Before I begin with the article, let me tell you one thing that I am not a Startup “Coach”. This is something I am writing out of heart and I felt it important to be out there. For the sovereignty of Startups in Pakistan.
In the last decade the world has seen a major rise in technological advancement, and so did Pakistan. But for Pakistan, the rise was in the opposite direction. Opposite in terms of progress and vision.
You must have heard about hundreds of startups being launched in Pakistan, but how many of them are actually working at the moment? very few. There are several reasons for that, reasons which we must have identified long ago but unfortunately failed to do so.
Entrepreneurs in Pakistan, whenever they launch a startup their main goal is to establish themselves as a CEO of a certain “Startup”, and to update their twitter bio so they get the right “feel”. I personally know many people who before even launching a startup jump into this puddle. “Aslam updating his twitter bio will not help him become a successful Ceo”. This boastful behavior ends up making the startup failure. As the person is more focused on maintaining his image rather than the startup. You are not selling yourself you are selling the idea!
Furthermore, there is one word that brings immense damage to the Startup and startup ecosystem. “Jaldi” is that word which is responsible for pushing great ideas into the dark wells of misfortune. “Abhi Startup lafz ka S nahi likha hota aur paisay ki pehlay par jati hai”. These are the words of a Pakistani Financial analyst, based in China. I believe these words are very true, without a solid base you stand nowhere. We must focus on sustainable models. Instead of focusing on one-hit wonders.
When Steve Jobs started Apple he looked for a problem and tried to solve it. Same with Bill Gates, Jack Ma and Elon Musk. They were not like, “Yar is kaam mein paisa hai ye Karte Hain”. We look for the money in a hurry and end up launching, “yaylelo.pk wolelo.pk”. The projects which we ourselves do not even remember after few months.
I am not implying that all of the Pakistani entrepreneurs are like this, but most are.
Another problem with Pakistani startups is Over Employment. “Board of Directors” is there even before the existence of the startup. Directors do nothing and end up sending memes in WhatsApp groups. The major reason for them to sit idle is: for such a small venture there is no work at the initial stage. All of this leads to confusion and overlapping of responsibilities eventually ending up in chaos. No Junaid, the value of your Startup does not depend on the number of team members you have but on the work they do.
“Copying the already successful ideas”. When Uber and Careem became popular in Pakistan literally everyone started copying the idea. Without thinking about the domain, the user base, and whatnot. Uber spent 8 years before coming under the spotlight. Because the people at Uber had a vision, they tried to solve a problem and not just throw another idea around. I mean, the fate of the startup is not in your hands, but at least you can have a solid vision.
Many argue about Snapchat that it became successful because of some luck factor. Yes, luck plays a pivotal part but it was that problem which Snapchat solved. It was through self-destructive images that they were able to guard users’ privacy to some extent.
‘It is not what you do, it is how you do it’ We often tend to forget this. Building an online store with the same things which daraz and other giants are providing is not an idea and it will not benefit you. Building a store which provides those things that are not available on Daraz is an idea as it solves a problem.
We must start working on ideas in a sustainable manner. “Chaar din ki Chandni Phir Andheri Raat” should not be our tagline.