Pakistani female entrepreneur at Berlin Symposium: The future’s human and intellectual capital

Technology is bringing people and organizations together, closer. Information technology in particular is bringing more transparency and accountability in society.

So Is future in technologies difficult to predict? Not at all. Recently, in Berlin, over a hundred entrepreneurs and investors met to discuss ongoing technology related trends that are going to shape how we live in the coming years.
(Bruno, TVLP.co)

All digital roads lead toward Silicon Valley, the global financial and technological heart of the world. In 2016,they connected California with Berlin. Leaders of this journey were innovators, startup founders, and investors. They represent the human and intellectual capital of the future that met at a symposium, “Anticipating the Future”, in Berlin. The event took place during the Global Entrepreneurship Week, when the entire world celebrates entrepreneurship.

Hosted by Fraunhofer IZM, the event promised brainstorming and discussion between special guests from Silicon Valley, international Alumni of the TVLP program, and the entrepreneurial community of Berlin.

About the Symposium

The symposium talked about entrepreneurship and technology. After the welcome event of Erik Jung, innovation manager at Fraunhofer IZM, a keynote on Silicon Valley and its mindset set the tone. Francine Gordon, professor at Santa Clara University and head of faculty of TVLP talked about innovation in Silicon Valley and the key elements which successfully turned an agricultural valley into the “mecca” of technologies.

The event was organized by TVLP.co, a Silicon Valley based company which develops top immersion programs in technology entrepreneurship, with Fraunhofer IZM, one of the main sources of innovation made in Germany. Event benefits from the contribution of GABA, German American Business Association, and Euraxess initiative of European Commission. Official media partners include the leading startup magazines Berlin Valley and The Hundert.

“The choice of the German capital – as organizers explained – was not a coincidence. Berlin represents the center of European innovation scene. It is a place where technology and creativity meet along with an international culture.”

It talked about entrepreneurship focusing on Silicon Valley Mindset, entrepreneurial culture of the famous Valley, and innovations of the future; from food to health from the Silicon Valley perspective, often one step ahead.

Among the special guests coming from Silicon Valley were: Bruce Pittman, senior vice president of the National Space Society and director of NASA Space Portal and Francine Gordon, professor at Leavey School of Business – Santa Clara University and Head of Faculty at TVLP.co. Attendees included international entrepreneurs from across the globe-Mahrukh Qadeer, entrepreneur from Pakistan and founder of Mahir, a ‘YELP for Asian countries’, Roberto Toscani, Italian born founder of Binary System, a paperless solution for transportation systems, and Larisa Kryuchkova, Russian entrepreneur founder of Uvisio, an electronic device for skin cancer prevention.

The four sessions covered some of the most relevant topics on how to create a better future using technology. The first panel spoke on “Startups providing social and health benefits”. The session was inaugurated by a Pakistani Female entrepreneur, Mahrukh Qadeer.

She was also the moderator of the session. According to her, It was an honour to represent women in technology from Pakistan and in many ways she spoke of the extent to which technology impacts general living in our region.

“I met people from Africa and Vietnam and the audience interaction helped me understand that in many ways they had similar issues regarding women in business and representation of the startup ecosystem. This is what connectivity does, it breaks barriers on so many levels and helps understand the needs of different markets. I was also approached by individuals who were shocked to know that our ecosystem existed. In many ways they asked me about the role of the government. I was also asked by the audience about the role of media in glorification of entrepreneurship. It just helped me understand that the world wants to hear good things from Pakistan. (Mahrukh Qadeer, Mahir)”

We believe women entrepreneurs need to talk about the circumstances they operate in and the west needs to understand that point of view. Its critical that Capital funds look at emerging economies and understand how they maybe different from a typical silicon valley approach.

Some Innovations

Larisa Kyrchkova, born in Russia and trained in Germany, introduced the Uvisio, a contribution to personalized medicine: an innovative solution for skin cancer prevention that self-adjusts to skin phenotype. It was a learning experience to see how virtual and augmented reality can become useful tools for psychological treatments.

Other sections included Challenges in food with contributes on innovative business models for turning homes into a five star restaurant, anti-counterfeiting technologies, and how to balance the fast raising demand of food due to the global population growing.

The afternoon panel opened with a discussion on Silicon Valley and its ability to always stay ahead in the innovation industry. Bruce Pittman, Senior Vice President of the National Space Society and director of NASA Space Portal presented some of the technologies developed for the space which are going to impact several industries.

The “space startup” was discussed in the session moderated by Martino Agostini, Senior Manager of the technology research giant Gartner; the panel included German-American attorney, Udo Büdding, international accountant Flavio Notari and Erik Yung of Fraunhofer IZM.

The panel spoke on cross-countries ventures and the “must-be” international approach. In fact today global competition and opportunities in technology requires entrepreneurs to play internationally; technology and market are not always local or even in the same country.

Afternoon sections included Technologies for everyday life – from transportations to artificial intelligence, and Stand out in a crowded social space – mixing social networks, animation movies, and 3D printers.

Mahrukh Qadeer,Founder of Mahir – Here is her story and why she represented Pakistan at the Symposium.

The reason I became an entrepreneur is not so much by choice rather lack of it. I started my career working for a company headquartered in silicon Valley, a world leader in app monetization. 3 years after being successful in its field, the company decided to shift development tasks to some other country and i was moved to the mobile game development unit that was later acquired by a Japanese gaming giant. 2 years later, the company closed their office in Pakistan. By then i had realized, I would have to start my own venture and possibly create jobs for other Pakistanis. So now I am working on creating Mahir (http://mahir.online), “The Yelp for Pakistan” that blends business with social innovation.

About my startup

The word “Mahir” means expert. In Hebrew it means “fast”. Mahir is a one-stop convenient and reliable solution with intelligent recommendation system that connects people with reviewed and rated local businesses. We are Yelp for Pakistan.

Our initial focus is on th $250 million food industry of Pakistan and we are starting off with 4 cities, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi. In just 4 metropolitan cities of Pakistan, there are aproximately ,39 million consumers, and 4 million service providers. 75% of these do not have an online presence and fall in the low/ medium income bracket.

The main idea behind Mahir was to give an online presence to low/ medium income, illiterate business owners. Why? because most of the Pakistanis prefer ordering online from e-commerce giants like Ali Express, as it’s just a click away and saves time.

How I landed in Berlin:

My work had helped me engage with TVLP and it helped me understand the global market in different directions. During this one year, I met several investors who were interested in the ideas I was working around and requested for further details but as soon as Pakistan was mentioned, they changed their mind. While working with TVLP my agenda was to describe the market size and showcase the opportunities available in multiple sectors. I was invited to travel to Berlin to attend the TVLP symposium and share my founder story as a woman from Pakistan and there I found my spot to exhibit the challenges within our industry.

In many ways I found myself lucky to have gotten a chance to talk about it in a global gathering. Its things like these that are part of the journey and they make you want to work harder,smarter.

Our challeneges are not really represented at the global forums.This is what the world does not know about women like myself and people in my country. That we are skilled and very passionate about what we do. This is the crisis of the conflict ridden states. This is not just about Pakistan, this is about all those states where talent exists, passion exists but because of the fear factor created by media the local ecosystem suffers.

I always thought I was terrible at marketing myself and my work, but in all honesty your work speaks and the right people find ways to reach out. It feels great when your work becomes the reason they find you and want to connect with you. This gave me so much energy and more reasons to move away from shyness. Its important that women and startups understand that communication makes all the difference. Talking at the symposium was great exposure and I hope more and more women can grab such opportunities.

Key take aways for Pakistani Startups and Women Founders

•Women in business need to represent Pakistan in global forums to show that they are not victims and they don’t represent a terrorist state.

•Global connectivity is essential for growth, it gives access to mentors and the global Investor community ; startups must connect to more and more global bodies.

•Its important to show the global community the real Pakistan, the people, the culture, the market opportunities and the growth in various sectors.

•Opening to new horizons, a ready product means things will go into the right direction, so be ready with your ask whenever you are travelling.

•More connectivity for women and startups is essential, specially in Europe because the ecosystems are in process of adopting new technologies and in many ways trying to catch up with the silicon valley affairs.

This represents a great opportunity to strengthen the local ecosystem through the use of technology. So heres your chance, to go global. For more information check; www.siliconvalleymindset.de and TVLP.co. Those interested in becoming part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week; may register with, “Anticipating the Future” a non-profit initiative, delivered in English. Registered attendees in future may also be invited to talk !

Information Source: TVLP.co, Bruno @ TVLP.co, Mahrukh Qadeer Founder of Mahir


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