In today’s world, being an entrepreneur is considered quite glamorous. People automatically admire and envy successful entrepreneurs… people who are at the top of their game and have made it on their own. Although this is true when you succeed, the fact is that there are more chances for an entrepreneur to fail. That is, unless you have the right tools and proper mindset!
Enter incubators and accelerators…
What, or who, are incubators and accelerators?
Incubators act as mentors for startups. They guide them and help them get to the right people. Accelerators are more structured and goal oriented having specific timelines and work on reaching important milestones.
Both incubators and accelerators help startups polish up their act and also help in getting funds from investors.
As this is a budding concept in Pakistan, we have compiled a list of Incubators and Accelerators in Pakistan
Accelerators and Incubators in Pakistan…
Plan 9: Plan 9 is the largest government owned incubator. This incubator, based in Lahore, is a project of the Punjab Information Technology Board. Offering consultancy, mentoring and at times office space too, Plan 9 provides startups with the right contacts to acquire the much needed funds to succeed. Plan 9 is the largest public sector incubator.
Invest2Innovate (i2i): i2i is an accelerator that chooses aspiring entrepreneurs and teaches them for four months on how to start a business. It also helps these entrepreneurs network and connects them with investors and fund providers.
The Foundation: A teaching program by the Lahore Institute of Management Sciences (LUMS) Center for Entrepreneurship, The Foundation selects promising startups and gives them a four month training to help them succeed.
Plan X: A kind of spinoff of Plan 9, Plan X offers a six month training program to tech startups, free of cost. They select startups that have been around for some time and only need guidance to get them on the right path.
The Nest.IO: P@SHA’s tech incubator is the latest incubator on the market. Based out of Karachi, Nest.IO is funded by the U.S. State Department. Similar to most incubators, this one also provides a 4 month program to mentor startups, provide workspace and help find investors.
Centre for Entrepreneurial Development IBA: This is a joint venture incubator between IBA and Aman Foundation. Its prime objective is to train promising young business graduates by focusing on teaching entrepreneurs the art of selling their startups the right way.
Mini Ventures: Mini Ventures is an angel seed fund providing startups with initial capital required to turn profitable. They also help startups by connecting them with influential people within the industry.
Peracha Organization: This is an accelerator for technology companies. It reaches out to companies that have products that are not in the prototype stage. They link these firms to the right customers and prospective partners and also provide funds wherever deemed appropriate.
MIT Enterprise of Pakistan (MITEP): This organization helps IT companies reach their full potential by offering a Business Acceleration Program (BAP) that exposes these companies to the U.S. market and investors.
SEED Incubation Center: SEED is an incubator supporting fresh graduates that have big ideas. SEED provides mentoring and also helps in research and business development. In later stages, they also help with funding, office space, networking and legal guidance.
Venexel: Venexel helps with initial training, guidance and funding once the essential pieces for implementation are in place. Venexel also links up its startups with technical co-founders for further assistance.
Jumpstart Pakistan: Jumpstart mentors startups and arranges seed funding for them. It also helps entrepreneurs connect with industry big wigs.
Business Incubation Center University of Agriculture: This incubator is in the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. They impart technical assistance and guidance to startups and provide them with the required resources.
Cyan Capital: Cyan is a private equity firm that provides funding to large companies that are aiming to grow locally or internationally.
Arpatech: itself an IT solutions provider. Arpatech also helps startups during all stages of their establishment. Arpatech Ventures also provides seed capital to startups.
Breeze Angel Investments: This company is aimed at the tech sector and provides mentoring and seed capital to promising startups. They prefer taking up a stake in the tech firm they support and help the firm in all aspects of their work
DYL Ventures: DYL helps selected startups by mentoring, support and guidance to help grow their business. They provide help in the areas of marketing and also with the initial funding.
Dotzero: Dotrezo is more of a business consultancy providing co-working space to lease. They also at times provide funding of up to $250,000.
Business Incubation Center University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences: This is the incubation center of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) and is located at its Lahore campus. It mentors startups by providing them consultancy and also helps them via financial aid, marketing and networking assistance.
SMEDA: Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) was launched by the government of Pakistan in 1998 to promote small and medium sized companies. SMEDA helps SME’s with business development and in acquiring funding.
NUST Technology Incubation Center: This is NUST’s incubator for technology firms. It helps convert technology based ideas into practical startups.
Cloud 9 Startups: Another technology incubator, Cloud 9 mentors tech talent and provides business support from the idea stage. Cloud 9 also has a fund that selectively provides seed funding.
TiE Islamabad Chapter: Launched way back in 1992, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) aims to mentor and train aspiring entrepreneurs who they think can become good business leaders. TiE also helps arrange for funding of startups by linking startups to the right people.
ICT RnD Fund: This is a fund that promotes new research ideas and helps them turn into lucrative business initiatives.
COMSATS Incubation center: backed by the COMSATS Institute of Technology, this incubator helps turn good research ideas coming out of the institute into practical business opportunities.
Basecamp: Basecamp provides co-working space to newbies. Based in Peshawar, it is a first of its kind in the city.
KPK Incubation Center: An incubation center based in Peshawar it provides business support and seed funding up to Rs. 1 million to startups.
The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Incubation, IBA, Sukkur: The center is a part of IBA University and imparts business support to startups. It also lends a hand in arranging for funding by connecting startups to the right investors.
Microsoft Innovation Center: A project of Microsoft and Lahore & Punjab information technology boards, this center helps startups that have the potential to grow. The center promotes innovation and entrepreneurship.
If the current pace is maintained, these accelerators and incubators provide a unique opportunity to many startups and could setup a startup boom in the country, showcasing Pakistan as a model for the rest of the developing world.