There are events, and there are competitions and then there are startup weekends that make you understand the importance of real work. This is exactly what happened at Startup Weekend Peshawar.
Last week, Peshawar 2.0 arranged Startup Weekend Peshawar, in which 37 teams pitched their ideas and out of those, 24 had the opportunity to polish their ideas into a startup model under the supervision of successful entrepreneurs of the startup ecosystem.
The participants came from different educational backgrounds, but were focused and passionate about one thing; to identify problems and work on them. Interestingly, some of them had prior experience of working in startups.
From Peshawar to Peshawar2.0
Peshawar has been taking baby steps towards development, and those baby steps are impactful in all the industries. A city that was badly hit by terrorism has revived like a phoenix and is home to all kinds of opportunities now. This development is dominating the startup ecosystem as well for the past few years, and Peshawar 2.0, a social enterprise, is playing a major role in it. With their focus to turn Peshawar into a city of Technology, Art and Design, they have been able to organize more than 160 events, including Startup Weekend Peshawar, where raw talent is polished and quality startups are produced.
The quality startups and the hustle in the event was an evidence of how startup ecosystem has evolved for the good in Peshawar.
I was stunned to discover the amount of talent in one hall when I attended the event. A bunch of enthusiastic and talented youngsters were pitching all kinds of innovative ideas, and were working on filling all the rooms left for improvement. As I moved around the hall, I saw the participants chatter while sipping their tea on how the financial model should like, while the designers had their noses in the laptops, and some of the participants were silently listening to mentors like Syed Ahmed, Samar Hasan, Maryam Arshad and Asad Iqbal.
“I see so many socially driven startups here, especially education and health-related. It is very promising to see young people solving the local problems.” said the cofounder of Epiphany, Samar Hasan.
As one would expect that in a startup competition, every startup would be trying to beat the other one, but it was contrary to my expectations. Even though one could sense the competitive environment, the participants were genuinely trying to help each other with their ideas.
I saw mentors walking around the room offering help to all the entrepreneurs on developing their model with a lot of energy and passion. They struck up conversations and were keen to present ways to help startups improve their products. The mentors were fascinated by so many young entrepreneurs taking local issues seriously, for example, a startup “Meat inspector” pitched that their machine can tell halal meat from haram.
One of the participant, Khushnuma Jamal, cofounder of Unidesk; a startup working to make academic news readily available on their website, said “Such events are encouraging for young entrepreneurs like me to bring ideas to the stage and get meaningful feedback. “
Everybody is a winner
In events like startups weekends, everybody is a winner because all the participants get to work on real products and the real tests start after the event. The founders who continue to hustle and launch their products are indeed the real winners.
The following ideas got the maximum attention at the event.
- Selany is focused on reviving the history of Peshawar. The startup will provide guided tours to tourists.
- One tour will help tourists visit the business spaces in Peshawar to help inculcate the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.
- Unidesk will be a one-stop shop for all education-related help, past papers, guides, admissions, scholarship details etc.
- Washup, a female-led team, will provide laundry services to hostilities and people too busy to get it done themselves.
Startup Weekend, Peshawar has been a breath of fresh air, and more of such events should take place, as it brings the accomplished entrepreneurs and the starters in one room. I believe big outcomes can come out of it, if the creative ideas of young entrepreneurs and the experience and knowledge of the mentors are combined. It is heartening to see that so many impact-oriented and quality startups have come out of Peshawar in the last few years, and these startups are solving the local and global issues.