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KARACHI: IT sector stalwarts have advised startup founders to play the long game and avoid going for the quick buck, stressing on the concept of business-sustainability.

Salim Ghauri, founder and CEO NetSol Technologies, cited the example of the game of cricket to advise startups to reflect on their approach to shape the modus operandi for success in their endeavours.

“It was a painful last seven or eight months for startups,” said Ghauri, who was speaking on the opening of the three-day ITCN Asia - Information Technology and Telecom Show organised by the Ecommerce Gateway Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd at the Expo Center Karachi.

The seasoned IT sector businessman lamented that the main goal of most startups at the moment was to raise funding when their goal should be to start a solid business that goes on to benefit people long after they have gone.

His comments come as a number of Pakistan startups announced either shutting down or trimming operations after a record year of fundraising in 2021.

CarFirst, a Lahore-based startup, recently announced that it has decided to shut down operations in Pakistan, affecting nearly 400 people who had added CarFirst as their employer on LinkedIn.

Earlier in June, VavaCars said that it will shut down operations in Pakistan. Careem also suspended its food delivery business in Pakistan, while another startup Truck It In said it is “recalibrating its strategy” due to which some employees “will be moving on to solve other challenges”.

But the biggest of them all was the downfall of Airlift Technologies, the posterchild of Pakistan's startup scene that was responsible for the country's largest single private funding round in history.

Ghauri said founders need mentoring. “They have to realise they need to go long because businesses need time to establish."

Syed Aminul Haque, Federal Minister IT and Telecommunication, seconded Ghauri’s point of view.

However, another IT sector expert Jehan Ara, Founder and CEO Katalyst Labs, said that the failure rate of startups was 90% not just in Pakistan but around the world.

Startup failure should not be seen as the end of the road for the sector, she said.

Meanwhile, Haque said that the ministry’s target is to take IT sector’s exports to $15 billion in the next few years.

“A target of $5 billion dollars has been set for IT export for next year.”

IT exports stood at $2.61 billion last fiscal year, higher by 87% from $1.4 billion two years ago.

Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITeS (P@SHA) General Secretary Hira Zainab lamented lack of policy continuity for the IT sector.

Zainab said the IT sector has been the fastest growing one for the last five years in the region and it needs special treatment.

Meanwhile, Haque said that they have been working on reforms, reduction of taxes and other recommendations given by the industry.

He said a committee has also been formed to discuss incentives for the IT sector in order to achieve these targets.

5G to be rolled out before next elections

The minister said that the rollout of 5G technology has been delayed due to political turmoil, but the ministry expects it to be done before the next elections.

Haque further said that the MoIT was overseeing the establishment of the Center for Excellence in Gaming and Animation at Karachi University.

He added that preliminary work has been done for establishment of an IT Park in Karachi at a cost of Rs31 billion and its foundation will be laid soon.

“National Incubation Centres will soon be set up in Hyderabad and Faisalabad as well.”

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Mushtaque Ahmed Aug 24, 2022 10:23pm
"Success is always a marathon and never a sprint!"
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