Arzish Azam On the Power of Strong Communities

Arzish Azam is the CEO of Ejad Labs, a collaborative innovation hub for South Asian Entrepreneurs. He’s the Manager for Google Business Group (GBG) Lahore, a non-profit community supported by Google and the lead organizer for BizFest Lahore, the first Google supported technology and business conference in the region. Arzish is also the Islamabad Chapter Director for Startup Grind and has helped expand the world’s largest independent network of entrepreneurs to 10+ cities, 5+ universities in Pakistan. He’s also the Founder of the PAK-US Tech Exchange, the largest independent exchange program for Pakistani entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley which is powered by Startup Grind.

Arzish has represented Pakistan at Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 in Stanford, Organization of Islamic Corporation’s Youth Entrepreneurship Forum 2017 and 2018 in Kazan, Russia, Startup Grind Global Conference 2018 & 2019 in Silicon Valley, Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon, Startup Grind Barcelona Conference 2018 in Spain, SXSW 2019 in Austin, TIEcon 2019 and Google I/O 2019 in Silicon Valley. He’s an alumni of Plan9 – Punjab Information Technology Board’s Technology Incubator, the National Incubation Center in Islamabad and the world’s youngest entrepreneur to graduate from the Founder Institute in 2015, a Silicon Valley based idea stage accelerator. We talk to Arzish about all the work he does to build the entrepreneurial community and to bring communities closer.

We talked to the young entrepreneur and community builder about how it’s done and here is what he had to say.

You work with a lot of different organizations and do active community building. What is your inspiration behind running these communities?

I started off by joining Founder Institute’s inaugural semester in Islamabad when Yusuf Hussain was the director of the chapter. Founder Institute gave me access to the country’s top experts in technology and business. I became part of this prestigious global community and have benefited a lot in terms of finding new opportunities. I revived the Startup Grind Chapter in Islamabad back in 2016 with the intention to open up my network to the general public. I’ve observed over time that everything I’ve achieved is because of this spirit of giving first, helping others and making friends. My primary motivation behind running these diverse communities is to make this culture of helping others a common norm because that’s the only way we can grow as a community and country. We are missing this culture of collaboration in our community and I’m hoping that by creating these small spaces, we can create this culture of collaborative innovation.

You also do exchange programs to provide opportunities to Pakistani students and startups. Tell us more about that.

We run the largest independent exchange programs for Pakistani entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley and are growing to more markets including Barcelona, London and European markets. The exchange programs are targeted towards students, startups, corporates, IT professionals and government officials in order to help them build connections in these ecosystems and achieve growth for their personal and professionals objectives. Our flagship program is the PAK-US Tech Exchange to Silicon Valley.

What are some of your learnings from your work that others can benefit from?

I strongly believe in the Startup Grind values of making friends, giving first and helping others. I’ve learned from all my experiences that if you honestly practice these values in your life, you will achieve significant growth and become part of a supportive community where others start doing the same for you.

What are your plans with these communities for the next three years?

We are working on some initiatives of international significance, which will be announced as we move forward. One such activity is the first annual Pakistan Tech Summit in Silicon Valley that we’re co-hosting along with the Consulate General of Pakistan in Los Angeles, NetSol Technologies Inc. and OPEN Silicon Valley. We will be making some big announcements at this event.

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