MIT Enterprise Forum Pakistan (MITEFP) in collaboration with Information Technology University (ITU) held a six-week long training program aimed at providing startups with tools and resources to better complement their startup needs. The Startup School provided a platform for startups and entrepreneurs to explore key skills needed to build a successful startup.

Entrepreneurship is an exhilarating venture however, few are successful in it. According to a study 60 percent of the startups are able to survive through the first year while only 10% are able to sustain up to the ten-year mark. A main reason for this fall back is the absence of relevant knowledge, training, investment and tools required by entrepreneurs. Thus, by introducing platforms like the Startup School, MITEF Pakistan aims at providing these entrepreneurs with the opportunity to equip them better for a successful entrepreneurial ride.

The program was divided into six modules, with one module being covered each week, with modules ranging from Customer Acquisition, Growth Hacking, Business Model Canvas, Legal, Funding, and Pitching. Highly experienced trainers conducted classes with expertise in areas of law, technology, investment, marketing and research, among others.

The trainers included Amna Batool, Director of Innovation for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL), Amna Nadim - CEO EarthRyse; Miriam Mehdi, Fulbright scholar with over five years of experience in management and market research; Raza Matin, Marketing and Business Consultant for Google Pakistan; Omer Khan, Co-Founder Vivid Technologies; Jazib Zahir, Chief Operations Officer at Tintash; Hamza Ali Khan, Private Equity Analyst at The Abraaj Group; Qasif Shahid, CEO FinJa; Azam Rai, Corporate lawyer at Azam & Rai; and Khurram Jamali, Industry Head for Google APAC.

A diverse range of topics were covered through the course of the program by these experienced trainers including subjects such as product design, design thinking, market analysis, developing MVP, growth hacking, business model canvas, financial modelling, investment and funding, legal principles for startups, and pitching techniques.

The program concluded with an intense final pitching session by groups of students that was judged by Omer Khan, Raza Matin and Hafsa Shorish. The pitches delivered revolved around diverse ideas by students on various topics, including visual merchandising, e-education, tourism, sports and e-commerce. The presentations were varied in their use of technology, while some ideas put technology at the core of their business, others found various non-technology ways to bring together their business acumen. CricCentral, Insta Post and National Education Consortium won for their phenomenal ideas and pitches.

A total of 35 students were registered for the program among which 20 successfully graduated. Through the course of the program the female students were observed to be more committed and focused as compared to that of the male students as 71.42% female students had an attendance record of over 80%. Thus, a positive representation of how the program provided females an opportunity to be equally as active and participative in the educational and training dynamic. The overall success of the program can be measured by the fact that the graduating students were ready to register for other upcoming programs of MITEF Pakistan, representing how the Startup School had helped them refine their skills and ideas.

With limited number of job opportunities and an increasing rate of internet penetration, 23 percent of Pakistan’s youth aims at creating their own businesses. Luckily MITEF Pakistan has a wide range of programs that allow these creative and driven youngsters to live their dreams. One such upcoming event is the Summer Entrepreneurship Bootcamp being held in July 2017. This will provide the young entrepreneurs an opportunity to turn their innovative business ideas into a reality. Through the course of time MITEF Pakistan has been successful in bringing forth a diverse range of events that not only cater towards inspiring new and young talent to explore their entrepreneurial skills but also allow established startups to pitch in their ideas to potential investors. Events like Startup Lahore provide a global networking platform in which several investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, speakers, tech companies, accelerators and media get a chance to interact with one another in working towards a more prosperous Pakistan.