A few days back, I wrote a post on breaking into entrepreneurship that discussed baby steps for setting up a new business. It sparked a very good and informative discussion that all aspiring entrepreneurs should read.
NASH (Nasrullah, the founder of Pringit ) and Ali Ammar had an interesting and passionate discussion regarding what a startup is and how we should go about creating businesses and innovation. Also Fahd Bangash founder of Amaana chipped in through email. Before I summarize the discussion, I would like to highlight a few questions that raise from this discussion.
1. Are we over-emphasizing on start ups? Is it disbanding our workforce for the next big idea into smaller teams doing independent businesses ?
2. Does Pakistan offers enough unique opportunities for our youngsters to burn their early years ?
3. How do we rate success or failures and is it too early for tech entrepreneurship?
4. Is startup about innovating only, what value does a freelancer/outsourcing model provide to the society around us?
Here is what NASH had to say on the topic
A startup is all about risks. If you want secure, comfortable life of an employee, stay away from entrepreneurship. If you are too weak to withstand pressure from friends and family, please stay away. If you care more about what your friends are earning, please, for the love of God, stay away from startups. Startups are very high pressure and if you can’t even convince your family you will never be able to convince customers. Don’t fool yourself, you are not an entrepreneur.
A startup is *only* about innovation. It is *not* about a new business starting up. Starting a petrol pump is *not* innovation. Starting a khokha is *not* innovation. They might be first time business for the new owner but definitely not startups.
There is only *one* goal for a startup and that is to find a profitable, scalable & repeatable business model for your innovation. Read that last line again: find a profitable, scalable & repeatable business model for your innovation. That is it. You are confusing the notion of “freelancing” or even perhaps “outsourcing” with doing a startup. These are very different. None of these are startups.
Ali Ammar had the following points:
Are we going in the right direction? When we have a shortage of good engineers, do we need to promote such senseless romanticization? Only in our industry we have average 20-30% annual increment – otherwise developers just switch – do we need that? Yes we need more job creation: however I believe that stable existing companies would grow further and create more job opportunities. What do we need: 10,000 companies with 5 employees or 10 companies with 5,000 employees each? Do we need to win over some medals on trying to create new “business models” so that we can tell ourselves “oh, well we tried but failed. We were too early for the market”. Or “We tried but there was so much bureaucracy” etc.
So why misguide the youngsters and create an impression of a highly romantic world where you are weak if you don’t listen to valid advices from friends, where if your parents ask you to be responsible and stand on your feet, you say: “they don’t understand”, and it’s okay to sit in your dirty basement room and work on the silly projects that make no sense (please this is NOT silicon valley, investors are not going to come and this is not the hotbed of startups!).
We do not need to experiment with startups as our successful companies need more human resources and we need not promote startup culture like Silicon valley.
On top of it, Fahd had this to say.
“Entrepreneurs in poor countries have difficulty doing the next big thing, so they go ahead and do the next small business. I have never inspired myself with entrepreneurship for the sake of small business and I will not discourage it, small business is the way to start for any entrepreneur… what is missing and what I work towards is producing game changers out of poor conditions… a game changer by today’s metrics touches tens of millions of people and turns over hundreds of millions of dollars…”