Naseem Javed on The Start-Up Engines of Pakistan

Pakistan is at crossroads; the beautiful land occupied by the 6th largest population of the world, with large majority of bright and young generation, most holding some powerful gadgets, connected to the world, eager to start-up something of real value. On the other side, the existing population of nation’s midsize businesses and SME owners, already growing older and weaker, but seriously lacking global age skills to lead Pakistan into new prosperity. Economic meltdown, empty treasuries, minuscule exports and failing education all demands massive corrections. The Prime Minister Imran Khan and his teams in PTI are doing their best. It’s now a national call for all entrepreneurial minds to rise-up, armed with technology and create a positive uplift together. Start-Ups once deployed on grand scale with global age skills sets can play their role extremely well.

But How?

Understanding the ‘Start-up-Technology’ Mindset and ‘Organizational-Technology’ Realities

Start-ups based on technologies are focused on mega-bucks and creating ‘unicorns’ but the advanced level thinking must now focus on “new-earth-shattering-idea-structuring” and how to bring more mature workable ideas into narrow focused start-up culture. Crazy chase for ‘hippos’ ‘butterflies’ and ‘unicorns’ is dwindling. Example: The average income of Hollywood film worker is below what others make working for grocery stores. Few become stars.

With below 1% super success factor, start-ups now need a more pragmatic approach. Self-discovery and self-optimization are more important over just coding or chasing cash. In Pakistan, the existing midsize business organizations are in critical need of innovative excellence and product development help from all directions. Entrepreneurial and innovative start-up persons should really be ‘inside’ the offices, plants and fields solving real issues with real innovative excellence, and technology in real time. Such collaborative working under special agreements from Intellectual Property to vertical licensing could be on the table. But look at the organizational problems, enterprises are either stagnant or in chaos, but badly need all the new start-up ideas as their own survival strategy. Learning the real difference is essential – from delivering baby ideas to VC to helping big and small real enterprises with real solutions of ‘sorts’ for better performance of today. Critics would call it ‘creative apprenticeship’ or ‘old industrial innovative manipulations’.

No matter what, but this is what the nation’s industrial, agricultural and service sectors so critically need. Winning such deals would be the best start-up options. Plus, the bonus: working with a real live problem in an entrepreneurial environment is far important than pushing business plans and case studies. The proposed models still make you a smart start-up while you retain your independence.

So how to mobilize?

Calling on national trade associations and chambers

Collaborative Synthesizim: Major trade associations and chambers should set-up massive and open in-house Start-ups. They should allow open access to their entire large memberships to engage and work with new and exciting potential talents. For members to have access to this new start-up mentality, entrepreneurial gusto to mix, match and apply to hardcore problems on the floor from agricultural to industrial, manufacturing of service economy enterprises, all in real-time. Create an interactive bounce and open up possibilities of creating something of amazing value for all the industries. This win-win situation incorporated with collaborative synthesizim will boost the start-up culture in Pakistan. Rather than chasing VC, chase the established entrepreneurs with real innovative excellence to solve their issues on their floors. This should not be a confused university lab working with some major industries.

This is about large and open access to national memberships of any Top Trade Association to create unlimited big and small ideas, imagine 10,000 startups engaged with 10,000 businesses. Remember, business education delivered via classrooms all over the world has now been declared almost ineffective. The current leadership of trade associations and chambers need tremendous help and they need guidance on how to mobilize 10,000 start-ups across the nation impacting some 10,000 enterprises and poised to change the national landscape. This of course demands pure entrepreneurial approach over academic stagnation. Are the mandated agencies ready with real entrepreneurial leadership to promote export and economic growth of Pakistan and they ready for such global age challenges? Can they assemble the right skills to deliver such mammoth operations? These programs are all execution dependent and not necessarily new funding dependent.

So, what’s stopping this?

Smart growth is more about execution and less about funding; it’s more about global age knowledge and less about classroom knowledge and more about mobilization and less about traditional procedures. This requires months of coaching to become a global age savvy person. Universities have failed here and major institutions around the world have less experience on such thought leadership. A new wave of thinking is emerging all over the world and sooner you join in the better.

Read the full feature here

1 Comment

  1. I appreciate the effort of this magazine’s team. The work that discussed in an interview regarding academic contribution in start-up grabbed my attention about ‘stagnant academic role’ in fostering start-up initiative. Being a professor in management science and a PhD scholar I argued that academia has contributed in terms of teaching business skills from idea screening idea to business plan development. Many business schools have incubators and faculty is engaged in coaching entrepreneurial competence to Youth. I suggest you to engage professors in your effort of promoting youth business and start-up initiatives that certainly help our society in learning more about the issues related to the business start-up.

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