9 Startups enter Plan9’s incubation cycle: Launchpad celebrates ‘Digital Evolution’

Plan9 – PITB’s Tech Incubator celebrated the beginning of the New Year by inducting 10 startups from Lahore in their 9th cycle. This Launchpad, Plan9 celebrated the ‘Digital Evolution’.

The incubators are thought of as giving a helping hand to startups and entrepreneurs, providing them with a variety of services, from the basics like Internet access and office space to guidance about things like business finance, making presentations, raising money and managing intellectual property.(Forbes)

Digital Evolution at Plan 9

Plan9, designed multiple pre-Launchpad activities, to coach the startups so they could be familiar with the terms and requirements of the ecosystem. These included, motivational talks, scavenger hunt, pitch and presentation workshops, business plan and market validation workshop, fire side chat, tips on launching the startup, team building, speed networking and much more. Capital Factory and Facebook acting were the knowledge partners and they ensured a continuous knowledge flow throughout the week.

Pre Launchpad Activities

Day 1 of pre-Launchpad activities started off with registrations of 115 shortlisted startups, followed by an opening talk by Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, PITB. While addressing the audience he advised: “Entrepreneurs fail but they never quit. Never give up on your dreams, just keep at it.”

Ali Syed, Global Development Coordinator from Capital Factory being the prime knowledge partners, conducted a workshop on presentation and pitch to help startups prepare for the big day.

“Every pitch must be a story in order to compel people to listen to it.”
Pitch advice by Ali.

This was followed by a cool, engaging fun activity by Euphoria – the Scavenger Hunt. The startups were given clues to follow through a mobile app. The day ended with mentoring of ed-tech startups on business model and strategy by experienced alumni, including Amin Baig, Founder Optimaken and Shahrukh Swati, Co-founder Nearpeer.

Quality Advice for Startups

Day 2 kicked off with Fireside chat with Fred Schmidt and Gordan Daughtery, Managing Director & General Partner from Capital Factory, moderated by Ali Syed. Fred shared tips on how to acquire best team members from speed networking.

“You will have to hear a number of NOs before you can have a YES . Entrepreneurship is not just about making revenue. It’s having the urge to learn and experiment.”
(Fred Schmidt)

The day continued with Capital Factory coming back with another constructive activity to build the knowledge base of startups – ‘What are you selling and who are you selling to?, Business Plan / Market Validation Workshop. This helped startups to refine their business models and learn techniques of getting their product validated. Abdul Qudoos, HR consultant and advisor later took the stage to advice startups on team building.

“The toughest challenge for any startup is centered around team building. You need to attract the right talent and have a defined business process to run a startup successfully.”(Abdul Qudoos)

The much needed Motivation

Later the same day, Mr. Suneel Munj the co-founder of PakWheels.com took the stage and motivated the startups:

“You have to be a risk taker. Only 1 out of 10 ideas succeed. You have to pass the real life test.Capitalize on the existing gaps in the market. Find a problem and build a startup around it.”
(Suneel Munj)

The Quick Tips for Startups

Chalking out early stage investments’ a session moderated by Nabeel A. Qadeer was full of quick tips for startups. The panel included the following and we are sharing some of the best tips here :

1)Ali from Mangobaaz : “Build a business model, show some revenue base and then seek out an investor.”
2)Khalid from Patari : “Finding the right fit is extremely important when you are raising money.”
3)Ali Muktar from Fatima Ventures : “Don’t give up too much equity. It’s your startup, your vision. Believe in it.”
4)Dr Salman Shah: “An important aspect of investment is the control. You have to know the role of a thinker or developer and the role of the financer.”

Day3, concluded with Startup EXPO, where the currently incubated startups displayed their products for the incoming startups to experience and get a taste of what is expected of them in the months they are incubated at Plan9.

The Launch Pad engagements

The day started off with opening talk by Mr. Yuri FedKiw, the US Council General.

“Entrepreneurship is the way forward. It bridges the gap between different cultures, especially for Pakistan.”(Yuri FedKiw)

Next up was Sarrim Aziz from Facebook who shared the opportunities that startups can avail through FB Start. While addressing the audience he said:

“You are in a unique place with unique problems that you can solve giving way to unique opportunities.” (Sarrim Aziz)

Diversity of Speakers

Plan9 also had Mr. Muhammad Ali Iqbal from National ICT R&D Fund who shared the different national offerings for startups. He said: “Our aim is to make Pakistan a knowledge based economy. Funding the startups is a major step towards it.”

Next up Plan9 engaged Ms. Urooj Mazhar from School of Leadership to deliver an interactive session to boost the morale of startups before they set out to pitch in front of the industry experts. She gave the star advice: “We are constantly inspired by other people. The simplest formula to be brand is to be yourself.”
Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman PITB, motivated the startups and wished them well.

“In my mind there is absolutely no doubt that one day one of you will go on to become a billion dollar startup and will change your destiny and the destiny of this country with your innovation, your entrepreneurial skills and hardwork.”
(Dr Umar Saif)

The Launchpad Finale

The last day was the most happening of all, the participants were excited to pitch and find out about the winners after 4 days of rigorous training and pitch.

The judges on the final day included the following: Faizan Laghari, Founder at Forrun, Ali Syed from Capital Factory, Qaiser Ansari, CEO Pantera Energy, Naeem Zamindar, CEO at Acumen Pakistan, Yasser Bashir, co-founder and CEO at Arbisoft, Muhammad Umar Zafar, Chief Strategy Officer at Netsol Technologies, Salem Rehman, Director Operations at EMCO Industries, Monis Rehman, Venture Capitalist, CEO and Founder at Naseeb Networks and Abdul Aziz, CEO at Lumensoft Technologies.

The Final Verdict-Cycle9

The following 9 startups were shortlisted to enter the 9th cycle of incubation at Plan9:

3.Pakistani Soghat
6.Journal Post
8.Project 50 Kids
9.Paltoo PK

In addition to the above, Plan9 also incubated EyeAutomate the winner of ERUPT Lahore last month. Which makes a total of 10 startups incubated from Lahore.

We wish that these startups continue to be successful. The incubators can help startups develop the right approach and develop sustainable business models.

These success-focused, shared-knowledge arrangements are making launching a business easier for entrepreneurs, and providing opportunities for those who might otherwise never have had them.(Forbes)

Didn’t make it ?

For those who continue to struggle, it may be totally ok to not get incubated. We hope you continue to work harder and smarter. Its a great opportunity to learn from such environments and while we continue to beleive that incubators play a role in developing successful businesses there’s no evidence that incubators ensure successful businesses. For those who got incubated, we are happy and excited to share success stories in future. It maybe important to note that the startup world is a high-pressure ecosystem and some startups are not always too ready for it!

Although incubated businesses have slightly higher employment, growth and sales, they also have slightly lower survival rates after they graduate. Overall, say the researchers, the difference in performance between incubated and unincubated businesses is marginal.(Researchers at Kauffman)

We hope that the startups value the experience of the incubation and find mentors who can support them even after they graduate. We congratulate the team at Plan9 for their efforts to empower the ecosystem and hope they continue to set an example of incubation management so more startups could benefit from the setup!

Information Source:Team @ Plan 9

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