>Ignore the Nay Sayers

>If someone calls your idea “crazy” then you are onto something. If they declare you “insane” then you are moving in the right direction. And if they “write you off” then you are half way there to achieving your goals and successes.

Whether you agree or not, but history shows that almost all great men (and women) were declared “crazy”, “insane” and were “written off” while they were in the midst of their greatest adventure.

Einstein’s theory of relativity was not only controversial but was deemed “crazy” at the time of its publishing. Thomas Edison first phonograph was considered an “insane” idea. New York times wrote off Goddard, the father of rocket science, as someone who had an insane idea of going to the moon using some crazy rockets.

The list goes on and on. Steve Jobs defied the naysayers with his “insanely great” products for the past thirty years. Google was advised to let Yahoo acquire them as the search market was already saturated and their product would never take off. Ebay was considered a wacky and unprofitable idea when it was originally launched in 1995.

In my personal life, I have been advised dozens of times that my ideas are unsound and I cannot make money and am crazy to attempt them. But each time, I have ignored the naysayers and then gone ahead and done something that I always wanted. And, by Grace of God, succeeded each time.

In 2001, I was told that it was crazy to expect Pakistanis to use the internet to do recruitment and job search. But we believed that such a market not only existed but will be the only way recruitment will be done in Pakistan. We launched, BrightSpyre, Pakistan’s first online Job Search portal. Within two years, we were the first Pakistani company to be profitable from online business and were also the first to register 100,000 unique users online. Today, BrightSpyre has over half a million unique users and receives millions of job applications annually. Our model is copied and replicated by numerous copycat job sites in Pakistan and who owe their existence to BrightSpyre as we created the original market.

In 2004, when we decided to build a rural Tele-health network in Pakistan, we were told once again by all our peers and friends that it will not work and such an idea is outright crazy. Today, under UM Healthcare Trust, we run probably the only sustainable tele-health project in the country. Our services are available at near zero cost to the poor and needy in rural Mardan. Once again, we defied the odds to achieve our goals. I was also recently advised that my healthcare facility will not be successful and no one will ever use it. Today, we treat over 3,000 patients/month in rural Mardan and yes, we are probably the most successful rural clinic in the whole district of Mardan with a population exceeding 1.6 million people. Now, we are planning to take this project national and expand to other districts of the country.

In 2006, when we launched our international office in United States, we were told, no Pakistani company has ever been successful abroad without seeking investment and partners. We defied the odds and today, as a Pakistani startup we have customers in four continents with thousands of recruiters worldwide using our system to find the best talent.

All this time, I am told that there are no successful startups which do not have some source of financing. I remind them that none of my enterprises ever raised funds. We generated our revenues from our own products and services. We are profitable without the need to raise funds.

So my advice to all entrepreneurs out there. Never say Never. Do not listen to nay sayers. Believe in yourself and in your idea and just do it. The rest will be history.

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Ubuntu Linux, My Favorite Desktop

Has anyone tried the new Ubuntu Linux Desktop? Yes, instead of the usual Vista from Microsoft, the open source Linux? I did this week. In fact, I downloaded it out of a whim to see how what was this hoopla about Ubuntu. I am an old Unix/Linux fan and have had on occasions had Unix/Linux based machines as my desktop. So it was not my first try at this. But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

I partitioned my Toshiba laptop hard drive and assigned a small empty space to play with this new operating system. I had previously downloaded a copy of Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop Live CD and used it to install the OS onto my machine. The first thing it gave me was an option to load the OS off the CD and try it out on my laptop without actually installing it. Which I did immediately to see how my laptop would work. To my surprise, and a rarity for me, was that it picked up all the drivers easily. I have had issues with Wifi or display drivers or something in the past with various laptops, but not this time. Everything worked like a charm off the CD and I could even surf the web or do other things.

The next obvious choice was to click on the INSTALL icon and let the installation commence. Once again, it was a smooth install. It recognized an empty space on my harddisk and installed Ubuntu in there with little or no input from me.

In less than an hour, I was actually logged into the Linux system and using the usual softwares to do my daily chores. For office, it comes bundled with Open Office. In fact, once you get used to Open Office, you will not notice which software you are using (Microsoft or Open Office). I had Firefox as my browser and Rythmbox Media player. I even downloaded, Google Picasa (Photo Sharing), Google Earth and Skype from the respective websites and they all worked like a charm on the system.

Even my USB flash drive was plug and play. And best of all, Ubuntu automatically mounted my Windows partitioned so I was able to access my files to work from Linux. Yes, all word, excel and powerpoint documents could be easily opened up from Open office and my music in itunes was quickly imported into Rythmbox to play.

And for those outlook fans, Ubuntu comes bundled with Evolution email client. Which in my opinion is as good (if not better) than Outlook.

Best of all, Linux processor and memory management is far superior to Vista as I was able to get better performance out of it. In fact, the Ubuntu persistently used 50% less memory for equivalent tasks as compared to Vista.

And oh, if you are seeking any particular software for your personal needs, then Ubuntu has that option available through its package download management application. One can easily download, MS Money or Quicken’s equivalent in Linux, or DVD/CD Player, burner and ripper software. There are literally thousands of office, games, communications, programming, educational and accessories softwares to choose from. And the best thing is that all of them are free like the OS.

So my verdict? I have decided to keep Ubuntu Linux as my default desktop. I will be using it to do my daily chores. There is still Vista on my system, but I am not likely to log into it in the foreseeable future.

In my personal opinion of using various Unix (Sun Solaris, HP-UX, NeXTStep) and Linux (Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu etc) based Operation Systems, I have come to this conclusion that Linux has now matured enough to compete with Microsoft’s Windows and hold its own. Yes, it is now stable enough with large enough application support that one does not need to worry about any problems or issues. It is virtually as good as anything coming out of Seattle.

In developing countries, like Pakistan, where it is quite difficult to purchase extremely expensive Microsoft products, this is a great alternative. It is cheap (free) and comes with all the goodies that one expects from the traditional operating system.

You can download your own copy of Ubuntu Linux and experience the difference from their website at http://www.ubuntu.com

Green & White – Techcrunch of Pakistan

Green & WhiteThere are over 800 registered Information Technology companies with Pakistan Software Export Board. Quite a number of them have over 100 employees and revenues that exceed multi-million dollars. A conservative estimate by the government indicates that over 100,000 people are employed by the information technology related industry. From vendors, to call center staff, to software engineers. Despite these large numbers, it is quite unfortunate that the traditional media does not have any focused coverage plans for this vibrant and emerging industry within the country. Barring occasional press releases and a few PSEB or PASHA newsletters, one never gets to hear what is going on within the industry. In this vacuum, Greenwhite.org is like an oasis in the desert; filling the void with their wonderful, to the point, entertaining, and candid coverage of the whole industry.

I stumbled upon them when I was still at Stanford and they had independently tested/covered one of the companies that I had co-founded in Pakistan, called BrightSpyre in 2002. It was quite intriguing to read how they perceived the company and what the people were talking about. Ever since that time, I have been checking the blogsite quite regularly. They are always at the forefront covering events, reviewing companies or potentially good projects and even debating the future of IT industry in Pakistan. It makes for a great read and shows that the industry is alive with ideas and growing rapidly.

To me they are the techcrunch of Pakistan. Keep up the good work guys. It is really heartening to see that what the media does not consider important, they take it seriously and cover it thoroughly.

For more information visit: http://www.greenwhite.org