Pakistan is going through something it has never gone through before, an entrepreneurship boom. An unprecedented number of university graduates, combined with a booming economy and a rapid penetration of technology, has placed Pakistan at the cusp of an entrepreneurship boom (the best kind of a boom!). We’re trying to leverage this rapidly growing ecosystem to come up with a new generation of innovative, sustainable, mission-driven entrepreneurs.
Through combining this increasing national entrepreneurship spirit, with the desire to solve society’s biggest challenges, we’re setting a lab with a lasting impact in a country like none other.
Epiphany Lab is a 5-day accelerator for early/idea-stage – Pakistan-based entrepreneurs that are tackling social and environmental problems. It is designed to help these entrepreneurs rapidly identify and validate the foundational assumptions of their business.
The lab provides entrepreneurs with a step-by-step methodology to rapidly and systematically validate their venture’s business model
Who is eligible to apply to this Lab?
Entrepreneurs who are eligible are:
- Committed to social and environmental impact with their venture
- Idea-to-early-stage in their venture’s development
- Based in Pakistan
- For-profit or non-profit
- 18 years of age or older
Here’s a bit more on location:
- If I am an entrepreneur from an adjacent to Pakistan. Can I apply for this Lab? If you are outside Pakistan you can still apply. But please know that we will prioritize entrepreneurs from Pakistan. But if you can make a compelling case, we might consider your application.
- My venture’s headquarters are here in Pakistan, but my operations are elsewhere? Can I apply? It depends. The Business Model Validation Lab is designed for ventures to interact directly with their target market during the Lab. For example, during the Lab entrepreneurs will go and do “customer discovery” by interviewing people (in-person) in their target market. If you are unable to do this because your venture’s operations are elsewhere, then the Lab will be less valuable to you. In any case, please feel free to reach out us if you have specific questions about this.
What stage venture does this Lab serve?
This Business Model Validation Lab is designed for idea-stage to very early-stage entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out:
- Who their target customer is
- What, exactly, is the problem their target customer has
- What their product/service offering looks like (they haven’t built a prototype yet or have just begun building prototypes) and if it meets the needs of the target customer
Entrepreneurs are too late if:
- They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) who their customer is
- They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) what problem their customer has
- They know (with a very high level of confidence and specificity) that their solution solves their customer’s problem
- They have a product/service that is in mainstream production
They have substantial sales
What does the selection process look like?
How much does it cost to attend?
This cost of the program is 50,000 PKR (or about $500). This is way for us to make sure that we are financially sustainable. In order to make sure that the fee isn’t a deterrent for brilliant teams, we will automatically consider all applicants for scholarships covering up-to 100% of the program costs. Also, all applicants from KP, FATA, GB, Balochistan and AJK will receive 80% scholarships if selected.
What does a typical day look like?
Each Day is different!The Lab will feature both time in the classroom (learning principles of how to validate your business model) and time in market with your customers where you will be interviewing them and having them interact with your prototypes. There will also be one entire day dedicated to working with mentors. Throughout the course of the Lab, you will have plenty of time to work and rest. Taking time to digest the material is an important piece of acceleration!
Day 1: Day 1 starts with a brief orientation and workshop in the morning, followed by an afternoon interacting with target customers.
Day 2: Day 2 starts with a workshop in the morning on how to rapidly prototype. In the afternoon, entrepreneurs will physically build a prototype and then go out again to meet with target customers.
Day 3: Day 3 starts with more time interacting with target customers before having an afternoon workshop on how to build powerful relationships with mentors, funders, and partners.
Day 4: Day 4 is a mentor day when 10-15 mentors will attend the Lab to work directly with entrepreneurs.
Day 5: Day 5 begins with a workshop in the morning on how to validate the cost assumptions in each venture before spending the afternoon working on strategic planning. Then the Lab concludes.
[IP] The Lab will feature both time in the classroom and time dedicated to working with mentors. Throughout the course of the Lab, you will have plenty of time to work and rest. Taking time to digest the material is an important piece of acceleration!Day 1: Day 1 starts with a brief orientation and workshop in the morning, followed by an afternoon dedicated to building a strategic plan.
Day 2: Day 2 starts with two workshops designed to build the entrepreneurs’ financial skills. During the afternoon entrepreneurs will design a fundraising action plan.
Day 3: Day 3 begins with a workshop on how to build powerful relationships, followed by a pitch workshop. Then entrepreneurs will build a massive list of potential funders.
Day 4: Day four is Capital Adviser day when experts in early stage funding will attend the lab to work directly with the entrepreneurs.
Day 5: Day 5 is spent on deal negotiation, getting important due diligence materials together, and designing an action plan for the next three months.
For Epiphany Lab, we are working closely with Uncharted (formerly Unreasonable Institute), a U.S. based non-profit, to make sure that you get the most out of this program. We have been selected by Uncharted to support early-stage entrepreneurs in Pakistan through leveraging their extensive experience.
The early stages of a startup are marked with questions. Who is my customer? What problems do they have? Do I have a solution to their problems? What are they willing to pay? Will I be able to break even? An entrepreneur’s ability to quickly convert these questions into answers is one of the few characteristics that separates successful startups from failed ones. The problem is that few entrepreneurs know the rapid and systematic approach required to answer these questions. They go too slow, they focus on the wrong things in the wrong order, and they move forward without truly validating a business model..
Our Daily Schedule
Starts with orientation and workshop on assumption mapping in the morning. The afternoon is spent interacting with target customers.
Starts with a workshop in the morning on how to rapidly prototype. In the afternoon entrepreneurs will physically build a prototype.
Starts with a workshop on how to build powerful, long-term relationships with mentors, funders, and partners. In the afternoon, entrepreneurs spend time validating cost assumptions..
Mentor Day Part 1! 10-15 mentors will attend the Lab to work directly with entrepreneurs. The afternoon is dedicated to strategic planning.
Mentor Day Part 2! Entrepreneurs will meet with even more mentors after their reflection the previous day. The afternoon builds momentum and concludes the Lab.
Awais is leading an initiative to build an incubator to support entrepreneurs and commercialize early stage technologies from the national research centers in the U.S. He built a digital firm that had a successful exit and was acquired by a global tech company. He also founded SC Ventures, a strategic initiative of a $1.8B global philanthropic foundation. He was Executive Director of Venture Capital Group at KPMG. He started his career at Tandem and Hewlett Packard.He holds a Master of Business Administration from London School of Economics and NYU Stern School of Business, and a Bachelor degree in Computer Engineering from California State University.
Nyra is the Managing Director of Simply Sharia Human Capital (SSHC), a global platform cultivating talent, knowledge and innovation across Islamic economic sectors including Islamic finance. At SSHC, she has been a leading voice in talent development and how best to create opportunities and engage Millennials and nurture female talent, especially across OIC countries. Nyra maintained a successful career as a journalist in London and Los Angeles, is the co-founder of Eudaimonia Communications, and works closely with mentoring young entrepreneurs.
Fajer is an innovative, highly knowledgeable and experienced social entrepreneur. She is presently Executive Director of Pakistan Alliance for Girls Education (PAGE). Fajer established a successful social enterprise at the age of 18 in the UK, the Inspired Sisters, which, among others, won her the Inspiring Young Woman Award in 2010. The non-profit organization provided education and economic empowerment programs to people from different ethnic and social backgrounds to help them overcome cultural barriers that obstructed their ability to pave a route out of poverty for themselves, their family and their community
Fatima is the founder of Pakistan’s premier technology news platform for startups, entrepreneurs and techies, TechJuice. A computer engineer by profession, Fatima realized the potential of a media platform for startup founders and techies when nobody else felt so. The online platform showcases news relating to start-ups, entrepreneurship, education, and technology in Pakistan, and has become a resource hub for Pakistanis to learn and find opportunities in the field. Through collaborative community events, she has connected emerging and established entrepreneurs to share best practices and learn from one another.
Akash is an economics major from the London School of Economics with previous experience at Barclays Capital UK in project management. He is also the founder of a location based mobile app startup in private beta. As the Program Manager at The Nest IO, one of the leading technology incubators in Pakistan, Akash looks after the execution of operations and strategy for the incubator along with program design and performance management. He has worked with more than two dozen startups during their incubation at The Nest, several of which have gone on to raise funding.
Saira has 12 plus years of experience and a record of superior results in a variety of challenging and multicultural environments. She has served as Executive Director, The Indus Entrepreneurs, Lahore. She also led the development of a business incubator at NETSOL named NSPIRE. She has represented Pakistani entrepreneurial network at various conferences such as the 3rd UNESCO-APEID Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education organized by Ministry of Education Malaysia. Saira is a mentor and advisor to startups to enhance their marketing and business planning skills.
Salman is co-founder and head of talent and research at Peshawar 2.0. He is responsible for promoting entrepreneurship and startups in universities, engineering campus ecosystems, and working with ORICs. He is passionate about education and public policy. Apart from Peshawar 2.0, he teaches at Edwardes College, the oldest educational institute in Peshawar, and writes for different blogs. He is an expert in delivering trainings on personal development, pitches, people and culture and business model canvas.
Gulraiz is a transdisciplinary designer who uses human-centered design to wrestle with complex problems. He is a Lecturer in Communication & Design at Habib University and serves at the Assistant Director for the Playground, Habib’s Center for Transdisciplinarity, Design and Innovation. Prior to this, he received an MFA in Transdisciplinary Design from Parsons The New School for Design in New York. He works at the intersection of design, research and urbanism, and has worked with students and organizations to develop human-centered design capabilities, including design research, stakeholder workshops and prototyping.
Miriam Mehdi is a Fulbright scholar who is working in the space of financial inclusion in Pakistan. She runs her own start-up called Kafayak focused on making savings safer. In the past she has worked organizations like Ashoka, Shell, WEF and Kansai Paints. She is passionate about economic development, social innovation and marketing. Miriam holds BA and MBA from FAST-NUCES, Pakistan and MA in Social Enterprise from American University, Washington DC.
Dr. Anzar Khaliq, a nanotechnologist by training, is the founding faculty member of Habib University and currently serves as an Assistant Dean of the School of Science and Engineering. He is also the Founder and Director of the Playground, Habib’s Centre for Transdisciplinarity, Design and Innovation. He is working on multiple projects that are exploring diverse methodologies to incorporate design thinking into traditional STEM disciplines.
Madiha Parvez is an Assistant Professor at NUST Business School. She is a recipient of Fulbright Scholarship and holds an MBA from Saunders College of Business, R.I.T, New York, with a degree in Entrepreneurship & New Venture Creation. Madiha Parvez’s industry experience spans over 7 years with a focus on innovation and new product development. She has worked for multiple industries including Telecommunications, Oilfield Services, Financial Services and Management Consulting, both in Pakistan and the United States. During her stay in the U.S, she worked as a business mentor at the Albert J. Simone Center for Student Innovation & Entrepreneurship. She worked with tech start-ups and developed their business concepts to a point where they were ready to seek angel investment.
With 19 years of experience in business Analysis, IT/Technology Management & Project Management, Planning, Implementation and Roll-out, Naeem has managed 10-200 members cross cultural teams. He also has more than 1100 hours of speaking and training experience, and approximately 3 Billion USD projects in his portfolio. He is a passionate teacher, trainer, mentor and coach, flexible and adaptable in a continually changing environment. I am well-versed because of my prior engagements in program and project management/implementation, business continuity management/business consulting, safety and security projects execution (smart city/safe city projects), monitoring and evaluation, business analysis, training and development, coaching and mentoring start-ups.