Back in June, when Invest2Innovate launched applications for their 2014-2015 accelerator program, they were hoping to get to hear about some great startup initiatives. They were not disappointed. They received over 250 applications, of which 19 were shortlisted, and a final 5 accepted in to the 2014-2015 class.
With graduates like Raise D’Bar, EcoEnergy Finance and 3Restart, Invest2Innovate’s accelerator program will do wonders for all the startups that have made it into next year’s class. Consisting of trainings, weekend retreats, mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, the program provides great support for the chosen startups. This includes conversations around budgeting, marketing, HR and other elements of a business the startup founders must get right before they are ready to pitch to investors. The program hopes to connect the chosen startups with investors at the end of the program year, and help them get funding.
Invest2Innovate received around 250+ applications after which they shortlisted 19. After careful scrutiny and with great supports from their mentors and angels, they decided to accept six of these startups to their 2014-2015 class. They will be working with them, over the next couple of months, to refine their business model, accelerate their ideas, develop their skills/capacity and make them investor-ready with help from the very exclusive curriculum they have created. According to Invest2Innovate, this is perhaps the most gender-balanced class that any accelerator has ever seen!
The 3rd year for the accelerator program kicks off in September, with a retreat weekend in Murree. The chosen startups will be introduced to the program, and will continue to meet for a further five weekends before the Investor Day in January 2015.
The Class of 2014-2015
1. Dheere Bolo
Founder: Nadine Murtaza
Dheere Bolo, a part of NJ’s House, builds innovative education curriculum & content for children, using storytelling, creativity, and critical thinking.
“Birds teach their young to fly, and they are our inspiration, because one cannot learn flying, except by flying. For centuries before mass education; monasteries, masters, gharanas, and guilds were the purveyors of learning. At NJ’s House, we teach by doing, and it is by doing that our students learn.”
Founder: Naushaba Brohi
Inaaya is a fashion brand that employs and empowers marginalized women in Sindh. Inaaya already has a partnership with Sana Safinaz, debuted at Pakistan Fashion Week 2014, and has been highlighted in Vogue India.
“Our current area of focus is South Asia where the infrastructure and poverty issues are compounded by denial of women’s basic human rights. By commissioning the production of, and facilitating the sale of these goods, we at Inaaya hope to play our part in stemming the growing income divide, and improving the quality of life of scores of honest, deserving workers, and their future generations.”
3. Blue Saint
Founder: Ambreen Malik
Blue Saint aims to preserve, modernize & showcase Pakistan’s cultural crafts to an international audience via an e-commerce platform that sources handmade products from all over Pakistan.
“Blue Saint is a social enterprise working to set up an e-shop selling “Handmade in Pakistan” crafts to international audience. The idea is to evolve Pakistan’s traditional crafts on modern lines, ensure quality of the products, pay fair wages to the artisans, and bring more female artisans in to the mainstream. Bear with us as we work on getting our e-shop up and running.”
4. Meri Taleem
Founder: Usama Shahid Khan
MeriTaleem is the one-stop platform for students in Pakistan. It aims to be the Information, Career Counseling and Online Admissions hub for higher education in the country.
“MeriTaleem.com is a central information and career counseling platform for students in Pakistan. It is a centralized platform that provides comprehensive information on all types of study courses and colleges/universities available in Pakistan for the students to benefit from.”
Savaree is Pakistan’s first carpooling app to hit the Google Play Store. It allows drivers to post routes and departure dates and times, and passengers can search for the best fit from the available routes.
“Savaree is about more than just cutting down on transportation costs and traffic. Savaree is about encouraging people to meet new people, to have a friendly chat on the way to work, inculcating a sense of civic responsibility in us, and most of all, Savaree is about helping us realize that there is a human side to every commuter in the roaring hubbub of a large city.”
A Word From Kulsoom Lakhani
Kulsoom Lakhani, the woman behind Invest2Innovate, founded the accelerator to connect budding entrepreneurs with investors and support, in line with her belief that “entrepreneurs have the power to change the world.”
“This is our third round of the i2i Accelerator, and our team has been working so hard to not only curate the best class possible, but also to provide them the best support to grow their businesses. We have a fantastic roster of mentors in our community, and also consulted with many other accelerators, like Pipa in Brazil and Socionext in Denmark, to refine and develop a curriculum that is both challenging and well-designed for our entrepreneurs. We’re so excited to welcome the 3rd class into our i2i family, and, as a female entrepreneur myself, I’m so thrilled that half our companies were founded or co-founded by other women entrepreneurs!”
We wish Invest2Innovate the best with their new class of start-ups, and hope to cover their work in depth in the future.