Last weekend, tech incubator The Nest I/O organised the Startup Weekend Women edition, where more than 200 aspiring women entrepreneurs from various backgrounds participated to work on and develop their own tech companies.
Safe Nest won the competition, with their idea of a safe housing community for women who live alone in the city.
This was the incubator's third edition of Startup Weekend Women in Karachi. The event not only focused on uplifting local women businesses, but will also allow them to showcase their talent globally at Techstars Global Startup Weekend Women which will be held in Singapore in March 2020.
Out of over 200 applications received, 70 women were shortlisted to participate in the event, including designers, developers, marketeers, and startup enthusiasts.
“What inspired me to attend was the entire package that was being offered including workshops, sessions, mentoring, and coaching. Being an IT professional, I wasn’t familiar with the business side of things, but here I met a very diverse set of people from multiple disciplines who helped me improve my idea and create something new,” commented Nashwa, who was part of the team called Malmal.
Second place was awarded to CalmWalay - an idea to provide a reliable platform to hire household help while at the same time providing vocational training and workshops to its staff members to help them grow.
On third place was Carpoolers - an app to reduce travel cost of university students. Special mentions were also given to Little Rebels, an idea to design fun and cute gender neutral clothes for children under 10, and Decentra Cars, a safe and secure car buying and selling platform using blockchain technology.
“The experience here was amazing! We met some really good mentors from different backgrounds. They taught us how to come up with a practical strategy and an overall sense of how to turn it into a business, how to market it, how to go about the financials, making it a very holistic and comprehensive experience. My team alone had members from various backgrounds including a pharmacist, a chef, a business manager, and they all brought a lot to the table. Everyone should try to be a part of this event because this is one experience you don’t want to miss,” commented Adeena Ismail, a participant at the event.
A total of 36 ideas were initially pitched of which 12 ideas were selected through crowd voting and pitched at the end of the 54-hour long extravaganza in front of a panel of judges which included Naz Khan, Managing Director at X-Petroleum Limited, Misbah Naqvi, Managing Partner at i2i Ventures, Samra Muslim, Founder at Walnut Communications, and Jehan Ara, President P@SHA and Founder of The Nest I/O.
“It was my first time as a judge at Startup Weekend Women at The Nest I/O, and I really enjoyed the experience. I feel that it’s very important for women to have these safe spaces where they can take their ideas forward without the fear of being judged, or adversity, or not having confidence. It’s very inspiring to see all these women who spent the entire weekend collaborating, putting their ideas together [...] and the fact that they were able to unlock their minds and were able to network and know that there are so many like-minded people out there, is just amazing,” commented Naz Khan, one of the judges at the event.
Over a period of two and a half days, the SWW participants had an opportunity to network with different people, learn about business model canvas and pitching during workshops, get inspired by speaker sessions, and receive one-on-one coaching from successful entrepreneurs from various fields including Nadia Patel Gangjee, Founder Sheops and Femprow, Sahar Habib Ghazi, Senior Newsroom Leader and Multimedia Journalist, Nida Farid, an aerospace engineer and energy efficiency consultant, Madiha Latif, Program Coordinator at Shirkat Gah - Women's Resource Centre, amongst many others.
Popular bloggers like Amtul Baweja of Patangeer and Anika Moiz of Boss Women Pakistan also supported the event.
The speakers who were invited to share their stories included Faiza Yousuf, a technologist and a serial entrepreneur with almost 9 years of experience in building products and teams, Nusrat Hidayatullah, Founder of The Forty Two Day Challenge, Jahan Ara Saleem, project lead for Women Dump Truck Driving Program (WDDP), an initiative of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company to create employment opportunities for the local women of Tharparkar, and Ghazal Pirzada, Founder Ghazal Pirzada Studios.
“The main focus of Startup Weekend Women is to change the ratio of gender attendance during tech events. We have been hosting Startup Weekend since 2017 and we always make sure that we have a gender balance in all our events, but we still find that hosting Startup Weekend Women is very helpful for women because it gives them that comfort to show up and engage in a more meaningful way, to build and develop ideas with actual output. Safe Nest is the winner of this event and will be representing Pakistan at the Global Startup Weekend Women next year. I’m already so proud of them for coming up with an idea that does not only have the potential to grow into a good business but also empowers women at the same time,” commented Jehan Ara, President P@SHA and Founder The Nest I/O.
The Global Startup Weekend Women by Techstars will take place in Singapore in March 2020 where winners of Startup Weekend Women held all across the world will represent their respective countries.