Entrepreneurship according to me is an act of taking risk in order to solve a problem.Entrepreneurship is inherently a community based activity. If you take out the community then for whom will you be solving the problem?However, in order to know what the community wants you will need to get out of the building. According to Steve Blank, an experienced entrepreneur, he says that we should get out of the building. We should talk to the people, we should meet our customers. We will need to do networking.Networking is an act in which you meet new people, and make connections. Then you can use these connections to further help build an environment for entrepreneurship.In countries like Pakistan, there are communities, but there are no extensive entrepreneurial communities where groups of entrepreneurs come and work together as they do in the silicon valley, however do not be despair small groups of entrepreneurs have sprouted up in the city of Lahore.I will give example of Lahore, Pakistan as i live here. The government run Plan 9, is doing its part to encourage and support entrepreneurship, through a number of different programs such as the Plan 9 Incubator, Plan 9 Accelerator, and the recently launched Plan 9 Tech Hub where freelancers can come, work and network.LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) Center of Entrepreneurship is also doing its part through its accelerator program.There are other initiatives as well such as the invest to innovate, a privately run accelerator program.Entrepreneurs can also find events going on in their neighborhood, or locality by searching on facebook, twitter, or any other events management software/website.I also suggest that entrepreneurs seek out events which they can attend and showcase their work so that they can introduce them selves to experienced entrepreneurs, investors and then get their guidance or help. This is extremely important in order to grow the entrepreneurship scene in your locality/area.As more and more entrepreneurs will help each other out, entrepreneurship won’t be that scary any more since there will be some help for first time entrepreneurs. I also encourage experienced entrepreneurs to guide and mentor new mentors and to help develop the ecosystem in which we all live and survive.I am happy to say that in Lahore, that this trend has started to happen as experienced entrepreneurs are coming out and helping young entrepreneurs like me and offering guidance. This is truly the start of something wonderful.
I had applied to take part in an event called Startup BBQ Speed Mentoring organized by Google for Entrepreneurs (Google Pakistan) and PASHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association), and had entered my product Inbox My Articles as the submission idea.
On Monday 20th October 2014 i received a congratulatory email from Badar Khushnood (Google’s Country Consultant for Pakistan), Google for Entrepreneurs that my idea had been selected for speed mentoring. I was over the moon. Finally, my directionless startup, which was barely gaining any traction was going to get some well needed direction, and that it was one of the 7 startups selected from over 100 plus which had applied from Lahore, Pakistan. I was honored, and proud for being part of this, and also glad that me and my team did not give up on my idea and we had stuck to it, and have brought it to where it is currently. I myself had worked during the nights to add the new features which i though were required, and which i also needed as a user, while during the day i work on client based projects.
Inbox My Articles is an RSS Reader which consists of an Android app, a website, and a cloud. The Android app has the capabilities of downloading articles for offline articles. There are many use cases of this feature, such as not wanting to miss the latest news when ever you use the app, so you want to download the articles onto your device. Another useful use case is when you are in your commute and want to follow your favorite websites on the way to office, you can download the articles before hand, and then read them later.
I myself use Inbox My Articles every day, and where i live, we don’t have internet connection everywhere. 3G has just recently come in Pakistan, but from what i heard least it was still expensive, and my network is straight going to 4G LTE, which it announced, but i am yet to receive my new sim card which i was promised to receive but still have not received it, so as a result i am usually in places where i do not have an internet connection available, so i read the articles which i have downloaded earlier onto my device.
I went with my team which consisted of the following:
- Mustafa Neguib (Entrepreneur, Founder, CEO of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
- Muhammad Adil Saeed (Development Partner & CTO of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
- Muhammad Basim Majeed (Development Partner & Software Engineer of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
- Saad Siddique (Development Partner & Software Engineer of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
We arrived the venue, LUMS (Lahore University of Management & Sciences ) Smart Lab, Lahore, Pakistan at about 8 am on the fine morning of Tuesday 21st October 2014. I had insisted my team mates to wear formal attire, as i had assumed that since the top industry experts were coming to mentor us, we should be dressed accordingly, but the reality was to be other wise. Everyone was more or less in their casual attire.
We were one of the first ones to reach the venue, so we had some time to take pictures with the banners, and set up our equipment (laptop with the pitch deck and presentation which i had prepared and my smartphone, and my business cards).
As everyone else started to pour into the venue, i saw some familiar faces, and some new faces. I was awestruck. I was in the company of the people who were at the place where i believe i am destined to be. To see local heroes and entrepreneurs who made it on their own, i too strive to attain success and build a successful company one day, while in the mean time i am trying to survive with my team, hoping for that one big break.
I believe that this event was our big break, and will be using it to the fullest to further grow the company.
We were mentored by the following industry experts:
- Khurram Amin who is Director-Business & Strategy of Commtel Digital
- Umair Javed CEO Tkxel
- Sajjad Kirmani CEO Infogistic
- Muhammad Haris Co-founder of ThemeFusion
- Amer Sarfraz Founder of Olaround
- Haseeb Awan Co-founder of BitAccess
- Nabeel Nawaz Co Founder & CEO at Techknox Systems
Each of the mentors brought their view point, experience and expertise, which all was extremely valuable for us inexperienced entrepreneurs miserably trying to survive. As a crux we were guided on how we are to build our business and marketing plan, how to calculate our costs, how to find new users and how to get feedback from existing users. We also learned what issues our product contains, and how we can further improve it. One of the common themes was that we should target the local audience, and to localize the product. This surely is a point to ponder, and one direction which we should definitely think about. We also learned about marketing plans, and how much users are required for making money from ads.
I would like to say, that we were grilled and prepared for barbecue as the organizers had claimed to do so. I myself learned alot, pitching became better and we modified our pitch when the next mentor came.
Apart from the mentors mentioned above, founder of TechJuice, one of Pakistan’s top technology media companies also guided and advised us. TechJuice was also one of the seven startups selected, and i thank her for her advice and guidance.
This was not the first time when i was part of an event like this. I was also part of the Game Jam 2014 Lahore, but this event was at another level as this time, my and my team’s hard work for the past 6 months was recognized and accepted as an idea which i am even more determined to work on, and to further improve it and use the knowledge gained in building this into a business.
This event was the perfect time for making connections and increase our networking circle. I am glad that we were given the chance and met some extraordinary people. We really thank Google Pakistan, Google for Entrepreneurs and PASHA for selecting us, and giving us a chance to learn and experience, and to be mentored by the industry experts.
I would also like to thanks the mentors who took out time from their busy schedules in order to mentor us, and to help us learn from our mistakes, and most importantly to guide us. I will never forget what i have learned here, and i will do my best to implement what i have learned on Inbox My Articles, and also on any future product that i work on.
Update @ 24th October 2014 3:03 AM : Added link to blog post to the article about my experience in Game Jam 2014 Hackathon Lahore
There are times, when you forget where you have left your phone(device), and you wish that you had some sort of an app installed on it so that you could find it easily.
UX, Design and Ease of Use
Arrows have been incorporated into the design of the app which inform the user what each button does. I think this is a good idea.
The youtube video, help screen, and the pointers on the homepage help make the experience of using the application much easier.
The user can select which music to play when a whistle is detected. The user can also set the sensitivity level of the whistle to be detected. By default the lowest sensitivity level is set. At this level whistling was not detected, so i had to turn the sensitivity to a higher setting.
There is also an option to turn on the flash light from within the app, but from my initial testing, i did not find the flash light being used when the app plays the music when whistling is detected. From the help screen i found that the flash light has been implemented as as an extra feature to help find the user find other things in a dark room. I don’t know why was this feature needed in an app which is supposed to be used to look for the user’s phone.
This app is really useful for all of those people who forget where they have left their devices. Keeping the media volume to a high level will help the user find the device from a far distance, however i have not tested the maximum range of which the device can detect the whistle.
Problems that I foundThere is no option to stop the music once you find your device. The music continues to play even if you find the phone. I could not find any option to turn of the music.Another problem that I found is that when the screen is turned on whistling is not detected, so those users who have set their screen time out times to be long (on Huawei Ascend P7 android Kit Kat the max screen time out is 30 minutes). So if the user forgets where his phone is in these 30 minutes then the whistling won’t work, and he will have to wait for 30 minutes to pass, but then those 30 minutes will have been lost. We all know wasting time is a high level offence.
Furthermore, I also found out that the app for reason whole the device’s screen was turned on , the app detected that a whistle was detected and started playing the music.
Lastly, I noticed that my battery ran out quicker than it normally does since i had installed the app.
As stated above, this app is useful for those users who forget where they have left their phones, but this app has quite a number of bugs which need to be fixed in order to make this app much more usable.
There are many resource management apps available on the Google Play store, which allow the user to either clean the RAM, close apps, manage files, but one app stands out from the crowd. Clean Master is one app which does all.
Clean Master provides management of the following:
The app’s design is clean and beautiful. The user interface has also been well planned out, and any one can start using this app immediately.
When you open the app, you are shown the storage information and RAM information on the top half of your screen. The bottom half of the screen contains buttons to the features mentioned above. Pressing on either one of the features, opens up the screen of the respective feature.
The animation which is shown as the data is compiled, is just beautiful. The design and user interaction team has done well to design this app.
Clean Master is a highly useful as it allows the user to keep his device in check and to make sure that any unwanted resources are not being used. The main use of this app is to keep the resources being used in check. As a result, the battery life will last longer as only a handful of user apps will be running hence less use of RAM.
This feature allows the user to clean the junk files, those files which have been discarded by the apps but are taking up space in the memory. The less the RAM will be used the better the device will be performed.
There is also an advanced functionality which further allows the user to remove all files linked with the apps. This even includes videos or pictures which are on the device memory. Using this feature may remove all of your app’s data (which you select to clean) and your app’s functioning will be affected. Be careful if you use the advanced functionality.
This feature allows the user to stop and remove any of the running app from RAM.
This app even provides an antivirus software which scans the apps for any problematic apps. The antivirus software has been provided by AVTest.
This feature allows shows the user list of installed apps, and allows him to either backup or uninstall the app. The user can also sort the list on a number of different parameters such as frequency of use, date used, app size, etc…
Clean Master is one feature packed app, and I highly recommend this application. You will not regret using this application, as it will help you keep your device remain healthy. Is that not what we want?
I was checking out my friend’s Android smart phone, looking for any good apps or games that he has installed so that i could install on my smart phone.
I came across this puzzle game by the name of Horror Escape where you have to solve puzzles by finding clues. There are many other apps which follow the same style of hiding clues and then the user has to find them, but i found this game intriguing as it has a back story, and the ambiance of the game suites it quite well.
From what i have found so far, is that there is an evil guy who has locked the character(you) in a building, and he has left clues for you to find in order to escape. When you find one clue it leads to the next clue. I like detective and puzzle games, where i have to solve a case, and i love Sherlock Holmes, one of the best detectives that i have read about (i am reading the stories of Sherlock Holmes at the moment).
This game is constructed in such a way that there are levels, where each level is a room. There are a total of 15 levels in this game. One requires patience and needs to harness his collective powers of thinking in order to find the clues and eventually escape from the building.
I myself am at level 6 and i am stuck at it. What i am really impressed is the way the clues are hidden in each level. One has to actually look for them, by pressing on everything hoping that some clue pops up. There is no animation, but the graphics are professional and realistic, which further helps bring the detective in you out to help your character to escape.
If puzzle games fancy you, then I highly recommend this game, but this is a good time kill for others as well.