When we think of technology entrepreneurs, we tend to initially think of Silicon Valley in the US. When asked to name other cities/countries, a few do come to mind. But I recently read about a startup conference at a place that we normally don’t associate with technology startups.
First, some background. There is a Seattle-bsaed organization Startup Weekend which hosts startup weekend events around the world. Their record is impressive – so far they have held over 1000 events in over 400 cities globally. They sponsored the event that I recently read about.
Here are some of the ideas that entrepreneurs showcased at this event:
- An on-line platform for supporting the local handicrafts industry
- Virtual classrooms for supporting continuous learning for the local community
- A crowd-sourcing based application to enable better traffic management
- A platform for local women to leverage their professional education by recording lectures which can then be sold
- Addressing energy challenges via increasing environmental awareness
- And…the winning entry…an SMS-based prescription service that would connect doctors, patients, and pharmacists. Doctors can message a prescription to a pharmacy, and the patient can pick up the prescription via a code.
So far this sounds like other startup events – interesting and creative ideas, optimistic and highly motivated entrepreneurs, and an interest in addressing local, social, and/or environmental challenges.
But what surprised me was the location: Peshawar! Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, and it has a rich history going back thousands of years.
The general impression of Peshawar is that it is quite a dangerous place, and thus it is not the place one would initially think of for having a startup weekend event. In fact, this city sometimes shows up on the list of the world’s most dangerous places – here is one such reference: http://www.touristmaker.com/blog/top-10-worlds-most-dangerous-places/ (“Peshawar is considered to be one of the most dangerous places on earth”)
Thus, whether it is Peshawar or any other city that has similar challenges, it is good to see that the spirit of entrepreneurship is going strong, and that groups like Startup Weekend and the organizers of this event are supporting and encouraging this spirit. Who knows? If we can have enough such activities at similar cities around the world, and enough success stories from these events, then it can really make a very positive difference for these cities.
Here are a couple of associated links: