Meet Plan9, Pakistan’s First Technology Startup Incubator

Willis Wee
12:49 pm on Feb 15, 2013


Headed by Nabeel A Qadeer, an experienced entrepreneur himself, Plan9 is Pakistan’s first technology startup incubation program, and it’s being run by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). Like many other incubators, Plan9 provides space, mentorship, electricity (yes, electricity), and legal support for startups who are incubated. Plus there’s financial support.

How much money exactly?

Instead of getting a lump sum of funding, Plan9 told us that each startup team member receives a monthly stipend of PKR 20,000 (US$204) for six months. A Plan9 representative told me that in Pakistan power outages can last for 12 hours a day, so the reliable electricity is just as enticing as the money. Plan9’s office provides a conducive work environment where founders can code and work all night.

Plan9 also has a pretty extensive list of advisors, including Zafar Khan (CEO of Sofizar), Khurram Zafar (CIO, Lahore Stock Exchange), Jehan Ara (president of Pakistan Software Houses Association), and Badar Khushnood (Pakistan country consultant for Google). Plan9 also told me:

In addition to [our advisors], Plan9 is building a network of early-stage investors, and mentors from around the world. Hussein Kanji (angel investor), Shoaib Makani (Khosla Venture), Russell Smith (partner, SmithDehn) and Jawwad Farid (founder, Alchemy Technologies) are just some of the people who visited Plan9 in first cycle.

10 Pakistani startups to watch in 2013

Plan9 kick-started its first chapter in September 2012. 14 teams were selected from four launchpad competitions held in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore (again). The teams officially joined the Plan9 incubator in November 2012 with the caveat that each team had to reach certain milestones during the first two months. That resulted in four teams exiting the program early, with the 10 startups below currently still in the program:

  • Eyedeus Labs: Making smartphones smarter by giving them eyes. The team develops ‘computer vision’ technologies for mobile devices, particularly enabling technologies for augmented reality and human-computer interaction.

  • Nosh Genie: Local businesses reviews and social recommendation engine.

  • Piclome: An app to upload event pictures on a single repository data storage to help involved users interact with each other.

  • Hometown: An e-commerce startup working with craftsmen in Pakistan to make and sell high-end leather products. We previously covered Hometown on TechinAsia.

  • LAMP: It stands for ‘Location Aware Management Platform’ and helps collect location field data. Provides business tools for user-driven analytics as well as customizable management dashboard.

  • Hybrid Signals: Digital and social media marketing company to assist brands in calculating the ROI from campaigns.

  • Peercloud: Peercloud is building Pagify. Pagify provides a web-based visual designer enabling documents to be designed completely within the browser.

  • Geniu: Working on system integration and technology products.

  • Travel Distribution Network: This startup claims to be Pakistan’s first B2C and B2B tourism platform, providing information and travel booking services domestically and internationally.

  • Roxcial: A Facebook store to handle orders and collect payments on your business’ Facebook page.

Plan9 has two incubation cycles each year and 15 teams are selected for each cycle. Teams for the next cycle are scheduled to start in March. To be eligible for Plan9’s program, founders have to be a Pakistani national with a team of two to five people. The applicants’ business ideas will go through a pitch test at one of Plan9’s launchpads held in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad.

When asked why the Punjab Government is involved in a technology startup incubator, the Plan9 representative explained that the vision is to build a conducive startup ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs all over Pakistan. Umar Saif, the chairman of PITB added:

Plan9 is very close to my heart, I hope to see some, if not all, teams make a mark on the international arena.

Today, Pakistan has over 30 million internet users which represents about 16 percent of its entire population. 15 million Pakistani are using mobile internet.

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  • Bing

    This is very refreshing content. Have never thought that Pakistan is a place for tech. Will keep watching

  • joshy

    30 million internet users. Bigger than taiwan, malaysia. 6 x bigger than singapore. Looks like a good market with potential.

  • Samir Saleem

    Thanks for the appreciation and post willis. If you want I would love to give my insights how I coming from another city of Pakistan am finding plan9 and how has it helped me.

  • Amer Chowdhry

    Do you know what is the market size in $$ for those 30 million internet users? and what is the average spend online?

  • Arslan Asad

    Plan9 Efforts to thrive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan is definitely commendable. And we became more convicts of their efforts by attending the plan9 demo day arranged a few days ago. It was quite an exquisite experience. Commendable efforts by the incubatees on demonstrating their brainchilds there. And the success stories shared by entrepreneurs there were also truly inspiring. We’ve just chronicled them extensively here for anyone willing to gain inspiration leading to excellence in their lives:

    One can learn a lot from the experience of others. And we learned a lot too. And whats the use of learning if its not shared so this blogpost covers almost all aspects of the inspirations from the success stories of speakers there.

  • mkhs

    well let’s add one more startup, we are working on ours now :) In terms of electricity I totally disagree, I think that there are alternate power switching at Arfa complex.

    Interms of the Ideas and capabilities I think that the innovators and entrepreneurs are not thinking BIG, they need to get outside the box and do something which is not as simple as the projects they are currently undertaking.

    The money it pays is good at-least as long as these funds keep you going to innovate unless you pitch up into the venture market, reminds me when we relocated from EU/US there is still no business hub like this which can fund entrepreneurs to make startups while covering their basic needs.

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