One of the Graduating Founder’s take on Founder Institute Program in Karachi
Silicon Valley based Founder Institute had their first Graduation Ceremony and Founder Showcase in their Karachi chapter (one of over 65 campuses around the globe) on Saturday, 25th April. Founder Institute was created in 2009 and has graduated more than 1500 technology company founders since.
TechJuice sat down with one of the graduates, Sibtain Jiwani, CEO & Founder of Smartchoice.pk, to discuss his experience.
TJ – How did you hear about Founder Institute and what motivated you to join it?
Sibtain – There were free introductory session arranged by Founder Institute Karachi Chapter which I got to know via a Facebook group. These sessions had startup oriented discussion forums, they invited industry experts. During that particular session they also gave us a walkthrough of the entire program Founder Institute offers.
The reason I joined was due to its structured approach, they follow a strict course outline for 12 weeks beginning with vision and ideas to fundraising/bootstrapping. Also, this is the perfect platform for aspiring founders to connect with advisors, potential investors and industry experts.
Lastly, they have a proven track record with companies like iCarsclub and Udemy, whose founders have graduated from this program and were able to raise funding from investors like Sequoia Capital.
TJ – How do you think the Institute is contributing in developing the current tech space and what drives the entrepreneurial spirit behind it?
Sibtain – Founder Institute has a mission to globalize Silicon Valley, once a founder graduates from this program, he/she joins an elite global network of over 1,563 startups and 4,112 CEO Mentors across 92 and 6 continents, to leverage for feedback, advice, best practices, and support. This global outreach is all you need to validate your idea at a global level and target the developed markets.
Execution is the key in building an enduring company and that is what founder institute is all about, rigorous exercise in form of assignments ensure that all the skills required to be an entrepreneur are tested and polished.
TJ – How does it feel to finally graduate from the Institute and what was the general feel around the room during the graduation ceremony?
Sibtain – It is a great feeling to be recognized by a Silicon Valley accredited program and join the elite pool of founders. The ceremony was graced by Yusuf Jan, Farzal Dhojki and other dignitaries. Yusuf Jan, President of Dot Zero co-working space was very excited to meet the 4 graduates and rated the quality of business pitches and ideas as the finest he has come across in last couple of years.
TJ – What are the projects/ideas that you are currently working on and how do you think your experience at Founders Institute helped you with it?
Sibtain – I am currently working on a platform ‘Smartchoice’, which helps consumers make informed decisions. With us you can compare a wide range of services including all kinds of Internet services, insurance, etc. We have launched the platform for broadband services now and will soon be venturing into other verticals. Even though I had already progressed in my idea when I joined FI, it still helped me immensely since I got invaluable feedback from the pitch we made to a new mentor every week, more importantly it gave us the opportunity to work in a collaboration with other founders/advisors to exchange ideas and refine our business and commercial model.
Founder Institute’s investment in the local tech space is a welcome change. It’s global network provides students (or Founders, as the institution calls them) the learning grounds and the encouragement that most entrepreneurs in our market never receive. However, the global percentage of start-ups that actually succeed is not high and each market has it’s own challenges. Now, whether Founder Institute manages to create a lasting change in the Pakistani Tech Space is yet to be seen, but it is a much needed initiative that is off to a great start.