KARACHI: Pakistan’s biggest entrepreneurship conference “021 Disrupt” attracted top venture capital firms and tech celebrities from the Middle East, Singapore and the US. The 2-Day Conference was organized by The Nest I/O, which is a technology incubator set up by the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA)
Jehan Ara, President of P@SHA revealed that the two day Conference had a maximum attendance of 650 persons from over 200 startups, professionals, influencers and students who listened to 60 speakers, including 14 international speakers who were the experts in their fields. All the workshops were also overbooked.
For the first time in Pakistan an Investor Roundtable was held with more than 35 investors who shared insights and explored possibilities of investment and collaboration at various levels.
These very international investors have previously invested in global household names such as Careem, Udemy, Behance, Canva and Stripe to name a few. Some of the leading international investors that participated in the Conference included Bakery (which is part of the Abraaj Group), Wamda Capital, Golden Gate Ventures, Middle East Venture Partners, the Oman Technology Fund & Wadi Accelerator, Sarmayacar and 500 Startups. . Apart from international investors, sixteen institutional investors from Pakistan also attended to search for investable startups and be a part of the discourse.
Hinting at the likely outcome, Jehan Ara said there may soon be an announcement of at least 2 to 5 major investments that were an outcome of these interactions, while talks are under way to set up a new Startup Fund.
Of the two major investors, representatives of WAMDA announced at the conference that the company was about to set aside US$50 million for investment in Pakistan startups to be consumed over the next 4 years.
Another major Middle Eastern investor, MEVP also expressed interest in investing in Pakistani startups, as had Bakery, which was the Platinum sponsor of the Conference.
Earlier, the conference speakers and panelists touched upon important topics like the need for consolidating the Startup ecosystem in Pakistan, engaging with the regulators to bring the framework up to speed with the changing needs, perception management of the country, and on the need to become players in the global market by sharing experiences of successes and failures from markets as varied as the US, Chile, Middle East, Indonesia and Turkey.
It was also announced that 021Disrupt would not end as a one off event but would be made a regular part of the calendar. PR