No idea is big or small. Young entrepreneurs in today’s world are coming up with mind-blowing ideas that can do wonders. But, no matter how strong, an idea is not complete without a proper guide or platform to help turn it into a reality. The platform can be in the shape of an incubator, a co-working space, a startup competition, an accelerator or anything similar to help the idea mature and to give these budding entrepreneurs a clear vision of their dream.
All these platforms have a different nature from one another. The fastest and relatively successful way of giving any startup a kick start in a short period of time is an accelerator. Some people confuse the accelerator with an incubator. Both give startups an initial jump, however, there is a slight difference. To put it briefly, incubators provide a fully equipped space for entrepreneurs to nourish and execute their startup and provide mentoring and networking sessions. Whereas in an accelerator, the startup is given a specific amount of time and a small investment to make it work.
Accelerators go through a complete selection process where a large number of startup applications are processed and only the top qualifies. These startups are then exposed to a network of mentors, investors, potential clients and anyone who can turn the startup into a success. The program is dedicated to a period of time, from a few weeks to a few months, where the selected teams are given opportunities to excel and accelerate their business idea. Teams are given mentoring and training sessions for business planning, development, marketing and execution along the way.
To make a startup successful, a team must avail every opportunity and strategize each and every step on the way to prepare themselves for the final demo day. This demo day is the most important day of every accelerator program and it decides the future of a startup.
Pakistan is an emerging land of entrepreneurship and home to many successfully running accelerator programs. Some of them are mentioned below:
Plan X, a project of Punjab Information Technology Board, is one of the earliest accelerators in Pakistan and was founded in September 2014. Unlike other accelerator programs, PlanX does not charge equity from its startups.
2. Invest2Innovate (I2I)
Invest to Innovate is another successful and famous accelerator in Islamabad. It is currently conducting an i2iKarandaaz Accelerator dedicated to female founders or co-founders. It has also been seen on many public forums like The New York Times, Forbes, The Guardian, and many others. In addition to the incubation program, I2I gives consulting sessions to the emerging entrepreneurs as well.
3. Telenor Velocity
Popular among the youth, we see Telenor promoting innovation and young ideas. Telenor Velocity is an initiative of one of Pakistan’s popular data provider, Telenor. Telenor Velocity provides an all easy accessible accelerator program for the young minds. They also provide an online payment system and a chance to win up to USD 1000 seed funding for 1 startup.
4. Disrupt Ventures
Disrupt started off with a vision to turn a small idea into a big one. Disrupt Ventures, launched in 2016, is a part of Disrupt company that also runs an IT firm named Gaditek. Their idea is to invest in new and innovative ideas that are dedicated to making a difference.
5. SPRING Accelerator
SPRING accelerator works for a cause and welcomes innovative ideas that can change lives of young girls, aged 10-19 years across East Africa and South Asia. Dr. Sara Saeed, co-founder of Sehat Kahani is one of the biggest success stories from the doors of the SPRING Accelerator.
6. Jump Start Pakistan
Another initiative to change the future of Pakistan, Jump Start promotes and welcomes all ideas that make our home a better place to live in. Jumpstart has been the start of many businesses with a variety of natures, like food, health, travel, education, e-commerce, health, & home automation.
The team behind Serendipity believes that Pakistan has growth potential and can create wonders for the world. They have hosted more than 700 startups and believe that there is a multitude of ideas that are still not tapped. They provide elaborate technology exposure and mentoring sessions for all different types of startup ideas.
8. Jazz Xlr8
The Jazz Xlr8 is the home of the greatest innovation lab in Pakistan, which gives birth to new and innovative ideas of entrepreneurs. This accelerator also provides global affiliation to help expand your startup to countries around the globe.
9. 10xC Technology Startup Seed
The 10XC is both a hybrid platform providing both incubator and acceleration to startups. They provide a 4-month pre-seed and seed funding programs in exchange for equity. The 10XC is taking applications for the summer batch currently.
10. Founder Institute, Islamabad
The Founder Institute is an Islamabad based incubator where graduates come and learn the strategies of launching a startup and creating their dream company. Students who become a part of this institute get to learn from experienced international mentors and trainers.
Note: Much like the entrepreneurial scenario in Pakistan, this is an on-going story. We shall keep updating the post as additions are made to the ecosystem. Is there any accelerator that we missed to notice? Please share.