A unique exchange program based in Austin, Texas will host Pakistani professionals for a three-week intensive incubator and accelerator program. Pakistani tech entrepreneurs will receive hands-on training, a variety of networking opportunities, and mentorship from experienced professionals. The first session is set to begin in April of 2016. The program, called ATXPAK, will host 24 entrepreneurs from the Information Technology University, located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Entrepreneurs are carefully selected for the ATXPAK program by the highly competitive PlanX accelerator and Plan9 incubator in Pakistan.
The ATXPAK initiative, funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, is expected to span two years. The Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce will manage activities set to take place under the grant. During this period, four groups of tech entrepreneurs will participate, with the first group arriving in Austin next month. At the culmination of each of these four exchange sessions, tech entrepreneurs will be invited to present their startup ideas to local investors in Austin who may be interested in funding. In exchange, a group of Texas investors will also tour Pakistan’s most successful hubs for tech innovation later this year. In 2017, a small group will then host a Creative Collaboration Summit in Austin, Texas.
Aside from the value it provides for aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs, the program also touts several benefits for Austin locals. Investors and mentors will be given direct insight into Pakistan-based startups, creating a platform for collaboration and fusing an otherwise unlikely connection between Austin and Pakistani professionals. Tech experts from varying backgrounds and levels of experience will join up to refine their startup ideas and push themselves to the next level. This is not Austin’s first engagement with young Pakistani professionals in training.
Just last year, Austin teamed up with Lahore’s LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship to host a successful startup showcase featuring Autogenie, Jewelry Design Pro, Fictive Lab, Savaree, and GrabDeals — all brand new startups with unique offerings. Abbas Yousafzai, CEO of Conrad Labs commented on the event stating, “We have closely worked with Austin-based startups. The reason these startups trust us with their products engineering is that we bring to the table exceptional talent with repeatable and measurable success.”
In 2012, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin hosted the Fulbright Pakistan Workshop welcoming new students. The workshop addressed introductory issues to support Pakistani students in dealing with culture shock, understanding political affairs, and learning about academic life in the U.S. Students also toured the Texas State Capitol and even enjoyed a dinner cruise on Lake Austin at the end of the evening.
Through initiatives like ATXPAK, universities have begun forge collaboration and diversity as cultures intersect to reach new heights in entrepreneurial opportunities. Universities aren’t the only ones connecting professionals and students from around the globe. Entrepreneurial exchange programs have become increasingly popular in recent years, with Google’s 2015 programs paving the way for worldwide collaboration in several industries. Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange gave students from London, to Dubai, to South Korea the opportunity to improve products, prepare for investors, and attend workshops to sharpen their entrepreneurial skillset.
To stay up to date with the ATXPAK program as it unfolds in Austin, visit http://www.austinasianchamber.org/.