Last Wednesday, The Indus Entrepreneurship Conference was hosted at Sheraton Karachi in collaboration of Torque (SoL). It was a one-day networking and learning opportunity for all those who wanted to find the entrepreneur streak in themselves by taking inspiration by engaging with successful individuals in the field.
The day started with the session titled ‘Tales from the Trenches’ where the leading entrepreneurs presented their tales to the audience. If I had to review each in a one-liner then it would be this way. Puzzle by Adil Moosajee, Owner of Ego, was all about, to quote him, ‘Either find a way or make a path of your own. Work with happy people and others should be OUT.’ Reboot by Jawwad Farid, CEO of Alchemy discussed about learning from failures because ‘Before you can win, you have to lose’ and to be an entrepreneur, it is important being comfortable about what you are therefore looking behind is okay unless you don’t get obsessed about it. Adversity by Sameera Raja, Owner of Canvas Gallery, talked about her Breast Cancer Adversity and conquering it while managing her life. She emphasized on scheduling not only your work but how you present it to your audience. Appetite by Shahzad Ali, CEO of Student Biryani talked about how his father through his resilience from his humble beginnings made Cafe Student to a brand Student Biryani. The only favorite story for me was of Jawwad Farid because it talked about starting up a new venture and its hurdles. Others had stories which was about evolution or say an effort to sustain the previous family businesses.
Next up was ‘Investing in Change: Empowering Social Entrepreneurs’ by Batool Hassan, Business Development Manager at Acumen Fund. This was the most fruitful of all. She discussed about the idea of Philanthropy 2.0 where the products don’t need to be free but affordability and dignity should be brought into the market. Examples of Khuda ki Basti, Saibaan and other creatively planned projects were shared to illustrate that businesses can be run for social development and you don’t only get your capital back but reasonable profits can also be generated, if you are not running after the greed of money. She was kind enough to answer our questions even during the lunch break.
TieCon Debate was honestly more about pulling legs of each other. The topic being ‘Conventional Wisdom is becoming increasingly irrelevant’ itself had its flaws. In my honest opinion, any kind of wisdom can be relevant if you know how to mold and use it for your good. Personally Shahjehan Chaudhry stood out because he played the game pretty intelligently and fairly. Unilever representative at the against panel, was all rhetoric and made less sense, still won the debate and as Hassan Rizwan of Prymus Technologies rightly commented that surely ‘our education system is flawed.’ Sadly, people usually like how things are presented than the actual content. Next time it should be a discourse instead of debate. Thankfully lunch came in as a relief.
After lunch it was very apt to have a musical performance when people would usually go into the snore zone. Alan Simon from Taal Karisma introduced his Percussive Fusion Band and gave the people an insight on how band indulges in different beat cycles which haven’t been explored much before. Their each track was a delight and body percussion that they presented was pretty decent as a lot of people claim about the art but their performances eventually come flat. Ustadji their debut single is up on the radio and a must listen.
Skype helped with video-conferencing where Jahanzeb Sherwani, Founder of Jugaari shared his i-phone app experience with techies.
Birds of a feather featured Breakout sessions on various aspects of entrepreneurship skills like Bootstrapping, Branding, PR, Team Building and Social Media, where participants divided into their respective interest groups. Small focused groups surely brought a lot of ideas and learning on board.
Dr. Umar Saif who is Associate Professor at LUMS talked about pitching ideas to VCs. He gave an impression that VCs don’t pay much heed to your product, vision or technology but they invest more on the quality of team. Therefore it is the time when project becomes fund-able, as in at the point of take off, that it needs to be pitched else it would be too early or late. This was followed by Adil Saleem of Seen Report who shared his experience of making dream of this portal a reality which was also incubated by Dr. Umar Saif.
Last up was Asad Umar, CEO Engro Chemcial who talked about Making Your Move! The talk highlighted that once you start running your project, your business model should keep on updating and your passion should be supported by intellect whereby you know how to probe questions on achievements and move forward.
Every speaker highlighted about asking yourself that is it really your dream to become an entrepreneur?, if yes then one should not wait for being experienced as it would never be enough. Moreover an entrepreneur should be reading to take the tough part and learn from the mistakes. Social Media was also discuss at length which become a low or no-cost tool for marketing the businesses. Next time it would be great if Social Entrepreneurship takes the lead or maybe a whole conference can be dedicated on the subject.
Kudos to Sabeen Mahmud, the president of TiE to come up with an interesting line of speakers in such trying times and Shireen Naqvi with her Torque team for managing the conference on such high standards.
PS: The food was really good =D
PSS: I love the conference logo and badge.