High time for high-tech startup in Pakistan

The technology entrepreneurship ecosystem in Pakistan is at a tipping point. There are a number of factors at play that make the country so ripe for both local and international investors looking to invest in the tech space. With the quickly growing internet adoption currently estimated to be 25 million internet users and 15 million mobile internet users amid cheap smart phone devices, the local market is widely open to the world. At the same time, the renowned IT giants are aggressively involved in taking initiatives to promote the culture of startups. Development of platforms like The Foundation at LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship and Plan9 have a leading role in the local IT market as they are supporting passionate entrepreneurs during their formative years. No matter that slow but steady investments are flowing into startups at seed from local and foreign angels as well as early-stage funds. No doubt that multiple factors like low cost of starting a technology business due to easy access to cloud computing platforms; massive distribution channels like the PlayStore, AppStore and Facebook; ability to create very targeted online marketing campaigns; inexpensive outsourcing of development tasks to freelancers; and quick feedback from customers to iterate and improve the products have a greater say in attracting investors both local and foreign in the startups. Now it is point of encouragement that seasoned businessmen and young aspiring entrepreneurs are gradually realizing that internet has a massive equalizing power and they can tap into a global market of billions through online channels. The recent trends reveal that tens of millions of dollars are being poured into developing pervasive electronic and online payment infrastructure in the country while successful entrepreneurs are returning home from abroad and providing mentoring to startups and building bridges for them outside of Pakistan. The time is ripe for local investors to join the bandwagon. Pakistan is a gold mine of opportunities for the truly visionary, local investors looking for big rewards. Equity in technology companies is relatively cheap, assets are portabl in case one gives too much weight to country risk, operations are already on cloud platforms outside of Pakistan for many while the fundamentals of the on-ground businesses are already very strong. Investors need to inject a bit of capital to catalyze all this further as it would turn the Pakistani technology startups of today into the giant global businesses of tomorrow. Just take a step forward and reap huge benefits.

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