a conducive environment for startup investments, developing regulatory and policy frameworks to support innovation, and sharing implementation methods for new tech in Pakistan. Here are some of the radical ideas shared by the speakers at 021Disrupt,
“I think many entrepreneurs fail because they’re trying to wait for the perfect product, the perfect team, the perfect everything. Find complementary soul mates: you need to find people who can do what you can’t do!” – Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist Canva
“As soon as investors put money into a startup, it’s not the investor’s money, it’s the startup’s money. So they have to keep taking the same level of risks that they were taking before.” – Michael Blakely, Co-Founder & Managing Partner Cocoon Capital
Supporting the conference, President HBL Muhammad Aurangzeb shared, “The core theme of this conference has always been to learn from each other. The leaders of the future will find that the pure tech element of a digital revolution will not be the difficult part any longer.”
Jehan Ara, President P@SHA and Founder The Nest I/O shared her views on going all virtual this year, “When we started on this journey, we did not realize whether the online format would work, if people would engage and enjoy a fully packed schedule of talks and discussions. It was an experiment, fortunately, a very successful one. The kind of engagement that happened during the past six days is unbelievable. The speakers we were able to bring on board from all around the world, the valuable content they shared, made it all truly worth the immense effort. It took a lot of people to put it together, far too many to mention, but they know who they are!”