By Raneya Chaudhry
LAHORE: A large entrepreneurial festival ‘LUMS Startup Weekend’, a collaboration of Karandaaz Pakistan and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), concluded Tuesday with the NFC payment solution ‘Paycard’ winning the competition.
The event was in line with Karandaaz Pakistan’s mission to foster financial and digital inclusion in the country as it brought together scores of aspiring entrepreneurs and mentors working together to revitalize Pakistan’s startup landscape.
The 8th edition of the Startup Weekend hosted at LUMS invited startup pitches from young and promising entrepreneurs from across Pakistan. Out of over 60 pitches presented on the first day, 11 ideas were shortlisted for the final showdown on the last day of the 3-day event. The shortlisted teams were given 70 hours to materialize their ideas and make their final products market-ready with the help of assigned mentors. As opposed to one minute on the first pitch, the teams were given five minutes each to demo their final startup ideas and were trained in tackling market and finance related questions from the expert jury.
‘Home Grown’ – a unique women-led startup to encourage horticulture enthusiasts into growing healthy plants and vegetables and help them set a roof or a vertical garden to compensate for the lack of backyard space in congested cities – earned the third place at the competition. Its innovative approach to stich individual selfies of distant friends into one group earned ‘Groupie’ the second place. The NFC prepaid payment solution ‘Paycard’ was declared the winning idea of the Startup Weekend. Proximity marketing solution ‘Proximate’ – that provide users with relevant ads when they pass near a proximate beacon installed on any retail outlet – earned an honorable mention as the results of the final competition were announced.
The seven other of the eleven shortlisted startup ideas included Freshalla – the fruit delivery website and app, Pakfit – a platform that connects professionals with individuals looking to get in shape, Pak Builds – a digital marketplace for material services providers and contractors, Health Monitoring System – a wearable health monitoring and notification device, Kabara Online – a digital marketplace to sell goods a person doesn’t need anymore, Animatica Math – a personalized animation app to encourage kids’ interest in mathematics, and Dream X – an Urdu digital assistant which can interpret and run commands given to it in Urdu language.
“We feel privileged to be part of LUMS Startup Weekend to inspire youth into pursuing entrepreneurship in their professional careers,” said Ali Sarfaraz Hussain, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan. “Finding and nurturing fresher ideas through proper training and guidance will go on to reinforce and add value to Pakistan’s startup landscape. The advancement in digital technology has helped a lot of promising digital startups to surface in the country which will go on to morph into small and medium businesses in the near future. Karandaaz Pakistan is committed to facilitating SMEs by promoting access to finance by employing technology-enabled digital solutions. We look forward to helping accelerate promising startups in order to enable them to contribute to the country’s economy.”
“The cross-cutting themes at Karandaaz are innovation, youth, and women entrepreneurship. At Karandaaz we strongly believe that you guys (youth) are the future,” said Samar Hasan, Head of Communications at Karandaaz Pakistan. “You are the driving force of the nation. If you go places, we need to be behind you to support you, to uplift you, and I am sure you will go places regardless of whether we are there to support you or not. But we are here to reiterate that commitment to you.”
Besides the competition, the event brought aboard a host of successful entrepreneurs, digital technology evangelists and technology educationists to educate, inspire, and motivate the young entrepreneurs. Special talks to enlighten the youth about effectively pursuing a startup and cognize them about the risks and opportunities in the market were also a salient feature of the event. The panel of speakers included CEO Karandaaz Pakistan, Ali Sarfaraz Hussain and noted serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Usama Tauqeer.
Karandaaz Pakistan being the country’s leading promoter of financial inclusion and related technology held the event to encourage entrepreneurship in the country which will ease the burden on the country’s job market. Karandaaz has been functioning to promote access to financial services for small and medium businesses in the country besides endorsing digital inclusion across Pakistan. Karandaaz Pakistan extends special gratitude to the United Kingdom Department for International Development since their funds enabled the prior to support and collaborate in the successful Startup Weekend.