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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to adopt a global approach towards building startups and training founders in the global standards of excellence to bring the country out of the current economic crisis.

This has been stated by ScaleX founder Adnan Faisal, who has a history of working with successful tech startups and in the investment management industry on a global scale.

Adnan Faisal is the founder of ScaleX which is a startup acceleration programme that provides strategy and growth services, pre-seed and seed capital, and global market access to emerging market founders. Adnan has a demonstrated history of working with Tech Startups and in the investment management industry on a global scale.

In an exclusive talk with Business Recorder on Monday, Adnan Faisal informed that Pakistan’s economic market is very limited. There is high-quality talent which needs access to the international market with grooming and they needed to familiarise raw talent with international trends. Local talent lacks strategy and commercial skills.

Faisal is helping startups in Pakistan with an international approach. His Islamabad-based ScaleX is the only privately funded and commercially-run accelerator in Pakistan. They believe in having a high execution-oriented mindset, and they believe the same thing for the startups they accelerate.

He said that the startup ecosystem needs to focus on the skills and capacity building of the founder and not chase after capital and brand promotion only.

In the past, Adnan Faisal and his team at TIC NUST conceived a global acceleration programme with the aim of infusing global standards of excellence among startups through immersion in Silicon Valley. This was a pioneering approach to leading Pakistani startups into the global arena.

Adnan was the first person from Pakistan to conceive such a game-changing programme because he was previously a startup founder in the early 2000s and later as a technology fund manager for a US-based hedge fund. He, thus, had the ideal combination of knowledge and experience to deliver on the development of a global quality perspective and skill set for local founders.

In contrast to the existing programmes, this programme focused on the founder development which is central to the success of any startup. This was the first of its kind approach and Adnan was the architect of the approach. The success of this programme is evident from the performance of the founders that were part of this exchange programme.

Out of the 12 startups that attended the exchange programme half of them raised an accumulative amount of $ 750 thousand in some of the top VC’s and investors from Silicon Valley. By 2022, this number has expanded significantly to $ 5.6 million, which is a 12x ROI for the programme.

This was endorsed by the US ambassador to Pakistan during his visit to NUST where he met all the participants of the programme and also expressed the desire to fund follow-up programme of a similar nature.

The US embassy appreciated the project. They said that other startup support programmes help build startups, but his programme at NUST focused on founders, as they were grooming them while being focused on capacity building of founders. Faisal stated that sophisticated training of raw talent in a guided manner is important.

He said that their complete focus is on startup success, as this is a truly commercial, private sector approach. If a startup is successful and is sold for Rs 100 million, it will get 10 percent.

He explained that one of their startups has top technology for the poultry industry in which they use sensors and artificial intelligence, and improve mortality and weight gain of birds.

Their system is now being implemented at the largest poultry company in the Middle East and they have now been invested in by a top Silicon Valley VC.

Similarly, another startup - DeafTawk - helps Deaf people in Sign language communication through an Artificial Intelligence based app and is used in Singapore, Sri Lanka besides Pakistan and is soon to be launched in Denmark.

These examples illustrate that top national talent can be groomed and guided towards international excellence. The infusion of best practices is more important than financial capital and that is the overall message of ScaleX and Adnan Faisal for economic revival and growth, Adnan Faisal added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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