Liveblogging from #LsmPakistan

Posted by Trevor Owens on

Update #5 - Sunday Morning Last night we had several special guests. We had over ten CEO's of software/IT companies attending the event. It was a pleasure finally meeting Jehan Ara who is the President of Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA). She was instrumental in spreading the word and making sure that I got my Visa on time. Jehan recently launched the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund which is a great initiative.I also had a chance to meet Badar Khushnood (Country Manager Google Pakistan) who talked about the wonderful stuff that Google was doing in Pakistan. Update #4 - Saturday Long yet productive day today. Some of the teams have absolutely shocked me here in Pakistan, and I have to admit this trip has completely changed my life. Some of the teams struggle with Lean principles, because it's so new to them and unlike anything they've ever learned. But there were a couple people who got-it on the first day and were even teaching the others. One of the teams called Sahara is a group of three engineering students from Islamabad. They've already developed a "Brain Controlled Limb Prothesis for Disabled." They also run a popular technology blog with close to 300,000 fans. I want to figure out a way they can come to the US.
It's also been great connecting with the startups being incubated at Umar Saif's Center for Innovation. These are companies with significant traction (the most innovative companies in all of Pakistan), but they've yet to nail it. I was talking to one today with 2.5M registered user but was not using cohort analysis and didn't understand their metrics (specifically retention). They were growing virally before they tried to (prematurely) monetize, and it appears as if a large part of their user base has churned but they don't actually know. These startups can benefit immensely from the strategies we teach at LSM and are at the front-end of tremendous opportunities here in Pakistan, a country of 170M people. Update #3 - Friday night Umar Saif talked about his startup experiences and mentioned that he wished more people had tried to poke holes in his ideas. He noted that for some products it took 1-2 years to pivot and that he considered that lost time & money a waste. Raza Saeed of Confiz also shared some awesome advice specific to Pakistanis.
  • Your co-founder doesn't need to be your best friend or brother, your startup should be about business
  • It's important to accept criticism as a way to improve and not to the heart
  • One has to think big, think about changing the world
  • Founders MUST focus
About 1/4 of the participants travelled from outside of Lahore for the event. As far as four hours away in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Very technical/engineering oriented crowd which is common in Pakistan (great IT industry). One of the teams is working on a brain computer chip that will allow you to control a prosthetic arm. They are three engineers that recently won their school's business plan competition. Before the end of the night I had one of the teams cold-calling PR agencies in NYC to pitch them on their idea. I was impressed how they were willing to go outside of their comfort zone. Update #2 It's Friday morning before #LsmPakistan and we've had even more founders sign-up in the last 12 hours thanks to Jehan's blog post and an awesome video that's on the front-page of CIO Pakistan:
First Update from Lahore - 4am Just arrived after a pretty fun stop-over in Dubai where I met Sara & Deem, the organizers of Startup Weekend Dubai. Very awesome city and friendly people, I will definitely be back. Tomorrow we will be hosted at the SAIF Innovation Center run by Umar Saif. Umar is a local hero (ala Steve Jobs) in the tech community here. MIT recently named him one of the Top 35 Young Innovators in the world along with Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin. I'm also super excited to meet Jehan Ara, who runs P@SHA, which functions as the Chamber of Commerce for all of the IT industry in Pakistan. She's been a huge part of putting this event together and even helped me expedite my visa! Off to sleep, will be blogging more tomorrow! - - Here I will be liveblogging about my trip to Pakistan for Lean Startup Machine. We have a crazy amount of startup founders signed-up for the event. Be sure to check in from time to time and see what I'm up to!