By Ali A. Hussain, board member OPEN Austin
On March 26, 2022, Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN), a global non-profit founded in 1998 to connect entrepreneurs especially those of Pakistani origin, hosted a conference in Austin to provide networking, knowledge sharing and mentoring events to aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs of South Asian origin.
The conference, which was convened at the UT Commons Conference Center at 10100 Burnet Road, Austin, had something for everyone in their entrepreneurial journey.
“As you begin to take this journey it is important to have a network around you to help and guide you,” Taimur Rashid, CBO at Redis who attended the conference said. “Entrepreneurs are taking the leap, and more importantly looking for the right mentorship.”
More than 200 investors, founders, C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs, government representatives, and professionals attended the conference. Panels included “Taking the Leap unto Entrepreneurship’’ and “Opportunities in Pakistan,” talked about technology to use to power startups. Delivering the keynote address, Omair Tariq, the CEO and founder of cart.com, a company that grew to $150M in its first year, spoke about his life and death experiences in Pakistan that motivated him to live a life without any regrets.
Aasim Hasan, partner at Moneta Ventures, talked about the thriving ecosystem for venture capital in Austin.
The audience listened with keen interest when Rabeel Warraich, the CEO and Founder of Sarmayacar, shared his knowledge as Pakistan’s first and largest institutional venture capitalist to showcase how Pakistan is at a tipping point for explosive growth.
“I loved the passion everyone has especially for building up opportunities back in Pakistan,” Emily Lewis-Pinnell, VP of Cloud at NTT Data Services who attended the conference said.
The day-long conference included a startup pitch competition called Demo Day.
As a part of this segment, some startups practiced delivering pitches to a panel of investors.
The six startups, Byonyks, MechaSense, Mecca Digital, PixelOne, AthleisureX, and Manaky, covered a wide variety of industries from healthcare to fashion and travel.
The judges rated Manaky and their model of building travel experiences in Pakistan the most promising startup.
OPEN thanked SOALTech, Austin Peace Academy, The Property Center, Sarmayacar, Polymer DLP, and SpecTower Realty group in making this event possible.
“You have the critical mass now, and you’ll really start something big from here,” Jahangir Piracha, CEO of Engro Petrochemicals, said about OPEN Austin.
A virtual Demo Day is planned for this September. For more information on events in Austin please visit austin.openglobalweb.org.