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10 Reasons Why We Loved Global Pakathon 2014

Avatar Written by Sarwat Fatima · 4 min read>

In September 2009, a heart breaking news of the death of a three year old girl, Imanae Malik hit the news channels and shocked the entire nation. The unfortunate incident occurred due to mishandling of a simple burn case and the lack of necessary equipment needed at that time.

The nation reacted in a traditional manner; processions were held, debates were sparked, social media campaigns were organized, government statements were released and then what happened, a complete silence.

Let us fast forward the clock to September 2014, a team was huddled around a table at New York University’s Kimmel Auditorium working to create a smart stethoscope called ‘SmartScope.’ According to a Bangladeshi team member, this device will help the Pakistani hospitals for early diagnosing in case of lack of proper equipment.

Surely, this device could not have saved Imanae five years ago if it had existed, but this small step is a start to bring intelligent change for a better Pakistan and for breaking silence through technology. This is exactly what Pakathon Global 2014 aimed to achieve.

Pakathon 2014, a hackathon style event, connected people from diverse backgrounds in 16 cities across US and Pakistan. The teams in both regions worked together to come up with solutions for problems being faced in Pakistan and globally. In addition, the Pakathon team desires to nourish the entrepreneur ecosystem in Pakistan, provide global collaboration and rebrand our country by changing perception among international community.

Here are 10 things we loved about Pakathon Global 2014.

1. Global Collaboraton And Diversity Of Opinions

A combined brain power can achieve much more than a single brain, which no doubt powerful, has its own limits; it may not be able to go beyond the obvious. When great minds sit together, they can solve problems quickly and efficiently taking unexpected yet brilliant route to solution.

Keeping this point of view, Pakathon Global 2014 initiated global collaboration as a way to diversify the opinions on social and economic problems in Pakistan. It brought together individuals from techies, social media addicts, programmers, developers, graphic designers and even non-technical minds. They met at 16 cities from Boston to Malakand; Washington DC, New York, Silicon Valley, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Sukkur.

Amna Khawar, marketing and communications lead for the Pakathon NYC, says “Not everyone here is Pakistani. We encourage a global collaborative component and diversity of opinion as well as a mix of skill sets.”


2. Common Cause – A Better Pakistan

People who were not even Pakistani nationals came together to reflect on constructive ideas to help solve problems faced both by Pakistan and other countries. For example, two Indian girls developed an uber app “Driver her”, which is a cab service for females by female drivers in order to address the women security issues during travelling.

“Everyone has a common cause — to develop a community where ideas can be creatively reflected and put to constructive use,” says Minza Zahid, co-lead for Pakathon NY.

3. Mentors From All Walks Of Life

Pakathon mentors were not just entrepreneurs or technology gurus rather belonged from all walks of life including lawyers, professors, humanitarians, activists, managers and researchers. The idea of learning from such vast set of live knowledge is unimaginable. I believe that you learn more from people who belong to fields different than yours. It often happens that you get inspiration from other fields to create solutions for your problems.

4. Positive Perception Of Pakistan Around The World

Most of the international community know Pakistan from what they see on televisions and internet. Our national crisis are highlighted more on media than the talent in our country. Kudos to Pakathon for arranging a global event for showcasing the true Pakistan and the potential that lies within it.

5. Encourage Brainstorming And Innovation

Pakathon participant teams are provided 48 hours to develop and present a 10-minute pitch to a panel of three judges. Although the time provided is short and it may be possible that ideas are not well-formulated but it does not mean they should come to an end after the event.

The basic aim is to provide teams with clocked amount of time to accelerate brainstorming which could lead to an idea with the potential for a startup or a solution to a problem. Even if an idea does not win, you can still learn from judge’s criticism and fine tune it afterwards.

Our youth is never encouraged for team work and brainstorming until they receive a shock in their professional career. Platforms like Pakathon can inculcate these skill sets in young generation through organizing such brilliant events.

Check out some successful ideas from Pakathon Toronto at this link. 

Pakathon Global Brain Storming


6. Initiating Cultural Shift In Pakistan

Fazli Subhan, Pakathon Coordinator Malakand, told in his testimonial that University of Malakand (UoM) does not even have the 5% of the facilities the top institutes have in Pakistan. The library & labs are closed at 3 PM on weekdays and remain close on weekends. In addition, the internet connectivity is unpredictable and slow. Despite this, students were very persistent and motivated to participate in Pakathon driven by watching others in different cities. They were inspired, punctual, and worked enthusiastically till 2 AM at a university where students don’t stay for any activity after 2 PM.

Nothing else can explain the cultural shift as best as this testimonial. This proves that students from all areas of Pakistan are stirred by the concept of solving problems through technology entrepreneurship.

7. A Way To Give Back To Our Homeland

Let’s look at a few alarming statistics of Pakistan: 70% of Pakistan’s Population is under 30 years of age, 59% of our youth aims to live abroad and 2.7 million Pakistanis have left the country in the last five years.

Brain drain is affecting the country economically as most professional and technical people are leaving for better employment prospects abroad. If the trend continues, Pakistan will lose a lot of human resource in a few years.

The question is how Pakathon can help reverse brain drain? Pakathon is encouraging and helping youth for startups, creating opportunities for networking on professional level and attracting investors from abroad. Additionally, they are providing platform for formulating projects on the track of health, education, retail, human rights and finance.

There is no better way of giving back to our homeland.

8. Funds Collected Via Online Donations

Pakathon reached a wider community through launching “Building A Better Pakistan” donation drive which is the main source for funding. It seemed people were eager to help support this global movement to create tech-enabled solution for a better Pakistan and other developing countries.

Pakathon arranged the event very strategically making use of the latest trends for generating funds such as online donation drive.

Pakathon Global Online Funds Collection



9. Pakathon Mentorship Program – Taking Skills To The Next Level

Asad Badruddin, co-founder of Pakathon, in his recent blog introduced “Pakathon Mentorship Program” to match around 1000+ event participants with mentors for team learning and development.

Pakathon will connect teams to entrepreneurs who have scaled their companies from 1 to 30+ employees and have surpassed startup hurdles with success. These mentors will be able to guide far better than the managers or C-level executives who have never started their own business.

Hence, startups in Pakistan looking to expand globally will be connected to an international mentor while startups abroad considering to expand in Pakistan will be connected to a local mentor.

You can sign-up for the Program here. The deadline for receiving the applications is Dec, 15th 2014.

10. Opportunities For Networking And Investment In Pakistan

Networking is the most essential tool in making your place in business world. Just, this morning I read a quote on Grammarly, it says,

“Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.”

Building your social network will automatically attract investments from international community. They are already excepting Pakistan as a potential market for startups.

Pakathon is offering these unique opportunity of networking with investors both national and international. Now it’s your job not to miss them if you really want to become a successful entrepreneur in Pakistan.

Written by Sarwat Fatima
Sarwat is a journalist and DIY enthusiast. She loves writing about Startups and Businesses. She is heading Islamabad and surrounding areas for news coverage. Profile