By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune
With about 50 people assembled in one room to discuss seven start-up ideas, the general mood was ecstatic at The Second Floor (T2F), a project of PeaceNiche and a community space for open dialogue.
Budding entrepreneurs, technology geeks, fresh business graduates and app developers were there to participate in the first Entrepreneurs Roundtable Pakistan (ERT PK), an informal meeting of entrepreneurs to get instant feedback on their ideas from each other.
“It’s not about pitching your ideas as a salesman. The objective is to share these ideas with other entrepreneurs and get their feedback,” said Shirley Lin, who helped popularise the concept of informal meetings of entrepreneurs to share start-up ideas in cafes of Silicon Valley, while addressing the audience from California via Skype.
1 Doc Way
Danish Munir began his presentation by asking the audience if any of them found the procedure of getting a doctor’s appointment easy. Predictably, no one from the audience replied in the affirmative. Munir said his business aimed to help patients pay online visits to their doctors at their own convenience without worrying about the commute or time off work.
He said his website was generating revenues in the US, mainly because 60% of doctor-patient meetings in the country were conversational. “After the patient-doctor meeting on Skype, the doctor’s secretary calls the pharmacy and the patient can later collect the medicine,” Munir said.
Although the business model works differently in different countries, the website does not require patients to pay any additional charges.
Munir worked at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, until eight months ago. He said he quit his “mundane job with a great package” for the love of entrepreneurship.
How many times have you been at a loss when deciding where to eat out when you have a certain amount of money to spare? “It’s either money or the location of the restaurant. Random searches on Google or even Karachi Snob don’t produce desired results most of the time,” said Zafar Syed, who is developing an advanced search engine by the name of “I’m confused.”
Syed said it would initially be focused on food and fashion outlets, adding the search engine would produce results according to prices one could afford to pay and look for such businesses within a defined area.
Pakistan’s Silicon Valley?
“People often say Lahore is to Pakistan what Bangalore is to India when it comes to the IT industry. But I think Karachi is swiftly catching up with Lahore. Both are neck and neck in terms of entrepreneurial activities,” said AR Rafiq, a California-based technologist, who organised the ERT PK along with the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), while talking to The Express Tribune.
“There’re a lot of tech companies in America that have offices here, including Folio3, Whizz Systems, PalmChip, NexLogic and Inspurate,” he said, adding that Karachi’s IT professionals should now move away from the “outsourcing model” to the “equal partnership model” to reap the benefits of a truly globalised IT industry.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22, 2012.