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Start-up and go!

Updated Mar 01, 2017 05:04pm
The Startup Weekend served as the go-to place for aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their startup dream into a reality.

An overflow of passion, optimism and energy from aspiring entrepreneurs met mentorship from experts at the fourth edition of Startup Weekend Lahore, held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) on February 24, 25 and 26, 2017.

Startup Weekend Lahore is the Lahore chapter of the yearly global Startup Weekend event, funded primarily by Karandaaz Pakistan (a not-for-profit organisation), and organised and hosted by the SPADES Society – an initiative of LUMS’ Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering and LUMS’ Computer Science Department.

The three-day event kicked off at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, February 24, with approximately 100 participants (shortlisted from 435 applicants) who pitched a total of 60 start-up ideas to an audience consisting of aspiring entrepreneurs and college and university students.

Eleven of the 60 ideas were shortlisted through audience voting, and then received guidance from a panel of tech industry experts who helped the teams fine-tune their business models before being presented to the jury which included Badar Khushnood, Cofounder & Partner at Bramerz and former Country consultant for Google Pakistan, and Jehan Ara, President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA).

Hardly any of the participants slept during the 54-hour stretch; most stayed at LUMS the entire time, working day and night on their ideas. Finally, on the 26th, the jury selected the winner and the two runners-up:

The winner: ‘PayCard’

The PayCard team: (From L to R) Shujaat Ali, Asad Shabbir, Hassan Anwar.
The PayCard team: (From L to R) Shujaat Ali, Asad Shabbir, Hassan Anwar.

PayCard aims to be the fastest cashless payment method for middle- and lower-income segments. Customers will be able to buy a PayCard for Rs 500 from an authorised seller and register as a user through the PayCard app on their mobile. In order to purchase anything using the card, customers can visit PayCard authorised retail shops which have PayCard’s NFC (Near Field Communication) devices or card readers, and swipe their PayCard to make a payment, much like a debit or credit card. For online shopping, customers can make payments through the app. The PayCard will be topped up with PayCard top-up cards – available in Rs 200, 400, 1,000 and 1,500 denominations. One of the founders, Asad Shabbir said, “This start-up has the potential to target the international market and we look forward to doing just that.”

First runner-up: Groupie

The Groupie team: (From L to R) Hamza Azhar, Muhammad Hamza Javed, Fawaz ul Haq.
The Groupie team: (From L to R) Hamza Azhar, Muhammad Hamza Javed, Fawaz ul Haq.

Groupie allows people based in different geographical locations to take group selfies – as if they were together. The app will allow people to add their friends to their Groupie app network and send them group selfie requests. Once all the contacts accept the request, the app captures everyone’s photographs (through their mobile’s camera) and ‘stitches’ the individual pictures together to make it one group selfie. “Groupie is a social network app with the potential to rival the likes of Snapchat,” said Hamza Javed, Founder, Groupie.

Second runner-up: Homegrown

(From L to R): Samar Hasan (of Karandaaz), Hiba Shakil (Co-founder, Homegrown), Anam Tahir (Founder, Homegrown), Amna Mishal (of Karandaaz), Fatima Rizwan (of Techjuice).
(From L to R): Samar Hasan (of Karandaaz), Hiba Shakil (Co-founder, Homegrown), Anam Tahir (Founder, Homegrown), Amna Mishal (of Karandaaz), Fatima Rizwan (of Techjuice).

A start-up that promotes kitchen gardening, Homegrown aims to provide small gardening kits, each consisting of three different types of herbs or vegetable seeds, an instruction manual/gardening guidebook and a generous amount of coco-peat (a plant growing medium that serves as an alternative to the ordinary potting soil). The founders plan to sell these gardening kits through their online sales partners like Daraz and deliver them to their customer’s doorstep for Rs 1,200. Founders Anam Tahir and Hiba Shakil stressed that this start-up could revolutionise kitchen gardens like never before.

These three start-ups will now be put on an accelerated road to the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship where their ideas will have a chance of being worked on by some of the very best tech industry leaders of Pakistan, and eventually become a reality.

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