Shell recently announced nominations for their LiveWire Top 10 Innovators initiative, and three Pakistani startups have made it to the list!
Shell LiveWire is an online community for young entrepreneurs and provides online advice and funding to them as well. It has its own programme called the Shell LiveWire Top 10 Innovator where it highlights and rewards businesses that demonstrate excellence in innovation. The nominees for this year have finally been announced and among the 37 startups that made it to the list, 3 ventures from Pakistan also got selected.
SK Motors Syndicate, Kaghaz Kay Karnamay and LapPro Solutions are the three startups from Pakistan. Started by passionate young entrepreneurs, these have managed to cruise past the tough criteria set by Shell’s LiveWire Top 10 Innovators program and are now in need for votes to make it through to the final list of the real “top 10”.
What is Shell LiveWire Top 10 Innovators Program?
Basically, Shell LiveWire is Shell’s version of an international startup incubator, where it selects nascent businesses from passionate young entrepreneurs all over the world, and provides them with financial as well as other business support. The Top 10 Innovators Awards Programme takes it one step further by turning this into a kind of a competition, where eligible businesses compete for awards of up to $15,000.
There’s a very strict eligibility criteria too. For starters, you can’t even apply unless you are personally invited to apply by a Shell LiveWire programme manager! Then, there are hurdles you have to cross like you must be a past participant of a ShellLiveWire programme and your business must be older than 18 months but not more than 5 years. The full eligibility criteria is listed over here!
The voting round for this year has just started, and we decided to get in touch with the individuals behind these innovative little startups and share their stories!
SK Motors Syndicate
The man behind SK Motors Syndicate is Shakaib Khan. Initially financed with a minuscule investment of just Rs.800 from his own Eidi, SK Motors Syndicate is now a full-scale startup with nearly a hundred customers around Karachi. Shakaib Khan was a car-nerd from the very start always tinkering with their mechanisms and after assembling his first engine, he decided to turn this passion into his work. At the age of 16, when he was sitting in an entrepreneurship class at Institute of Business Management (IoBM, also known as CBM), he formulated this idea of starting a motor-repair business and the rest is history.
Most of his time was already spent at mechanics due to his interest in cars, so he already had a lot of contacts when this idea came to his mind. He decided to become a middle man for people to get their cars fixed. He already had a good understanding with mechanics and got them on board with his plan,
“I got some business cards printed for Rs. 600 and windscreen stickers for Rs. 200,” said Shakaib. “Whenever I saw a car that needed to be repaired or had a dent, I used to stick my card with it along with the price that it will take to fix it!”
He made a list of around 18-authorized vendors and conducted strict evaluations on a 6-month basis, and even blacklist a mechanic if the quality was below par. He would then provide a pick-and-drop service for people to get their cars fixed and returned to their homes, with a 7-day repair guarantee while still providing a very reasonable price. Since a lot of people today don’t have time to tend to their cars, yet don’t want to pay extra for expensive dealerships to get their cars fixed, SK Motors Syndicate was a life-saver for them.
Gradually, he started bringing in customers. One car a day, then sometimes two cars a day…
“I used to pickup cars myself everyday after university, but as the demand grew, I hired 4 other car-enthusiasts to get them to drive the cars to the workshop and back.”
Since then, this little startup has come a long way and now provides heavy car-modifications and restoration of old or broken cars as well and the founder, Shakaib Khan, is now a regular guest-lecturer at universities and seminars on entrepreneurship! He also conducts career counselling sessions and workshops for budding entrepreneurs.
Kaghaz Kay Karnamay
Started by Wajiha Tariq, Kaghaz Kay Karnamay is a really unique venture that aims to create art for a change. Aptly named “Kaghaz Kay Karnamay”(roughly translates Wonders of Paper), they indeed do some wonderful things by recycling useless pieces of paper. But their goal is much bigger than that! Their main target is to enhance social inclusion and economic sustainability by utilizing locally sourced, recyclable materials.
Kaghaz Kay Karnamay produces an exquisite range of 100% eco-friendly paper goods, that are not only completely made of recycled paper but also made meticulously by hand. Purely organic and made using post consumer materials such as newspapers, cigarette boxes, sugarcane fiber, onion, garlic and corn peels, these goods are tree free and environment friendly. Kaghaz Kay Karnamay offers a large range of commercial and bespoke/value added goods to customers locally and internationally.
When asked about the passion behind this startup, Wajiha said, “Kaghaz Kay Karnamay was set up as an innovative facility to promote re-purposing of used paper, waste craft, fabric rags, agricultural residue and plant fibers to help with the development of Pakistan and its need for self-reliance in terms of paper and paper industry”.
She further added, “The long term benefits of Kaghaz Kay Karanamay’s production system preserves heritage of traditional arts and crafts and seeks to promote the development of technical skills of local artisans”.
They have got a brief history of participating with notable companies like Shell itself in Shell’s Tameer program, then with PTV for a program titled “Azm-e-Alishan” on the independence day and also Dawlance in their CSR Initiative called “Be Reliable, Recycle”.
LapPro Solutions, by Syed Yasir Hassan, is a health-focused startup that aims to modernize the process of surgery in Pakistan using “Laparoscopic surgery”. Also known as minimally invasive surgery (MIS) or keyhole surgery, the process is a new technique that allows for cameras or small tools to be inserted via small incision instead of large cuts.
There are a number of advantages of Laparoscopic surgery like lesser blood loss, lesser pain and lesser chances of trauma compared to the procedures used normally by surgeons all over Pakistan. But its use is considerably less. This is due to the lack of equipment and training, as commercially available training simulators are expensive to afford. To circumvent this, Yasir Hasan along with a few others, developed a virtual reality training simulator called ‘Smart SIM’ for laparoscopic surgery at NUST-SEECS with the support of National ICT R&D Fund. Smart SIM is available at $20,000 in comparison to $200,000 of its competitor’s price.
Yasir himself is a really passionate entrepreneur and started his first venture in 2006, but it has taken him at least half a dozen or so failures to arrive at this stage today.
Now, LapPro Solutions provides a smart surgical training equipment called ‘LapBOX’ at substantially reduced cost to provide surgeons with an affordable yet safe way to train themselves without risking human life and to go even further in their quest, they are competing with the 36 other startups for a place in Shell LiveWire Top 10 Innovators.