Entrepreneurship a major driver of innovations: Faran

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Entrepreneurship is a panacea for a third-world and energy deficit country like Pakistan. Historically, growth in GDP is dependent on industry which in turn depends on energy infrastructure, but entrepreneurship is the magic portion which decouples growth from industrialisation. In current scenario, when industry is shutting down, it is the entrepreneurs who can essentially restart the economy

FARAN MAHMOOD has a highly progressive career in enterprise development and is currently an Executive Director at E-Luminate Festivals (Cambridge, UK), a non-profit company is committed to promote clean technologies and green practices in workplaces. Faran is also an Advisor to Executive Board, YES, TiE and an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Institute of Space Technology. He is a Fellow of Commonwealth; a Member of Innovation-team, Cambridge; Member of Islamic World Young Scientist Academy and is an established entrepreneur whose team has won two business competitions including Cambridge Start-up weekend 2012, and has raised seed capital for start-ups at Cambridge through angels and VCs.

He received his undergraduate degree, Summa Cum Laude, in Systems Engineering from the Institute of Space Technology, and is pursuing his Masters in Sustainable Development from Cambridge University. He has earned a diploma in Management of Technology Innovation from Judge Business School, Cambridge. He is recipient of 8 gold medals (including President and PTA gold medal), 3 research awards and many project awards with over 13 working-papers and publications. He is also a reviewer of Springers Journal of Supercomputing. He has attended many courses related to Economics, Enterprise Development and Education from National University of Singapore (NUS) and British Council in collaboration with National Council for Enterprise in Education, UK. His biography was recently listed in “Marquis Who is Who in the World (2013).”

Entrepreneurship is one of the major drivers of innovations that propel and sustain economic growth. It is the engine fuelling innovation, employment generation, and economic growth, and especially in case of BRIC countries. According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, the most important indicator of the present and future economic growth of any country is the number of persons per capita engaged in enterprise and business ownership.

Entrepreneurship is a panacea for a third-world and energy deficit country like Pakistan. Historically, growth in GDP is dependent on industry which in turn depends on energy infrastructure, but entrepreneurship is the magic potion which decouples growth from industrialization. In current scenario, when industry is shutting down, it is the entrepreneurs who can essentially restart the economy. Entrepreneurship has become a central item in policy formulation and the link between public policy and entrepreneurial activity has become increasingly important. The governments and politicians are becoming aware of this link and have begun to emphasise the ways entrepreneurship leads to greater national and global prosperity.

This has been expressed by Faran Mahmood, a highly progressive career in enterprise development and is currently an Executive Director at E-Luminate Festivals (Cambridge, UK), during his recent interview with the Technology Times.

He said that entrepreneurs can use a business model similar to Apple and other Silicon Valley companies i.e. designed in Pakistan but manufactured in China/Far East. This will result in major cash flows with no industrial infrastructure required for mass production of desired products. They can use a business model which employs two-sided markets and can take advantage of highly mature information and communication technologies. There is a rising trend of creating social enterprises, in contrast to conventional companies, which have a goal to give something back to the community in substantial terms. Such social enterprises exploit some other creative ideas for raising capital such as crowd funding, etc besides selling equity to angels and venture capitalists.

To a question, he explained that for starting any business, the most important step is to understand the market segment and talking to your potential customers. But sometimes the customers dont know what they really want. This gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to create new markets e.g. unlike Facebook; Twitter and Linkedin focused on totally new markets without competing with each other.

“You cannot expect to start a new social network and displace the giants, but you can create your own market with relative ease. Let me tell you my story: We were five strangers who met each other in November 2012 at Startup weekend and discussed the idea of “Project Cambridge Skills”. It was regarding development of a unique online social platform where Cambridge students can advertise their skills, to be part-time employed by other Cambridge students, faculty and staff. Our team got the idea implemented in mere two days and we won the first prize in social enterprise category, besides a special mention in general category. So in the world of entrepreneurship, things happen fast and you have to be dynamic enough to win the race,” he explained.

He revealed that in future, they are likely to see a new social medium, which leverages the location-based services of smart-phones to create a totally new experience.

Another important success factor in creating small enterprises is the skilled teams intrinsic motivation. It is all about mindset and how one perceives things. If somebody is a safe-player and cannot take risks, then it is not for him/her. “If you want traditional 8-hour working hours, then it is definitely not for you. Typical entrepreneur may have to work about 15 hours a day on average. This is the cost which small enterprises have to pay due to lean organisational structures and minimal management costs.”

He said that nowadays there is an increased number of student-run entrepreneurship societies but they suffer from a lack of help from educational establishments. The shared office space is limited which is inadequate for growing number of spin-offs from universities. Secondly the educational system inherently teaches us that failure is a bad thing and this really hurts because risk is perceived to be failure. So this fear is a big barrier in promoting innovation, but good mentors can help in reducing risks and play an effective part in this regard.

According to him, if one wants to start a venture, he should first find a mentor who plays a very important role because start-up teams are relatively inexperienced and vulnerable; and can make some disastrous decisions. He also mentioned that his father Dr Rashid Mahmood had mentored him very well throughout his career. “My other mentors were Dr Qamarul Islam (HoD EE Dept, IST), Brig Imran Rahman (VC IST) and Maj Gen Ahmed Bilal (Chairman SUPARCO), who have supported me at all times and I really learnt from their exemplary leadership. I have been myself mentoring teams since last year, and one of those teams has won third prize in a business plan competition. If a youngster needs a mentor, I am willing to mentor myself or arrange one through my professional network, can contact me at <contact email: faran_isL@yahoo.com>


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Published in: Volume 04 Issue 06

Short Link: http://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=10010