Pakistani start-up wins first place across South Asia in maiden Stanford SEED Spark Program
National Incubation Center (NIC) Lahore at LUMS nominated start-up Codeschool.pk has won top laurels and a cash prize in the capstone business pitch competition in the Stanford Seed Spark Program for high-achieving entrepreneurs across South Asia. This was the inaugural cohort from Pakistan, and was introduced by NIC LUMS.
“Our partnership with Stanford SEED Spark reflects our confidence in Pakistani entrepreneurs and their ability to compete with the very best talent globally,” said Saleem Ahmad, Chairman NIC LUMS Lahore and Quetta at the graduation ceremony of Stanford SEED Spark’s inaugural cohort in Pakistan. “Our conviction is reinforced by the fact that all of NIC LUMS mentored start-ups made the top 20 finalists and have brought home much pride in also winning the top position across South Asia.”
83 ventures participated in the program, from across 17 collaborating institutions such as IIT Bombay, TiE Chennai and CII-Young Indians. The competition selected only the top 20 graduates as finalists. After a rigorous scoring process, the top three start-ups were selected to win a cash prize as well as a virtual showcase feature in the global Stanford SEED Spark gallery.
“Our collaboration with NIC LUMS for Spark’s maiden cohort in the Pakistan start-up ecosystem has been a great experience,” said P. R. Ganapathy, Regional Director, Stanford Seed South Asia. “We are thrilled to see the energy and enthusiasm that NIC LUMS nominated entrepreneurs brought to the program. We are looking forward to meeting more innovators and problem solvers from Pakistan to apply and make best use of a word-class online entrepreneurship program at their own pace and time.”
Speaking about her journey with the program, co-founder Sadaf Rehman commented, “The Stanford SEED Spark Program was instrumental in helping us articulate our vision. The frameworks, expert sessions, as well as the one-on-one mentorship provided just the right mix to propel us beyond what we could have achieved on our own. I am deeply grateful to NIC LUMS for introducing this program to Pakistan, and for the networking opportunities and support that they have provided along our journey.”
Her venture, Codeschool.pk, provides fun, interactive coding classes to children aged six years and up, with the aim to promote critical 21st century skills like problem solving, creativity, and resilience. Within the first year of operations the startup is reaching over 450 students in ten countries. She was mentored by LUMS alumnus Adeel Saya, Program Manager, Google in Zurich.
Another NIC LUMS backed entrepreneur, Malik Waleed Tariq, founder of XStak, also made the top 20 finalist list. His venture is an all-in-one, self-service Retail Operating System that enables retailers to perform omnichannel commerce, marketing, payments, and business intelligence operations on a transaction-based pricing model. He was mentored by another LUMS alumnus, Ali Almakky, Strategy and Operations, JPMorgan, London.
Haris Anwaar, AWS Finance, Amazon, (Seattle) also joined the NIC mentors list with a start-up in the top 20 finalists.
The Stanford SEED Spark Program is a four-month training for early-stage entrepreneurs in traction or growth stage and seeks to empower them with practical tools to refine and develop their businesses through an action-based curriculum, networking opportunities with peers, one-on-one mentorship, and live expert-sessions. NIC LUMS brought the Stanford SEED Spark program to Pakistan and will be expanding it nationwide, with the second cohort due to begin in March 2022.
The Program is one of three academically supplemented training opportunities provided by NIC LUMS. Its Foundry Program is driven by LUMS’ curriculum and taught by the University’s faculty, and has recently launched the Entrepreneurship 101 program in collaboration with Germany’s University of Saarland.