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A million dollar idea?

Updated 08 Feb, 2017 03:03pm
How the business reality show, ‘Idea Croron ka’, can help boost the entrepreneurship sector of Pakistan.

Over the past few months, there has been quite a lot of talk about a business reality TV show based on the idea of promoting entrepreneurship in Pakistan. The show has the appropriately named title ‘Idea Croron Ka’ and the format is influenced by the internationally acclaimed UK series Dragons’ Den, the American version being Shark Tank.

Idea Croron Ka is backed by the Chaudhry Muhammad Akram Centre for Entrepreneurship at Superior University Lahore and is produced by NEO TV. Leading the initiative is Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director of Entrepreneurship at the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) – he was also involved with PITB’s technology incubator Plan9 – as the content producer and anchor. According to Qadeer Idea Croron Ka will set new standards for Pakistani shows; “we want to promote hope and positivity and the desire to create an economically superior Pakistan."

One of the objectives of the show is to create a platform that bridges the gap between investors and entrepreneurs, whereby selected entrepreneurs will pitch their business idea to a panel of investors. The first season has three well-known entrepreneurs on the panel of investors; Humayun Mazhar (Founder and CEO, CresVentures), Salim Ghauri (Founder and CEO, Netsol) and Naeem Zamindar (CEO, Acumen). Dr Umer Saif, Chairman, of PITB) will play the role of ‘business advisor’ for the contestants.

The show is set to go live in March 2017 with 13 episodes in the first season. Each episode will feature three start-ups pitching to the panel of investors. The start-ups will present their investment requirements along with the equity that they would give to the investors against investment.

Pakistani TV audiences are used to (read, bored of) watching political talk shows and satire, so Idea Croron Ka may prove to be a breath of fresh air that will inspire rather than depress them.

Although influenced by Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank, Idea Croron Ka is introducing two new segments. ‘Himmat Karo Pakistan’ and ‘Pakistan Kay Heroes’. Himmat Karo Pakistan will present small scale entrepreneurs with limited resources in need of financial help to expand their business. They will appear on the show in the hope of convincing investors to give them financial assistance. Pakistan Kay Heroes will present one success story per episode. The aim here is to motivate the audiences by putting the spotlight on entrepreneurs who started from scratch and went on to become successful.

Pakistani TV audiences are used to (read, bored of) watching political talk shows and satire, so Idea Croron Ka may prove to be a breath of fresh air that will inspire rather than depress them.

Although many entrepreneurs are excited by the initiative, others are critical of the concept. Concern has been expressed that start-ups from incubators and accelerators other than those run by the people associated with the programme may be at a disadvantage – although the producers have said that all applications from across the start-up spectrum will be accepted. The choice of investors has also raised some eyebrows, mainly because none have been known to have invested in start-ups before. There is also a question of how ‘real’ the investments will prove to be, especially in view of the fact that that even in the case of Dragons’ Den, most of the investments made on the show did not later materialise. Here it is worth pointing out that the organisers have issued a disclaimer to the effect that like all reality shows, the terms of any investment proposed may or may not work out in the post-show discussions or during the due diligence process, although the channel will play its role in helping to achieve a successful closure on all deals.

Asma Abbas is the Community Lead at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship.