Globally acclaimed women-centric startup competition, She loves Tech 2018 concluded its first local round in Lahore, on 14th of July at Innovation District 92. The competition is happening across eight countries this year, and the main objective of this contest is to bring into limelight the startups founded by women that have the potential to go far ahead in terms of technology and innovation.
In Pakistan, the preliminary rounds will be held across Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad with the national finale happening in Karachi. CIRCLE, the local partners for She Loves Tech will fly all the winners of preliminary rounds to participate in the Karachi finale. The national winner who emerges victorious in the finale will make their way to the global competition in Beijing.
There were 10 startups competing in the Lahore round that were assigned 5 minutes to pitch their ideas. The panel of judges comprised of Faisal Sherjan – Director of National Incubation Centre Lahore, Nusrat Jamil – COO of Latitude, Rabeel Warraich – CEO of Patari and COO of Sarmayacar and Amna Quraishi – COO at Colabs. Another notable guest was Ardi Stoios-Braken, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Pakistan.
The first startup to pitch their idea was “Bijli”. The startup provides a platform to household women to earn money by cooking food from the comfort of their home. An application Bijli was connecting these women with home-made food buyers. Their pitch didn’t describe the supply chain model which was a huge question mark for judges and audience.
The startups kept coming and leaving but only a few stood out from the rest. One such startup was ‘Marham’ meaning cure to the pain in English. Marham was not only clear about their offerings and vision but the startup also ensured that everyone sitting in the audience is equally clear about their objective. For this purpose, they chose storytelling through a video. Marham is an online place where a patient can go, check out the doctors and book the best one for consultation and treatment. They certainly missed out on revenue generation model and that was also pointed out by Rabeel Warraich.
The startup to pitch the last was actually the one that took the top spot among the competing startups. It was unanimously decided to be the winner by judges. Led by Sarah Qureshi, the startup, “AeroCraft Engine” is incubated at NIC, Lahore developing contrail-free-aero-engines for reduced global warming and it also induced artificial rain during aircraft flight with the help of onboard water recovery from fuel emissions.
The winners and runner-up, AeroCraft Engine and Marham were awarded certificates by judges.
One thing that I particularly noticed was the disparity in terms of startup age. A startup founded just 3 months ago was pitching against startups founded 2, 3 years ago with several rounds of investment. So, it seemed a bit unfair to choose a winner among the startups that had the edge of being there in the market for quite some time now. Sure, an early bird catches the worm but that should not apply in case of competitions because the ones who have just started must be the ones to be judged rather than the ones who have already won notable competitions, investments, and grants. As this can be quite demotivating for the startups that have just launched and need guidance and investment more than the already established startups.
Other than that, the competition was well managed by CIRCLE team and concluded in time.