Open to all kinds of business models, the StartUp Cup Pakistan is a competition that judges and rewards Pakistani entrepreneurs that have converted their unique business ideas into a viable business model. Part of an international initiate, the StartUp Cup has been promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Pakistan since 2013 by organizing a nationwide business competition.
In 2015, the StartUp Cup also established partnerships with multiple entrepreneurship centers in Pakistan. One such initiative has resulted in the establishment of the world’s first Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE). Located in Islamabad, it is sponsored by the U.S. State Department in association with the U.S. Pakistan Women’s Council, Lahore University for Management Science (LUMS) Center for Entrepreneurship, Plan 9 and “The Nest I/O” – a technology incubator based out of Karachi.
Organized by the The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Islamabad Chapter, the StartUp Cup, Pakistan, this year was even bigger and better than before. It was not just pride and ambition at stake but each competitor was vying for prize money of 1 million Pak Rupees; the runner up getting a hefty seven hundred and fifty thousand rupees and the second runner up getting five hundred thousand rupees.
After a tough competition and a grueling judging process, the list was culled to three start-ups: Patari, Wifigen and Maro Tandoor.
To put it simply, Patari is Spotify for Pakistan. With a beautiful and simple interface, Patari has created an online platform to stream Pakistani music on your desktops, tablets and mobile phones.
Patari has signed deals with more than 80 music labels in Pakistan and as of today have the largest content library of Pakistani music collated in one place.
Not just this, but Patari also employs music journalists and musicians that have curated multiple playlists that cut across various genres, decades and moods. These playlists don’t just provide easy access to beautiful music but also give listeners an insight into Pakistani music which was previously unfathomable.
Using the USP of trend setters such as Meat One, MARO Tandoors is a startup that is aiming at opening a chain of tandoors all over Lahore and subsequently all over the country. The offering is plain and simple: to provide customers clean, hygienic and high quality products right from the tandoor.
MARO Tandoor offers products such as Nutella Naan and Pizza Naan, at a reasonable price.
According to the business narrative, every MARO Tandoor will be stocked with high quality ingredients and will be handled by highly experienced labor. The people at MARO Tandoor claim that they will maintain the tandoor’s quality standards and hygiene to the highest of standards, which they claim will be in line with the MARO experience.
Wifigen is another tech startup that made it to the top of the list. Wifigen is a cloud based WiFi hotspot system. It enables the creation of a custom login interface for visitors.
Once setup, whoever tries to connect and login to the WiFi network does not see the customary username and password text boxes. Instead, the person connecting is directed to a page that can display the logo of a brand and options to login to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or any other custom form.
Once a user connects to a network using the available options, the admin can ask for Check-in’s, Facebook likes or Twitter follows too.
Not only this, Wifigen also allows their customer’s access to a cloud based dashboard, which allows them to see demographics of people visiting them and in turn interact with them, though at a later stage.
And the winner is…
The conclusion of the competition was celebrated in unison with the US Embassy as the closing ceremony was attended by the American Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. David Hale.
To announce the winner, Mr. David Hale, the US Ambassador and State Minister for CAAD, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, presented the winner’s cheque for one million rupees to tech startup, Patari.
The runner up cheque for PKR 750,000/ went to Wifigen and the cheque for PKR 500,000/ – for second runner up – went to MARO Tandoor.
During the 2015 StartUp Cup, more than 450 startups from all over Pakistan were also given opportunities to attend multi-day “Build-a-Business” workshops as well as mentoring and pitching sessions to inculcate skills that help them to convert their ideas into viable businesses.
A one of a kind initiative for Pakistan, the Startup Cup is a great opportunity for Pakistanis who have brilliant ideas but can’t find the right path to get them to materialize and succeed.
This in my view is not just a competition but a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy business horizon.