>Islamabad Bloggers Meetup

>Now here is another refreshing meetup I attended in Islamabad. It was even more amazing that over 100 people came together at Bahria campus on December 29th who had received invitations either via email or through Facebook just a few days earlier.

It was an encouraging sign to see so many Pakistanis in Islamabad either reading or blogging on a regular basis. There were people who blogged about popular topics like technology, about their personal life, politics, their country to such obscure topics like Mayan Calendar predicting end of the world in 2012. There were freshmen students, political activists, techno-geeks, and young entrepreneurs sharing their successes with the audience. And not just in English but also in Urdu language as well.

And yes, the event was being live blogged and twittered on the internet. It was also broadcast live for a small but dedicated audience of viewers online.

It was a great opportunity to finally meet face to face with many bloggers whom I have been following for the past many years. Bytesforall, PakSpectator, Metblogs, Sizlopedia.com are just some of the early success stories of bloggers from Islamabad.

The event also featured some stunning success on the internet in Pakistan including BrightSpyre, Pakistan’s premier job hunt website that I co-founded in 2001. Naqsha.net, Pakistan’s first application providing street maps and GPS navigation among others.

It is amazing that this medium is able to attract such a huge following in Pakistan. The traditional media as is the case worldwide still not being able to grasp the power of blogging and citizen journalism to the level that is required. This void is now being filled by twenty something youth who are now building Pakistan’s next generation of citizen journalists and reporters.

Badar Khushnood
from Google in collaboration with IEEE Bahria University Chapter organized this meetup. I do hope such events take place more regularly in Islamabad as it will only inspire more youth to use this medium to their benefit. The organizers did a good job of keeping the event running on a schedule and a agreed upon format thus making it more productive and interesting for the audience.

>PASHA-BrightSpyre Host a Successful Career Fair

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Once again PASHA and BrightSpyre have collaborated together to host yet another extremely successful job fair in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This time thousands of potential job seekers streamed through the door of Pearl Continental Hotel in Rawalpindi. The traffic flow, was surprisingly, well managed and everything seemed well ordered and not once anyone felt that it was a “fish market”.

The event also featured numerous focused sessions as well for the benefit of job seekers. This included such important and critical sessions as Resume Writing, Presentation Skills, Hiring Fresh Graduates from an employer’s perspective. And last but not the least was the Startup Insiders Session which was attended by over 150 eager youngsters. There were numerous questions asked by young minds who wanted to make the leap from salaried life to unpredictable world of entrepreneurship. The questions were very extremely good and thought provoking. This was the 4th such session in Islamabad/Rawalpindi and 10th in the series so far. And yet, the interest of the individuals and the content of the sessions just gets better and better. It is definitely a must attend event for every budding entrepreneur in Pakistan.

I met quite a lot of interesting people during the event, as this was a great event for networking as well. I was also impressed by the dedication of the student Ambassadors from the local Universities who worked tirelessly all day to make sure everything goes as planned. BrightSpyre (one of the company’s that I have co-founded) team also pulled off a great show in collaboration with PASHA. Thank you guys for doing all the hard work and putting together a great event! Thank you PASHA and Jehan Ara for organizing this event in Rawalpindi.

Such events are critical to the growth of the nascent Pakistan’s IT industry. Currently, there are over 1,000 such companies registered with Pakistan Software Export Board with a total market size of US$2 billion and a phenomenal growth rate of 50% annually (source PASHA).

BrightSpyre, which is currently the biggest job portal in Pakistan and boasting over half a million unique registered job seekers, also played a critical role of inviting the right mix of job seekers to the event. It was pleasing to see Bearing Point, Cisco, Scrybe, Ultimus and many other enterprises (seeking job seekers) happy and satisfied with the quality of the candidates at the event.

Here is a link to the photostream on flickr of this event.

Startup Insiders Session in PC Pindi

Yes, the 10th edition of Startup Insiders is going to be held this Saturday in Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi. It is hosted by PASHA in collaboration with BrightSpyre.

This is an ideal platform for entrepreneurs and young startups to meet and collaborate. I encourage all to come and attend this session. I will be there as well. The event will be held during the PASHA career expo at Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi on August 2, 2008.

Date & Time: August 2, 2008 (3-5pm)
Location: Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi
Theme: Transitioning from salaried life to Entrepreneurship

Please visit the event website at for more information.

>Startup Insiders in Islamabad on Aug 2

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PASHA in collaboration with BrightSpyre will be organizing the Startup Insiders in Islamabad on August 2. This is the 9th such session in the series that have been organized this year.

This is an ideal platform for entrepreneurs and young startups to meet and collaborate. I encourage all to come and attend this session. The event will be held during the PASHA career expo at Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi on August 2, 2008.

Date & Time: August 2, 2008 (4-6pm)
Location: Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi

Please visit the event website at http://www.brightspyre.com/pashacareerexpo/

>Startup Insider Session #8

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This 4th of April will be the 8th edition of the Startup Insider Session and 3rd in its series in Islamabad. This brain child of Osama Hashmi (greenwhite.org) in collaboration of PASHA has become the biggest IT social happening of the year. Already the past seven events have attracted sizeable crowds of over 100 people per session. And this time round, it is hoped will be no different.

What is amazing to see the amount of talent out there that is making it happen for the IT industry in Pakistan with little or not support from the government and/or local sources of funding. Most of these startups are a great success not only locally but internationally as well.

What is also amazing is to see such a huge turnout and interest shown by budding entrepreneurs and students. Maybe, one of these sessions will produce the next generation of Pakistani entrepreneurs that will make us all proud.

Time and Date: April 4, 2008 (5:30-9:00pm)
Location: NIIT (www.niit.edu.pk) Campus, Chaklala III, Rawalpindi
Host: NIIT, PASHA and BrightSpyre

Web Link and Online Registration:

http://www.niit.edu.pk/Seminars_workshops/pages/startup/index.php

Lahore Book Fair

Lahore Book Fair

This is probably Pakistan’s largest book fair to be held this year at Fortress Stadium Lahore. There were publishers from all parts of Pakistan, and a few from our neighboring India as well. An estimated 40,000 people have visited the fair since it started on February 28, 2008. The last day is Monday, March 3, 2008. Many big publishers and bookstores had setup huge stalls where they sold books at steep discounts including the well known ones like Ferozesons, Sang-e-meel, Liberty Books, Vanguard, Readings, Oxford University Press, among others.

There were also many text book publishers and religious publishers who also sold books in English and Urdu including the Holy Quran. I even saw one stall selling audio books which was attracting lot of interest. I ended up picking up many wonderful books (business, fiction and biographies) at over 50% discount and even more for some of my favorites.

One interesting point to note was that lots of families were there with their young kids. And many of them were pushing, pulling and coercing their parents to buy them their favorite children books. It was amazing to see such huge interest in the youth in reading. It shows that Harry Potter is not the only fiction that kids read today. And it further validates that the tradition of Lahoris (of being lovers of poetry and literature) is not lost but is still vibrant and being passed onto the youth of the country with much fan fare.

I would love to see such events happening more often all over Pakistan.

>Startup Insider Sessions: A must attend event

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The current economic boom that has gripped Pakistan for the most part of this decade has also had its impact on the IT industry. Many pioneering companies with innovative products and solutions have sprouted all over the country. Among them, BrightSpyre for innovation in introducing online recruitment to Pakistan (a company that I co-founded in 2002). Amaana sort of Pakistan’s version of Paypal, Green & White, our own techcrunch to report all the local happenings,
PixSense, Scrybe, Orgoo, among many many others.

PASHA, the official trade body, finally has a full time staff (almost 20 years after its creation) and with them comes another innovation, Startup Insider Sessions. Connecting local IT talent with brilliant minds who may want to forego their jobs for an entrepreneurial life. As Green & White puts it on their blog,

“A lot of bright, energetic and passionate entrepreneurs have great ideas but want to figure out how to take their brilliant idea and convert it into a business”

I think this sums up what the sessions are all about. So if you are one of them, make sure you are there.

These sessions also points to another level of maturity that the industry has achieved. We now have our own local stars and entrepreneurs in enough numbers who have ably demonstrated through successful startups that have made it big not only nationally and but also internationally. And interacting with these people will definitely provide the inspiration among many potential young minds to start it on their own rather than seek a job. Maybe, through these sessions, we may find some wonderful new ideas that further fuel innovation within the country.

Startup Insider sessions are organized by Green & White in collaboration with PASHA. All hats off to them for their wonderful effort.

For more information, please visit Green & White blogsite.