Two great avenues for entreprenuers to become global supply partners

Share this Article


I mentioned earlier that it is important for Pakistan to become a part of the global supply business.

Disclaimer: China and other countries already have a significant head-start in what I am about to say here — the good thing is, that these avenues do not depend on who’s first.

Let’s get some facts out of the way :

Fact : we will face a greater set of resistance initially from international customers in convincing them to take their businesses to PK.

Fact : Part of this is an image problem of the country.

Fact : Most of it is a quality issue.

But here are two ideas for entrpreneurs and dynamic companies alike to think about.

As always, a long coffee-session follows. Refill your mugs before diving in.

If you analyse the way the global manufacturing industries are moving, two trends are becoming clear. Both of them are opportuntities for Pakistan.

———- First : The Critical Mass of Fashion ————-

Here I talk about Consumer Electronics.

Initially, people buy all consumer products because they are actually quite useful. In this phase, the product with the most features at a competitive price-point will win, meaning that engineering focuses on putting the most features in the smallest space, and manufacturing focuses on optimizing assembly costs.

For the typical company in this phase, the larger expected sales from their features-rich products will eventually offset the costs of putting the extra features into the device. This type of thinking was largely the cause of the first electronics bust.

But afterwards, the product gets into what I would call is a ‘critical mass of fashion’. In this phase, the consumer’s perceived value of one product vs another doesn’t differ all that much irrespective of the feautres on the device — eitehr because there are too many competitors, or that the features ont he device have saturated.

In this phase, people buy one product VS another because of how good it looks; feels; how much of a fashion statement it becomes, etc.

In this phase then, the most important functions in the company are:

  1. Industrial Design — coming up with wacky design concepts that can click with consumers just in the way fashion does
  2. Imaginative Engineering — break conventional thinking to support those wacky designs (you might need flexible PCBs; maybe the product will be spherical)
  3. Diverse Manufacturing — with expertese in building a very wide range of product finishes, from glossy to brushed metal to icy glass etc.

For a typical company making consumer electronics, whoever can get the above three things in the best quality at the least cost will be successful.

All three of the above are great areas to start a Pakistan-based professional services business in.

The most respected industrial designers today — who are designing for companies like apple, samsung, MS and others — come from countries like Brazil, Singapore, Germany etc. If you have great design ideas, make a portfolio and put it online. Send your device ideas to famous blogs that are covering product design, and have product design specs ready for anyone who shows interest. Luxology’s Modo is some great software for this. You can literally do this from garages, but most importantly you will have to get out of conventional shells and invest your time in building some great concepts. If you can, it doesn’t matter what your prior qualifications were.

For manufacturing, international companies dont want a job shop. They want to find someone who will sit with them and actively explore design ideas. They want someone who can say “Hey you know what, my manufacturing shop is able to give this great semi-glossy brushed-metalesque blinn look to this, let me send you a sample.” Most importantly, they need to get out of the shell of “everything I do must be paid-for” and invest in going the extra mile with customer service (e.g. with free samples / facilitating prototype design etc.)

For engineering firms, this area of supporting crazy industrial designs is new. Since a lot of engineers are resistant to breaking conventional wisdom, this results in higher engineering design costs for companies. Any engineering firm that can create a ‘winning-formula’ for approaching complex industrial designs will get a lot more attention in this world.

China has a great head-start on this, because they realized last year that design was the future of technology, but the great thing about design and creative fields is that it’s the only place where the playing field is truly flat — so Pakistan has just as good a chance as anyone.

—————– Second : Core IP ——————-

This I present with a grain of salt. Local companies such as
And-OR and CARE have struggled with this, and others such as
PalmChip and Com-Cept are also working on parts of this. The idea is certainly not unique, but it deserves to be spelled out.

The idea is this: This is the second age of reference IP designs.

It happens when engineering in any industry hits a ‘critical mass of complexity’ — most projects just become infeasible for new companies to attempt all by themselves.

The first tech industry where this happened was Microprocessor design. When uCs became too complex, they started to realign their design process around using modular IP created by other people. Companies started focusing on niches, leveraging each other’s expertese. ARM, SigmaTel, nVidia, NI and others can attribute their success largely to this phenomenon.

Software Product industries also caught onto this pretty quickly, with firms focusing only on OS, Compilers, Anti-virus etc.

So what’s new? Now is the age of reusing modular IP designs for people more downstram in the technology universe.

In software, enterprise software (i.e. putting products together so they ‘just work’) becomes more complex by the day, and there is a need for someone to create incredible reference architectures and middle-ware frameworks aligned with certain industries. The key design features will be better management of change. The key businesses will be to license out the framework or designs to people.

Think about why this would succeed: Most IT Professional Svcs companies are barely surviving at the price-points and project schedules they are workign with. Their first approach – reducing engineering salaries until the point of reasonable exploitation – is only a stop-gap solution. How do you continue to deliver in shorter project schedules, but yet turn a profit? Well, license out a ready-made, proven reference solution from the “Reference Design” company, and use a minimal number of engr resources in implementing it.

Another reason why it would succeed is because most enterprise customers do not really judge the finer details of the proposed design solution for IT projects. I.e. they dont care to look at how one firm’s architecture is better than anothers. They care about solving business challenges in the way which has least costs upfront, AND least costs down-stream when their business environment changes, which it sure will (read: flexible change mgmt).

I am amazed at how many IT companies in PK keep re-inventing the wheel without building their work into reusable IP as a means of reducing their own costs as well as their customers’ costs.

So I think it’s a great time for a firm to just focus on building enterprise frameworks and licensing them out to these thousands of struggling IT firms in Pakistan and India. Since their customers will be creating IT solutions for the actual customers, the ‘refernce design’ company will have a much larger set of industrial knowledge to put back into the framework.

Ok, what about manufacturing? NOW is the time to build reusable PCB designs as licensable IP. You want to build an MP3 player? Cellphone? Digital Camera? Oh well simple plug-and-play the “Camera Image Processing” PCB design with the “RF link processing” reference designs, move them around, few links here and there and you’re good to go.

The company that is focusing its business entirely on reusable PCB designs can optimize the traces, power, thermal and electrical specs of that one solution to a great great deal. They can even get a lot of industrial insight and support from IC-makers that would want their ICs to become central to the design IP.

The company that is using those designs to build product specs can both reduce its costs and most important achieve much shorter time-to-market.

How do you start this one? Most of the design can be done in simulation software, but you would have to invest in building prototype PCBs — you can put up specs and created benefits of the design on a website, e.g. show how the BOM costs for your design is much lower than others. Have prototypes, numbers and charts to show to anyone who shows interest.

——————— Conclusions ——————-

You really don’t have to be in San Jose to be succesful in the business ideas mentioned. By working in these areas, you have a much better chance of being a critical link in the next-generation of products being designed and built in the global markets.

What you certainly need, though, is the ability to get out of a conventional ‘get money from doing nothing’ shell. Invest your time, or money in building the frameworks, designs, IP needed. Invest in protecting the IP. Put them on a website. Be ready to have much more open discussions with your leads about your abilities. When you meet your first customer, have very clear, quantifiable results to show.

Oh, and please dont claim to do everything-under-the-sun on your website out of desparation. This will put you in a bad cycle of delivering very poor quality products because your firm had never done before what they claimed in order to get the work.

I will agree that part of the challenge is an image problem resulting from unobjective media coverage of Pakistan. This is a very small problem, however.

The image issue doesn’t make me change my name to Sam in order to survive. I will always be worth as much as the knowledge I can create. So will Pakistan.

Facebook comments:

1 Comment

  • You will find that working here in Pakistan is far easier in other respects compared to San Jose. I call it the home ground advantage. Yes you need to compromise. period. end of discussion.

    If you have core IP, the cost of starting up, scaling and shutting down using a PK base are far lower than a US operation. The price is access but you can address that by splitting Ops between Pakistan and an access friendly location.

Leave a Reply


Recent Posts

  • Events General Mobile Apps Container Run a continuation of politically motivated apps

    Container Run a continuation of politically motivated apps

    First we had Angry Imran which brought smiles and some short lived fun for us during the election campaign. Then came Gullu Butt following the incident of Model Town Lahore, which stayed on top of charts (Pakistan play store) for quite some while. Also Gullu Butt made an update with having the famous “Aam Khaiyga” quote form Aamir Liaqat in which a character resembling Aamir Liaqt throws mangoes and the Gullu Butt character tries to catch them. Gullu butt currently has more than 100,000 Installs

    And now during this extremely politically tense situation which had the whole nation on its toes on 14th August we have another app continuing the …

    Read more →
  • Announcements Featured Startup General aims to help student make better decision regarding their future. aims to help student make better decision regarding their future. aims to solve an age old problem for our students, where to go next?

    If you have just completed your primary school which college to pick, if you have completed your college which university to pick. There has always been lack of information or rather consolidated information regarding these questions. The best source till now has always been relatives and friends (mostly of your parents). So some uncle did CA and made a good living you should talk to him and decide, or daughter of my sister completed her medical and is practicing follow that career.

    The fact that online presence of our existing universities are limited and not …

    Read more →
  • General Mobile Apps Eccentria Technologies launches an app which shoots to the top of the charts

    Eccentria Technologies launches an app which shoots to the top of the charts

    Whoa!! this was quick so Eccentia technologies launched an app a few days ago called “Ajj Kia Pakaen” or what to cook today and today it has reached the top of charts for Pakistani Stores on iTunes and google play store.

    “Ajj Kia Pakaen” is the most common question asked at every house hold in the morning. The ladies of the family have a hard time deciding what to cook for the day. The app has a fun interface and is simple to use, you fire it up, and it gives you an option of what to cook for the day, if you like the option you can check the …

    Read more →
  • Coffee Session General Marketing/Adv Rise of facebook marketing in Pakistan

    Rise of facebook marketing in Pakistan


    Until a few years back we used to have closed groups and forums, which gathered the like minded people and anyone targeting the online audience would tap into that forum and market his/her services. So PakGamers , PakPassion initially even PakWheels used to be driven by members talking about what they loved, people used to create marketing and sales opportunities from within those discussions (so you could get a good router cheap or a gaming PC etc).
    The advent of facebook changed all that, most of the forum goers moved to the new social media. It also made a very attractive market place for some one who does not …

    Read more →
  • General Getting back

    Getting back

    I  have been out of blogging for a long long long time, a lot of things happening on personal front (including a little startup I have ben doing my self). However during my absence I met a lot of people who had followed GreenWhite at its peak, read the articles regularly.

    I had hope there would be some one else who would come ahead and cover everything going on and around us in the local tech world. There are some guys doing a great job, but for some reason I still could not find one source where I can go and read about everything, so my routine usually is to …

    Read more →
  • General Mobile Apps Software & I.T. GeniTeam launches official app for Pakistan Idol

    GeniTeam launches official app for Pakistan Idol

    GeniITeam has successfully launched an official app for PakistanIdol. This is one of the first collaboration between a reality game show and a local app development company. I am sure a lot more would follow. Previously we have seen seenreport becoming the basis of mostly all channels citizen reporting system (Like Geo Dost). This is a healthy sign and with the advent of 3G round the corner it should become a business generator for our local firms.

    App allows you to follow the contestants that you like, promote them, comment on live feedback on an episode. It offers official content from the show since it is developed with partnership with …

    Read more →
  • General 10Pearls and National Geographic Release A Geography Challenge App

    10Pearls and National Geographic Release A Geography Challenge App

    10Pearls, one of the leading Pakistani IT companies, has recently added another feather to its cap. This time, in partnership with National Geographic, 10Pearls has released the new and improved GeoBee Challenge App – an interactive app to challenge and grow the geographic knowledge of the users.

    Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The competition is designed to encourage geography in the classroom, ignite student interest in the world around them, and increase public awareness about geography. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging test …

    Read more →
  • General 10Pearls Spins Off Game Plan8

    10Pearls Spins Off Game Plan8

    It’s heartening to see that Pakistani IT companies have now started to diversify themselves into non traditional areas, and are competing with global players in areas such as gaming. We have received information that 10Pearls, one of the leading  mobile and enterprise web development services companies in Pakistan, has spun-off a separate entity focused solely on developing and publishing casual mobile games.  The new entity, Game Plan8, will focus on creating 2D and 3D games for the iOS, Google Android, Kindle, Facebook and other platforms. Details can be seen on the company’s official press release at


    Read more →
  • General Telecom CCP Gives Guidelines Against Telecom Companies’ Deceptive Marketing

    CCP Gives Guidelines Against Telecom Companies’ Deceptive Marketing

    If only were there two things when it comes to the law, firstly the fear of breaking it and by passing the legal authority, and secondly, implementation of the law given full dedication, there would have been less competency and dishonesty in business and society. However, keeping good faith, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has put forward “Deceptive Marketing Guidelines” which will maintain the Section 10 of the Competition Act, 2010. In order to enforce this part of the law and stop anti-competitive conduct on part of the telecom companies in advertising, the guidelines have been shared with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and other concerned telecommunication sector members, in …

    Read more →