Encouraging Pakistani Entrepreneurs: Sofizar Wins MITCEF-OPEN Business Acceleration Plan

Posted on January 30, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Society
16 Comments
Total Views: 103139

Adil Najam

SofizarSofizar, which works on “click fraud” and “web analytics Solutions” (maybe we at ATP should be talking to them!) describes itself as “a Carlsbad, CA based internet marketing company with development and operations based out of Lahore” won the 2007 MITCEF-OPEN Business Acceleration Plan (BAP).

MITCEFZafar Khan, the CEO of Sofizar, along with others from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America (OPEN) will speak at an event on “Pakistan: The Untold Story of Entrepreneurship and Technology” on February 2 at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the event is co-sponsored by the New England Chapter of OPEN.

The contest, which its organizers hope will become a yearly event, focuses on existing Pakistani technology companies (instead of start-ups) who are asked to prepare plans for how they intend for their business to “accelerate” towards future growth and expansion. The idea for the contest came from OPEN and the MIT Club of Pakistan Enterprise Forum (MITCEF) and was co-sponsored by P@SHA (PASHA: The Pakistan Software Houses Association) and the Pakistan Software Export Board (PESB). The MIT Entrepreneurship Development Program was actively involved in the contest including in the judging.

According to the contest’s original explanation:

BAP aims to help accelerate some of the participating IT/ITES companies to the next level by putting these companies through a mentoring/coaching program. The final outcome of the program would be a Business Acceleration Plan (BP) which would be ranked by experts. Two members of the top team would be sponsored to attend the MIT EDP (Entrepreneurship Development Program) at MIT in Cambridge, USA. The top ranking BPs would also be presented to VCs who may offer “Term Sheets” to these companies. OPEN members offer to be on the BOD of the top companies. The top teams would also be given shields. Certificates will be provided to all participating companies.

Now that I have that alphabet soup of acronyms out of the way, it strikes me that this is very useful way of identifying and supporting emerging Pakistani talent. We have written before about the talent and achievements of Pakistanis in the technology space (here, here, here, etc.) and finding concrete and real ways of encouraging the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is an idea that needs to be supported.

Reports of the contest (here and here) suggest that there was a level of enthusiasm amongst all – this is not surprising and, for exactly that reason, it is an enthusiasm that should be encouraged to spread. The runner-up in the contest, for example, is a company called Alchemy which describes itself as “a boutique actuarial, risk management and human capital solutions firm working with customers in Asia and the Middle East.” The other three finalists were Autosoft, Softech and Tohfay (one of our regular advertisers here at ATP).

While I am always intrigued by the names of IT companies – where else would you name your enterprise “small and weak”; as an Microsoft – the point here is really about ways to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. Not only for economic growth or for “image building” but as a real and honest desire to create peace and harmony through prosperity. Enterprise and homegrown initiative does many things for a society that go well beyond just economic growth and pride of ownership; they provide constructive distraction to the energies of the young away from the more violent and destructive acts that we, unfortunately, write about on this blog so often. They encourage not just role models but constructive competition and the sense that “if they can do this, then so can I.” Nurturing such a spirit has, therefore, far greater benefits for society as a whole.

I hope the event this week will also explore these and such dimensions, even as it celebrates the achievement of Sofizar. The speakers list is an enticing one and includes: Ken Morse, MD of the MIT Entrepreneurial Center; Bill Aulet, Entrepreneur in Residence, MIT; Arthur Anderson, Fish and Richardson; Imran Sayeed, Keane; and Zafar Khan, Sofizar.

16 responses to “Encouraging Pakistani Entrepreneurs: Sofizar Wins MITCEF-OPEN Business Acceleration Plan”

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