Startup Insiders Lahore – Braindump

As it is almost bedtime (8AM), so I must dump a few very interesting points that were raised at the meet up before going to sleep. These ideas are sticking around in my brain after 3 days have passed, and deserve more discussion, perhaps in another similar session.

  • Its easier to do a startup near graduation – This was a suggestion given by the host, Zia Imran to the young kids there, and were almost the same words that I had used (while pointing towards Sharjeel) only a few minutes earlier. What I actually said to a 30something friend was something along the lines of "These kids are not married, they live with their parents and have the energy to do it". We live in a culture where we don't have to move out of our parents' house after graduation, so I see no reason why an aspiring entrepreneur should not spend a few months during/after graduation to give it a try. They don't even have to drop out of college (like Bill Gates, or more recently, Mark Zuckerberg), and can entice their parents with founders' equity in exchange for free meals. With no children demanding attention four hours a day (or as in my case, hogging the bandwidth) and no grocery shopping to distract their long coding sessions, they can focus on their startup idea like no 30+ person can.
  • Living in Pakistan helps us build our mental muscles – With the competitive education environment that we have (getting an A+ was not the goal in my days, it was getting that '1st position) and the third-world conditions that force us to schedule our lives around load-shedding, we get the exercise in patience and adaptability from an early age that an average American probably lacks. So while Fahd Bangash (with an American childhood + Stanford education, I think) clearly showed his frustration at the lack of infrastructure in Pakistan and his fascination with the quality of life in the Silicon Valley, we also had old salts like Kewan Khawaja and Hasan Rizvi looking at the positive side-effects of life in Pakistan. I think one of the major reasons the Indians and Chinese are so successful "out there" is that after their relatively tougher childhood/adolescent years, they find it really easy to succeed in the West when they suddenly get the infrastructure and the opportunities that they lacked in their homelands. It is also the one of the reasons that some of us stay in Pakistan – with all the handicaps, "making it" here deserves more merit than making it in the US, for example.
  • The quality of life / buying power is better in Pakistan in some ways – Another important fact mentioned in the meetup was that of people converting dollars into rupee while deciding to move out of Pakistan. I believe that there is a definite need for another session that focuses on this topic so that people can make informed decisions about the opportunity costs of going abroad to work seeking greener pastures, people who can see that 4000$ = 240,000Rs. but do not realize that a cab ride can cost 1,200Rs. and a studio apartment rent can be 100,000Rs., or more importantly, that you can't get back at a one day notice to attend that loved one's funeral. 

So I think these topics deserve more discussions, offline or online. I did see a lot of camera flashes but I am still waiting for the video/pics links to start appearing on youtube/flickr. Ideas dumped. Off to sleep now.

Startups Insiders 2 Lahore was Fun

I just came back from the Startups Insiders 2 meetup, and it was really good to bump into a lot of old friends and familiar faces, some after five years (note to self: must go out more often). The success (and failure stories) were  interesting and the discussions were lively. If I get the time and energy over the weekend, I'll might write some more about it (I know Sharjeel (2scomplement) was trying to find a wifi signal to live-blog)… this is just a quick post to say a big thank you to Zia of Vahzay and Osama of Green & White for arranging the event – it was a lot of fun and I do hope it becomes a monthly tradition.

PTCL Triple Play Project

LESCO, teamed with my local ISP (who gives bandwidth on LAN, and therefore, dies with every one hour power failure) finally made me bite the bullet and move to the PTCL Triple Play Project aka Broadband Pakistan today. The PTCL techs just left after installing the connection (in 10 minutes) and the speed tests so far are not bad at all.

PTCL speed

Contrary to my expectations, I have had a very smooth customer service experience till now. One of the few good things about Broadband Pakistan is that you can get it upgraded and downgraded for free with one phone call, and you will be charged according to your usage. They didn't give me a wifi modem though (they save them for the 1Mbps lines, discriminating 8@$tards!), but told me to call their office after 4-5 days and they will change the modem (I hope they are true to their words). Now I just need to test the one dozen UPSes lying around to find a working one and I'll be a bit less dependent on LESCO.

A Long List of Leftover Links…

 … from last year that couldn't grow into posts. Now I can clean up my 'TO BLOG' bookmarks folder and continue pretending to be a blogger:


Its been one year since I started working with the Blue Brain Project team. Dr. Felix Schürmann, the Project Manager of the Blue Brain Project, informed me last week that the project is officially entering its next phase very soon, which has got me pretty excited.

Meanwhile, here's what the rest of the world of Brains (aka. neuroscience) has been up to recently:

PS. On the number of 'n's in the post title (18), I became curious how people actually spelled brai(n)+s, and spent the next 5 minutes charting out the Google hits. Here are the results: