Entrepreneurship and Start-Ups in Pakistan
Over the last few years I have been studying the Pakistan Market and trying to understand the trends. Being a Web Agency Director, naturally I am more inclined to focus on the tech related trends more than others. Firstly a few years ago was the ‘open a software house’ trend and more recently the entrepreneur and start-up culture. My general focus will be on this sector in 2017, and heres why.
I won’t get into the debate of whether we are grooming entrepreneurs and providing a platform for start-ups in Pakistan or the opposite – you can see some points of view on both terms here and here. I will however, mention that I think that both terms are (over)used without any real depth. What I mean is everybody seems to be an entrepreneur building their start-up (which makes me proud that Pakistan is moving in the right direction) but fail to realise the challenges and requirements of building the start-up in question.
Having a fantastic idea is exhilarating and I have had millions, believe me. The urge to rush in and start turning it into a start-up is extremely addictive but does it really make business sense? The other issue at hand is that we may see our idea as the greatest invention since sliced bread, but rarely is it a ground-breaking and innovative idea.
I regularly see and discuss business ideas with people with the possibility of support and/or investment. It helps me understand the market, offer advice & support and also clinch some business deals, not to mention the great friends one can make. Its truly inspiring to see and meet people with passion and it can often help in times of productivity dips that we all face. On the base of these engagements I have started to see a worrying trend which I have summarised below. Over the course of the year I intend to write about these and other elements (time permitting) in more detail but for now, my analysis is noted below.
- Very little R & D is done. This is the most important task a budding company can do. Research the project, market, buyer demographics, focus groups. The list is endless but I find this is not the reality in most cases.
- Very little planning seems to be done. This can include product details, marketing, budgeting, investor requirements , etc. Due to the lack of this what is happening is that budgets (though in most cases enough for the project) become exhausted due to reiterations or duplication of tasks which increases cost. The negative impact being the company has to find an investor at the cost of equity.
- There seem to be decent budgets and good amount of investing, in fact sometimes too much is paid for what is being received. I understand the importance of paying for quality, but this is different. To me, this indicates lack of market research and due diligence.
- Marketing budgets are often very high but when asked for details, none can be provided. Companies want to start with a ‘big bang’ and thus think this involves a large sum. The truth is, marketing is always expensive, but should be used wisely according to a very detailed plan.
- For those who require web and mobile related applications, again very little research is done and companies are ending up with sub-standard products and a huge whole in their pocket.
This isn’t an exhaustive list but I feel it is important. Pakistan is brilliant at copying trends which isn’t always bad, but maybe we can focus on copying universal best-practices, after all it will only benefit us?