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I’m sure most of us will have seen the first episode of the new show. A show based around ideas from around the globe namely Shark Tank in the US and Dragon’s Den in the UK. Personally I have been looking forward to the show since first hearing about it, as many Pakistanis did. It brings a format unseen on Pakistani TV. Being aware that there is nothing 100% of people have ever agreed on, I’m sure many will disagree with me here, all I ask is to please raise criticism with an argument. Too often, as Pakistanis, if we disagree with something our response is ‘they are an agent,’ ‘they are jealous’ or something along them lines. I am the first to accept difference of opinion but it’s only fair that it is backed with substance and argument so it remains constructive.

The investors seem to be of good repute and a good mix and Dr Umar Saif, who is doing some great work in the Punjab Tech Board though I was unsure as to he’s role in the program. Overall it seems a good panel with a great concept for Pakistani TV, and something different to the usual. In particular, I feel the first and last pitches are good talking points so will focus mainly on them.

The first pitch by the husband and wife team at Affordable.pk seemed weak, the fact that Dr Saif had to help with the pitch backs this. From a first hand account by a founder who’s company is being incubated at Plan9 (same place as Affordable.PK), I understand the couple had put a strong effort to perfect the pitch but the nerves got the better of them on the day. Even with Dr Saif jumping in, I feel he didn’t cover enough about the company or product, but chose to focus on e-commerce in general. OLX was mentioned and the team responded well showing the difference in their business model.

When it came to the finances, the pitch seemed to go from bad to worse. When investors asked about income, burn rate, and when the company expected to hit profitability, there was no solid answer given. Humayun Mazhar had tried to delve in to the figures but the host, Nabeel Qadeer interjected and invited Dr Saif on stage — an unnecessary move in my opinion. What really surprised me was when the company were asked what they would do with the money, they said they would grow to x number of users and x number of listings. There was no mention of how this would be done though. The nervousness is often forgiven by investors but not knowing figures is effectively suicide on such a stage. To my surprise, in the end they received the funding. They had asked for 1.5 Crore for 15% equity but received 1 Crore for 30%, valuing the company at just over 3 Crores.

This raises a few questions:

  1. How are they valuing the company?
  2. Were there enough questions asked around the market share of such a company?
  3. How were the investors so easily persuaded in regards to what the money would be spent on?

I believe things like this overvalue companies in general and more importantly, without a thorough think-through, isn’t the company’s success at risk? After all money alone does not guarantee the success of the company.

With the last company, ‘Eye Automate’, I liked the product and believe it’s the kind of thing that should be focused on. This time around a few good questions were asked about production-cost and competition. Mr Salim Ghauri gave a very valuable suggestion as to creating a prototype, which would help them towards raising larger funds in the future, something hopefully the company will take on board and learn from.

Having shared some of these thoughts on a public forum an investor, who will come in future episodes, commented that some of the negotiations had been removed in a bid to cut down the time to fit in its slot. This is entirely expected so the pressure is on the edit team at Neo to show the important parts of the show so that a full picture is shown. The middle segments were a nice touch with a hairstylist and Qasif Shahid from Finja digressing from the Shark Tank model a little — a good move.

In summary, the investors were very friendly and allowed room in letting the companies get their information across whilst I believe the host, may have exceeded he’s role a little but the show overall is a positive move for Pakistan. It will bring opportunities to businesses who otherwise will not get opportunities to pitch to investors. To improve, if NEO TV is serious about changing Pakistani TV shows for the better, it must start a new trend in editing and reduce the ‘marketing’ aspect a little to increase the viewing pleasure. Furthermore, the investors need to show their business side. They didn’t get to where they did by making decisions on whims. Yes, the awaam is in the learning process on pitching and running businesses, but if we want the ‘Crème De La Crème’ of businesses then we must raise the bar. The nation should expect a lot more from the show. A good team is in place and the show is poised for success, I sincerely hope we can measure it by the fruit it bears.

Comments (1)
  1. Pingback: Pakistan’s first business-themed reality show still has long way to go – Grejeen News Pakistan

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