5 Questions with Hamza Tahir, Techstars Community Leader

December 9th, 2020

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Hamza Tahir is an award-winning community builder who specializes in tech entrepreneurship and building developer communities. He's the CTO of “Simi App” — a private and inclusive digital space for tight-knit groups to share what truly matters to them, leading some of the most active communities in the region like Facebook Developer Circles, Techstars Startup Weekend, Startup Grind Islamabad, and Slack Platform Community. He's the lead organizer of some of the leading tech conferences in Pakistan like Facebook DevC Pakistan Conference, Startup Grind Pakistan, Startup Weekend Islamabad, and Global Pakistan Tech Summit.

Hamza has won tons of Hackathons targeting different real-time challenges and creating solutions to help communities around the world including Facebook Developer Circles HackDay/BuildDay, Air Hackathon, Startup Weekend Islamabad, Hultz Prize Finals, Telenor Hackathon, Imagine Cup Microsoft, Amazon Deep Racer Challenge, and representing Pakistan at several international forums.

"On a journey to empower the local tech ecosystem by building collaborative developer communities across the country!" 

01. How did you get involved in Techstars Startup Weekend?

I first heard about Startup Weekend six years ago when I was in my university pursuing my Bachelor's degree. I participated in the Startup Weekend and wasn't lucky enough to make it to the finals but instead won friendships and expanded my network/vision, setting myself on this journey to build products to solve challenges faced by the local community. Eventually, two years back I participated again, and this time we won Startup Weekend Islamabad. We utilized all the resources and network leveraged by Techstars to grow our startup and in the meantime, after having a huge exposure to the local tech ecosystem by running developer communities in Pakistan, I felt I could add value to the community by hosting Startup Weekends into my city to nurture entrepreneurial and innovative mindset among youth and to provide them the right resources to build amazing products using technology. Ever since then we've hosted a lot of Startup Weekends, from climatic change to women’s empowerment, covering a lot of verticals in order to bring more value into the community. I've facilitated a lot of Startup Weekends in the country, sharing my experience, exposure, and network with the Startup Weekend communities around the county.

02. How have Techstars Startup Weekends impacted your life?

Starting from the beginning, Startup Weekend has played an important role in my life, from introducing me to this startup world to acquiring the technological skillset to create my own products. I feel empowered to help the local tech ecosystem of Pakistan through the valuable network and skills I've learned at Startup Weekend and throughout this journey of leading the Techstars community in Pakistan. 

03. Why are you passionate about entrepreneurship?

Being on this journey of entrepreneurship or self-exploration, It's just so fascinating to me: either it's the magic of turning ideas into reality or crossing our limitations to generate solutions which help us connect deeper with our communities. I'm passionate to see fellow developers, engineers, doctors, community builders, or people belonging from different parts of life coming together under one banner to brainstorm, struggle and bring some of the most innovative products in the world. I'm super excited to keep learning and contributing to upgrade the local and global tech ecosystem using technology entrepreneurship. 

04. How else are you involved in your community's startup ecosystem?

I'm actively contributing to my community's startup ecosystem through a series of programs to promote Pakistan's Tech Ecosystem globally and upgrade the local tech ecosystem by creating strong collaborative developer communities across the country and hosting some of the leading tech conferences and summits in the country to bring global tech leaders, investors and valuable opportunities here under the platforms of Techstars Startup Weekend, Slack Platform Community, Facebook Developer Circles, and Startup Grind.

05. What's next for your community's entrepreneurship ecosystem?

I believe Pakistan is the land of opportunities. Home to some of the great technology companies and startups like Afiniti, KeepTruckin, Bykea, Bookme.pk, Zameen.com, Cheetay, Airlift, etc... 

We have a population of 220 million, 70% being youth. We are the third largest English speaking nation in the world. We have more internet users than the population of Canada, the third-largest freelancing economy in the world. Pakistan has a large and growing technical talent base of 360K software developers, estimated by A.T. Kearney. That is more than Indonesia, Egypt, or UAE have.

We understand the potential that is here in Pakistan. We want to see more Pakistani developers, engineers, and startups competing in the global arena, working on disruptive technologies, and creating amazing products.

Pakistan is the largest market untapped by startups and venture capital today. Pakistanis form one of the biggest tech talent pools in the world and have done well across the globe, founding several unicorns and have played a leading role in many others. With this talent advantage, Pakistani startups are well-positioned to dominate all major industries in Pakistan and also expand to MENA, a $3.6 trillion economy that’s also relatively early in the startup cycle.

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