Pakistan’s new crop of entrepreneurs must learn how to sell their ideas as a first step towards realizing their dream, said experts at Jinnah Institute’s town hall titled ‘From Ideas to Markets: How start-ups are reshaping entrepreneurship”, held at Iqra University Karachi.
While the entrepreneurship landscape is changing in favour of start-ups through improved access to funding, and mentoring through incubators and accelerators, experts felt that devising a viable business plan was necessary for investor support.
Jehan Ara of P@SHA highlighted the steady rise in the number of start-ups in Pakistan, including those led by women entrepreneurs. She felt that taking risks came at the heart of entrepreneurship and many start-ups responded to social needs such as healthcare while utilizing the strengths of e-commerce and web based outreach. She emphasized that young aspiring entrepreneurs need to have more rigorous business models to make it through stages of incubation, attracting seed funding and growth.
Muneeb Maayr of Bykea and co-founder of Daraz.pk, discussed the importance of sizing up one’s market before starting out, while establishing customer acquisition costs, unit economics and then sourcing donor interest. He said that any entrepreneur must be willing to “remove their tie and get their hands dirty” in order to run a successful business venture.
Saif Akhtar of 10XC indicated that online markets have huge untapped potential for businesses to join. A common stumbling block for new entrepreneurs is the presumption of “too much competition” online, while underscoring that a business is sustained by the entrepreneur’s personal interest in running it. “All of us may have good ideas, but the passion in making them happen is actually half the job done,” he said.
Nadia Patel Gangjee of Sheops encouraged young women in the audience to not be disheartened by family or social pressures, a common reason why potential entrepreneurs roll back their business plans. She advised that entrepreneurs must build self-discipline, learn time management, sift through their best ideas and execute them efficiently.
Responding to queries from students, Salim Karim of PublishEX encouraged members of the audience to gain work experience before they launched their platforms, as that would give them important practical skills. “Fear of losing a stable job and fear of competition are always difficult to overcome, but you have to fail in order to succeed,” he said.
The event was part of Jinnah Institute’s town hall series under the Open Democracy Initiative, which brings Pakistan’s top experts to interact with youth on issues of policy interest.