Zigron – An incubating partner as a business – looking for team members

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zigron Zigron is an Islamabad + San Francisco based venture headed by a Carnegie Melon grad Haris Khan and two other partners. They have a very interesting business model – they partner with other emerging startups out of the states and work with them on “sweat equity” – i.e. working for a share of their business. Based on this relationship, they are also actively involved in getting them to the next stage of business.

The first such partnership was a device-based internet TV solution with Wherever.TV, which from what I understand is similar to SlingBox. That venture started out as a two-person team and recently just secured Angel Investment, growing to nearly 50 people now. They have recently been expanding their team in Islamabad, where I remember Haris was completely surrounded by kids at the LMKR SI event.

A couple of months ago, they were also looking for startups from the local market to partner with to promote in the US in a similar model – they were going to produce a video of around 6 startups and their pitches and then present them to VC firms in the states as Zigron partners.

Haris, if you’re still doing that please email me at osama@greenwhite.org and lets see if we can get some startups interested via G&W.

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28 Comments

  • I don’t know as how to comment on this post, coz most of the times I am a silent reader not commenting much (sorry for that Osama). But coming to this post, what I get is Zigron seems to be a good company apparently or only my friend must have a bad experience with them. Ever since he has told me about his experience, I myself never got any attraction to this company nor I recommended any friend to apply there. Reasons being that obsolete traditional style interviews conducted by HR guys and other hit lines like ( We are US based, so it be blah blah…). I hate to say but it really hurts when those ages old questions are asked like…
    Why this job, where do u see ya self in…, show great ( mostly fake) trust and enthusiasm to me…. we all know that list of questions. Again the sad fact is, mostly technical questions are either not asked or skipped, like it doesn’t matter for an IT company.

  • Amjad Qureshi

    As far as I know, this is probably one of the best companies in Islamabad to work for. Couple of my friends are working there and they love the environment, learning opportunities and challenges. As far as I know, they look for the potential and not what you know, because technologies keep on changing and if you want to be highly innovative, then you need the ability to adapt and learn. I am happy to see more companies like this in Pakistan who are breaking traditional company environment and bringing innovation.

  • Osama, thanks for the post and yes Zigron Inc does work with young startups to get them the needed jump start.

    As for the comment from “Khan” ,our interviews are a multiple step process. Yes there is a HR round but only after we see the spark and passion in someone- then we move on to the Technical round and after that there is the final round. So I am assuming your friend has only experiencd the HR round.

    As a company our main focus is to hire individuals who have fire in the belly and not just skills. The reason we look for raw skills is that we mostly work with startups or with large companies who are working or at least trying to bring out new technologies. For this we prefer that our employees learn new things on the job with our guidance, its almost like we always throw ourselves at the deep end of the pool even if we are still learning how to swim :-)

  • @Haris

    No matter how fancy words you use or how aesthetically you play with words, the bottom line is that it wont attract any talented employee. If you look again at your post, its all about you :D, not me(on which your future depends), so why should I care about you and not the other best companies in Isloo who have solid foot prints in Silicon valley. Of course every company tries to hire the best of talent, but so is an employee thinking of and who will be waiting for 2-3 months of your interviewing process to be completed (worse you didn’t even let him know that he was not hired etc). I am posting this that, please guys here is brilliant talent, don’t try to exploit them for short term aims, else you will be suffering and looking for this talent in times to come.

  • @khan, first of all thanks for speaking out this makes this community a wonderful place,
    second about your comments, don’t you think you are basing total judgment of a company based on one opinion, If zigron decided to do the HR interview first then the technical i see no harm in it it goes with their preferences of work force, i know a lot of organization who do the initial screening based on gre style iq test. And regarding telling about rejection i have seen very few organization do this usually the person giving interview has to call back to ask about his status.

  • @Qazi,

    First let me clear this one point, my opinion is based on on my own experience too with them, but as I had a knowledge about from my friend’s experience, I didn’t appear for interview there. And most importantly I am not a Zigron basher in any sense, these are just my own assumptions based on the previous experience I had with companies having such standards. So no offense Zigron guys!

    As for the second part of your comment, do you really think this should be in any way an interviewing process in software houses. One of my other friend was asked to appear at JinTech and they went for the GRE and IQ type test plus interview. One IQ question was asked by the HR guy involving calculations and my friend tried to make things clear about the question, so he asked should I take into consideration a real number or a digit. The HR guy told him, “yar what do you mean by that, just consider a number.” In summation he didn’t know the difference between a real number and a digit and was taking an IQ test.

    So my bet is, why don’t they ask, what tools have you worked on, what do you know about web 2.0, whats better in your opinion ROR or Python frameworks or JQuery or Dojo for js. What data structure will be efficient for this sort of storage and why not that etc etc. Even if they want to see the excitement and commitment ask questions about his/her knowledge in IT global market e.g. latest acquisitions, TC and other tech blogs, Digg, reddit and new happenings related to applicant. All I mean to say is, come on guys, we have an education system ages old but in IT that wont go along. Quit those techniques which are obsolete in west know, coz unlike education system, IT is purely contemporary phenomenon.

  • I would like to comment few points on Zigron Inc. I have gone through the complete HR process, I didn’t get hired. But I don’t blame them, I give all correct answers, and try to satisfy the employer (HR & Technical guy), but still company didn’t feel that I may not be a good addition to their resource pool. This doesn’t really mean that I do hold bad opinion about the company due to its HR. It is all about right person at right place.

  • Hey Khan!
    You are thinking too technical man, the companies in Pakistan arent that big and that much resourceful to hire people after any reasonable process. Right now, they just try to find some high IQ and aqalmand guy in their very own way who can work day and night for the betterment of ‘the company’.
    Leave it.

    I feel like saying ke ke Shaz is no person :)

  • @Ijaz

    Yeh, you are 101% rite but it really hurts me when they say, “We are a US based bla bla…” and more importantly how they want you to work day n nite for achieving company goals. I only post such comments to alarm these guys, coz real IT talent is either leaving the country or switching to management careers etc.

  • Its great to see such open discussion.

    As for Zigron Inc I will just say that we might not be perfect but we are trying our best to get there and have fun while getting there.

  • @everyone :)
    Business is business. All startups revolve around their management team, which may be a single individual. So if Harris is synonymous with Zigron, good for him. At one point in the lifecycle of the firm, this needs to change after its reached certain milestones of success and requires a competent team to manage the affairs rather than the sole individual.
    For marketing, a large number of companies classify themselves as “US based”. Its generally a stretch of the fact that most customers are US based.

    My 2 cents – sweat equity means its a typical consulting company ie i doubt this firm goes through valuation of the client firms and then gets equity …it likely just gets x$/hour for the services. If this firm is to survive the cut throat consulting business, it’ll have to do a great job in execution and creating a business model for the long term.

  • @khan I respect your point of view. I agree that all companies should conduct a decent interview.

    I had gone through interviews in Zigron as well. I did not find anything wrong with it. Yes the technical questions were quite easy. I found it easy because I knew them :D.

  • @khan I respect your point of view. I agree that companies should conduct a decent interview.

    I had gone through interviews in Zigron as well. I did not find anything wrong with it.
    Yes the technical questions were quite easy. I found it easy because I knew them :D.

  • @Osama

    Last week there was this great news in yet another “US based…” organization known as Ovex. They fired more than 50 employees without prior notice, but I am wondering why it didn’t make its way to G&W. Should we stick to this thinking that this blog is all about “employeers finding fault with employees and marketing their so.. organizations here”? Or its just an unbiased blog covering each news in soft corners?

  • Khan,

    We cant report news unless someone reports them to us – we’re not an all knowing being.

    Why didnt you choose to be a good citizen and report the incident?

    Stop jumping to conclusions based on an individual experience.

    Secondly, try to look beyond the “evil company did bad” story into why something like this would happen – study on the sub-prime crisis because whether you like it or not it is likely to affect you, me and everyone.

  • @Osama

    “We cant report news unless someone reports them to us – we’re not an all knowing being.”

    But you claim to be TC of Pakistan and even the more revealing fact is that, its in your neighborhood. I have no reason to believe that G&W was not aware of this large scale firing.

    “Why didnt you choose to be a good citizen and report the incident?”

    As I thought G&W will be a good place to discuss this issue, but got your sarcastic comments, so where does a good citizen has to go?

    “Stop jumping to conclusions based on an individual experience.”

    If you read the comments carefully, you will find that at least there are 4 incident cited, two by me and 2-3 by other commenters.

    “Secondly, try to look beyond the “evil company did bad” story into why something like this would happen – study on the sub-prime crisis because whether you like it or not it is likely to affect you, me and everyone.”

    That’s why I am discussing this issue here. All I wanted to say was that don’t be biased towards only the “sub-prime crisis” on employee’s behalf. Few employees can’t do any evil to a company but a company can really bring evil things to many employees. And BTW it has already affected me, you and everyone, don’t you think so?

  • MacDeveloper

    @khan its better to fire 50 employees than shut down a 700+ person company.

    I am sure they got severance packages as per their contracts which you’ve very conveniently chose to ignore.

    G&W is as much TC as it can possibly be in Pakistan. It has come a long way and there still a long way to go. And it never claimed to be TC, a reader said that they are TC of Pakistan.

    Btw, Ovex/En pointe was amongst top 5 IT revenue companies in Pakistan; so even if they cut down 50 employees (possibly because of a contract lost) it’s okay. I hope they win more contracts. In services, this is part of the game, you hire people when you need them, and downsize when you don’t.

  • @ khan

    you could have just said that osama i came across this incident. just wanted to know if you are aware of it?

    your comment

    “Should we stick to this thinking that this blog is all about “employeers finding fault with employees and marketing their so.. organizations here”? Or its just an unbiased blog covering each news in soft corners?”

    is a bit harsh ..

    you give respect and earn respect .. i hope you were not receiving a reply from osama that “O Khan I am really sorry I missed it etc etc I will write a post on it now .. “

  • @Salman

    Yeh, you are rite that I sounded harsh and its not a norm to ask this way. But let me get back to you how I found this blog and added it to my feeds. It was so many times here that Osama and Qazi always inspired how an employee should be more professional etc etc. Even in one post they suggested that Organizations should have a network so that they get previous employeer’s views about new hirings. I always waited for a post here that would say…
    “IT startups and entrepreneurs if you want this business to be running and stabilizing, respect and reward your IT talent in this way, that way etc ”
    So what do you think, how should I point them to such events, considering that I am not a startup or an entrepreneure but a software engineer? So let me ask it again, is this blog about startups and organizations only or we too are welcome here? Or should I just remove it from my feed readers, coz it got nothing for me?

  • Hi Khan,

    Thanks for this better worded comment.

    We have covered the types of things you are talking about in the past, please read these:

    http://greenwhite.wordpress.com/2007/03/27/why-people-are-afraid-of-becoming-coders-and-what-companies-need-to-do-about-it/

    http://greenwhite.org/2007/08/10/rumor-dps-lays-off-130-people-at-1-hour-notice/

    Our role is to raise awareness wherever it may make a difference.

    However, in addition our role is also to help EVERYONE prepare for the modern world. E.g. take a look at all these posts Mansoor is doing about process improvement… this is meant for companies to grow up, not for startups or employees.

    But we also need to talk about how layoffs are a natural part of business and it doesnt make a firm “evil” – this is meant for employees to grow up, not startups or companies.

    This is just 50 people even large companies like Yahoo and AOL and others have had times when they had to lay off 3000+ employees, close down departments, reshift focus in order to keep competitive in a ever-growing competitive playing field.

    The truth is that while in the short term this unfairly affects the employees, in the long term it gives those employees a chance to use their skills and experience at those firms to start companies with unique advantages for success.

  • Ah and what do you know – Mansoor just published a story just like you were looking for. Coincidence!

    The constructive way of doing these things is to email us with a “Can you please cover this topic?” or with news from the ground so that we can cover it.

    Remember – you all need to be my field reporter so that it can benefit everyone here.

  • What is certainly incorrect though is to expect someone to write what we WANT to hear – i.e. something that only reaffirms our point of view.

    Usually what we should be hearing isnt what we WANT to hear to feel good – thats why learning, growing, moving ahead, evolving, maturing is hard – it often goes against what we want.

    We’ll cover objective stories whenever they are reported from the front-lines.

  • @Osama

    Boss! I am really impressed and appreciate your so professional but kind approach, hope other organizations must be reading it and learn something from it.

    “Ah and what do you know – Mansoor just published a story just like you were looking for.”

    It looks better if you write
    “Ah and you know what!” just kidding 😀 (but good to be intimate)

    “The constructive way of doing these things is to email us with a “Can you please cover this topic?” or with news from the ground so that we can cover it. ”

    I will certainly do that from now on Inshallah!

    “Remember – you all need to be my field reporter so that it can benefit everyone here.”

    You got me, no doubt about that and will be there when come up with something new.

  • khan: i’d like to add a couple of more words here in the same vein as osama. every one of us here is part of the industry, running companies, managing companies and even working for companies. we write here because we feel it necessary to give back to the same community, to the same industry, that we came up from.

    we do not write for profit, fame or recognition (okay, a little fame is always nice but still!). and we’re not journalists. while we will always try to uphold the ethics of professional journalism even while on this blog, and present both sides of a story as well as other stories of interest, this is not our career and we cannot be held accountable for ‘missing out’ a certain story.

    lastly, please do mail in your comments, new story suggestions of even guest posts if you feel like it and i’m sure we would give it due consideration.

  • From all this discussion it hit me that we should have a fun site where people can share their opinions both positive and negative about different firms.

    So as fun project we just created a small site http://www.PingMyCompany.com for people to share their opinion about firms. Its more like a fun version of theFunded.com for companies.

  • I came across this link and would like to correct ‘Khan’ on a few matters here. Firstly, our recruitment process, though kept as informal as possible so that the interviewee may not feel nervous, does not contain words like ‘yaar’. Secondly, it’s always easy to fabricate stories about interviews, as there really is no way to confirm them.

    As for your other point, certain companies are not looking for technology or language specific individuals. They’re looking for individuals that can adapt, and not those who have all the theoretical knowledge in the world but have trouble writing simple algos or pseudo codes. The reason companies ask mathematical and IQ related questions is to gauge how quickly an individual can solve simple but not straightforward questions and then judge as to whether that person will be suitable for their company. Our belief is that strong mathematical skills are very important to become a good programmer with solid logic building skills. It is a practice that has worked well for us. For us, hiring a programmer isn’t just about how much in-depth knowledge that person has of a particular tool, we look for individuals who can be given a problem at that very moment, and they can work their way around it, as there are no guarantees of which tool that person will be assigned to work in. Any expertise that individual brings beyond that is a bonus and is kept in mind when formulating teams.

  • Hello, can you talk more about this topic with me through PM? I love it!

  • theblackflag

    OVEX TECHNOLOGIES INFERNO

    LATEST NEWS FROM OVEX FOR THE BLIND PUBLIC
    Good news for OVEX: they have broken their barrier and achieved this year’s target of A BILLION $$$ Wowwwww…!!!

    LATEST NEWS FROM OVEX BEYOND SIGHT AND INSIGHT
    THEY WOULD NEVER TELL YOU THEY FIRED 90+ EMPLOYEES ON 07/01/2014 IN THE HOLY MONTH RAMADAN, FIRING WAS BASED UPON LIKES AND DISLIKES.

    Ovex Technologies http://www.ovex.com.pk is freeing up its resources –from various departments – by laying off over 90+ employees in a single go. Confirmed with resources
    This punishing action with the employees was sudden, mind blowing. They were called like black sheep in front of the entire office and handed over the termination letters.
    People to go included individuals who had served OVEX from day one till this hoodlum act was carried out. Individuals includes people with 10 plus years serving this inferno giving a more than a decade worth of time keeping their families and priorities on the back foot.
    This act was totally biased and prejudiced. Anyone with an insight to the companies working would clearly know that employees buttering up their managers and saying yes to every Wrong have been and will keep on prospering in the company.

    Various individuals hovering around the floor for years now and doing nothing, managers on drugs, managers sleeping and bull shitting all day long are kept under the safe zone for no bloody reason.
    What’s surprising here is that employees were not notified beforehand, thus giving this step a rather undignified notion on part of an organization as huge as OVEX claiming to be the biggest business process outsourcing unit in Pakistan.
    Some say more staff is to see the doors in coming days.
    Most of the senior staff terminated were to expect their huge retention bonuses this July or next year which they had waited for the past years. The compensation provided is a month’s salary after years of blood and sweat given to them.
    The real compensation for any employee is to retain it if company has not booked losses in last one year or so. OVEX as pretended by many was not in loss at all like stated above it achieved its targets with flying colors in Billions of $$$’s.
    Second compensation for any employee is to either outsource it if company’s vision has changed or transfer it to some other department. Ovex has a very odd method of giving increments, making goals, doing nothing on the goals, marking and validating employees based upon the traits with the managers instead of the yearlong services they have been providing in accordance to their defined roles and guidelines. Individuals who have given their prime age with full of energy and enthusiasm and now kicked off with any valid reasoning.
    WHY WOULD A COMPANY ACHIEVING THEIR YEARLY TARGET IN BILLIONS OF $$$ AND TERMINATE EMPLOYEES IN SUCH A BARBARIC TONE?
    With a Dead HR, admin, accounts, finance, IT … (list goes on departments), every decisions from key to decisions about toilets are made by 3-4 individuals
    Keeping their client EnPointe Technologies blind to the real facts and figures & enjoying endless powers is the management’s trait in Ovex.

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