In World’s Longest Hotel, In front of World’s Tallest Building, At World’s Largest Race Course – ‘Coz We Are The Best!

Am back beautiful ladies from the GIST I Dare Business Plan Competition Finale in Dubai. Am past my initial disappointment – no, WDL didn’t win. No, not even the special Woman Entrepreneur Award. For a while it sucked. I let the disappointment wash over me – I sat in my room alone and grieved – I went to the Mall alone and sat in a corner and wept unobserved. For a while I was even bitter and a complete b**** to everyone. Yeah, everyone thinks I am funny so even when I am mean they are kind and think I am just kidding around but I was a pain for a while. However, finally, I got it out of my system.

Masters in English Literature. Secondary School teacher. From South Waziristan. That’s not who you would expect to be at a competition for tech startups. The surreal bizarre truth of the moment. I was sitting with people running the coolest tech startups being mentored by people from LinkedIn and Google and invited to Silicon Valley, and I was competing with them. And yeah, the 29-yr old Asian kid sitting next to me was actually a venture capitalist whose firm Neoteny Labs had invested in companies like Insync (love child of Dropbox and Google docs!!) and Game Ventures besides many others and was most coveted by startups in Asia and Middle East!!! James Chan was a jerk – that was my first impression after the very short menotring session we had. James Chan was an incredibly honest and forthright guy to be depended on to give you a very clear idea of where you stand in the market and also ideas on how you could make it better. Above all, he was human. Something I have always doubted VCs were. He likes playing video games in stealthy corners of the hotel, loves photographing his kid, and enjoys a simple chat.

Realized I have a bias towards female entrepreneurs / mentors despite being a woman myself. Was disappointed when I found out my one-on-one mentor was going to be a woman and she wasn’t even Asian! But Dr. Christiane Scholderer of Mind Talk turned out to be a blessing after how James Chan fried me (no hard feelings James ;) ). She “got” me and WDL. Understood what I was doing and why I believe it will work.

After the results spoke to some judges and they, along with all my fellow finalists, were of the opinion that I need to talk more about the

eAid Team led by Rumaisa Mohani receiving the Woman Entrepreneur Award

women whose lives WDL will impact or has already affected in some way or the other. Here is my stance on the thing. I work in a country where “honor” is more important than anything else and its always associated with women. A man who allows his women to work is looked down upon as being unable to provide for his family. Its a stigma. Now if I go out and start talking about these women, even if I change their names and all, still, WDl becomes associated with helping “poor women who can’t make ends meet” and that can lead to a LOT of trouble.

Also, the idea is to work through organizations already active on the ground who have a trusting relationship with the communities because otherwise being a woman-owned business leads locals to believe we are NGOs here to radicalize their women and corrupt them. Being from the same kind of background I am more culturally sensitive to the way they think and act then most others. So, whether it gets me the dough or not, I can not risk showing “stories” unless the entire community’s elders permit it.

Wow – I sound so sane! *grin – WDL does that to me.

Almost All of Us (Sans me ;) )

For the fun stuff, if you own an iPhone or an Android, ladies, download SecQme. Its a wonderful app that “secures” you. Here is a simple video that shows you how it works:

Will blog about it in more detail separately but this app is developed by a new friend, Khoo Chen Shiang from Malayisa who was a finalist.

James Khoo giving a demo of SecQMe on his Watch!!

Now Kai Feng Chew has a startup called CloudStat. CloudStat is a God-send for people doing social media. Its a way to manage all your social media in one place, collect retardedly simple to read analytics, and just figure out which social media channel is best for marketing your product or service. I strongly advise you go check it out.

Being a tech-geek these companies make my heart beat like crazy. On the other hand, being a social enterprise buff, am absolutely in love with GreenovationTechs and Pak Energy Solution. They also received first and second prizes respectively. The first makes buildings with a special kind of material that has “airconditioning” properties. Just what we need in Pakistan these days with the horrible power crisis. Pak Energy makes gold out of cow droppings!! As the founder said in his presentation, “If I told you you could make big cash from cow dung you would think, “Bull Shit!” ” LOL! But they convert cow droppings into biogas energy for producing energy.

I read on Women 2.0 that men get funded and women get mentors. I say, go right ahead my pretties. Get the mentoring. Absorb it all. Men do get funding but they also waste a lot of it ‘coz they get cocky. On the other hand, funding will come and when it does we will be ready to make the most of it. Duh!

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

P.S. Was late for my flight. Stranded at the airport. Emirates has the SUCKIEST customer service ever. Being a pushtun obvi I didn’t let them get away with comments like, “next time you are shopping remember this is an airport not a bus stop”. Gave them a telling-off they will never forget along with a complaint to the manager directly. Took a flight to Lahore and came to Islamabad on a Daewoo.

P.P.S Some Facts:

Longest Hotel = Meydan Hotel
Tallest Building = Burj AlKhalifa (That shoudl also be given the World’s Ugliest Building Award)
Largest Race Course = Meydan Race Course
Best Startups = Women’s Digital League etc :P

11 thoughts on “In World’s Longest Hotel, In front of World’s Tallest Building, At World’s Largest Race Course – ‘Coz We Are The Best!

  1. Plz dont sound so depressing, some of us actually look up to you and find your determination very inspiring and motivating :P. You may not have won but making to the final itself is a big achievement and u deserve all the accolades for tht. Cherish what you achieved out of it and keep working on your cause. best of Luck.

    • My Dearest Usama,
      I am not giving up no matter what. WDL is bigger than me and my personal shortcomings. That’s life – ups and downs. But I have a strong belief in the value of WDL and I’ll continue working on it till I make it work with help from wonderful friends, great mentors and of course, Allah. :)

  2. Wow! What a description of your journey Maria :) I believe your venture DOES have an impact on the lives of Pakistani women. I can perfectly relate to your point regarding showing stories of Pakistani women working through WDL. I wish you all the very best Maria. Pakistan needs women like you!

  3. Nevertheless dear, you’re such a great person inside-out. Your charisma, energy and aura —-> extremely inspiring. I need to start looking for someone like you in my team :) – MyDerm

  4. Awww Khairul … thank you :) Missing you all already. And hey, I am on your team. LMK whenever you need any help. AND ADD ME ON FACEBOOK :)

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