Seventeen startups from across Pakistan pitched their products to be selected in the second cohort of Telenor Pakistan’s startup accelerator program ‘Telenor Velocity.’ The program, which builds upon a series of Telenor Pakistan initiatives to foster the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country, is also in line with the company’s undertaking to boost digital inclusion.
Launched in February 2016, Telenor Velocity focuses on making Telenor’s scale and superior assets to supercharge promising Pakistani startups. It’s a 6-month, program that covers all aspects necessary for startups to go to market and scale. The shortlisted startups get the opportunity to enjoy Telenor’s in-house expertise, physical and digital distribution channels, payment solutions, market intelligence, and access to customers to throw their product in the market for growth and overcome the barriers holding back their business.
For a startup to qualify for Telenor Velocity, it needs to address a real and demonstrable consumer problem or need, besides having gone through a controlled product deployment. For the second cohort, Telenor Velocity team received a total of 101 entries out of which 35 were shortlisted for subsequent selection. After thorough review of the shortlisted submissions, Key Product Managers at Telenor Pakistan chose 17 cohorts to demonstrate their indigenous products at the event.
In the scouting process, Telenor Pakistan approached some of the most prestigious parent startup incubators in Pakistan including LUMS (LCE), Plan9 and NEST/IO, etc. in search of ideas that were both unique and useful. Based on the strict eligibility criteria, seventeen of the most promising startups were shortlisted to pitch their products at the event.
The panel of judges for the second cohort pitches comprised Kalsoom Lakhani – Founder & CEO at Invest2Innovate (i2i), Owais Anjum – CEO eMumba, Muhammad Hasan Sandila – Manager Social Networks and Digital Products, Telenor Pakistan, Umair Mohsin – Director Marketing, Telenor Pakistan, Omer Moeen Malik – Head of Payments, Easypaisa and Omer Khan – Co-Founder & CEO at VIVID Technologies Ltd.
After comprehensive review of the seventeen products, the panel of judges announced the winning eight contestants that include:
- Book my Umrah: A customer acquisition platform for travel agents where Pilgrims find, compare and book their Pilgrimage packages online from verified travel agencies.
- Perkup: A customer loyalty and marketing platform which helps businesses like salons, restaurants, and fashion retailers etc. increase their revenue from existing customers.
- Artsy: An e-commerce marketplace for artists and artisans connecting them to final consumer.
- Sukoon.com: Online market place for home maintenance services.
- Micro Power Labs: A technology innovation company focused on creating next generation devices and gadgets for day to day use.
- Pakshine: Offers a Smart Solar Retrofit device that can convert any ordinary UPS into a Solar Hybrid one.
- Daastan: A self-publishing model where businesses and publishing houses can hire writers online.
- Affordable.pk: A reverse commerce marketplace for social community where consumers buy, sell and resell their closet items online.
Shedding light on the importance of the program, Bilal Kazmi, CMO, Telenor Pakistan, said, “ Telenor Velocity comes with the spirit of growth: growth of the startups, growth of the ecosystem, and most importantly growth of our society.. The entrepreneurship ecosystem is all about creating shared value and growing together. The differential value that Telenor Velocity adds is scale advantage through access to our 38 million customers and state-of-the-art technical and payment infrastructure. We have full faith in our young and budding talent and are determined to help put entrepreneurs from Pakistan on Global Technology map.”
Known for innovation and initiatives like IoT Expo and Youth Forum to accelerate digital ecosystem development in the country, Telenor Pakistan has also been promoting entrepreneurship for Pakistan’s digital professionals and aspirants through programs like Telenor Velocity and Apportunity. Another initiative on intra-preneurship is the internal startup incubation program called Ignite, which is a Group-wide incubator program for its employees.