So today was when we saw the first P@SHA Launchpad, focusing on bringing people with new ideas, new thoughts, new energy and enthusiasm to the fore and telling us the story of where Pakistan is heading. I must say, we in Pakistan are moving positively despite all the mess around us. So far what we’ve seen here in Karachi and what has been reported from Lahore, its been an overwhelming experience.
Today at the Marriot we came across 20 nominees out of over 200 that had submitted their product / service nominations. I won’t say that they were awesome, but then I do believe that this will be the start of some awesome things to come very soon. Of these 20 nominations, half of them were from students enrolled in renowned universities such as NED and IBA. And I must say that some of them, despite not being sound on presentation, had an idea worth talking about. Hence the judges showed their interest first thing to either sponsor their efforts or at least help them to take off in the right direction.
One of the most interesting products that we witnessed and I was personally very impressed with was the FootMouse. Yes, you heard it right. A device which globally sells at a high price and would cost around Rs 3,500 or so in Pakistan, a student of our very own universities identified the need and created a prototype mouse that works with a foot, and in under Rs 1,000! Yes, you got that right. And the ingenious part is that he had researched the need so well that one of the judges immediately offered him to be in contact and said that he’d like him to meet his fellows at some of the public service organizations he’s been working with. This idea won second price, shared it with another product / service called Tag It. More on that later.
The first prize winner was Kitaabein, an online marketplace for books across the country. They had last year launched a book rental service called The Reader’s Club. The best part being experienced through last year, Usman’s presentation was perfect, and fed the need for the perfect pitch, and was quickly sold to the judges.
Tag It was another interesting nomination from the point of view of university students, though quite a common service that we have been seeing in Pakistan. The service focuses on tagging anything you like with the use of SMS over mobile phones, concentrating on mobile phone penetration (90m) vs internet penetration (1.5m) in the country.
I also liked the way Farzal sought some feedback and mentoring for the Help.Me service which he’s been working on for the last 6 months or so, and has managed to secure a niche. Though the main issue here was to see how business development could be done in other countries, since that is the target market.
Other ideas, like the GRPS / SMS tracking applications, eLearning, HR2.0, Formal Shirts (the guy actually brought specimen and caught the judges panel off guard for a bit … we took it casually to be a bribe 😀 ), Telecom Clicking etc, all adding their pieces and though at times it did become boring but overall it was a good effort to have such showcases where people can tell a story that was truly worth admiration and recognition.
The only thing I noticed, and the judges and Jehan Ara agreed that it was all about mentoring, that part missing. However, I don’t believe this should be the responsibility of P@SHA or any of the judges etc, its more a responsibility and ownership of the universities that these students belong to, who need to guide and council these young to-be-entrepreneurs and future leaders of our country. If they are not guided rightfully, we will miss the boat yet again of setting the nation to the right path and would have failed yet another generation that deserves some success and a good life ahead. Too bad their just not there yet…
Overall, a tremendous effort on the part of P@SHA and especially Jehan Ara who has been on her feet for days to see this event through positively, which I’m sure she give herself a pat on the back for 🙂 And also many thanks to PSEB, Microsoft and Sofizar for sponsoring the program and thus allowing our talent to be showcased. At least I definitely look forward to seeing more of these events and more great talent to come up and impress us again and again, and we see the growth of great thinkers and doers.