Plan9 has recently been done with the 10th Launchpad, the week-long event was packed with sessions and workshops; it was all about engaging with and encouraging entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. Young entrepreneurs were able to meet industry experts as well as our own alumni, who have been doing exceptionally well in the market. The exchange of ideas, support and guidance was what made this event a hit. The first four days of the event were also marked by a surprise element of PEP talks given by Plan9 alumni sharing their success journey so far with the audience.
Faisal Qureshi, Entrepreneur and Journalist, kicked-off the Launchpad 10 on the 19th of July with Startup Expo. Almost 100 startups set up stalls on the 3rd floor, including our own alumni, showcasing their products in ways which attracted the crowd. These stalls were visited, not only by attendees, but also by investors and industry experts, who encouraged the budding entrepreneurs and offered advice as to how they could take their startup to the next level.
Simultaneously, workshops and sessions were being run in the auditorium by prominent figures of the industry such as Umair Jaliawala, Qasif Shahid (Co-founder & CEO Finja) and Omar Jamil (CEO Latitude). The event was open to public and attendees flocked to the venue, looking for insight and inspiration to start their own startups. The day ended with myZindagi.pk winning a cash prize of PKR 100,000 after being voted as the best startup by our judges.
Day two was primarily focused on speaker sessions. Jonas Eichhorst (Founder and Director, Positive Impact Network) initiated the sessions followed by Faizan Laghari (Chief Disruption Officer TCS), Omar Jamil (CEO Latitude) and Abdul Rehman Talat (Founder & CEO BlueEast and Investor Idea Croron Ka) conducted sessions. The whole day was filled with industry experts guiding young entrepreneurs with different aspects of their businesses, constant Q/A made the sessions extremely beneficial for the startups.
While most talks were scheduled in the auditorium, Startup Girls workshops were being held on the 9th floor. Sana Mela, Founder Prespective.pk and Amna Nadim, Founder Earth Ryse, conducted these workshops and guided aspiring female entrepreneurs on pitching, marketing and how to make it big in their fields. All sessions were value-driven and focused on ensuring that the audience walked away with something solid.
The third day was all about training startups on how to pitch. Rabeel Warraich (Founder Sarmayacar), came in talk to the startups about how to deliver a convincing pitch. This was followed by a speed networking session, powered by Developers Circle from Facebook, where startups were given a chance to network with like-minded individuals. At the same time, Plan9 team was busy giving product feedback to the shortlisted startups. Startups also had one-on-one meetups with Jonas Eichhorst and Rabeel Warraich.
Day four began at 1:00 PM, as startups formed a queue to register on the 3rd floor. Once registered, the startups were divided into 3 pools. The startups were called out in groups from each pool to pitch and were led to the 9th floor. While the startups pitched on the 9th floor, those waiting for their turn in the auditorium, got to learn and take inspiration from on-going PEP-talks given by our alumni and budding entrepreneurs of our country.
Judges too, were divided into pools. The Launchpad 10 judges included foreign and local investors, experts from the IT industry as well as our board members. After the grueling and intense pitching competition between 120 startups, only 21 were shortlisted for the final round to be held next day. The judges felt that most ideas had potential and encouraged the remaining participants to pursue their dreams and to continue working on their ideas.
On the final day startups submitted their final pitch decks to our team and the final pitching session began soon after. The competition was intense and the judges thoroughly grilled the startups. US Consul General Yuriy Fedkiw, accompanied by Ann Mason and Meghan Mercier, also attended the event. While talking to the young entrepreneurs, he said:
“I hope many of you here today will take your ideas, implement them and soon we’ll be using your products. Whether you win or lose today, keep celebrating the dreamer in you and keep pursuing your dreams.”
At the end of the day, nine startups were able to secure incubation at Plan9. These winners are: Nazdeeq, NoErric, Studentary, BagAdverts, TeamUp, Her Ground, Virtual Eye, RC Health Care and Foodappa. Dr. Umar Saif, gave the closing speech, he said:
“When Plan9 was established, people came in with dreams which looked improbable but we are proud that we were able to establish a platform through which they could realize their dreams. This is a platform which allows, a common Pakistani a chance to make their mark in the world. I hope the entrepreneurial ecosystem flourishes and we get to see Pakistani startups making it big in the world.”