Startup Guide Issue 4

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FOR IN 2019









Editor Shehab Farrukh Niazi Finance Ahad Wazir Art Directors Aleeza Javed Mahnoor Haroon Niazi Operations & Outreach Abbas Khan

EDITOR’S NOTE full of potential, as Murtaza Zaidi, Project Director of NIC Peshawar reflects on in this month’s cover story – “My experience in Peshawar has been phenomenal. I’ve worked with startups all over Pakistan, but I find startups in Peshawar to be very special - the genuineness, humility and hard work I’ve seen in them, I’ve rarely found in other areas.“ Pakistan is at a crossroad, with the political scenario, economic issues and lack of infrastructure – in the midst of all this, there is a ray of hope given the keenness of the youth towards working for a better Pakistan and the recent entrepreneurial wave. Naseem Javed, founder of Expothon Canada, sheds light on how we can rev Pakistan’s startup engines to capitalize on our Pa assets and take the already existing businesses to new heights. We highlight 10 startups with great potential that are currently making strides in Pakistan Startup Cup, the flagship program of TiE Islamabad in collaboration with the US Embassy in Pakistan. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is taking off at an incredible pace in Pakistan. While one gets to hear mostly about the startups and entrepreneurs from the prominent urban cities, the stories of the entrepreneurs from other areas are relatively unexplored. For this issue, we explore the ecosystem of KP and the incredible milestones they have achieved in spite of their somewhat limited exposure and resources. Peshawar has the unique position of being one of the most ancient cities of the Indian Subcontinent because of which it has been the center of trade between various regions of the world tr for centuries. It comes as no surprise that the startups in Peshawar are unique and

Nadia Patel Gangjee, founder of Sheops is an ace community builder – we ask her the secrets of building successful communities that add value for the members. This has been a happening time of the year – we bring you coverage and insights from GBG Peshawar, GBG Lahore, the first International Student Convention and more! Along with this, we outline the 7 things that startups need to consider outlin at the very initial stages to increase their likelihood of succeeding. Happy Reading!




News and Events


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FEATURING “Dive into something you are passionate about, something that keeps you awake at night and stick to listening to your instincts, but also be patient” Murtaza Zaidi and NIC Peshawar’s Startups

Cover Story

“The best part is the community feel where most members feel personally connected, share stories and inspire each other to grow”

Nadia Patel Gangjee Wonder Woman

“Stay motivated, meet the right-minded people, learn, make mistakes and make an impact”

Huma Ijaz Tips to Make Startup a Success

“Innovate the nation as a mega national start-up project”

Naseem Javed The Start-Up Engines of Pakistan

Google Business Group Peshawar conducted its annual conference BizFest 2018 on Saturday 15th Dec 2018. The event was hosted by Impact Dynamics supported by National Incubation Center, Peshawar with the Outreach Partners Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Khybe Technology Board (KPITB), Peshawar 2.0; Media Partners Focus Productions, TechJuice, Startup Guide Pakistan; Academia Partners CECOS University and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University and Food Punch as the Food Partner. an A blend of Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship: the conference was attended by KPITB Managing Director, Dr Shahbaz Khan, Murtaza Zaidi (from the National Incubation Center, Peshawar), Dr Faisal Khan from Peshawar 2.0. Other speakers included Sidra Amin and Syed Ommer Amer, Co-founders Daastan; Faiza Yousuf, Founder

#WomenInTechPK (Women Only); Fatima Rizwan, Founder TechJuice; Nadia Patel Gangjee, Founder Sheops and Muhammad Moiz, Founder Desi an Bombshell; Wazahat A Jabbar, CEO CODE Informatics; Karishma from Unidesk, Waqas Khan a software consultant, Syed Farhan Raza Growth Hacker and Serial Entrepreneur, Raza Matin from Google, Ebtihaj Khan from Code for Pakistan, Aiman fro Azfarand Hufsa Munawar from GDG Islamabad Shehryar Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board – KPITB Lalsayd Mohmand who specialises in Google Ads and other experts hailing from different backgrounds across differen Pakistan. BizFest 2018 had three main tracks featuring sessions on Entrepreneurship, Technology (featuring Google tools and Technology) and WomenWill (an initiative by Google aiming toward

digital literacy, financial Inclusion, leadership and entrepreneurship of female leader) The sessions included panel discussions, fireside chats, office hours (UI/UX Design, YouTube 101, Google My Business) and workshops (Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google for Writers) and hosted major influences of the industry and experts hailing from different backgrounds across Pakistan. The event started with the Keynote presented by Maryam Arshad, Manager Google Business Group Peshawar. The opening panel had federal and local government representatives along with private leading bodies of the industry engaged in a dedicated discussion for the betterment of the industry and the inclusion of technology in entrepreneurship.The WomenWill entrepreneurship.Th panel was driven by healthy conversation aimed towards financial inclusion, digital literacy, leadership and entrepreneurship of females in the industry. Th event also featured Raza Matin, The Marketing Consultant at Google, who gave a workshop on “The Importance of Failure in Innovation”. GBG Peshawar’s BizFest 2018 was a milestone achieved as it gave the local mileston community a national exposure and vice versa. We look forward towards witnessing such events in other parts of the country as well. Photos: Focus Pros

The first ever International Student Convention of Pakistan was organized by Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS) in collaboration with a number of other bodies on December 10th . The mega activity included two days international Expo which was da organized under the theme “Securing our future� to revitalize the crucial role of youth towards development, peace building, achieving sustainable goals and promoting entrepreneurship. The participants for the International Student Convention came from 30 countries and got a chance to interact with leading personalities and subject experts of their interests across the globe and enjoyed a diverse group across the spectrum from academic mainstreams. More than 30 sessions mainst and competitions were also designed to ensure maximum participation of students in this mega event around the clock.

USAID SMEA SME Growth Grants: Who Made the Cut

The first round of USAID SMEA SME Growth Grants finished recently, with 10 SMEs making the cut for receiving grants amounting to a total of PKR 25,734,000. The SMEs that will be receiving grants include Sehat Kahani, Darewro Delivery Services, Down Town Bistro, Azcorp Entertainment (Pvt.) Limited, Affordable.Pk, Edkasa, Transconomy, Lahore New Media Labs, Edkasa Unicorn Black and Assan Ticket. The grant support program by USAID SMEA is for SMEs from these target sectors:

• • • • • •

Information and Communication Technology Hospitality Logistics Textiles (excluding spinning) Agri-business and Processing (off-farm only) Light Engineering

The focus of the SME Growth Grant program is on

increasing the competiveness of selected SMEs in SMEA’s target sectors. In order to be eligible to apply for USAID SMEA’s SME Growth Grant, organizations must be legally registered under the laws of Pakistan; must possess sound management systems and sound technical policies and procedures; must have proper control systems in place to safeguard assets, contro protect against fraud, waste and abuse; proposed solutions must support the achievement of USAID SMEA goals and objectives and respond to the expected outcomes and results, as outlined in the SMEA Challenge Fund Request for Applications (RFA); organizations must be willing to sign the applicable certifications and willin assurances mentioned in the RFA. For information regarding solicitation, documentation and templates, interested SMEs can send an email at

TechJuice Circle is a close-knit exclusive event for entrepreneurs and startup founders to network with the leaders in the business, technology and telecom industry of Pakistan. The usual startup events in Pakistan are designed around talks, lectures or panel discussions, making it difficult for attendees to foster a relationship with leaders and field experts. Here, TechJuice Circle comes into play, providing an immersive experience to all participating startup founders and giving them a chance to open up and share their personal and professional challenges with the relevant experts from the industry. expe

Youth Association of Pakistan (YAP) is a non-profit organization, bringing together youth from all cities of Pakistan. YAP is providing good opportunities to different segments of the society for capacity building, social empowerment and institutional development by giving rise to sustainable change through different activities, seminars, sessions, and conferences. con

If you love or want to support the developer community with an initiative that puts them at the center of the world they work hard to build, then attend this event. Devenings will be THE community for developers who just want to code, build and challenge their skills, all while helping each other.



Huma Ejaz Swan Consultants and Advisory Services After participating in numerous startups as a finance consultant, mentor and advisor, I've seen many startups not focusing on some very important aspects of starting a business, which ultimately leads to cash flow issues in future and becomes one of the most important reasons for startups’ failure. Here are the few tips, which if taken care of, in the beginning will save you costs and unnecessary challenges in the coming future, especially when pitching an idea to potential investors.

A results-driven professional with over 13 years’ experience, Huma is CAF from Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), certified in Advanced Corporate Finance from LUMS, business graduate from Government College University (GCU), Post graduate diploma in accounting from ICPAP. She has extensive work experience with startups in mentorship and financial planning, micro and small businesses as a consultant. Huma is a specialist in the area of corporate finance, feasibility reporting and financial modeling, budgeting and forecasting, risk management and internal controls, statutory audits and due diligence reporting.


YOUR MONETIZATION STRATEGY Whatever is your reason to work on your own startup, be it finding a marketable solution to some problem, identifying a product/service for any particular segment or streamlining any existing process/product service delivery, always know what your monetization strategy is. This is one of the most important questions investors ask. Have a clear understanding of how pricing works and have a well-defined pricing model.

COSTS INVOLVED AND COST CONTROL A startup has to identify its relevant costs very effectively to understand in order for the idea to be financially feasible. If the costs are too high, it might not be a good idea to invest your time in such an idea, unless you have other ways to reduce costs. Also, keep a good check on cost control, as your contribution margin is what would absorb your expenses and assist you to achieve break even soon.


Financial model and Idea/Company Valuation Value your idea wisely. Whether you are a pre or post revenue company, carefully prepare your financial model and value it. There are multiple models you should employ to ensure you could make a good estimate of your idea/company, as it strengthens your investor pitch at the same time. Use the below methods of valuation subject to nature of your business or your startup’s stage: a) Payback period b) Discounted cash flow method c) Earing multiple method d) By stage valuation



CHOOSE YOUR MENTOR/INCUBATOR WISELY There are many incubators working in Pakistan that would incubate and guide you about your business. It gives a very good feeling to be incubated, as your idea gets validation. However, you need to be very careful which incubator to select. Also, an extremely important aspect is to get guidance about your ideas from relevant mentors who know the industry and would give you a direction instead of misguiding you or taking your idea away.

LEARN, EXPERIENCE AND IMPLEMENT I hhighly recommend that you research, learn and read as much as you can. Be it online inexpensive courses or e-books; make learning a part of your routine. Know how a business is managed, how to prepare a financial plan, how to market, get insight on sales and so on. If you have a very good product/idea, but you don’t know how to market it or manage your business, someone else will do better than you and game over. Also, I advise a all the young students graduating, to join some jobs, gain work experience, make your network of professionals, save some money and meanwhile work on your idea. You must have a game plan for it.



STRATEGIES TO WORK ON Having a clear strategy at the very beginning helps you identify the stage of work and timelines as well. Have clear strategies for: - Financial plan with focus on working capital - Capex and Opex - Marketing plan including traditional as well as digital - Exit strategy

TEAM Picking the right team for right jobs is very important. Take all of the resources and time needed to discover the ideal match for each role. It is extremely important to have the right team who is committed to work with you, believes in your dream as you do and is keen to learn. Invest in your team, as that’s your biggest asset. Your investors take it very seriously how committed and passionate your team is to make your business idea sustainable and a success story.

The above list is not conclusive. There are many other important factors to be considered, depending on your purpose of the work. Stay motivated, meet the right-minded people, learn, make mistakes and make an impact.


The fifth edition of Pakistan Startup Cup, the flagship program of TiE Islamabad, is in full swing. We take a look at the startups that have passed the various rounds with flying colors and are doing incredibly well on various counts – these are the ones you ought to watch out for.

DeafTawk Deaf DeafTawk is a digital platform service that aims to bridge the communication gap between the deaf community and the hearing people in real-time via a sign language interpreter. With DeafTawk’s solution, the hearing person can hear the interpreter over the phone while a deaf person can use their smartphone or tablet perso to call a hearing person on their mobile or landline. The startup offers subscription services along with interpretation trainings to make revenue.

Aprus Aprus is a next-generation startup that revolves around making safe, efficient and reliable electrosurgical units, used for cutting and coagulation of tissues during surgeries. Aprus uses smart technology to improve the existing solutions present in the market, to offer a better performing, more economical version. mo

Darewro Delivery Services Darewro is redefining delivery-on-demand services in Peshawar, connecting local outlets with local customers via a rich network of riders in Peshawar. They have more than 100 riders, which are being clustered in different areas of the city for swift service delivery. This startup’s automated or semi-automated mechanisms automate for offering unique delivery services set it apart and brings great potential for growth.

Gul Tech Gul Tech is a startup that revolves around a safety helmet that can detect multiple gases exuding from mines in real time. It can keep track of worker’s real time location inside the mine. The helmet has been designed to ensure safety of mineworkers and has been programmed to alert miners while also tracking their vitals to ensure their wellbeing.

Doso Doso works around the idea of enhancing human cognitive and non- cognitive skills, especially for children and grownups to develop their creativity, intelligence and ultimately becoming independent thinkers. Doso independen has designed toys and tools that can easily be shaped into working and functional prototypes. This startup opens up possibilities for kids to learn, be creative and g row their imagination.

Propergaanda Afte assessing the media industry After in Pakistan, the propergaanda team got tired of the way content was being curated and consumed. The founding team including a marketer, a dentist and a creative junkie; they got together and challenged themselves to change it. Their content strategy is simple: they don’t run away from issues other people are afraid to talk about! They want their audience to be aware and informed. They produce written and visual content based on politics, entertainment and satire on a daily basis with an aim to highlight a dail more progressive and positive side of Pakistan, while still being critical when the need arises. They are currently competing in the digital media space where competition is tough. Websites such as Mangobaaz, TechJuice or ProPakistani are just a few of the household names we have in Pakistan, but that’s not all they want to be. The ProperGaanda team wants to build a community that promotes young talent (and not only online). The Pakistan Startup Cup gave the ProperGaanda team a chance to present themselves and their idea in front of mentors and experts from the startup ecosystem. It was a great opportunity for them to refine their business plan and use the constructive criticism they received to better their criticis startup. Their vision is one that sees them becoming Pakistan’s first digital media platform with a global presence and the Pakistan Startup Cup has elevated them into a position where the chances of their vision becoming a reality are much greater than before.

Mauqa Online – Bringing the gig economy to Pakistan The gig economy phenomenon is slowly but steadily spreading across the globe. Mauqa Online realized the potential in the Pakistani market for part-time workers. So they created Pakistan’s first ever platform for domestic workers to earn fo more income. Mauqa Online is meant to provide blue collar jobs to the underprivileged class by connecting them with the right customers. The initial idea was to use the information on the internet and enhance the intellectual capacity of those who require it the most. Through an outreach program they realized that money was a greater need. Since then they have served over 800 customers after pivoting their business model to focus on providing jobs. The Pakistan Startup Cup was a great opportunity for the Mauqa Online team to meet and converse with mentors from various fields. As a startup, mentorship is essential for better understanding of growth opportunities. They received some great ideas and rece advice from mentors, and other startups that were present at the event. They believe that receiving different types of feedback and advice is really helpful for a startup that is looking to scale up. The type of detailed feedback they received at the event was something they did not get anywhere else.





In Conversation with

Murtaza Zaidi and NIC Peshawar’s Startups

What was the vision behind setting up NIC Peshawar and taking in the first few cohorts? NIC Peshawar is the first-of-its-kind facility in KP funded by Ignite Fund, Ministry of IT and Telecom, driven by LMKT in collaboration with PTCL. Since the very first day we knew that there isn't an active entrepreneurial ecosystem in Peshawar and while there are startups, they're not being nurtured and are not getting the right guidance and support. During my experience with Peshawar's entrepreneurs while doing Pakistan Startup Cup and other initiatives in the past, I knew, that the entire entrepreneurial landscape, needs to be built as ideas were quite raw and the entrepreneurs were in need of capacity building. Peshawar is a historic city where people have tremendous experience of doing business and trade, we knew that people have great business acumen, but when it comes to tech startups, there was not much to offer. There are a lot of universities in the region that are bringing out amazing tech professionals who are offering their services in other cities of Pakistan, thus we came up with the theme ‘Ignite the Spark’ to spread awareness and create excitement across Peshawar to establish a thriving entrepreneurial landscape. With this vision, we have started initiatives with all the relevant stakeholders – from academia and corporates to government. As compared to the past, now there is more encouragement for the youth to start entrepreneurial ventures. We want to create an impact throughout the province to strengthen the startups so that more quality, tech-based startups emerge. This is our vision, which we have also kept in mind while taking in the first few cohorts.

“I find the startups in Peshawar to be a pure joy to work with”

Being an entrepreneur yourself, how do you think it assists with your interactions with startups? Being an entrepreneur, I remember the hardships associated with my journey. So, when we're designing the NIC offerings, I recognize very well that their pain points should be catered to; the kind of coaching and mentoring they should get; how we can improve their business models; support them in their business functions and how we can expose them to the right kind of network that will help them scale. I stared my entrepreneurial journey at a relatively young age. I learned many things the hard way; on many occasions

“I'm very passionate about this cause because I've seen the times when I had to face a lot of challenges as an entrepreneur and I wouldn't want our startups to go through the same challenges”

I had to take decisions without having background knowledge and exposure of those things, experienced the experience of having no experience at all. I'm very passionate about this cause because I've seen the times when I had to face a lot of challenges and I wouldn't want our startups to go through the same challenges – that is something which drives me to bring better results and provide value. At the end of the day, every incubator should do one thing – provide value for startups. That is why I keep questioning myself, my team and our partners whether we are providing true value to startups – keeping a constant check on all this and making sure that we're not wasting their time. Only if we give our 100% to this will we be able to truly add value for startups and help them transition them into big businesses.

How has your experience been working with startups in Peshawar? My experience in Peshawar has been phenomenal. I've worked with startups all over Pakistan, but I find startups in Peshawar to be very special - the genuineness, humility and hard work I've seen in them, I’ve rarely found in other areas. Regarding startups of Peshawar, my experience says that they've had less exposure than startups in other areas, for example Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad where there is a lot of exposure. Their willingness to listen and adapt is incredible, it gives me great satisfaction to see them grow and scale because of all the effort they have put in.

In your opinion, what differentiating factor have you observed among the startups and ecosystem in Peshawar? We have to realize that Peshawar has gone through a very rough patch in the last 10-15 years because of the bad law and order situation. There has been a major brain drain because people who could send their children to other areas to study and work did that. Due to this, Peshawar hasn't been able to develop at the pace at which other cities did. In spite of all this, I've noticed the people are very resilient, passionate and dedicated. They know that they need to leave the past behind – they have an attitude towards changing and growing as a community for the better. The startups have a great spirit; in the first cohort, there have been a few startups that have experienced more than 500% growth in revenue by benefitting from all that NIC Peshawar had to offer. I saw great coach-ability, dedication, and humility among these startups compared to other cities. I find the startups in Peshawar to be a pure joy to work with.

During the short span of time since NIC Peshawar has been operational, in your consideration, what have been some of the major milestones? We started incubation and acceleration ten months back, 5 of the startups have already raised funding while two more are in the pipeline, Bera has been valued at USD 1 million, which is the first million dollar valuation of any startup out of KP, 4 of our startups experienced 500% plus revenue growth and we have created over 165+ jobs already. We have been declared as the Think Tank for KP’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by Mr. Taimur Jhagra, the Finance Minister for KP. The credit for all these successes and milestones goes to the great pool of our mentors, especially Ahmad Masud, my colleagues Farhad and Hira who work with startups and manage incubation and acceleration track; Bilal, who works on the outreach has made sure that NIC becomes a well-known brand

throughout KP; Mahvish who keeps track of all the startups and makes sure everyone is meeting their targets along with Faiza who keeps the center super functional!

What role do you see NIC Peshawar playing in the future of entrepreneurship in Peshawar and in Pakistan?

I must say that we receive great support and guidance from Jawad Azfer, Umer Akram and in fact everyone from Ignite Fund; we are proud to be a major player in the growing economy of Pakistan by ensuring that our startups thrive, go global and create jobs; a vision jointly shared with Ignite Fund and our partners.

We’re looking to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem of KP as a whole. To that end, we have designed the structure for launching KP Entrepreneur’s Forum for entrepreneurs from KP, residing all over the world. This is going to be launched soon and would be a great addition to the ecosystem of KP; we have also formed an NIC Advisory Forum consisting of leading business men and women in KP, the forum brings great value to NIC through their guidance, network and resources. We have an Academia Leadership Club through which we support Incubators and ORICS established in various Universities of KP. In light of all of this, we see NIC Peshawar playing a key role in building and nurturing the entreprenteurial ecosystem of KP and creating some great success stories of entrepreneurs aiming to put a dent in the startup ecosystem!

I would like to especially mention Atif Rais Khan, CEO LMKT & LMKR as a remarkable mentor to NIC Peshawar and an inspiration for the tech startups. He is a great force and an example for our startups and they have benefitted immensely from the direction provided by him.

ELEVEN.PK Tell us about your startup and since when you have been working on it? started Jan 2017

What was the inspiration behind your idea for your startup? We have always believed in ecommerce and could see its future coming

Since you started out, what has been the biggest challenge? How did you overcome this challenge? Streamlining our operations and processes has been the biggest challenge – scalability has been another one. With help from mentors, we have managed to streamline our operations and business processes.

What are your future plans for the business? Our current plan is to increase orders by 100%

BERA Tell us about your startup and since when you have been working on it?

We have been working on it since 2016 and launched it on 15th January 2017. Our brand is to preserve the indigenous knowledge and use cultural wisdom to make traditional products for the mainstream market.

What was the inspiration behind your idea for your startup? We have been working with the traditional products since early 2015, the inspiration of our work came from the fact that people have been using these products for a very long time and it has the potential to become a formidable phenomenon if executed with a new vision in the right direction.

Since you started out, what has been the biggest challenge? How did you overcome this challenge? The biggest challenge to date has been making the artisans believe that they have a great potential to make it to the mainstream fashion. We are making conversations, giving training and trying to get as many of them on board as possible.

What are your future plans for the business? Bera plans to become a lifestyle brand, which will work with fabric, food, medicine, furniture, and related itineraries.

NANO IT SOLUTIONS Tell us about your startup and since when you have been working on it? We started our startup back in 2016 (Prototyping our Simulator)

What was the inspiration behind your idea for your startup? I have been an enthusiast in electronics, game development, microcontrollers, mechanics and automobiles for a while. I have always dreamt of making the gaming experience more realistic and immersive by creating natural inputs outputs for computers rather than conventional ones like keyboards, mouse, joysticks and screens. That is what Nano IT Solutions does now – “we create immersive human experiences".

Since you started out, what has been the biggest challenge? How did you overcome this challenge? The first challenge was to create such experiences by creating motion platforms indigenously (no imports), which is resolved masha Allah. The second is to market it, which we are still suffering.

What are your future plans for the business? Our future plans are to sell out our products and expand our VRHere arcade setup throughout Pakistan and even globally.

APRUS Tell us about your startup and since when you have been working on it? APRUS manufactures state of the art electrosurgical units used for all internal cutting and coagulation of tissues during surgeries. We have been on the journey of reverse engineering for the last 6 years and our total focus was on increasing safety for patients and improving quality of our device and Alhamdullilah we succeeded and our products have maximum safety, best quality, and incredible features. Our product follows all international standards and compliances as well. We are continuously working on upgrading and improvement of our electrosurgical unit so now we are working on new technology which is known as “AI-based instant response technology”.

What was the inspiration behind your idea for your startup? It started when our father who is an electrical mechanic

(He was technician at Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar) first brought a local electrosurgical unit home around six years ago for repair. He asked us to check it and see if we could repair it – we told our feather that if we successfully repaired that unit, we would design our own electrosurgical unit. When we started working on our own device, our father told us that the issues with local devices was that the patient feels burns and shocks during surgeries. He told us to ensure maximum safety with our own unit and that is what has enabled us to bring maximum features, combined with safety for our unit.

Since you started out, what has been the biggest challenge? How did you overcome this challenge? Initially, when we started working on this device, we faced some challenges, the most prominent being the financial challenge. In order to overcome this challenge, we provide services to local hospitals for repairing their equipment to cover the costs associated with our product.

What are your future plans for the business? As we are working on our new technology with which we will be the best in the world so we have a plan to export this. Initially, we will export this to the underdeveloped and developing countries. Photos: Jawad Afridi & Bilal Farooq Khan

Wonder Woman

When you were setting up the community, what did you have in mind? Sheops, is a portmanteau word that stands for ‘she shops’ and ‘she operates’. It was a result of a need to create a safe online space for women, due to a personal experience - my cell phone was stolen. In an effort to procure another phone from a peer to peer platform, I was awkwardly harassed. Several women from my close network confessed to having faced similar experiences on such platforms, eventually having to get a male relative to front end the transaction. Their reaction instilled in me a drive to create a safe platform by, of and for women. I initiated a Whatsapp group of female friends and family to buy/sell/swap preloved and unused items. Within a few days we grew to three Whatsapp groups (limit then was 50 members), eventually moving to a Facebook group as that didn’t have a limit. How long did it take for you to reach this far in terms of the members and audience? It’s been almost three years since I started the first Whatsapp group, which was then called, ‘The Women’s Marketplace’, now known as ‘Sheops’. Today we are an overall Facebook and web community of about 150,000

and the most trusted online marketplace for women in Pakistan, with over 85,000 products listed on Sheops. What role do you believe communities will be playing in the future of marketing? Facebook groups are the next big thing when it comes to social media marketing. An increasing number of brands are creating their own Facebook groups to have more meaningful and personal conversations with their customers, which is not possible via a public Facebook business page. Also, the big commercial brands are now collaborating with Facebook communities for activations to reach a niche target audience and engage with potential customers. Many Facebook group Admins are now digital

influencers followed by thousands. Did you have a plan of action for the community from the very beginning or did it evolve as it grew? Initially, when I started out with the Whatsapp group, it was only for friends and family to buy/sell/swap personal items that were preloved or unused. But, once we moved to a Facebook group, the direction become very clear and I realized the need for a proper online marketplace for women, facilitating women entrepreneurs to showcase their products to a wider audience and for home-based women to monetize their talents, increasing digital and financial inclusion of women in Pakistan. Infact, we have been able to connect the

collaborations with various organizations locally and internationally to highlight women entrepreneurs associated with Sheops. Even our Facebook community has a highly curated audience, moderated content with clear guidelines, and is free from religious and racial biases. The best part is the community feel where most members feel personally connected, share stories and inspire each other to grow. In your experience, what is the audience looking for when they join communities on Facebook? Pakistani women diaspora from all over the world through Sheops. Eventually, the bespoke web platform was designed keeping the women entrepreneurs’ needs in perspective. What do you think sets your community apart from others? Sheops, then known as The Women’s Marketplace, was the pioneer of women’s online buy/sell communities in Pakistan, even before Facebook launched the buy/sell feature on groups. Initially it was difficult to introduce and explain terminologies like ‘Preloved’ and ‘ISO – In Search Of’ in the local market, which have been adapted very well and used commonly on social media these days. What sets Sheops apart from dozens of buy/sell groups that have cropped up now, is a multitude of factors including a connected web-platform where women can buy/sell without the fear of fraud and assurance of 100% product authenticity, with money back guatantee, our marketing efforts and

I feel members are looking for safe, closed online spaces where they can share ideas, have discussions around topics of common interest or issues, buy and sell to each other or work around organizing an activity. There are many great online communities in Pakistan, from emotional support and economic empowerment groups for women to ones focusing on entrepreneurship, technology, travel, education, parenting, animal rights, food and many more. With the buy/sell feature for Facebook groups that was launched over a year ago, there has been a massive increase in buy/sell communities on Facebook too.

i ii

First step for a well managed community is the members’ approvals process and adding the right members, to ensure that they are a good fit for the group culture the Admins are trying to create. Quality over quantity is very important.

Clear, well defined guidelines that are pinned to the group timeline to keep conversations in line with the main focus of that community and to keep members accountable.

iii In your opinion, which are the 5 characteristics that are the most important for well-managed Facebook groups?

iv v

Healthy and meaningful interactions between members, and engaging conversations with minimal conflicts, where members are open to others’ opinions. This is especially important for support and discussion groups.

A very important characteristic of a balanced and well managed community is staying true to its purpose or cause. Many a times, Admins start communities around a specific cause or topic, then lose focus and allow irrelevant content creating confusion and a mismanaged community eventually!

The best moderated communities are those where members take ownership of the group and help moderate it, by sharing guidelines with new members, and reporting irrelevant content.

the “ Innovate nation as a

mega national start-up project

NASEEM JAVED The Start-Up Engines of Pakistan Pakistan is at crossroads; the beautiful land occupied by the 6th largest population of the world, with large majority of bright and young generation, most holding some powerful gadgets, connected to the world, eager to start-up something of real value. On the other side, the existing population of nation’s midsize businesses and SME owners, already growing older and weaker, but seriously lacking global age skills to lead Pakistan into new prosperity. Economic meltdown, empty treasuries, minuscule exports and failing meltd education all demands massive corrections. The Prime Minister Imran Khan and his teams in PTI are doing their best. It’s now a national call for all entrepreneurial minds to rise-up, armed with technology and create a positive uplift together. Start-Ups once deployed on grand scale with global age skills sets can play their role extremely well.

But How? Understanding the ‘Start-up-Technology’ Mindset and ‘Organizational-Technology’ Realities Start-ups based on technologies are focused on mega-bucks and creating ‘unicorns’ but the advanced level thinking must now focus on “new-earth-shattering-idea-structuring” and how to bring more mature workable ideas into narrow focused start-up culture. Crazy chase for ‘hippos’ ‘butterflies’ and ‘unicorns’ is dwindling. Example: The average income of Hollywood film worker is below what others make working for grocery stores. Few become stars. With below 1% super success factor, start-ups now need a more pragmatic approach. Self-discovery and self-optimization are Self-disc more important over just coding or chasing cash. In Pakistan, the existing midsize business organizations are in critical need of innovative excellence and product development help from all directions. Entrepreneurial and innovative start-up persons should really be ‘inside’ the offices, plants and fields solving real issues with real innovative inn excellence, and technology in real time. Such collaborative working under special agreements from Intellectual Property to vertical licensing could be on the table.

But look at the organizational problems, enterprises are either stagnant or in chaos, but badly need all the new start-up ideas as their own survival strategy. Lea Learning the real difference is essential – from delivering baby ideas to VC to helping big and small real enterprises with real solutions of ‘sorts’ for better performance of today. Critics would call it ‘creative apprenticeship’ or ‘old industrial innovative manipulations’. No matter what, but this is what the nation’s natio industrial, agricultural and service sectors so critically need. Winning such deals would be the best start-up options. Plus, the bonus: working with a real live problem in an entrepreneurial environment is far important than pushing business plans and case studies. The proposed models still make you a smart start-up while you retain your independence. ind

So how to mobilize? Calling on national trade associations and chambers Collaborative Synthesizim: Major trade associations and chambers should set-up massive and open in-house Start-ups. They should allow open access to their entire large memberships to engage and work with new and exciting potential talents.

For members to have access to this new start-up mentality, entrepreneurial gusto to mix, match and apply to hardcore problems on the floor from agricultural to industrial, manufacturing of service economy enterprises, all in real-time. Create an interactive bounce and open up possibilities of creating something of amazing value for all the industries. This win-win situation incorporated with collaborative synthesizim will boost the start-up culture in Pakistan. Rather than chasing VC, chase the established entrepreneurs with real innovative excellence to solve their issues on their floors. This should not be a confused university lab working with some major industries. This is about large and open access to national memberships of any Top Trade Association to create unlimited big and small ideas, imagine 10,000 startups engaged with 10,000 businesses. Remember, business education delivered via classrooms all over the world has now been declared almost ineffective. The current leadership of trade associations and chambers need tremendous help and they need guidance on how to mobilize 10,000 start-ups across the nation impacting some 10,000 enterprises and poised to change the national landscape. This of course demands pure entrepreneurial approach over academic ent stagnation. Are the mandated agencies ready with real entrepreneurial leadership to promote export and economic growth of Pakistan and they ready for such global age challenges? Can they assemble the right skills to deliver such mammoth operations? These programs are all execution dependent and not necessarily new n funding dependent.

So, what’s stopping this? Sma growth is more about Smart execution and less about funding; it’s more about global age knowledge and less about classroom knowledge and more about mobilization and less about traditional procedures. This requires months of coaching to become a global age savvy person. Universities have failed here and major institutions around the world have less experience on such thought leadership. A new wave of thinking is emerging all over the world and sooner you join in the better.

The big picture Pakistan is an entrepreneurial nation; let’s face it because every citizen is naturally born entrepreneurial; it is the culture, family, friends and education system that slowly chips away entrepreneurial talents and all because their blind love prohibits them to allow all giving free-wings, out-of-box thinking and entrepreneurial gusto. Their philosophy – stay very close, do what we tell you and be quiet. Now welcome to 2019 Without entrepreneurialism innovation is suffocation, commercialization an illusion, exports dry and prosperity a cry. The difference between a silver and gold medal is often a slice of a single second, to overcome players and not just tripling exercise routines, rather start re-discovering their hidden weaknesses and mental stamina, readjusting brand new progressive techniques on such challenges. Like, te high jumpers go scuba diving or skiers go ski diving. Self-discovery, self-optimization and learning to unlearn is where the nation’s massive wealth is hidden. Henry Ford neither invented the car nor the engines, but deployed the most powerful ‘assembly-line’ systems to become a legend. He had the vision and knew kn how to get there with extraordinary discipline and massive deployments, but all on super-fast track basis. It’s all about new knowledge and deployment speed.

What Pakistan needs urgently? Three Innovative Transformational Opportunities: Bureaucracies and incompetencies are already crumbling, so create mass transformation solutions, as our global age has no time to waste. Awaken the hidden talent of the nation, unlearn old-ways and na re-learn how to achieve this in 10% of time and 5% of cost. Today, management of public sector is critically more in need of transformational skills over Private sectors. Transform top managers of the government departments into new global age smart executives and move out from last decades of mediocrity. Old systems have destroyed exportability; surrender to new global age wisdom, or keep on losing races. Mastery of micro-power-nations and digitalized open economies is critical. Simultaneous synchronizations across the board, syn is mandatory. Discover the art of nouveau entrepreneurialism as the last frontier to fix the sustainable economy. Study national mobilization and creating digital access economy. Three cutting edge alternatives: Forget present chaos and jump on tomorrow, start imagining a brand new country, from top to bottom,

Challenge the national populace on self-discovery and self-developments as last decade is the living proof of such neglect. The future is all about self-discovery, self-optimization and tapping hidden-personal-powers as rest is just survival. If this language sounds scary to you, you are already embedded in a non-entrepreneurial charade from last decade. Change, learn to unlearn, this is where future is headed. Message to new and dynamic entrepreneurs: Most of the above work requires special global skills, smart structuring with execution strategies and not necessarily new funding. The hardworking must be replaced by smart working. Innovate the nation as a mega national start-up project. Go very deep, study well and become a champion. Welcome to 2019

Naseem Javed is a corporate philosopher, world-class speaker, author and Chairman of Expothon Worldwide; a think tank on Image Supremacy of Innovative Excellence & Entrepreneurial Leadership. He is adviser to CEOs of established or new visionary start-ups. He is leading charge on entrepreneurial leadership transformation and a recognized authority on global digital trends, image complexities how they impact business performances and create global age skill shifts. His recent work on Expothon Strategy is getting global attention. He can be connected via LinkedIn: ed

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that the key to a good business is having an incredible sales technique. This means not just selling your product, but also selling and branding yourself, since as the founder, you’re part of the package. For a successful business, it is not enough to just have a good product – you should be able to approach a person and make them fall in love with you and your product. This book by Brian Tracy is an amazing guide for you to learn valuable strategies to sell more by focusing on one thing – the person.

This incredible read by the guru Seth Godin demonstrates in detail how traditional marketing and its 4Ps don’t work anymore. He uses the metaphor ‘purple cow’ for something that is extraordinary and phenomenal and remarkable. It explains how in the present world, a business is either remarkable or it is invisible. He explains why safe is dangerous and highlights examples of companies that have been successful by being purple cows. If you’re an entrepreneur and need some guidance about how to be successful and set yourself apart from your competition, this is a must read for you.


Buffer There are so many social media platforms out there – coming up with an integrated social media strategy is not only important, but also time consuming in terms of implementation. Buffer tackles this problem to some extent and allows you to increase your efficiency by yo scheduling and publishing posts across various platforms. Buffer also has strong reporting tools that help you keep track of the effectiveness of your campaigns with analytics.

We live in a world where data is becoming exceedingly important for making any decision. This also applies to marketing. Kissmetrics is a must-have tool that helps you optimize the sales funnel and improve customer retention, Kissmetrics tracks website users from their first point of engagement, through to specific funnels and finally to conversion. Kissmetrics is a great tool for showing you exactly what specific customers are doing on your website exactl and where they’re coming from. The app also enables you to create split-testing campaigns for landing pages and emails so that you can tweak them and improve conversion.

The Godfather Trilogy

The Merchant of Venice Base on Shakespeare’s play, this Based period film is one of the best of Al Pacino. The story is about Bassino, a young member of the aristocratic class, who turns to a Jewish moneylender Shylock (Al Pacino) for financial help. Along with entertainment, you will learn valuable lessons on business lea partnerships, risk assessment and mercantile law that still hold value today. In addition, you will also get a flavor of other topics like contract negotiations, mercantile law, risk assessment and business law principles.

An all-time favorite, The Godfather trilogy is packed with lessons for entrepreneurs – from relationship and network building to understanding competition. The scenes are not only full of entertainment, but they’re th also thought provoking, which will leave you with a few lessons to tackle business problems in real life. It doesn’t end here – you will learn about competitive strategies, personnel retention, corporate takeovers, alliances, corpo corporate succession and diversification for your business.

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