Jumpstart Pakistan is an Islamabad-based technology incubator with a mission to be leading change in Pakistan. The organization believes that change in Pakistan can be positively influenced by developing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country, encouraging people to execute their business ideas and supporting them on this journey. The organization was launched in March of 2014 with the ambitious mission of launching 1,500 startups in the next 5 years.
What is it about?
Jumpstart Pakistan is unlike the other technology incubators in the country that are either directly associated with a university or supported by the government. This gives them a different angle to work on and perhaps a wider scope to engage stakeholders without direct affiliations with educational institutions.
The entrepreneurship ecosystem that Jumpstart wants to replicate in Pakistan is Silicon Valley, but with a twist. Recognizing the various limitations that Islamabad or Pakistan has in terms of financing, human resources and the general business environment, Jumpstart wants to build something that is suited to the local needs and can successfully overcome our unique roadblocks.
Instead of helping budding entrepreneurs independently build out their businesses and then seeking funding from Venture Capital firms, Angel investors or other sources of financing, Jumpstart wants to run things differently. The model is described as providing new businesses with a greenhouse environment to organically grow in.
CEOs of existing companies will take leadership in startups by leading the business as well as mentoring co-founders to take over once the business has grown past the startup phase. In the startup phase, however, the CEOs of existing companies will be the ones calling the shots and helping the businesses grow in the process. The direct advantage of this model is that professionals with not only business skills but also business leadership experience will be able to benefit startup businesses which often fail due to the lack of business acumen of the co-founders.
The flipside would be first to find willing entrepreneurs to give control of their ideas to someone else, and then finding the right incentives for CEOs of existing companies to find the time from their busy schedules to properly take on new businesses. The positive here, however, is the innovative approach that this model takes on supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups versus the default model that has been deployed endlessly across the world with varied results.
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Another service that Jumpstart Pakistan is providing is a training program for entrepreneurs looking to quickly gain insights into the key issues around running and building a new business. These basics might seem very fundamental to someone who has studied business in a formal institution, but for many entrepreneurs with expertise in a technical field or without focused formal education in business administration, the basic concepts of what entrepreneurship is all about, what the basic needs of a new and growing business are and how to plan and execute business operations can be critical to their success.
It seems like Jumpstart already has some local CEOs and entrepreneurs on board as ‘Shepherds’ in their business model. Additionally, the startups currently participating in their program represent a wide range of potentially successful businesses such as a local online farmers market, online wedding invitations printer, artwork provider, plagiarism checker, virtual automotive maintenance portal, products for university students, online bookstore and an event planner.
In addition to these personalities and startups, Jumpstart has also recruited a wide variety of investment partners, sponsoring partners, training partners, technology partners, organizational partners, media partners, academia partners and supporting partners.
Interestingly, despite its location in Islamabad, Jumpstart has attracted participation from startups based all across the university from Lahore to Gujranwala to Karachi.
Eye for the future
The success of Jumpstart Pakistan’s business model and their startups can rewrite the way things are done in the startup space in Pakistan and other developing countries. If they are able to execute their idea well and create value for the business community and budding entrepreneurs, they can very likely be the champions of change in the country.