Tech start-up business pitch decks presented by four students and an alumnus of the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), Karachi have completed the first cohort of the SSK Incubation Program. Mr. Bashir Janmohammed, Chancellor IoBM, was the Chief Guest at the occasion that was also the formal inauguration of the SSK Incubation Center. The Incubation Center, named in memory of Late Mr. Shahjehan S. Karim, IoBM’s Founder President, aims to provide strategic and financial direction to start-ups emerging from IoBM. The event was held at IoBM on Thursday, November 19, 2020.
The Office of Research Innovation & Commercialisation (ORIC) and the Entrepreneurship & Management Excellence Center (EMEC) at IoBM have been adding value to the Incubation Center. The Incubation Faculty Committee and Incubation Alumni Council also support this initiative. Present on this occasion were IoBM’s Mr. Talib Karim, President; Ms. Sabina Mohsin, Executive Director; Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder, Rector; Dr. Shujaat Mubarik, Associate Dean CBM; Dr. Samra Javed; HoD, ORIC, and EMEC along with HoDs and management. The Master of Ceremony was Mr. Kamran Bilgrami, HoD Corporate Training and Manager Incubation Center for EMEC-IoBM. The projects incubated for six months include four tech-based applications, a 3D printer, and a vocational training program based on virtual reality/artificial intelligence. An IoBM MBA student has secured a seed fund of PKR 2.5 Million for a mobile application. These start-up entrepreneurs began their online pre-incubation stage in May 2020.
On this occasion, Mr. Talib Karim said that IoBM Incubation Center strives to nurture innovative ideas to bring profound social change. He said that the Incubation Center is open for students from all four constituent colleges of IoBM who can build sustainable ventures to become job creators and not job seekers. Mr. Bashir Janmohammad said that substantial efforts are needed to develop the agricultural sector to increase yield. He advised start-ups emerging from IoBM to focus on tech-based ventures. Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder said that aspiring entrepreneurs need to think about innovative initiatives. He advised that a start-up entrepreneur should begin three ventures so the probability of failure is minimized. Dr. Shujaat Mubarik advised students being incubated to keep an eye on disruptive technologies and strengthen their technical and interpersonal knowledge. During the event, Mr. Bashir Janmohammed along with Mr. Talib Karim and Ms. Sabina Mohsin presented certificates to qualified start-up entrepreneurs who received them along with their parents.
Overview of the SSK Incubation Program and Center
While delivering a presentation during the event, Mr. Kamran Bilgrami shared that the establishment of the SSK Incubation Program was part of IoBM’s five-year strategy set in 2019. The SSK Incubation Program was set up under the guidance of President IoBM to contribute to the development of a thriving and sustainable economy driven by innovative entrepreneurs and a competitive start-up ecosystem. It was also decided that the Incubation Program will cross-pollinate ideas from all four constituent colleges of IoBM so that students from various programs work together on an idea.
According to Mr. Bilgrami, SSK Incubation Center Services include four parts: Academic (theory, projects, ideation, pitch approval); Incubator (Tenant on-campus/rental mode, open-shares spaces, closed space virtual, other locations); Support (Diagnosis of needs, an infrastructure shared resources, investors, capital, access to experts network, industry connection, business service, training, collaborating, mentoring and reporting); Graduation (reports, business acceleration, business buy-out, other relevant support)
Phase one of the SSK Incubation Program began with the ideation, guidance, and pitch deck preparation followed by phase 2 that included providing an incubation space and access to business support and services. Mr. BIlgrami shared that the application form and panel interview were gauged on the following factors namely: vision/mission, problem-solving, solutions/offering, the value of solutions, credibility, scalability, and call to action. From batch 1, the recommended candidates to move on to the next level were: Bachelors (13) and Masters (4). From batch 1, the successful start-up business ideas were Lock a Plot (Bilal Khan Afridi – MBA), 3D Printer (Atif Baig – BE Electrical), Al-Qadib (Syed Hamza Mehmood – BBA).
Value-adding Initiatives at IoBM
During the ceremony, it was announced that IoBM will be collaborating with Tufail Chemicals to work on “the farm”, a food science and security initiative that will create a vertical farm in IoBM. The second initiative is the IoBM Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory). It will provide an environment to nurture entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship initiatives. The Fab Lab at IoBM will be supervised by the Institute’s Entrepreneurship and Management Excellence Center (EMEC). It is committed to addressing the evolving challenges of research, learning, and teaching by enabling and leveraging technology. The Fab Foundation emerged in 2009 from MIT’s Center for Bits & Atoms Fab Lab Program to facilitate and support the growth of the international fab lab network. It also envisions how an underserved community can be powered by technology at the grassroots level. IoBM Fab Lab will provide access to the tools, knowledge, and financial means to educate, innovate, and invent initiatives using technology and digital fabrication. It will allow anyone to make (almost) anything, thereby creating opportunities to improve the livelihoods of communities in Pakistan. Moreover, IoBM is collaborating in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative with the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). IoBM and KMC with close coordination with the office of Parks and Horticulture Karachi has initiated the “#LetsGreenKarachi” project. It is a sustainable plantation drive to be held across the city.