Ready…Set…Startup!

So Startup Weekend Lahore is just around the corner and if you aren’t excited yet this post will definitely get you all revved up and ready to make it big this weekend.

Getting Ready for Startup Weekend

Step One: Refine your Pitch – You may have had a certain idea in your mind for weeks or even years but you need to know that everybody present at Startup Weekend will be hearing it for the first time so make sure it is clear, direct, precise and specific. Don’t be afraid to practice pitching your idea.

Step Two: Get Competitive – At the end of the day Startup Weekend is a competition. The judges will be presented with numerous ideas out of which they’ll choose a winner on Sunday. So no matter how great your idea is make sure you tweak and streamline it in order to fit a business model.  You need to clearly identify your customers, figure out the technical execution of your idea and design it in a way that would help it emerge as a winner.

Step Three: Be Prepared – Startup Weekend is a marathon. Make sure your body is prepared for the hours of non-stop work, thinking, learning and brainstorming. You will be working for long hours with a lack of sleep.

Feeling Uncertain?

Well that’s the whole point! Startup Weekend aims to encourage you to embrace uncertainty. You may have a big idea for a startup but you may not be sure how to get it there. The thing with ideas is that there isn’t usually a well defined path leading to success. This is where Startup Weekend comes in. It accelerates the entire idea formulation and idea testing process to give you concrete and dependable results over the course of a weekend. Startup Weekend aims towards validating your vague brainchild into something that is actionable, real and attainable.

6 Startup Quotes to Start You Up:

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Startup Weekend: What can you do in 54 hours?

Startup Weekend: What can you do in 54 hours?

What is it about?

Coming up with your own startup business over a weekend

Where did it all start?

The first startup weekend took place in Boulder, Colorado in 2007. The primary aim of the event was to brainstorm and create a single business idea and drive it to possible fruition, all over the course of a weekend. By 2009, the Startup Weekend had organized various events in USA and Canada. After receiving a grant from the Kauffman Foundation, the largest organization for entrepreneurship in the world, it expanded globally. Startup weekend was listed in Forbes Magazine as a “Name You Need to Know In 2011”.

Why attend Startup Weekend?

  • Not just learn from others but build your own business idea and test it as you go
  • Actually launch the business idea you come up with. According to startup.org, over 36% of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong after 3 months.  Roughly 80% of participants plan on continuing working with their team or startup after the weekend.
  • Co-founder dating: Find that perfect match who you could actually start a business with
  • Network with thought leaders: Various notable people participate in Startup Weekend as coaches and mentors. Use this opportunity to build lasting relationships and gain valuable firsthand knowledge from these individuals.
  • Step out of your comfort zone and achieve the extraordinary in such a small time frame.
  • Become a part of a global phenomenon and join hands with thousands on a mission to change the world in a weekend.

So, what can you really do in 54 hours?

Well that’s for you to decide. What we propose is: “no talk, all action”. And for a little inspiration, let us tell you about the Group Photo App, Groopic that was one of the winners of SW 2012. The idea then grabbed attention of a local government incubator and later got prominent coverage on international media including CNN and TechCrunch.








Groopic, Silicon Valley and tech entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Groupic, Silicon Valley and tech entrepreneurship in Pakistan

 

Silicon Valley, the “mecca” of technology, is known for producing young technology entrepreneurs who have great risk-taking ability and drive to succeed. Given the right amount of resources and guidance, any one can come up with an entrepreneurial idea, pitch it to the investors, obtain seed funding and get the business going. One such successful group of people headed by Ali Rehan launched a mobile-imaging app called “Groopic” that allows people to stitch together the photographs that they take so that the photographer is never left out of the shot. The blog team of Start-up Weekend sat down with Ali Rehan, who initially pitched his idea of Groopic at a former Start-Up Weekend, and talked to him about his app and other fascinating things that he is presently doing.

 

Faraz Ahmed (FA): So, how did you come up with this idea of Groopic?

Ali Rehan (AR): We, the team of 5 people, were sitting in the Vision Lab one day. Basically, all of us have a penchant to talk about the “cool” and innovative things that can be done in the field of technology so we often talked about vision apps with augmented-reality dimension to them. By augmented-reality, I mean to refer to apps that use mobile interface to copy a real-world environment (that includes objects, information etc.). We would see people in the IT industry in Pakistan making all sorts of apps but augmented-reality apps, so keeping this in mind, I think we were not too far in creating a product like Groopic.

 

FA: Great. I am familiar with some of the Android-based apps that let you take photos using its dual-shot features through the front-camera. How is Groopic different from them?

AR: Dual-shot was introduced in S4 by Samsung last year. That feature, trust me, is a goofy way of including the photographer in the picture. The app, in most aspects, functions differently than Groopic.

FA: You used to charge for the usage of your product. Now that you have made Groopic free to use, has your customer base widened?

AR: Yes, it’s “freemium” now. The number of customers downloading and using our product has certainly increased. Since the day we made it free, we have observed about 50,000 downloads per day in contrast to a much less number of downloads when it was sold in the App and Android Stores for $1.99 a while back.

Given the statistics, we have also observed that the biggest market for Groopic is China and the USA. We are elated, yet surprised!

 

FA: That’s impressive! I know Groopic was also selected for a two-week Google Entrepreneurs-backed Sillicon Valley immersion program called BlackBox Connect Summer 2013. What did you make of the program and the experience?

AR: The experience was really amazing. For me, it was game-changing. Basically, you have a different mind-set when you work in Pakistan. You generally don’t tend to think “BIG” or take risks, given the environment in which you live. But coming back to Pakistan after taking part in this program, I was able to look at things and my work in a different perspective.

In Silicon Valley, we were living in a small house with 8 other teams from around the world who were selected for the same program. We got a chance to meet with and learn from some of the most successful and renowned entrepreneurs such as Chade Hurley and Steve Chen (founders of YouTube), Jack Dorsey (founder, Square) etc. It was an experience of a life-time!

FA: I am fascinated! So, you guys started your own venture Eyedeus Labs after launching Groopic. Could you tell me what are some of the current and upcoming projects you have been working on?

AR: We have launched a car-racing game that allows users to move the cars by tilting their heads. This game uses kinetic technology. We are also working on another product. It has to do with videos. We love it, and I hope, once it’s released, you guys will like it too!

 

FA: Thank you for your time, Ali. Last question: What do you think is the main challenged faced by young tech entrepreneurs who want to start up their own businesses today?

AR: Fortunately, things in the field of IT are becoming better. The interesting thing is that people are “talking” about these things and doing experiments to come up with new products and gadgets. However, I still feel to a great extent that we lack in the ability to take risks. Many start-ups fail initially, and if young entrepreneurs of this country cannot handle that fact, then they would not try to experiment.

More importantly, I also feel that students need to orient more towards arts, literature and culture these days. Students at LUMS should take advantage of courses in humanities as they allow you to think critically and argue effectively. My experience in humanities courses during my time at LUMS helped me immensely in building my analytical skills. Such skills are crucial in and favored by every field in Pakistan, be it Information Technology, Science, Business or Government. So, go beyond your comfort zones, take risks, innovate and help the people around you!

 

FA: Thanks for your time, Ali! 

 

 

 

 








What the hell is Startup Weekend??

Now that you’re interested, you may not be completely sure how you got here or what on earth Startup Weekend really is. First things first:

a) You got to reading here so that means you have an inquisitive mind which makes you perfect for Startup Weekend (…”Yes…Yes I know that but i still don’t know what the hell Startup Weekend is!”)

b) Once you find out there’s no turning back so don’t say we didn’t warn you! :)

So here is the deal. On this planet with millions of bright people with brilliant minds, great ideas often don’t get heard and remain what they are—figments of the mind. Young inspiring entrepreneurs constantly plan this and that but never seem to actually get anything done. Why? Because they don’t realize that deadlines, at least in the world of entrepreneurship, are our friends. Setting deadlines is the shove that many entrepreneurs need to get things done. And (cue the music) that is where Startup Weekend enters (stage right). Startup Weekend is as real and in your face as it gets; you say you have an awesome idea? You think you can change the face of the world? Great you now have 54 hours to get it done…and the clock is ticking!

See Startup Weekend has produced more than a few of these little get-togethers (over 115 actually) and every time we are blown away with how much teams can actually get it done.

Oh, did someone say teams? Yeah, I might have skipped over that part too. Besides setting deadlines Startup Weekend helps you do something else – form a team.  The vibe and energy around Startup Weekend inspires all kinds of creative and dynamic people to come out for a whole lot of reasons and before you know it, you suddenly have access to the most diverse and dynamic amalgamation of people you may ever hope to meet. And all that under the roof of LUMS with (wait for it) free food! Yes we appreciate your coming here to brainstorm with us that much!

So what do you think? Are you ready to dust off that idea and see where it might take you?