Making Connections on Startup Saturdays

Everyone has the ability to ‘start up’ the solution – and that is what usually becomes the beginnings of a business. There are many differences between an entrepreneur and person opting for a job and while some of these traits border on crazy and insane, some people just want to solve problems. Innovate, accelerate and bite through the challenges.

It’s this ‘biting through’ that is tough because often times you feel alone. Depending on when you launched the startup, a newbie has to juggle a lot of advice from apparently everyone who is an expert. Who do you share your idea with? What advice should you retain? How much of the concept should you share? And the ultimate conundrum: if you don’t share the concept or talk to people about it, how will you start building your audience? From the platform of TNS Campus Connections we’ve busily connected relevant academia with specific industries, and this is something similar that Radical does.

“I am addicted to startups,” explains Faizan Laghari, a serial entrepreneur and the person behind the idea of Radical Startup Saturdays. One of the biggest issues startups have is not knowing how to network and how to get existing businesses to mentor them. “That is what we want to do with Startup Saturdays – allow that one-on-one connection to happen.” The format is a simple: 2 speakers are invited to inadvertently talk about the success and failures they have had in their own startups and entrepreneurial ventures. The speaking session allows the audience to absorb, percolate the talk and let the conversation brew. The 3 hours flies by in a blink if you’re actually paying attention.

Businesses drive innovation. Because the nature of startups is lean and agile, young entrepreneurs are more adept at driving innovation and causing disruption. That’s why the term ‘innovation’ is thrown around so much. The greater the disruption, the greater usually are the chances of failure. But the systems within a business need to achieve stability in order to have any kind of sustainable longevity, which brings to an interesting conundrum: do company owners allow employees to be as innovative as they are themselves?

A haggard, seemingly harassed Raza Matin, Business Development and Marketing at Google Pakistan, takes the stage and throws a question to the audience: is it fair to ask your employees to think outside of the box and think innovative, but not give them the permission to fail? It’s an interesting question to ponder over and a good answer seems to be this: as long as there are stable systems in place, the business can take risks. And because the level of risk is somewhat quantified, team members can fail and the business can recover.

Raza introduced the concept of Moonshot Thinking with the group, the concept that drives companies like GoogleX to solve the challenges that impact 7 billion people instead of just a handful. Moonshot Thinking is about thinking bigger and as far out of the box as possible. If only his style of presenting was as unconventional as the concept of what he was talking about, the talk would have actually been inspirational. Moonshot Thinking is something you can learn about just as well from the video below.

Adil Moosajee shakes the audiences up no matter how many times you know his story. A serial entrepreneur and the founder of EGO, he got up and made his magic. Whereas Raza presented how to think big, Adil drew an imaginary box in the air, and plugged a dot right outside it. “I want to talk to you about the small innovations that can be made to make a product, service or experience only a little bit better.” And while you may laugh at that, the truth of the matter is, it’s often the simplicity of an idea that can make an exponential difference.

He shared a lot of experiences about his successes, inspirations and failures and then shared one fantastic example of how he turned an idea around on its head. “I needed to expand the stores and the production in my factory without spending any money.” He changed what the prospective store owners were being offered – he changed the USP and the business model. Internally, his employees him to launch a micro-financing model to help his own staff establish businesses which were aligned to solve his own business needs. And of course, Adil signs off with the signature line: “ideas find you and the money will come. The crazier it is, the better.”

If you are a young business or an aspiring entrepreneur, Radical Startup Saturdays is a good energy group of people to hang out with. Entrepreneurs from running businesses were invited to be available to talk to the audience and help keep the vibe going. These entrepreneurs were Taha Anis, COO of EatMubarak; Talea Zafar, Co-Founder and CEO of ToffeeTV and The New Spaces; Anum Kamran,  Founder and Pakistan eCommerce Consortium, Saif Akhtar, CEO, 10xC and Adam Dawood, Head of Yayvo

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