A start-up was nominated by the National Incubation Center (NIC) Lahore at LUMS. Codeschool.pk has earned first place and a cash reward in the Stanford Seed Spark Program’s capstone business pitch competition for high-achieving entrepreneurs from around South Asia. This was the inaugural cohort from Pakistan and was introduced by NIC LUMS.
“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.”
The programme attracted 83 enterprises from 17 collaborating institutions, including IIT Bombay, TiE Chennai, and CII-Young Indians. Only the top 20 grads were chosen as finalists in the competition. The top three start-ups were chosen after a rigorous grading process to receive a monetary incentive as well as a virtual showcase feature in the global Stanford SEED Spark gallery.
“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.”
Sadaf Rehman, co-founder of the programme, said of her experience with it, “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 company, Codeschool.pk, offers engaging, interactive coding workshops to kids as young as six years old, with the goal of encouraging crucial 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, creativity, and resilience. The startup has reached over 450 students in ten countries in its first year of operation. Adeel Saya, a LUMS alumnus and Program Manager at Google in Zurich, was her mentor.
Malik Waleed Tariq, the founder of XStak, is another NIC LUMS-backed entrepreneur who made the top 20 finalist list. His business is an all-in-one, self-service Retail Operating System that allows merchants to use a transaction-based pricing model to handle omnichannel commerce, marketing, payments, and business intelligence activities. Ali Almakky, Strategy and Operations, JPMorgan, London, is another LUMS alumni who mentored him.
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 programme for early-stage entrepreneurs in the traction or growth stages that aims to equip them with practical tools to help them refine and develop their businesses through an action-based curriculum, peer networking opportunities, one-on-one mentorship, and live expert sessions. The Stanford SEED Spark programme was brought to Pakistan by NIC LUMS, and it will be expanded statewide, with the second cohort starting in March 2022.
The Program is one of NIC LUMS’ three academically reinforced training alternatives. Its Foundry Program is based on LUMS’ curriculum and taught by the university’s professors, and it recently established the Entrepreneurship 101 programme in conjunction with the University of Saarland in Germany.