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Start-Up Culture in Pakistan: What Are We Doing Wrong?

Start-Up Culture in Pakistan: What Are We Doing Wrong?

Hussain Saeed

Is startup culture just a buzzword?

With the job market changing steadily and the increase in the number of people who prefer to be self-employed, the word start-up has almost become a buzzword. But startups are much than just a budding culture, they’re an integral part of any country’s economy. Not only do startups promote innovation, but they also lead to the development of new sectors and creation of new jobs.

Pakistan’s developing startup landscape

The start-up culture has just started to take hold in Pakistan. Many people are only now looking at foreign models of financing as a viable solution to start a business. And while the culture is developing, there is much room for improvement.

Here are six problems which hamper the startup culture in Pakistan

An education system that doesn’t support innovation

Before we delve into the ecosystem itself, it’s important to look at the crux of the problem. To say that Pakistan’s education system is problematic is an understatement. Schools and colleges teach children to be risk-averse and train them to treat failure like the plague. Rather than teaching children to innovate and think outside the box, the focus is on rote-learning, which produces good task managers but not very many great leaders.

A risk-averse business industry

Failure is a part of business. And in a fragile economy such as ours, failure in one form or another is inevitable. But we are conditioned from the get go to avoid failure, making the Pakistani population extremely risk-averse. What that means for the startup culture is that the pool of investors and entrepreneurs willing to take that leap of faith are negligible.

This risk-averse culture has created laws and systems that make it more complicated to start and own a business.

People aren’t getting into business for the right reasons

And while being risk-averse curbs innovation, success is never a guarantee with any venture.

90% of all startups fail, that’s a tough fact to face, but even the most optimistic entrepreneurs need to face the music sometimes. If the singular goal behind a startup is to make money, and make it fast, chances are the cofounders and team will run out of steam before that dream is realised.

The need for more experienced investors

When most start-ups begin their business journey, the first step for them is to look for outside funding. In the process of looking for investors, start-ups tend to lose a controlling interest within their company. Financiers ask for a controlling interest within a company-but sometimes they lack the expertise to make decisions about the business. This hampers the long term growth of the start-up, as the person running it is not the one making the final decisions. Furthermore, just because a person or a business has money, it doesn’t mean that they are qualified to run your specific start-up business.

The need for more mature mentorship

The reasoning for acquiring an investor is two fold: cashflow and mentorship. And both are equally important. Therefore, just like its very important to decide on what your ask is and how much equity you’re willing to part with, it’s equally important to get an investor on board who has the skills to provide mentorship in your area of business.

Reluctance to explore different sectors

In the startup ecosystem, most of the focus is on IT even though Pakistan has a consumer-led economy. To create a successful start-up ecosystem, there must be a certain amount of balance. If the only companies that exist within the start-up culture are IT, then there is a lack of exchange of ideas between different sectors, which ultimately hampers innovation.

What do you think Pakistan’s startup ecosystem lacks? Let us know in the comments below!


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