Early V-Day Love

In Pakistan there is a big debate every year over whether we should celebrate Valentine’s Day or not. The debauch liberals are all in favor. The enlightened moderate ones (ah Musharraf … you made the term famous) say sure, but only with your spouses. The flag-bearers of our morality, the ones who have sworn to save their brethren from hell-fire are strictly against. Either way, here is 2014’s V-Day just a few days away. And this brings me to my new love.

Basecamp is a co-working space in … wait for it … PESHAWAR! Yeah ok so 2 weird things there. The name, Basecamp, itself. Isn’t that an online project management website? Then second even CRAZIER thing. It’s in Peshawar!!! Isn’t that the crazy city at the Afghan border hit by the worse strain of terrorism of any urban area in Pakistan?

Hang on. Let me get to each separately before I get sidetracked and this post never sees the light of day like so many others.

I asked Muhammad Uzair, cofounder of Basecamp, some very tough questions over our Facebook chat.

Q1. Dude, why Basecamp? Why not “Khyber Goes Cool” or something?

A. “We are Basecamp Pakistan, they are/were 37 Signals. Basecamp is your temporary stay with us before your big startup summit, your next big mountain to scale.”

Q2. Peshawar? Seriously? Are you crazy?

A. “Yes we are are we needed a space to get the rest of the crazies together. At first we were meeting at Cafe’s, organising events in Universities, and brain storming at friend’s drawing rooms. So it made perfect sense to combine all three and get a co-working space of our own.”

Uzair, that was cheesy but OK I will accept.

Happy peeps? The Digital League is also one of the very first of the “crazies” that has made this place home. Got a couple of kids sitting there handling social media and web dev for clients. As a “thank you”, Basecamp gave TDL (and all other registrants) free swag. Check this out and be jaylus.

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I think it’s really cool. It doesn’t matter what you think … at least not on my blog. *grin

OK two more photos so you know how cool it is. All Google-like grunge-garage look (you can’t see the ceiling – that’s where the garage look comes in).

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Oh, yeah, asked one last very important question after which the lazy co-founder refused to answer any more.

Q3. What are the perks of working at Basecamp?

A. “We give you a starter kit to just get you started, and then there’s everything Basecamp offers. Top talent of the region to work with, weekly talks that range from cutting edge research in biology to trends in digital marketing, an acceleration/incubation program is also just around the corner by one of our partners. Not to forget access to world class mentors (and investors!).”

So this February 14th, Basecamp is my Valentine. *what a sad life. I know*

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Getting Used to Lahore

Edited post with images and links and NAMES.

I have moved to Lahore.getting introduced to the tech scene in a new city. I was comfortable in Islamabad. Knew everyone. Lahore is different. Was invited to speak at Pakistan’s tech incubator called Plan 9 twice. That was nice. Met some very exciting young people trying to make it into the tech world. If you need intro to Plan 9, it’s the place Groopic was launched & groomed.

A couple of the projects got my heart racing. The first was an optical mouse called iTrak that could be used by the disabled. The very excited founding team told me there were other similar products in the market but they were super fancy & therefore super expensive. Their entire focus was on one core functionality and that is to control the mouse after calibrating with an individual’s eyes.

The other was an app called AllSecure by TechnoIsys, a smartphone sensor that helped you locate your phone in case of theft. If a thief tries to turn it on it records his video and transmits it to the cloud notifying the owner as well as relevant authorities with a GPS location. How awesome is that!

So far met one exceptionally interesting “shining lights” person. He leads several ecommerce platforms in Pakistan under the Rocket Internet umbrella. These include the fashion portal Daraz.pk, famous food portal FoodPanda & general shopping store called Azmalo.pk. Did I mention he is also a gentleman? He is.

Rocket Internet

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Big difference I feel between Lahore & Islamabad? Erm it’s too early to say anything but yeah the Lahore tech scene has more younger people involved and is not so telco-centric. Or obsessed over the banking sector. Thank God for that. I was sick of hearing people talk about SaaS and apps and other ideas targeting Mobilink and Standard Chartered. *yawn

That’s all the updates I have for now apart from the fact that very exciting things are happening in Hunza that are keeping me awake at night dreaming, planning, grinning, believing.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeee

P.S. I write this as my mother-in-law gets her hair dyed at the salon. First ever blogpost from the iPhone app. Yayyyy. Apologies for no images. (Edited from the original version)

Journey to Excellence

Dear All, You know I don’t post anything but the deepest, most profound technology and startup news, gossip, whining. But I do like keeping it fresh. Give my own spin on everything. When Sajjad Saab sent me this article, I just had to publish it. You may think, “Gardening? On a startup blog?” Yes, dudes and dudettes. Every person needs something to unwind. A hobby. A pass time. Something that keeps stress at bay. Kirmani Saab being as big a name as he is in the local IT scene has a passion for gardening that he uses to not only show his creative side but it also keeps him sane through the daily challenges of running a biz. So read on my pretties.

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Spring is the perfect time to rejoice and enjoy the beauty of nature; it is the time when beautiful flowers blossom and beautify the whole world around them with their delicate feel.”

With this feel in mind, I showcased an exquisite arrangement of flowers at my Spring Garden in DHA Lahore. Antirrhinum, Petunia, Verbena, Pansy, Gazania, Tulip, Dimorphotheca Calendula, Cineraria were some of the flower varieties lined up in an array of colorful settings. As the panel of judges for the Spring Flower Competition 2013 entered into this garden, one of them quipped “this certainly is much better than what we saw here last year” while another one commented “it’s always a great pleasure to visit your garden”.

My humble efforts spanning over last the 6 months paid off when my garden was rated as the best garden in DHA Lahore while INFOGISTIC office also got recognized as the Best Trend Setting Commercial Office in DHA.

We the tech-entrepreneurs always wonder if there is also a life away from offices and gadgets. With fresh colors and amazing flowers, nature brings to us a magnificent state of bliss and comfort. The scent, the colors, the budding and blossoming new life refreshes one’s mind.

Apparently, developing software and raising flowers appears to be two different areas, but when gelled together, it makes the environment 100% green and eco-friendly. From the award of Best Start-up Company by P@SHA to the Best Garden in DHA Lahore, the journey has been truly enriching for me and for my entire team who are putting their best efforts to create a world class facility.

Though primarily a tech-entrepreneur, I have a passion for gardening that I pursue this in my spare time. Gardening is not about planting flowers only; it teaches us that in order to excel and be good custodians of green environment, we need to learn patience and to take the right steps in the right order at the right time. Just like human beings, the plants also respond positively to the love, warmth and care we accord to them. Having intimate knowledge of your landscape is imperative; as seeding a beautiful plant in the wrong part of your garden lets you down when it enigmatically does not perform well. One must know if a plant likes sun or shade, part sun or part shade, dry soil, wet soil, or something in between.

Finally, no matter who you are, what you do, if you are contented and satisfied from the inside, only then life shines and blossoms through you. I hope you enjoy some of the shots published here and the rest you can catch up on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/spring.gardening or  @SpringGarden_ on Twitter.

About the Author

entrepreneurship in pakistanSajjad Kirmani is the Founder and CEO of INFOGISTIC (www.infogistic.com), an emerging IT company that focuses on providing information security, enterprise portals  and banking solutions to its customer across Pakistan and Middle East. INFOGISTIC was rated as the best Start up Company by P@SHA in 2012.

Sajjad holds a Master´s degree in Computer Sciences from University of London along with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from IBA. He is the President of IBA Alumni Association and has been the Vice President of Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA).

He showed us that age, gender or professional career cannot stop anyone from expressing oneself. Being an integral part of Software Industry, he introduces everyone to his Paradise.

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