Madiha Parvez returned to Pakistan after an MBA in the US with a mission to fill the gaps and build an effective entrepreneurial ecosystem.Madiha Parvez returned to Pakistan after an MBA in the US with a mission to fill the gaps and build an effective entrepreneurial ecosystem.

What’s your story?
Born into a middle-class Pakistani family, I had always dreamed of acquiring world-class higher education. I got an opportunity to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to an MBA program in the U.S. During my two year stay I networked and learnt from entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts.

Upon my return to Pakistan, I wanted to fill the gaps and build an effective entrepreneurial ecosystem. I joined an educational institute and established Takhleeq, a state of the art incubation facility where startups solve Pakistan’s local problems by devising innovative technological solutions. At the sametime, I co-founded DEMO, along with my partner, where we provide consultancy, training services and research in impact-driven verticals such as innovation, entrepreneurship, skills development technology and communications.

What excites you most about your industry?
The zeal and energy of the startups, the newness of creative ideas, the power of technology and the way it transforms lives, and the opportunity to constantly experiment. Startup industry in Pakistan is relatively nascent, so it’s constantly growing and every day is an opportunity to learn something new.  Working as an Incubation Head and Co-founder DEMO, I facilitate and drive building innovative technological solutions to solve Pakistan’s problems such as energy, clean drinking water, health, agriculture etc. It’s extremely rewarding to realize the impact of change that we drive. Meeting new people and learning from them excites me.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Pakistan. Though for the past decade I had been living in various countries like South Africa, U.A.E and United States, Pakistan is home to me. Over the past few years, the entrepreneurship culture is gaining momentum and a lot of opportunities for startups sprouting up. Love the energy, hope and optimism of the young entrepreneurs and innovators who are committed to making lives easier for a common man through technology; and I take immense pride to support and facilitate them every step of the way.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Bangkok! It is always bustling with life, marked by creative (and supportive) people, is affordable and convenient. I was there earlier there this year for an entrepreneurship conference and was amazed to witness the energy of startups and the extensive mentorship network. Bangkok is full of new opportunities and people are always looking to create synergies.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Stay hungry, Stay foolish”- Steve Jobs. Both on a personal and professional level I push myself out of my comfort zone to be able to learn the most. Learning is an everyday process and it must never stop. At the same time, keep trying to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Who inspires you?
My 12-year-old daughter. She is an entrepreneur herself and makes a toy product which is very popular amongst children called Slime. She procures only the best quality ingredients, is very passionate about what she does, customizes her offerings according to what the customer demands (adding glitter, beads, etc), but most importantly whenever she fails she would try over and over only to perfect her product. Her resilience, her sense of wonder and optimism always inspires me to persevere.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pakistan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is developing with IT services rendered growing at an exponential rate. Pakistan has 360,000 software developers and 1, 280 registered IT companies. The quality of the country’s software and Web developers is globally recognized: the country is the third largest supplier of experts for the leading contractor site freelancer.com!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
For the decisions I have made and the setbacks/failures I faced, it only led me to be a better person; with phenomenal learnings and better endings.  No regrets!

How do you unwind?
Spearheading your own startup can be very stressful sometimes. That is why I enjoy running or indulge in a Tabata workout. It helps me not only to rejuvenate but makes me happy too.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It has to be the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. The tropical beaches, stunning rock formations and vivid turquoise waters are breathtaking.  Swimming in the warm ocean is always relaxing.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Google Story” by David A. Vise. It’s a fun read and gives an insight into why is it important to make a good product regardless of financial motivations. The book conveys an important message, to keep a laser focus on customer experience. Google’s founders’ mantra is, DO NO EVIL.

Shameless plug for your business:
At Takhleeq, we support budding entrepreneurs who are keen on solving local problems by devising innovative solutions. The startups are immersed in an environment where they are surrounded by smart and passionate people and are trained and exposed to deep mentor engagements. We also invest in unique creative ideas.

At DEMO, we are engaged in human development, enterprise development and ecosystem development. We are digital at heart. Hence through our portfolio of training services and consultancy, we work with organizations to help them to become part of the fourth industrial revolution. We also believe that “it takes a village”, so we help build platforms for the local ecosystem to support entrepreneurship, innovation & enterprise development.

How can people connect with you?
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/madihaparvez/ or www.takhleeq.co

Twitter handle?
Not a Twitter user but you can follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madiha.parvez

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
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