IT Board launches country’s first technology incubator
By: Aroosa Shaukat
LAHORE: Pakistan’s first enterprise incubator, called Plan9 Tech Incubator, was launched on Friday by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) in collaboration with the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA).
The ceremony was held at Arfa Karim Software Technology Park. The project had been launched simultaneously in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. PITB Chairman Dr Umar Saif said that young entrepreneurs will be assisted and mentored by the Plan9 team.
Calling it a great opportunity for young IT entrepreneurs, he said, “Remember we are looking for an idea that should be able to generate business”. He said the idea should also be able to sustain itself in the future. He said a reality show was being planned around the Plan9 project.
“We want to capture the essence of entrepreneurship through a reality show to make it more exciting for the common man”, he said.
P@SHA President Jehan Ara said that young entrepreneurs often did not calculate the cost of their ventures. She said they will now receive help and guidance. “There is no excuse now,” she said. Mindstorm Studios Chief Executive Officer Babar Ahmed presented some IT ventures’ success stories, including his own.
He said it was essential to understand that entrepreneurship required hard work and great investment in time. Ahmed, who is on the advisory board for Plan9, started his own gaming company five years ago while he was teaching at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
“Entrepreneurship is going to take you from where you are now to where Google is,” he said, adding that platforms like Plan9 were tools to facilitate young entrepreneurs. Gagism.com co -founder Farrukh Zafar shared his story. His blog was recently acquired by an Australian company at around $100,000. Zafar said that Gagism.com had been making $15,000 per month.
Zafar, a former marketing professional at LG, said he had left his job in the course of global recession to start his own venture. “Young people should keep in mind that such ventures require a great amount of time and energy,” he said.
Answering a question regarding transparency, Jehan Ara said there will always be those who will be unhappy with the outcome. “Obviously every participant thinks his or her project is the best,” she said. She said the decisions would be made by the board.
Zia Imran, CEO and founder of VahZay Limited, a software and IT company, urged the participants to express their creativity and trust in the competitiveness of the project.
“If you believe in your idea, you will not require a platform,” he said, adding, “It will fly off anywhere irrespective of the platform.” Under the tagline, Where Ideas Take Flight, the PITB Plan9 Tech Incubator is to launch its first launch pad in Lahore in September. Applicants from across the country will be entertained.