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Business

Web Desk
February 13, 2018
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From Karachi to San Francisco – how Pakistanis are finding their way to Google’s global accelerator

San Francisco: Google Launchpad Accelerator Participants posing for a group photo.

KARACHI: A global acceleration programme that helps startups build and scale great products by matching them with the best of Google - its people, network, and advanced technologies - has a new entrant in its midst, Pakistan.

The Google Developers Launchpad Accelerator (LPA) is a six-month acceleration programme that matches top growth-stage startups from emerging ecosystems with specialized skills, people, technologies, and access to Google, without taking any equity in the startups or their IP.

Talking exclusively to The News, Google Developer Relations Lead Sami Kizilbash said it didn’t happen overnight. “It started with deliberate planning from the Google Developer Relations teams and a vibrant on-the-ground Google Developers Group that shaped the narrative in Pakistan’s favor,” he added.

For Pakistan’s first mentor at the Google Developers LPA, Faizan Siddiqi, who participated in mentoring some of the 30+ startups in San Francisco last summer, this is an opportunity local startups having global aims must cash in on.

“Pakistan is now officially open for business at Google in more ways than one,” shared Faizan after attending another mentoring session in US earlier this month.

He further said, “This brings instant validation to the fact that the work that is being done in the Pakistan tech ecosystem finds both relevance and value within the Google LPA platform”.

In the last round of the accelerator there were two “Unicorns” (Companies valued over 1b$) participating and benefiting from the mentoring and advice of the global thought leaders who volunteer their time to strengthen the ecosystem.

This batch was even more special as it featured its first Pakistani startup, Vivid Tech, a digital Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) that uses deep Machine Learning (ML) to improve interaction outcomes in call center environments.

This is a one-of-a-kind equity-free acceleration programme, where Google is helping startups scale.

Applications to the programme from Pakistan have now officially been open since 2017 and any startup with the ambition, technology, and the global chops to hack it can apply.

This is fantastic for Pakistan now more than ever, due to the fact that with an addressable population of 200m+, roughly 125m people under 30 years of age, 60m smart phone users, 50m internet subscribers, 140m bio-metrically verified SIM cards and telecom subscribers, and a projected middle class of 160m in 10 years, the country is ready for disruption and innovation and it doesn’t need to look too far. By having Pakistani startups being selected and participate in a setting that is fit to nurture Unicorns is a fantastic opportunity.

Experts believe that anyone with the aspirational target to exploit these demographic and market stats now has access to a global programme, which now includes an AI/ML studio bringing some of best AI/ML minds from all over the world available to the participants of the accelerator.

The inclusion of Vivid Tech in this competitive programme has proven that Pakistani technology companies have what it takes to be amongst some of the best in the world, they said.

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