On the 14th of June, Microsoft Innovation Center, Lahore invited several startups to a memorable evening of conversation and learning. Guests from tech startup industry and established entrepreneurs attended the event to help the up and coming startups of Pakistan.
Umair Javed, CEO and Founder of tkXel while conversing with Fatima Rizwan, founder of TechJuice, shared a lot of interesting bits. On co-founders, he said that cofounders need to work their asses off to get the company off the ground, if your co-founder is not putting in the same amount of energy, kick’em out instantly. While answering about the distress of local startups for not being able to raise funds from local investors, he mentioned that every investor has to keep a check on their pocket. An investor can’t invest 5 million dollars in a company when he doesn’t have this much money to invest. He also added, according to his opinion, startups are overvaluing themselves, which results in non-agreement between startups and investors. Umair, earlier this year, made a resolution to invest USD 10,000 to USD 100,000 in several startups and he is actively on a lookout to find the ambitious teams to invest.
Umair’s venture Nutty Apps had managed to achieve aggregated 50 Million downloads for several titles. He shared that they prefer using in-app purchases business model over any freemium app with add on advertisement. The fact that PlayStore is already overcrowded with thousands of titles on the same keywords makes it very difficult for app developers to get the required downloads. Umair told that they have been optimizing and using keywords that bring them organic traffic, the majority of application downloads are due to organic traffic. His teams spend the most time in finding the relevant keywords to rank the application on.
A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs have ideas, but as a first step they look for investment to execute the idea, Umair believes it’s not a great approach. He stressed that co-founders should first try to come up with something tangible and raise money from their immediate circles. Also, he said that taking out your own salary when the startup is not stable enough is not really a great idea. The focus should be on your startup to make it stable as soon as possible.
In a light conversation, Tahir Masood, DX lead for Pakistan, pointed out how there is a need of efficient programs to be offered in universities. He also stressed out the need of more IT graduates to fulfill the market gap in the industry. Further, he advised on how one can fulfill their dream to become a successful entrepreneur.
He expressed that the clear mission of Microsoft is to help realize the potential of technical audience, enabling people technically, developing tech communities, building software economy and fueling IT Ecosystem.
Mr. Tahir Masood also explained how it has collaborated with the government and reached out to other cities like Peshawar, Sialkot etc which has extensive potential. He suggested that anyone who thinks is capable to bring social change or can contribute to Tech industry must reach Innovation centers established by Microsoft which are open to everyone and will help people in starting successful startups.
The guests passed on life lessons for not only entrepreneurs but for all of us to live by, In regard to funding and team building, the speakers shared that the only two times money is a problem among teammates is when there is too much of it, or too little of it. A good leader must choose someone who isn’t in for personal gain and selfish reasons. While, in speaking about surviving the entrepreneurial jungle, one has to be vigilant, hardworking, committed and possess many other proactive characteristics.
While these people weren’t the only ones who stole the show, the event was also in the presence of many great mentors of the world of entrepreneurship in Pakistan. These included: Tahir Masood, Shahid Aziz & Usman Ur Rehman of Microsoft, Yasir Awan of See N Report, Asim Abdullah of CureMD, Faizullah & Adnan Ameen of Enpointe, Kashif Akram of Technomics, Umair Javed of TkXel, and Ibtesam Shareef of DataArc Solutions.
After the guest speakers were interviewed on the stage and participated in an enlightening question and answer session from the audience, the startups were asked to come up on stage and give a pitch of their venture. The attending startups consisted of: XGear, Active Shehri, WiFi Gen, Bookworm, Travly, Patari, SMAC Factory, Jewelry Design Pro, Baby Planet, Repair Desk, and Capital Stake.
After a rousing intro session from the attending startups, the mentors took to individual tables and gave guidance to them. This was a great learning experience and all the startups definitely walked away with precious lessons from veterans of the field. This was indeed an evening of great remembrance to the people who managed to be like a proactive sponge and absorb the abundant exchange of information going on around them among peers and elders.