Bringing ideas to life, the Google way
PUBLISHED September 04, 2022
Startups represent the way of the future for the classic dynamics of business creation. Increasingly, people are opting for temporary or freelance work with startups as an alternative to the traditional career path. As a result, start-up jobs have become an important source of employment for new graduates who cannot secure employment in large corporations. Not only do young people have a wide variety of options, but big tech giants are also encouraging them to enter startups and come up with new ideas and innovative ways of thinking. For this, Google has imagined the startup challenge to encourage businesses.
Google is launching Google for Startups Accelerator (GFSA) for Southeast Asia and Pakistan in 2022. The seventh edition this year, it is a three-month program, starting in November, aimed at 10 to 15 Series A tech startups focused on solving the region’s most important challenges. For this, the participating startups must be based in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam.
In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Thye Yeow Bok, Head of Startup Ecosystem for Southeast Asia, South Asia and Frontier and Greater China, explains the challenge and how it can benefit startups in Pakistan : “We’re looking for 10-15 startups who are passionate about solving the region’s most important challenges, ranging from agriculture to healthcare to financial inclusion. Seed or Series A startups based in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam can apply by October 7, 2022. We are especially excited to support startups that focus on retail and e-commerce, Fintech, health technology, SME-oriented B2B solutions, Edutech, agriculture and logistics.
Explain which aspects can helping startups meet this challenge and how companies can benefit from it in the future, Bok says it’s a three-month program that will help startups solve their specific technical challenges by providing the best resources from Google—Google mentors, networks, multidisciplinary experts and most cutting-edge technologies. “Startups will receive training and mentorship that they can use to grow their business, expand their teams, or reach a wider global audience. Training mentorship includes personalized mentoring from our global network of mentors, access to Google experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Cloud, Android and Weband training in areas such as product design, business strategy, customer acquisition and leadership development.
Specifying the project and the challenge they focus on, Bok explains how the program can improve a startup’s long-term economic prospects, like any long-term plan, so they can help the economy of their respective countries. “We continue to support startups even after the program ends. This includes connecting them with venture capital partners if they are looking for investment opportunities. By supporting startups in growing their businesses, we help build healthy digital ecosystems and provide everyone with greater opportunities, such as employment. When startups succeed, our communities and economies succeed.
How can start-ups apply?
How this program can benefit companies, how start-ups can apply and what are the selection criteria, especially for Pakistan, Bok explains that interested startups can apply before October 7, 2022 via this link. Applicants must be Seed or Series A startups based in Pakistan.
Google’s assessment of the future of e-commerce
Google is focused on promoting a larger market and is happy to support the e-commerce market. Since Google will support or shape the overall change in the e-commerce industry after COVID-19, as online services boomed after 2019 and a larger market made its way to man Ordinary, Bok believes that “retail and e-commerce is a start-up sector that we are particularly excited to support. As more people shop online, we anticipate greater innovation in retail and e-commerce will become a key growth engine for Pakistan’s economy.
Start-ups and Pakistan
Despite some phenomenal changes in the IT and online boom in Pakistan, without government support little progress is possible. The government of Pakistan, however, is supporting this project to ensure financial support if a start-up comes up with an idea for future improvement. Bok says, “We work with each player in the ecosystem – government, incubators, venture capital firms – to create an environment conducive to the development of startups. If a promising startup that comes through our program is looking for funding opportunities, we’ll help connect them with the right partners.
With all the options a Pakistani company would have if they received training and mentorship, how the program will be able to make a change in the IT industry of Pakistan or revolutionize the idea of entrepreneurship is the agenda of the program. It aims to nurture the next wave of entrepreneurs in Pakistan, many of whom will come from the country’s huge young population. Most young people tend to be tech savvy, interested in entrepreneurship and more in tune with global trends. With this mindset, they are often more inclined to use emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain to solve problems and create digital products.
The program requires no commitment. It is open to startups based in Pakistan. Participants will take part in a three-month mentoring and training program, after which they will apply their learnings to grow their business in Pakistan and/or beyond. GFSA’s goal is to help strengthen the startup and tech ecosystem in Pakistan so that it has the potential to become a hub for tech talent.
GFSA Success Stories
Sharing success stories from the past six editions of the GFSA to explain how it has changed businesses over the past few years, Bok says, “I would be happy to share the story of DeafTawk, a Pakistan-based company that provides accessibility for deaf people. people, including online sign language interpretation, audio-video translation and sign language training. DeafTawk, part of the GFSA program in 2020, saw this as an opportunity to expand their knowledge and expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and explore how they could expand their customer base among enterprises. Over the three-month program, DeafTawk participated in workshops and worked with various Google mentors to refine its business strategy, engage investors more purposefully, and ensure they were the right fit.
Ali Shabbar, CEO of DeafTawk, says Google mentors challenged his team to see things from a different perspective while serving as constant support whenever they faced challenges. DeafTawk also had the chance to network and meet experts from the tech community, including Google’s AI team. In collaboration with the latter, the startup has developed a prototype for its sign language interpretation solution, a new product that will offer users the possibility of using a bot capable of signing automatically based on text or voice inputs. Going forward, DeafTawk’s goal is to expand into more markets and reach 250,000 users by the end of 2024.