My experience of working in Pakistan dates back to eight years ago when I was working in a large multinational corporate environment with some of the finest people in the industry. Back then, landing a high profile job in a corporate MNC as a fresh grad was a dream come true. Becoming an entrepreneur, thinking of launching your startup right out of college, connecting with people in the eco system and bootstrapping your way through it was not only unheard of, these terms had not even been coined back then. That’s why I was more than thrilled to be given the opportunity to host the Momentum startup tech conference this Feb.
I wanted to experience firsthand what is the startup culture in Pakistan, how has the corporate environment evolved over the years, what are some of the challenges and opportunities in the ecosystem and most of all how our bright and smart young entrepreneurs are making waves in the startup scene. And it makes me so proud to say that the experience exceeded all my expectations. The energy was incredible, the support system of incubators, accelerators, and academia who are invested in the growth and development of startups was phenomenal. And the passion, confidence, optimism and courage that I saw in all startups pitching their ideas out there was remarkable.
The event was the tireless effort of Jafri brothers and their entire team at E-Ocean. It was a year in the making; from having the mighty vision of providing a platform for startups to share their ideas, gain knowledge, connect and network with likeminded people to executing the massive set-up that ran over 2 days, Feb 6th and 7th.
Conference was split into three halls. In the main hall, there were talks from leading speakers in the corporate industry as well as startup success stories. There were multiple panel discussions to make the conversations interactive and engaging. Speakers included Dr. Ismail Shah (Chairman, PTA), Mudassir Sheikha (CEO, Careem), Dr. Umar Saif (CIO, Government of Punjab), Armaghan Ahmad (Senior VP, Dell EMC), Naeem Zamindar (CEO, Acumen Pakistan), Hana Habayeb (Director, Microsoft), Gerrit Ribbink (Team Lead, Enclude Holding), Nadeem Hussain (Founder, Planet N), Jehan Ara (President Pasha, Nest I/O), Dr. Jonathan Doerr (CEO, Daraz Asia), Junaid Iqbal (MD, Careem Pakistan) etc. alongside many other renowned professionals from the industry who were there to share their knowledge and experiences with the youth.
There was a hall dedicated to IoT – Internet of things where all the leading tech companies were displaying their breakthrough innovative products and gadgets.
And the most exciting place was the Startup Village where out of 150 startups who had applied, top 20 were shortlisted and were pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. Some of these startups were representing their participating incubators like NUST, NEST I/O, Plan 9, Plan X, IBA AMAN CED, LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship etc. Based on judges scoring, top 4 startups were Fauri mazdoori, Social Champ, Campus feed and Near peer. Social champ came out to be the winner and was awarded $20,000 as a seed fund. Nearpeer came second securing $10,000 while Campus feed got the third prize worth $5,000.
Last but not the least, the chief guest and show stopper of the event was none other than Imran Khan. He came to the event right on time, carrying his incredibly charismatic aura and star studded presence, no wonder the crowd was hard to manage as everyone wanted to see him, be close to him, talk to him, ask questions. His inspiring talk on entrepreneurship, leading with a vision, having the grit to overcome setbacks stirred and moved the youth, leaving them energized and motivated, ending the event on a high.
Full video of his talk in the below link
I was moderating the event with Sana Mela, founder of Perspectives, an online portal that brings the latest news and happenings from the startup space in Pakistan. It was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to work again with the most talented and committed people of Pakistan, network and get to know the most experienced and learned people in the industry, mentor and guide the brightest and capable young startups brimming with hope and positivity. I truly cherish all the conversations we had, all the connections and friendships formed and all the beautiful memories I took back with me.
Sharing my key takeaways from the conference in the video below
About the Author:
Samia helps millennials to know who they really are, and achieve what they are capable of. She is the founder of Direction Dose – Career and Startup coaching for millennials. She’s an ICF certified career coach, NLP Practitioner, writer and speaker, based in Dubai. Having over 9 years of experience at Procter & Gamble in brand management and coaching; Samia knows what it takes for Gen Y to excel in their careers and startups.