Year 2015 is just around the corner as 2014 fades away amidst the buzz and blare of local and international technological achievements, disruptions, country’s unfortunate political turmoil, and end-of-the-year hopes and promises.
While we saw news and events of both positive and negative essence, it is, however, the most appropriate time to look back at all the good that came out throughout the year to appreciate what we achieved, the individuals who made it all happen, and actuate ourselves to strive for even more the next year.
Here is our pick of the news that we consider will have a lasting impact on the IT sector and entrepreneurial ecosystem of the country.
1. The Launch of 3G/4G Services
After facing countless unfortunate delays in the preceding years, a strong stance of the Ministry of IT and PTA finally resulted in a successful auction of 3G and 4G network licenses. The auction was hosted online by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and the process fortuitously completed in a single business day without any hiccups.
Although the raised sum was slightly less than PTA’s optimistic expectations, it amounted to $1.112 billion nonetheless—a decent boost for the economy, and telecom sector in particular.
For more details: 3G/4G Licenses Auction Concludes, Raising $1.112 Billion in the Process
2. LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship Launch
LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship was launched earlier this year to formalize the institute’s support for entrepreneurial ventures. LCE is an independent center under LUMS’ umbrella that is run by a dedicated, seasoned management team.
LCE aims to provide a full-fledge experiential development platform for local startups that includes scouting for promising entrepreneurs, The Foundation incubator, state-of-the-art co-working space through Plug ‘n Play centers, mentoring sessions, networking opportunities, and funding through the Foundation Fund.
3. PlanX Launch
Pakistan’s first technology incubator Plan9 was one of the most important initiatives from Punjab Information Technology Board to support the country’s fledgling entrepreneurial ecosystem. Following Plan9’s tremendous success, PITB followed-up with the launch of a startup accelerator and fittingly named it PlanX. With the mission-statement ‘Putting startups into orbit’, PlanX aims to empower commercially-viable mid-stage startups by providing them adequate networking, mentoring and funding exposure.
The first batch of startups recently graduated from the center and the names of startups that qualified for the second cycle’s intake were announced in September.
For more details: PlanX is all ready to take startups into orbit!
4. Pakathon Happened in 16 Cities
Founded by passionate Pakistanis with an aim to brainstorm solutions for social and entrepreneurial problems faced by their countrymen, Pakathon organizes global events, seminars, meet-ups, partnerships, and workshops around the year. Pakathon also works to help distributed teams using global collaboration of mentors and participants and, in the long run, change the perception of Pakistan as an entrepreneur-friendly and socially-stable nation in the world’s view.
Keeping the same mission statement in focus, Pakathon organized a global event that simultaneously took place in 16 urban destinations. From Sukkur to Silicon Valley, students, entrepreneurs, and mentors pitched their ideas with enough potential to be transformed into feasible solutions to alleviate social issues faced by Pakistanis in domains such as Retailing, Inclusiveness, Health, E-commerce and Mobile Banking, Broken Systems, Security, and Education etc.
For more details: Pakathon Reloaded: Global Extravaganza
5. P@SHA Announced ‘The NEST i/O’ Incubator
Pakistan Software Houses Association, at the event of P@SHA ICT Awards 2014, announced that it will be launching a technology incubator in Karachi.
With the assistance of Samsung, Google, and US State department, The Nest i/O technology incubator will serve 50 technology startups and house 700 technology entrepreneurs in a dedicated co-working space through its first year. The base funding for the initiative was announced to be 1.37 million during the event and the project partners will contribute more in terms of financial and technical support as it progresses.
Definitely a welcome addition to the country’ nascent entrepreneurial environment, The Nest i/O will help local startups gain the momentum and exposure they deserve.
For more details: P@SHA Launching a Tech Incubator with funding of 1.37 Million USD
6. International Investment in Pakistani Startups
2014 was a great year for local startups; the best yet, we might add. Not only a number of promising tech and social startups took flight this year, but also succeeded in scoring worldwide renown and funding. Apart from the untiring efforts of local entrepreneurs, the role and importance of local tech incubators and accelerators in the overall scenario cannot be overstated.
A number of Pakistani startups, most prominently the graduates of Plan9 incubator and PlanX accelerator, received funding from international angel investors and venture capital firms. Eyedeus Labs, BookMe.pk, FRAG Games, Zameen.com, and Markhor (previously Hometown Shoes) are only a few of these startups.
7. Rocket Internet Expanded Multiple Ventures to Pakistan
Germany-based startup incubator and venture capital firm, Rocket Internet, is known for funding and expanding several promising startups all over the globe. In 2014, Rocket Internet added Jovago, an online hotel-room booking service, and Tripda, a web- and mobile-based ride-sharing service, to the list of over half a dozen successful ventures it has started in Pakistan during the preceding years.
Rocket Internet also entered into an agreement with Ooredoo to bring investment to Pakistan and its neighboring countries via ‘Asia Holding Group’.
8. Pakistani Telcos Brought iPhone to Pakistan
Apple iPhone is arguably one of the most sought-after technology-related commodity items. After 7 years since the introduction of the original iPhone, the smartphone is being made available in Pakistan officially in collaboration with local telecom operators.
While this might seem something trivial, the effects this step could have in the long-run could be quite significant. This can be regarded as the first step towards the introduction of contract-based smartphone sales locally, and the provision of complete iPhone-related services to the customers who previously had to rely on units brought through grey channel distribution.
For more details: iPhone 6 officially releasing in Pakistan on 11th December
9. PITB’s Ventures Continue in Punjab Province
Punjab Information Technology Board is country’s first autonomous body to advise, implement and monitor technology-based solutions to enable the province to achieve its IT potential. Plan9, country’s first technology incubator, PlanX, the follow-up accelerator to Plan9, and Plan9 TechHub are the best-known projects of PITB to support entrepreneurship.
Throughout the year, PITB launched and expanded numerous other projects as well in the province. eLearn Punjab, a free online repository of textbooks; Hajj Monitoring System to facilitate Hujjaj before, during, and after the holy pilgrimage procedure; Flood Monitoring System; and the Telepresence Room to virtually connect 36 Punjab districts were a few major projects undertaken by PITB this year.
10. Pakistani Startups Bagged Accolades at APICTA
Numerous Pakistani startups and entrepreneurs have proved their mettle over and over again in the recent past. The latest addition to the achievements gained by such individuals and companies were honored at the recently-held APICTA 2014 event in Jakarta, where Pakistani startups competing for different categories won 2 Gold and 3 Silver awards.
In the Best Startup category, RemoteInterview.io won the Runner-up award; EatOye won a Runner-up Award as well in Tourism and Hospitality category. In the Tertiary Student Project category, SmartSteth and TRex Tremor Reader brought home both the Winner and Runner-up awards. Finally, in Media & Entertainment Technologies, Groopic claimed the Gold award for their product Ingrain.
For more details: Pakistan Bags 2 Gold & 3 Silver Awards at APICTA 2014
Farewell 2014, and here’s to another year full of success and achievements for the beloved homeland!
— Team TechJuice