LAHORE - In a dedicated Startup Hall located on the 9th floor of Arfa Karim Software Tower, 15 teams consisting of five to 10 people each are striving to make a mark in finding out solutions to Pakistan’s contemporary issues through technology.

These teams have been selected after convincing a panel of judges from local to foreign investors in a Launchpad – a selection process of Plan9 – an incubator of Punjab Information Technology Board. Each member of the team has been given Rs20,000 stipend for six months. These 15 teams at Plan9 can hire more people at their own expense.

Programme Manager of Plan9 Hammad Khalique told The Nation that Plan9 has been providing office space to entrepreneurs to work and initiate their working on their ideas to become future tech giants of Pakistan. Plan9 is helping entrepreneurs in product development, business model development, mentorship, networking opportunities and investment opportunities.

According to the statistics, $3.5 million have been raised in terms of investments in previous projects. “So far, 11 Launchpad events have been conducted. There are 160 aluminum startups and 30 startups have earned 70 million gross valuations,” Plan9 officials explained.

The programme accepts applications nationwide for semi-annual selection events in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and Faisalabad.

Cyber security expert Suleman Yameen (33) is leading a team of four people to counter cyber security challenges in Pakistan. This cyber security firm wants to educate the masses about safe use of android phone applications without losing personal data to hackers.

“All we have is laptops, wooden tables and seats in this hall and free wifi access round the clock. This is all we want for now to find out possible customers or investors who can believe in our expertise.

“In Pakistan, around three hundred thousand hoax and virus-enabled emails are being sent out by hackers to common people. These hackers want to steal their data, including credit card passwords. We are building applications and providing services to exporter companies in Pakistan to save their money and resources,” Suleman explained.

He said cyber attacks have increased and cyberspace is now becoming a common battle fields for hackers. “Pakistan is facing constant cyber attacks from Indian, Bangladeshi and Russian hackers and I recommend people should download only digitally certified applications from the Playstore,” he added.

Founder of 'T Squared X' startup Taha Farooq also wanted to change the way governments used to teach children. He is working on a cartoon character that will be teaching poems and lessons to students in an unconventional way. “Augmented Reality is different from virtual reality and as most of the students use smart phones, AR is reachable in coming months in Pakistan. My cartoon characters with AR will create an environment in which students will learn things more interestingly and in a more participatory way,” he said.

“I did an AR-based advertisement at a cinema in Islamabad that received encouraging response from visitors. Kids could see them on screen in their favorites characters Captain America, Batman and others with fun physical exercises,” Taha said.

Farrukh Sami and Umair Khan run ‘Quva’ and both are working to equip students with Graduate Record Examination (GRE) exams with online teaching. “It is a myth that GRE is a language test. Rather it is about judging your aptitude to analyse certain scenarios and draw conclusions from discourse,” Farukh said. His team has trained 130 plus students across Pakistan and is determined to provide complicated GRE exam preparation to students residing in far flung areas.

Muhammad Fasih Waheed hails from Karachi and he is running a startup called ‘Spark Tronics Technologies’ to dig out solution about water waste. He along with his team has developed a wireless devise which will manage and automate motor pump to save waste of water from water tank. “My team needs Wasa and other water agencies’ help to make my product more reachable to public,” he said.