The third edition of Startup Weekend Karachi Women Edition came to a successful close, experiencing record-breaking registrations from more than 200 aspiring women entrepreneurs belonging to diverse professional backgrounds including developers, designers, marketeers and startup enthusiasts. The event was organized by Pakistan’s leading tech incubator The Nest I/O from September 13th– 15th, 2019.
Startup Weekend is an immersive event enabling entrepreneurs, aspiring and otherwise, to understand what it means to be a part of a startup eco-system as well as help them walk through the different phases of launching their ventures. Through Startup Weekend Women Edition, the organizers strive to enable and empower female entrepreneurs, technologists, other professionals interested in venturing into startup life by offering them a platform to share their ideas, form diverse teams and launch their startups over the course of a weekend.
The Nest I/O is a technology incubator in Pakistan, a community hub launched by P@SHAwith global partners Google for Entrepreneurs and Samsung, and through a supporting grant from the US State Department. P@SHA, Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA) is an organization initiated by a number of software houses in an attempt to create a functional trade association for the IT industry in Pakistan.
Focusing on creating change-makers by tapping into the potential of the Pakistani female workforce, The Nest I/O’s goal was not only to offer a platform where women could network, get the much-needed mentoring; but also showcase the country’s immense female skills and talent in the global arena.
The 54-hour long event witnessed 36 ideas pitched to a carefully curated panel of judges including Naz Khan, Managing Director at X-Petroleum Limited, Misbah Naqvi, Managing Partner at i2i Ventures, Samra Muslim, Founder at Walnut Communications, and Jehan Ara, President P@SHA and Founder of The Nest I/O. A total of 12 ideas were selected and 70 women shortlisted.
Talking about her role as a first time judge at Women’s Edition, Naz Khan commented: “I really enjoyed the experience and feel that it’s very important for women to have these safe spaces where they can take their ideas forward without the fear of being judged, or not having confidence. It’s very inspiring to see all these women who spent the entire weekend collaborating, putting their ideas together […] and the fact that they were able to unlock their minds and were able to network and know that there are so many like-minded people out there, is just amazing.”
One of the main proponents of Pakistan’s entrepreneurship and tech sectors, President P@SHA and Founder The Nest I/O, Jehan Ara, shared: “The main focus of Startup Weekend Women is to change the ratio of gender attendance during tech events. We have been hosting Startup Weekend since 2017 and always ensure that we have a gender balance in all our events. Having said that, we still find that hosting Startup Weekend Women is very helpful for women because it gives them that comfort to show up and engage in a more meaningful way, to build and develop ideas with actual output.”
Top prize went to Safe Nest, pitching the idea of safe housing community for women who live alone in the city.“Safe Nest is the winner of this event and will be representing Pakistan at the Global Startup Weekend Women next year. I’m already so proud of them for coming up with an idea that does not only have the potential to grow into a good business but also empowers women at the same time,” Jehan Ara added.
Second place went to CalmWalay presenting a reliable, tech-enabled platform that assisted users in hiring household help as well as offering vocational trainings and workshops to such staff members for growth. Carpoolers came third. The team pitched the idea of creating an app to reduce travel costs of university students. Special mentions were also given to Little Rebels, an idea to design fun and cute gender neutral clothes for children under 10, and Decentra Cars, a safe and secure car buying and selling platform using blockchain technology.
“The experience here was amazing! We met some really good mentors from different backgrounds. They taught us how to come up with a practical strategy and an overall sense of how to turn it into a business, how to market it, how to go about the financials, making it a very holistic and comprehensive experience. My team alone had members from various backgrounds including a pharmacist, a chef, a business manager, and they all brought a lot to the table. Everyone should try to be a part of this event because this is one experience you don’t want to miss,” commented Adeena Ismail, member of the team CalmWalay.
Over a period of two and a half days, the SWW participants had an opportunity to network with different people, learn about business model canvas and pitching during workshops, get inspired by speaker sessions, and receive one-on-one coaching from successful entrepreneurs from various fields including Nadia Patel Gangjee, Founder Sheops and Femprow, Sahar Habib Ghazi, Senior Newsroom Leader & Multimedia Journalist, Nida Farid, an aerospace engineer and energy efficiency consultant, Madiha Latif Program Coordinator at Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre, amongst many others. Popular bloggers like Amtul Baweja of Patangeer and Anika Moiz of Boss Women Pakistan also supported the event. The speakers who were invited to share their stories included Faiza Yousuf, a technologist and a serial entrepreneur with almost nine years of experience in building products and teams, Nusrat Hidayatullah, Founder of The Forty Two Day Challenge, Jahan Ara Saleem, project lead for Women Dump Truck Driving Program (WDDP), an initiative of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company to create employment opportunities for the local women of Tharparkar, and Ghazal Pirzada, Founder Ghazal Pirzada Studios.
The Global Startup Weekend Women by Techstars will take place in Singapore in March 2020 where winners of Startup Weekend Women held all across the world will represent their respective country.
For a complete list of The Nest i/o startups and what they do, click here.
Images Credit: The Nest I/O