Every other second a flash bulb goes on top of a Pakistani’s head and a creative idea is conjured. But due to lack of resources and nourishments, the idea withers and die. Plan9 is that guiding hand that lets these innovative ideas grow and thrive. Plan9 is a project of Punjab Information Technology Board (PTIB) and is the largest Tech Incubator of Pakistan. So far it has incubated over 118 startups.
Plan9’s most recent highlight is the signing of MoU with Capital Factory-Touchdown Austin Program. Plan9 came up with an exchange program called ‘ATX+PAK Launch program’ initiated in January 2016 partnered with the U.S state department and City of Austin. The purpose of this program is to connect enthusiastic Pakistani entrepreneurs to mentors, business/strategic partners and investors based in Austin. This way these young entrepreneurs will be able to experience the entrepreneurial culture on an international level. Every 6 months, 5 to 7 entrepreneurs are sent to Austin for 3 weeks, to give them a chance to explore the entrepreneurial space, acquaint themselves with the best mentors and networking with investors. Later these entrepreneurs emerge as top officials, for instance, in November 2016, 4 MoUs were signed with Plan9, including Tech Ranch, Pen Pal Schools, Capital Factory and 3 Day Startup. At present, while the 3rd cohort of startups is currently residing in Austin, Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman, PTIB, Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, PTIB, and Mian Faizan Mahmood, Assistant Program Manager at Plan9 are also present in Austin to deliberate the collaborations with the City of Austin. On March 13th, Dr. Umar Saif signed a MoU with the Mayor of Austin, Mr. Steve Adler, proclaiming that Lahore and Austin are to be established as Science Cities.
For the entrepreneurs of Pakistan, there is fantastic news. Mr. Nabeel Qadeer has signed another MoU with Capital Factory-Touchdown Austin Program. There are two goals to the projects. One is to boost foreign in-market startup incubators/accelerators programs and both public/private funds through a multiphase US market entry boot camp. The second goal is to prepare startups/SMEs for US market entry through commercialization training, mentoring, marketing and sales consulting, access to funding/VCs/Angel, financial and accounting expertise and customer acquisition support. In short, this MoU is signed to tap into the delivery and management of Global Market Access Program (GMAP). GMAP is a business acceleration program of 3 phases, created to rapidly and strategically provide assistance to foreign technology companies entering the US market with the lowest possible risk. The vast number of economies that are budding and interested in entrepreneurial activities through government policy and investment in early stage funding vehicle, technology incubators and accelerator programs require a system to support them. GMAP acts as this system. Apart from this, GMAP filters and recognizes High Potential Ventures (HPV) through a custom series of boot camps furthering US market based value proposition, go to market strategies and facilitate the runway to succeed along with managing US market entry expectations. The boot camp of GMAP introduces the companies to the workings of businesses in US and world markets as they receive quality feedback on the future potential that their product or service holds in a market place. It is a way for the companies to know that they will either ‘succeed fast or fail fast’. The addition of GMAP as a partner means that now the companies have a ‘US voice’ feedback which tells the clients that US is a good or bad option.
The MoU that was signed was due to Plan9’s association with Austin City of Texas through ATX+PAK. They were able to achieve this milestone through the diligent work of the team with the constant efforts of Alicia Dean, Senior Public Relations Specialist, Mian Faizan Mahmood and Nabeel Qadeer who were Plan9’s front along with the support provided by Greater Austin Asian Chambers of Commerce.
Each new project is a gateway of opportunities for entrepreneurs, especially if they want to experience the entrepreneurial culture abroad. With Plan9 on board, startups can dare to dream.