Founded in January 2015, The Nest I/O has been a hub for local startups to flourish and accelerate the growth of their businesses. Since inception, The Nest I/O has incubated and accelerated 180+ startups, created 5,000+ jobs, organized 150+ public and private sessions/workshops, and 9 medium and large scale entrepreneurial events.
The Nest I/O marked the day by hosting a number of sessions and panel discussions centering around entrepreneurship and innovation. Jehan Ara, President P@SHA and Founder The Nest I/O, officially kicked off the celebrations around 11 AM, after an hour long breakfast and networking session.
Shared Spaces and Cultural Events are Important for the Intellectual and Emotional Development of the Society
The first panel of the day was “Working Together: Shared Spaces for a Shared Future” comprised representatives of JoyCo, WorkHall, T2F, and Karachi Biennale. The panel was moderated by Khizra Munir, who founded CO Pakistan and focused on the importance of open spaces and events for emotional and intellectual growth of the society.
“Why would people invest in art and culture when sectors like health and education need the money. What we don’t understand is that art is for the emotional health of the city, so goodwill and volunteering is a big part of Karachi Biennale. It takes a whole city to host it” – said Nilofur Farrukh, CEO and Managing Trustee, Karachi Biennale.
“When you’re creating something that doesn’t exist, there are no systems in place to support you. We are dependent on grants which is not a long term sustainable model. You constantly have to think outside the box & get your own people to invest in the whole generation” – commented Areib Azher, Executive Director, The Second Floor.
Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People to Make Better Decisions as an Entrepreneur
The second session of the day was “Founders in Five: Meet the Nestlings” in which Founders of cash flow positive startups of The Nest I/O shared some insights about the struggles of being entrepreneurs in Pakistan and how to avoid some basic startup challenges. The panel included Laiba Amir from Closet, Sana Farooq from ELN, Altamash Murad from Maya’s Closet, Uzair Qarni from Nativ Learning, Sibtain Jiwani from Smartchoise.pk, and Hajrah Rizvi from The Art of Travel.
“Be part of a community where you can learn the answers to your questions. I got my company to where it is in three years, if I didn’t have this community it may have taken me six. So start, but with the right support” – said Sana Farooq, Founder ELN.
“We compare ourselves with people in the US, but teenagers there start working at the age of 16, they work at McDonalds, they work at grocery stores, which gives them experience. Youngsters here sit at dhabbas late into the night and call that an experience – which is not bad, but it’s a very different kind of experience to have”, commented Sibtain Jiwani, CEO and Founder Smartchoice.pk
There is More to Social Media than Twitter Meltdowns and Cyberbullying – It Is A Tool For Change and Empowerment
The next panel discussion was on “Our Online Tribes: The Rise of Digital Communities” to discuss the impact of digital communities on the thoughts and behaviour of community members. The panel was represented by leaders of some of the most prominent digital communities including Nezihe Hussain from The SWOTS Guide, Faiza Yousuf from Women in Tech, Mubashir Sakhi from Tech Geeks Pakistan, and Eric Bhatti from GDG Kolachi.
“Women who are part of a stronger community have better role models to follow and learn from. When members interact with women who are at a senior position in tech, other women in the community also gain the confidence to seek senior positions, take on bigger projects, and ask for better pay, which is a positive change” – commented Faiza Yousuf, Women In Tech.
Value the Time of Investors and Mentors – If you haven’t done your homework, Dont expect others to do it for you – Faizan Siddiqui
The most awaited panel of the day was “Startups Then and Now: A Journey Through the Changing Startup Landscape”, which was moderated by Jehan Ara. The panel included some of the biggest names in the industry like Jawwad Farid Serial Entrepreneur, Author and Mentor, Raza Matin, Marketing and Business Consultant Google Pakistan, and Faizan Siddiqui Global Mentor and COO TCS. The panelists shared some serious startup insights and provided advice on how to run a successful startup.
“Take small bites. You don’t have to save the world. Solve small problems and then build up. Start with one city, own it, dominate it, then move on” – advised Jawwad Farid.
“If you can’t sell it in person, you’re not going to be able to sell it online”, commented Raza Matin.
Apart from the panel discussion, The Nest I/O also organized “Start-up All Stars” sessions in which Atif Azim, Founder and CEO Venture Dive and Nauman Sikander, CEO FoodPanda shared their personal entrepreneurial journey with the audience.
“You don’t find talent easily. You have to grow that talent. You have to mentor that talent. For me, it’s a success if people grow within VentureDive, leave, & then create their own businesses because eventually that is what helps the ecosystem”, said Atif Azim, CEO VentureDive.
The day came to an end with a performance by Hassan Bin Shaheen followed by a closing note by Jehan Ara. More than 300 people attended throughout the day with multiple networking sessions.
“I cannot believe it’s already been five years since we founded this space. The Nest I/O has been more than just a startup space, it’s a tightly knit community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and community leaders who have come together to provide support and build an environment where entrepreneurs can reach their maximum potential. I’m very proud of the space and culture that we have developed at The Nest I/O, many people have come and gone, not all of them stayed, but all of them were inspired to learn more about entrepreneurship and the work that we are doing. I would like to thank everyone in our local and global network who continues extending their support to us to help us grow”, said Jehan Ara.