Global tech start-up competition attracts entrepreneurs
KARACHI: Successful entrepreneurs, mostly women, turned up on Wednesday to share their inspiring stories and a number of business ideas at the orientation session of the global start-up competition She Loves Tech, organised by Circle Pakistan at NED University.
Circle NED, the student chapter of Circle, a social enterprise focused on women’s economic inclusion and leadership through entrepreneurship and leadership development, had announced a competition, also being held simultaneously in multiple cities across the world, with its finale in Beijing, China. The winner of this competition from Pakistan will get to participate in a one-week boot camp in China in September with opportunities to network with investors and top tech companies in China. The competition is open to both men and women as long as the idea impacts women in some way.
“Circle is designed to give opportunities to women entrepreneurs,” said Dr Syed Mehmood Hasan, director at the Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation (ORIC) at NED University.
Co-founder of Circle, Sadaffe Abid, said all over the world more and more women are creating multimillion dollar businesses and it won’t be wrong to say that women are the next growth market. “And Pakistan will play a part in this as 52 per cent of the population here comprises women,” she said.
“Women are an untapped potential here. I strongly believe that investing in women is the way to go forward,” she said, adding that something needs to be done to increase women’s visibility in business circles so that they aren’t taken for granted or forgotten. “We need to come up with innovative women-centric proposals for start-ups,” she said.
Madeeha Omer, a marketing and strategy leader from IBM, spoke about how she ended up in the technology business. “It was difficult for me to even comprehend technology at university and I thought of quitting many times. But now after 11 years in this line, technology has become a part of me. I love technology. It helps diagnose diseases, helps change lifestyles. As it evolves it is changing everything and everyone. We are all linked to technology; we can’t do without it,” she said.
“Today, companies may not be making huge profits but the experience matters. The revenue comes automatically. Revenue minus the cost is your profit. Look at Amazon, look at Careem or Uber. See how these start-ups are impacting lives. It has to do with passion, which can drive you to where you want to go. Just step up and it will happen,” she advised.
About women as entrepreneurs she said that they have something unique to offer — intuition. “Intuition helps us drive our business in a more successful manner. Women also understand emotions better and with passion we can break many barriers and obstacles which might come in our way,” she said.
Sameer Khan, CEO and co-founder of Social Champ and OuzelSystems, said that one needs to be self-aware and aware of what you want in life and what you love doing in order to form a successful company and stay motivated while running it. “Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t be afraid to dream and share your work progress with others to keep yourself motivated. This is how we collaborate and form teams and bring change,” he said.
Arifa Mahfooz, who graduated from NED some seven years ago and is currently manager software development at Techlogix Pvt Ltd, said that to be working in the field of information technology one needs to be very motivated and dedicated. “You need to develop the can-do attitude in order to get over obstacles. Be passionate and be patient as well. You need to have job satisfaction to enjoy your work in order to succeed,” she said.
“Just define your goals, define your priorities and know that you don’t need to depend on anyone,” she added.
Sana Farooq, CEO and founder of E-Learning Network, an online platform for vocational learning, said that her beginning was not even about technology as she studied English literature. “But believing and having confidence in myself, building a community of support and being a means of support for other people, got me there,” she said.
Shanza Khan, CEO of BoloTech, the world’s first Urdu speech therapy platform, said that her company was actually her final-year project at Jinnah University for Women. “There was no such software for Urdu speech therapy so we brought one. We pitched our idea at Nest I/O, got selected and got support, too. Earlier, we had plenty of opposition but everyone is on our side now,” she said.
“I know girls lose hope easily but believe in your project and dream big,” she said, finishing her inspiring story.