This is set to be an exciting weekend ahead, as it marks the start of the Plan9 Launchpad for 2014. The Launchpad is the beginning of a long process through which potential startups will apply to eventually take part in the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) program for incubation.
The Plan9 Launchpad for 2014 is an event that will be taking place in three of Pakistan’s major cities: Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Each event will last for two days, except for the Plan-Acumen collaboration Launchpad event, which will last for one day in Lahore.
This Launchpad will start the process for the fourth cycle of incubation for Plan 9. The third incubation cycle is currently underway, and is expected to be completed by this summer, on June 19th, 2014.
The Plan9 Launchpad is going to be welcoming startups from all over Pakistan. The requirements for participants are that they must be citizens of Pakistan, have a new idea for a tech product or service, and motivated and talented team members. People were invited to apply for a spot at the Launchpad in April, and those who got shortlisted are the ones who will be presenting their ideas or prototypes at the events happening this May.
The official partner of the Plan9 Launchpad is Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA). P@SHA supports many platforms for new and innovative startups, and the Plan9 Launchpad is just one of these.
While the premise behind all the ideas of the participating startups is finding a tech solution to a problem, Plan9 has teamed up with Acumen to have a separate Launchpad event, which is part of the same series but has a different application form, and a different premise. The Plan9-Acumen event will be looking specifically at ideas from social entrepreneurs, and the use of technology to alleviate and assist with combating social problems.
There are thirteen teams that have been shortlisted for this Plan9-Acumen event, which will take place on May 2nd in Lahore. The collaboration with Acumen holds an added benefit, which is that the company may provide funding to one or more of the startups after they have completed the incubation process, after assessing the startup and its business plan.
There are to be four events in total, and the schedule is set as:
Plan9-Acumen -Lahore- May 2nd, 2014
Plan9 -Lahore- May 3rd-4th 2014
Plan9 -Islamabad- May 10th-11th 2014
Plan9 -Karachi- May 17th-18th 2014
Plan9 was started in 2012 by PITB, with the following vision: “To instill the culture of tech entrepreneurship and constructive failure, and redefine the use of technology in achieving sustainable growth, by directing institutional funding, investment & mentorship in commercializing tech innovation using technology incubation as a tool.”
Plan9 has a rigorous incubation program that can help startups grow into their potential as business ventures. To qualify for incubation, teams must first apply online, and if chosen, present their work at the Launchpad event.
The event has two components: presentation of ideas, and then mentoring and support will be given to teams who will produce prototypes for their work and finally be rated and ranked against one another.
Teams that are chosen will receive a host of benefits for six months, which include: “free office space, monthly stipend per team member”, laptops to use for the duration of the incubation period, “uninterrupted power supply and internet connectivity,” which is possibly the holy grail of benefits given the electricity situation in Pakistan, “mentoring, training and workshops, legal advice, channels for funding opportunities, connection with potential customers/clients.”
All these are given free of cost, and at the end of it teams will have access to the Plan9 Angel Investors Club, from whom they can solicit funding if they are able to wow with their product. During the incubation period, teams will have had several opportunities to network and build up a plan for their business. Those who graduate from the incubation program will also become part of the Plan9 Alumni Network.