Business beyond borders: Applications for Startup Dosti open till December 20

 In Entrepreneurship

The Google advertisement that recently went viral showed two friends who were united following their separation during the Partition. Since that tragic event, there have been cricket matches, trade meet-ups, a train service and many other initiatives to bring the people of India and Pakistan closer. A recent addition to that list is a business plan competition.

The Indo-Pak business plan competition ‘Startup Dosti’ is being organized through a partnership between SEED Ventures based in Karachi and London, Delhi-based Indian Angel Network (IAN) based in New Delhi and the Washington DC.-based Atlantic Council. Padmaja Ruparel, President, IAN says, “The competition has no political hues and can be good in improving the relationship between the two countries.”

Faraz Khan, CEO, SEED Ventures says, “The entire initiative will have a psychological impact and also a transactional impact as investors and startups from both countries will be involved.”

Unique opportunity

The participants will have the opportunity to earn incubation, mentorship and investment from the investors associated with the program. The top five teams from India and Pakistan will be flown to a luxury mountain resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they will spend a week together and pitch to a cross-border panel of investors for the finals, with a chance to enter into on-the-spot negotiations and receive financing.

The competition is the flagship program of the Dosti Partnership, a wider regional project connecting established young entrepreneurs and rising business leaders from India, Pakistan and the global diaspora to develop cross-border businesses and continue improvements in bilateral relations, a release from the Indian Angel Network said.

“While there are investors in both countries looking at businesses based in other parts of the world, funding a business across the border is very, very rare and difficult to do,” Khan says.

Promoting startups

The competition is open to early-stage startups and concept stage startups based in India and Pakistan and also to startups from across verticals.  Startups with an India-Pakistan cross-border element will be preferred, but that is not the criteria for the selection of the program. Applications will be open till December 20.

Contestants will have the opportunity to win seed funding—incubation, mentorship and access to business resources—if they successfully convince a cross-border panel of investors to support their enterprises.

Khan said, “The ecosystem in India is about 15 years ahead of where the startup ecosystem is in Pakistan. Both entrepreneurial ecosystems will get a good exposure by partnering with each other.”  Ruparel adds, “The Indian Angel Network wants the ecosystem to grow. We feel that Pakistan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is going through a phase that we have gone through. We also faced a number of stresses in India when things were at an earlier stage here. We therefore think we may have a lot to share and support the ecosystem in Pakistan.”


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