Startup Expo 2016 – What’s, Why’s And How’s

Promising to uphold an entrepreneurial ecosystem for all upcoming startups, Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in a joint collaboration with Startup Magazine, Pakistan’s first entrepreneurship magazine, organized the Startup Expo 2016. The two day event, on the 15th and 16th of April 2016 at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad, was hailed to give recognition to the Top 100 Startups of Pakistan. Marketed as the biggest platform across the country to bring forward brilliant, young, entrepreneurial minds to market their ventures, Startup Expo 2016 has been second in the series of annual events.

In this event roundup we shall be covering phase by phase unfolding of the Startup Expo, that offered to be the largest entrepreneurial festival of Pakistan. Going forward from the event agenda to event execution and from finding the insights offered by the participants to sharing the Award winners, we shall cover it all. The Expo has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster ride for the startup owners.


Seeking registration from startups all across the country, Startup Expo aimed to showcase top 100 startups selected over the following criteria:

  1. Startup: 80%All startups competing for the final 100 and for the list of awards were gauged over the following criteria:
    Business Model – how does the business make money, how does the idea work
    Originality – what distinguishes the startup from others
    Evidence of success – measured in terms of market share, profit, team size, customer base and other similar factors
    Clientele – the target market and the degree of customer satisfaction achieved
    Impact – any major impact made in the respective sector or local community
    Sustainability – evidence of the financials to help the business continue in the long run
  2. Startup Votes: 20%Votes earned by all the startups for their startup via a voting channel at the Startup Expo website.

Selected Startups:


The selected 100 startups were promised, in addition to the event features:

  • Free Advertorial in Startup magazine
  • Free Stall space (3×3 meter stall space. Against a sum of Rs. 2000, participants could get stall shell, electric points, chairs & counters)
  • Opportunity to win Startup Awards
  • Opportunity to win Cash Prizes

The event offered the following features:

Exhibition Features:

  • Startup Exhibition
  • Corporate Exhibition
  • Startup Conference
  • One on One Coaching Session
  • Investor Pitches
  • Workshops
  • Freelancers Meetup
  • Press Conference
  • Food Festival

Ceremony Features:

  • Award Ceremony
  • Concert

Startup Expo

The list of mentors and speakers included distinguished industry heavy-weights like Danial Jameel (Founder/CEO Oohlala Mobile, Forbes 30under30), Naeem Zamindar (Pakistan Country Director & CEO At Acumen), Sean Griffin (Founder World Startup Cup), Kashif Salman (Executive Editor Apps Herald), Chaudhry Faisal Mushtaq (Founder & CEO Of Roots Millennium Schools), Nabeel Qadeer (Joint Director Entrepreneurship- Punjab Information Technology Board – PITB), Michael Foley (CEO Telenor Pakistan) and Kamran Rizvi (Founder Sol).

The list of event sponsors hasn’t been any less glorious.

startup Expo

From the available range of Gold, Silver and Bronze Sponsors to the paying Corporate as well as Startup stalls and purchasable entry passes, one would have expected EDI to pull off a grand affair, befittingly challenging Startup Cup 2016 taking place in the Capital at the same time. However, the event has been more in news for the controversies it triggered than for the exposure it provided to the startup businesses.

From the moment participants walked in for the Orientation on the 13th of April, to the culmination of the event at Concert cancellation, the second Startup Expo came with its fair share of crises: A trademark startup trait, thus, quite in tune with the nature of the event itself.

Among the distinguished personalities in attendance were Michael Foley (CEO of Telenor Pakistan), Naeem Zamindar (Acumen), Farrukh Malik (Discretelogix Private Limited), Kamran Rizvi (School of Leadership) and Nabeel A. Qadeer (Plan9 – PITB’s Tech Incubator).

Startup Expo

Startup Expo

Startup Expo

100 teams from all across Pakistan from as far as Karachi and Skardu travelled to Islamabad to be a part of this event. This passionate participation by the startups is probably the single biggest success for the event organizers – to have inspired enough faith in the exhibitors.
However, while the exhibitors brought with them good KPIs for the management, their presence also demanded a well collaborated event execution strategy which seemed to be majorly amiss. If lack of booths for the startup stalls and non-availability of electricity almost the entire day on the first day of the event were not enough reasons for the business owners to be upset, a non-responsive management definitely riled everyone up.

Absence of media coverage for the startups, no one-on-one coaching sessions as well as lack of any investor pitches, turned out to be sufficient justification for quite a few disgruntled event participants to demand a refund of their payments. On the other hand, other startup owners maintained that while pitching beyond the weight is often a startup feature, it was actually the lack of ownership at the event management’s front that worsened situation for the struggling participants. A thin visitor turnout didn’t help alleviate the mood of the critical participants either.

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Startup Expo 2016 Winners:

The penultimate event of the second day was the awards ceremony, before the closing remarks. The following winners were announced for Startup Expo 2016:

Service Startup of the Year – DeliveryTen

E Store of the Year – ForanBuy

Tech Startup of the Year – Convitek

Education Startup of the Year – Kids&Moms

Food Startup of the Year – Capital Delights

Social Startup of the Year – Emperor’s Bazar

App of the Year – Holla

Healthcare Startup of the Year – Sehat

Fashion Startup of the Year – DealsKPK

Arts & Crafts Startup of the Year – DamascusMarks

Digital & Marketing Startup of the Year – WonderWorks

Travels & Tours Startup of the Year – PakPeaks


While the Startup Expo remains unprecedented in its approach to be a dedicated platform for emerging businesses with more human centric focus, there are quite a few areas which need improvement.
To ensure that Startup Expo lives to its claim in the coming years, EDI & Startup Magazine teams shall have to put in serious efforts to ensure financial feasibility, and seamless agenda execution for the event. Working with good vendors and training manpower specifically to handle crisis situation must also feature prominently at the to-do list for the 3rd Startup Expo.

Taking into account a case study of experiences by Wexnet exhibitions and Daachi, Startup Expo can incorporate quite a few techniques to improve its business model so that the clients – Startup owners, could reap the return on their investment as well.


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