The Plan9 Tech Incubator by Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) can easily be regarded as the best portal for promising startups to seek advice and mentorship. Inaugurated back in August 2012, Plan9 has progressed through the stages of being kind of a startup itself to providing immense support and endorsements to some of the smartest business ideas from Pakistani youth. Plan9 will be completing its 3rd cycle of incubation this June, and it means that a new set of startups should be ready by that time to take their place.
And that is where you—the next crop of budding entrepreneurs—come in.
What exactly is this Launchpad Series ‘14?
For the uninitiated, Plan9 is a technology incubator that “incubates”, or provides a progressive environment for, ‘scalable and sustainable’ business ideas. The first step in the process to pitch your idea to the Board of Advisors is the online application where you briefly describe your business model to the judges for initial selection. Launchpad is the second step.
Launchpad is fundamentally a screening process to which the shortlisted applications (which were sent through the online submission process in the first stage) are subjected, and the most promising ones from them are filtered through to the next step. All this happens at a two- or three-day event at 3 major cities in Pakistan (Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad), where the applicants pitch their ideas to a panel of judges who then select which ideas will make it to the incubation stage. Hence, Launchpad is the most crucial stage between online application submission/acceptance and the incubation process. The Launchpad events are scheduled to take place at:
- Lahore: May 03—04, 2014
- Islamabad: May 10—11, 2014
- Karachi: May 17—18, 2014
While the competing ideas can be of any nature and may target any cause, user-base or demographic in general, Plan9 has partnered with the non-profit global venture fund organization—Acumen Pakistan—this year to particularly support the business models that can help tackle a social problem by using technology. The Launchpad event for these types of projects, Plan9-Acumen Social Entrepreneurship, will take place on April 26—27, 2014, in Lahore.
What’s in it for me?
Short version: A whole lot of perks that would cost your startup a whole lot of fortune otherwise.
Plan9 directly fund the startups by providing a very small financial backing, but also it arranges almost everything for you to get it all sorted out yourself. The selected startup ideas go through a 6-month incubation process that caters to all of the needs of the team. First up, you’re in for an environment that is worthy for entrepreneurs: free office space, laptops, uninterrupted electricity (which is a blessing in a country like Pakistan) and more. And this is only the beginning. All members of the team receive monthly stipend; are invited to attend professional workshops, seminars and training sessions; get legal advice; and make connections for assistance, advice and financial support by using Plan9’s Alumni network.
And there’s even more. After a startup has completed the incubation process successfully, it might get taken under the wings of Plan9’s Angel Investors Club, who will then invest in the selected startup to boost its reach and facilitate with the financial matters.
When and how can I apply for the Launchpad Series ‘14?
Plan9’s Launchpad Series for the 4th cycle will be accepting online applications from April 2nd till April 22nd. If you think you’ve got an idea that can change the world or help alleviate a social problem in some way, and has any kind of a technical edge to it, you should apply for it to be considered right away.
So, get ready, and prepare your applications as this could very well be your chance at becoming the next Jan Koum or John Carmack!
Image Credits: Plan9