Recent years have witnessed a boom in venture capital-backed technology startups, thanks to convergence of factors in IT and capital markets.
In an environment rich with ideas and talent, responding to the need of capital, along with generating a culture of openness and collaboration, is vital for nurturing startup communities. A thriving startup community is an innovative ecosystem involving complex interaction among entrepreneurs, investors, universities, large existing businesses, and a host of supporting actors and organizations.
Plan9, launched as part of an initiative by the local provincial government in mid-2012, is Pakistan’s largest technology incubator. Having incubated 118 startups, it is that supporting organization which nurtures startup communities by providing an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and business development.
In the capacity of a catalyst for new businesses and helping early-stage tech startups grow and thrive into successful and self-sustainable businesses, Plan9 partnered with the U.S state department and City of Austin and developed ATX+PAK Launch.
ATX+PAK Launch is a 3 weeks fully funded exchange program designed for the Pakistani entrepreneurs and was initiated in January 2016. Plan9 is the local partner that scouts for quality startups in Pakistan whereas Greater Austin Asian Chambers (GAACC) is the partner managing operations in Austin. This program is a means to connect vibrant Pakistani entrepreneurs to mentors, business/strategic partners and investors based in Austin. The program provides exposure to startups enabling them to think in a global dimension and scale their businesses accordingly.
As part of the celebrations of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) from 14th till the 21st of November, Plan9 hosted a delegation from Austin, City of Texas under the arrangements of ATX+PAK Launch Program. The 10-member Austin delegation belonged to varied domains of one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial infrastructures in the US. Joining as part of the delegation, the members included Alexis Taylor, Program Manager at 3 Day Startup; Ali Syed, Touchdown Austin Coordinator at Capital Factory; Alicia Dean, Senior Public Info. Officer and Founder of the ATX+Pak Launch program; Christopher Scheetz, CEO of 1839 Ventures LLC Investment Fund; Joe Troyen, Founder of PenPal Schools; Kevin Koyme, Founder and CEO at Tech Ranch; Kim Moore, International Program Manager of ATX+Pak Launch Program; Preston Stewart, Global Business Expansion Coordinator at the city of Austin; and Ricky Holm, CEO of Chocolate, Milk & Donuts and Severine Cushing, Director Operations at Tech Ranch.
Among other opportunities, Plan9 arranged a couple of panel discussions where the local entrepreneurs could avail the experience of the accelerated startup culture prevailing in the States. Ensuring to impart their friends from Austin a true flavour of the Pakistani startup culture, Plan9 catered for their interaction with startups ranging from EdTech, Fintech, social, etc and collaborated talks on the education scene as well as growing induction of females in the work structure. Equal Opportunity Entrepreneurship, Driving Change and The Adventures in EdTech were warmly received and attended discussions where the vibrant participation turned out to be mutually beneficial for both sides.
In addition to being a means of strengthening the startup ecosystem in Pakistan, the highlight of Plan9’s GEW has been the signing of three Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between Punjab Information Technology Board’s Plan9 and entrepreneurs from Austin, Texas, to explore new avenues of partnership for entrepreneurs of both sides. Dr. Umar Saif Chairman PITB and the respective delegates from Austin signed and exchanged the MOUs.
Dr. Umar Saif was all praise for the visiting Austin delegation and highly appreciated their contribution to expand the entrepreneurial ecosystem all across the world. He said:
“This partnership means a lot to us. It is a wonderful opportunity for our startups to learn and gain experience from. I think this is just the beginning of something great. It has only been possible because of the wonderful team of PITB, that today we stand here partnering with exceptionally amazing companies at Austin.”
All of these firms are established to bolster and promote the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Plan9’s partnership with the foreign establishments will help the local industry as it will provide a wide web of network, experienced counsel and opportunity for growth to young and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Plan9 collaborates with 3 Day Startup
The 3 Day Startup program provides organizations the tools they need to cultivate student entrepreneurs. At its core, the program is designed to teach students how to start companies and bolster entrepreneurship in their communities in a rapid and sustainable manner. The flexibility of the model and the expertise of the 3DS team allows many organizations to tune and calibrate the program to a wide range of outcomes.
Dr. Umar Saif signed the MoU on behalf of Plan9 while Alexis J Taylor represented 3 Day Startup. Plan9’s collaboration with 3 Day Startups hopes to maximize the following objectives:
1. Create entrepreneurs and companies focused on scalable, high impact ventures.
2. Strengthen the breadth and reach of Plan9’s entrepreneurship connections in Lahore and the global 3DS network.
3D Startup will act as facilitators where 3DS team members will travel to Lahore to facilitate the 3 day workshop. Their professional team members will be available for calls and video-conferences to support ongoing engagement duties. 3DS will also provide website hosting, organizer project management tool, digital branding, application infrastructure, communications and marketing asset templates. 3DS will be sharing content including slide decks, frameworks, communications, copyright license, trademarks, etc. 3DS will customize program modules to address local challenges that can scale globally and the advantages and disadvantages of different social venture business models. 3DS will measure the entrepreneurial mindset change of participants before and after the program, deliver data-driven mentoring and coaching, and conduct a post-program review session. The 3DS organization will deliver the 3DS Playbook and 3DS Success Kit to the entrepreneurs.
Plan9 collaborates with Capital Factory
Capital Factory is a full-service incubator, accelerator, investment fund, educational facility and more, supported by a network of the most experienced entrepreneurial partners and mentors in the Austin area and beyond. Its mission is to be the center of gravity for tech startups and entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas. Entrepreneurs, programmers and designers from around the community gather day and night for meetups, classes and co-working. Capital Factory also has developed a soft-landing program for advanced startups and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand into the USA market via Austin.
This MoU between Plan9 and Capital Factory was signed between Dr. Umar Saif representing Plan9 and Ali Syed, Touchdown Austin Coordinator at Capital Factory.
The primary purpose of this MOU is to establish a strategic relationship between the Parties that will facilitate the development of opportunistic business growth linkages between the tech and creative industries in Lahore and Pakistan, with those in Austin and Texas and, through those principal bases, further into the whole of South Asia and North America.
The commercial purpose of this MOU is to provide the framework for any future binding contract between the Parties. The Parties recognize the significant set of shared values, missions, goals and constituencies of their organizations. This MOU is aimed to probe, define and develop commercial, cultural, educational and joint-funding collaborations and to promote mutual understanding between the Parties. The Parties agree to explore collaborations including, but not limited to joint programs, staff or startup exchanges, research programs or possible joint and/or cross-funding opportunities.
Plan9 collaborates with Tech Ranch
Tech Ranch is a supportive community to help entrepreneurs move forward. Whether they are looking to land in their co-working / office space or increase their venture’s chance of success by taking one of the Tech Ranch programs, they are here to support them along the entrepreneurial journey. Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman PITB signed an MoU with Kevin Koym, Founder of Tech Ranch.
Plan9 and Tech Ranch have agreed to the following postulates:
1. Tech Ranch will provide mentorship to startups focusing on social entrepreneurship and connect them to social entrepreneurs in Austin and in the States.
2. Tech Ranch will provide mentoring toolkits to be used by Plan9 to mentor its startups.
3. Tech Ranch and Plan9 will provide access to startups for online mentoring sessions.
4. Plan9 will connect Tech Ranch to its huge network of professional industry experts within Pakistan.
5. An exchange program shall be initiated where a social startup (impact innovation) from Pakistan will be incubated or accelerated at Tech Ranch, as well as creating opportunities for Pakistani entrepreneurs to leverage Tech Ranch’s world network of impact innovation global partners.
6. Knowledge sharing among teams, in terms of demographic behavior, local user bases & other startup oriented valuable information via webinars and virtual events.
7. Plan9 and Tech Ranch will collaboratively work on a plan for developing a successful long term relationship with the intent of creating impact both in Pakistan and in the world through social entrepreneurs.
This current development of multiple collaborations has not only been a means for the local budding entrepreneurs to develop an understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the US as well as the ecosystem that is flourishing in Pakistan and how they can make it stronger and better, but also has opened far reaching gateways to more cultural and entrepreneurial exchange and collaborative learning for both the Parties.