Kickstart Co-working Space offering 50% off to all Google Summer of Code participants

Kickstart Co-working Space is offering a 50% off to students selected for the Google Summer of Code Program.

Google Summer of Code is a global program focused on introducing students to open source software development. Students work on a 3-month programming project with an open source organization during their break from university, writing code while also earning a $2,400 stipend from Google.

During the program, participants are paired with a mentor from participating organizations thereby gaining exposure to real-world software development and techniques.

The program is open to university students above the age of 18, and is an excellent opportunity for students to engage with mentor organizations, learn about open source development and become a part of the open source community.

Deadline to submit proposals for the program is March 27th, 2017. Students who are selected will be offered 50% discounts at Kickstart Co-working Space. Working from Kickstart would also allow them an added opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals.

Innovation Pavilion joins Kickstart

Innovation Pavilion (IP) is an innovation and real estate services provider headquartered in Colorado, USA. The company partners with cities and real estate developers to build innovation campuses across the United States that help entrepreneurs and corporations thrive.

Layered on top is a three-pronged innovation services offering: city innovation, corporate innovation and incubation, and workforce development. Entrepreneurs can also benefit from the company’s huge network of investors, Fortune 500 corporations, supply chain partners, and service providers offering a plethora of services including financial, legal and marketing. IP also excels at convening entrepreneurial communities through events and live programming.

The company was founded by Pakistani-American serial entrepreneur Waqar “Vic” Ahmed, who had also started some of Pakistan’s first software companies. Already well-connected in the Pakistani market, IP has assembled a team in Lahore facilitating the US operations and exploring strategic opportunities in Pakistan. This Lahore team offices out of Kickstart Gulberg. For more information, visit innovationpavilion.com or contact amaan@innovationpavilion.com.

Serviced Office – A Cost Effective Office Solution

Serviced office at Kickstart is one of the most hassle-free office space solution available for small businesses, startups, and remote workers. If you are not aware of services and benefits you can get out of a serviced office, you should read this now. Out of the benefits mentioned in the aforementioned article one that outweighs all others is that Serviced Office is also the most cost-effective office around. However, it does not seem so to some of the office seekers who compare a fully furnished and fully serviced office at a coworking space with per square foot rental cost of traditional (unfurnished) office rentals. We have compiled this post to explain how a serviced office is still a more cost-effective office solution despite its seemingly higher price tag.

 

We will consider what small teams comprising of 4-8 individuals will need to run an office and how much it costs. So the first thing is space: the teams under consideration will need a space to sit and work, a conference room for meetings, and a small pantry. Some might also want a guest reception and an area to dine and chill. But even if we stick to the necessary requirements, our team will need around 400-600 sq. ft. of space. Average office rental in Gulberg locality is PKR 80/sq.ft.

 

Other than space, our fictitious teams will need an internet connection, an office boy to run errands, do cleaning and general upkeep. The teams will also need to pay the utility bills for electricity and water and buy supplies (Tea/Coffee, water etc.) for the pantry. Aforementioned requirements are the bare minimum that a team will need to run an office.

Expense4-Person6-Person8-Person
Rental Expense320004000048000
Electricity Expense150002000025000
Internet6000800010000
Office Boy160001600016000
Kitchen500065008000
Miscellaneous5000800012000
Total7700098000117000
KS Serviced Office6800090000110000

If we add up the costs of absolute necessities required to run an office and compare it to the price of a serviced office at Kickstart, we can see which option provides more value. If you also factor in the cost of setting up and managing an office, value of working in a vibrant coworking community which results in better employee retention and productivity, our serviced office does not sound like a bad deal at all 🙂

To schedule a tour to Kickstart Gulberg, please click here. You can also opt for a free one day trial to get the feel of space and community.

 

 

5 Reasons why you should work from a serviced office at kickstart

Shared working spaces can play an important role in the life of entrepreneurs and freelancers who use the opportunity to work with others to learn and explore different opportunities together. However, after a particular stage, businesses prefer to have a private space of their own. But setting up a separate office kills the purpose of joining the coworking space in the first place. Depending on who you are asking, the purpose of joining a coworking space can be to become a part of a larger community, avoiding the hassle of setting up an office, benefiting from the experience and skills of the co-workers or having access to a diverse human resource at your disposal. Setting up a secluded office for the need of privacy can deprive businesses of all the advantages they had in a coworking space. However, a fully serviced private office joined to a coworking space provides a unique opportunity for businesses to have a private space of their own while retaining all the advantages of a coworking space.

Here are the top 5 reasons  to use a private, serviced office in a coworking space:

Hassle-free alternative to setting up your own office

Private office at Kickstart is a fully furnished office with all the amenities like high-speed internet, uninterrupted power, conference rooms, and discussion rooms. By choosing this option, you skip the gigantic, troublesome task of setting up your own office which starts with the hunt of a suitable property and involves working with a lot of vendors from electrician to carpenter to glazier and so on. So why not choose this option especially when it is also cost-effective?

It is cost-effective! Yes!

When you compare the price of a serviced office to your average real estate available at XYZ/sq ft, you might conclude that the serviced office is expensive.

But actually, a serviced office in a coworking space is the cheapest option around. It seems so when the cost of amenities like conference rooms, calling booths, Internet, power back-up, tea/coffee, maintenance and cleaning costs and services by the office boy is factored in.

Not to mention the upfront costs and hassle of setting up an office.

We have not yet factored in the benefits of being a part of a coworking community e.g. access to a quality human resource and a community!

Privacy!

All coworking spaces have unique cultures and it is not always guaranteed that the culture of the coworking space will suit your business needs. The private office inside the coworking space allows you to create the culture that suits your unique needs while also benefiting from the coworking community around you!

Your employee retention will improve!

Companies that want to hire the best of talent (and that’s all the companies we have) also need to provide their teams with a dynamic and inspiring working environment that is conducive to learning and personal growth. It becomes impossible for a smaller company to maintain this kind of environment because employees have limited number of people to interact with and learn from. They might gradually start feeling that their growth is hampered thereby increasing the feeling of dissatisfaction from the job eventually leading to resignation. However, in coworking spaces, there is greater room for learning for your employees with a lot of experienced professionals around. In a survey conducted with Kickstart members, we found out that 43% of our members had this benefit of coworking in mind when they were planning to join our coworking space.

Increased Productivity!

The high productivity of employees is an essential ingredient for any business to expand and grow. The highly encouraging environment around the employees at coworking spaces tends to have a huge impact on their productivity level. In regular offices, the employees have a greater risk of getting alienated and depressed by their work routine thereby their quality of work gets deeply affected. However, in coworking space, the chances of alienation in the workforce are very low. In fact, the high morale and confidence brought in with this style of work lead to a rise in employee performance.

To schedule a tour to Kickstart Gulberg, please click here. You can also opt for a free one day trial to get the feel of space and community.

 

3 Innovative methods freelancers at Kickstart are using to get their money transferred to Pakistan

When it comes to money transfer, there is no shortage of financial service companies that deal in transferring money from one country to another. To receive their payments, freelancers in Pakistan have been using companies like Payoneer, Transferwise, and Transpay for some time now. Seasoned freelancers at Kickstart, however, have come up with some innovative methods to reduce the time (to transfer money) and costs associated with the money transfer.

The fastest way I’ve found to transfer money is by buying Bitcoins in the U.S. or any other country and selling them here in Pakistan using UrduBit.com.

Bitcoin Exchange Method

Abdullah Khan has been using the bitcoin exchange method to get his money transferred to Pakistan within 24 hours and without having to pass through any regulation.

This is what Abdullah had to say about the benefits and risks of this method: “Regarding wire transfers. The fastest way I’ve found to transfer money is by buying Bitcoins in the U.S. or any other country and selling them here in Pakistan using UrduBit.com. If done correctly it should take 24 hours for the transfer. The only downside is the volatility of BTC might affect the amount sent. This way you’d go through minimal regulations.”

I thought this method to be the fastest one until I learned about another method that Amin Shah Gillani – another experienced freelancer working from the co-working space – has been using to transfer money from the US to Pakistan.

Find a person who needs money in the US and has money in Pakistan

This is the principle on which Hawala/Hundi operators work: An operator receives money from a sender in one country, and his counterpart (another operator) gives an equal amount of money to the recipient in another country. However, these unlicensed operators have been declared illegal by most of the governments across the world because they can be easily used for illicit transfer of money.

Amin Shah Gillani found a way to savor the benefits of this centuries-old method of money transfer without ever going to a Hawala/Hundi operator. All he had to do was to find a friend who needed money in the US and had money in Pakistan. Amin would simply let him use his money in the US and in return receive cash from him in Pakistan. He found that friend on the table next to him at Kickstart.

This is what he said when I asked Amin about his payment transfer journey:

“I’ve used a bank wire in the past, it was terrible, took five days and $50 just vanished due to intermediary fees. Also, I had to walk to my bank to approve the remittance every single bloody time. It was awful.

Then I found transferwise.com, which made my life a lot easier. I have a US bank account, and I could pay myself out from there without a problem. It cost me $4 flat for whatever amount I’d transfer. But I still had to wait up to 4-5 days sometimes for the transaction to clear.

Eventually, I found a friend that needed money in the US and had money in Pakistan. The transfer was instantaneous, and there were no fees involved.”

Using the money in Payoneer account to make online payments

As you might be thinking by now, this is obviously not a payment transfer method. But since we are primarily talking about saving time and costs linked to money transfer, this can be counted as one.

Freelancers who get their money in Pakistan using Payoneer know that Payoneer charges for each transaction in case of ATM withdrawal and a conversion fee in the event of wire transfer. You can save these costs by using your Payoneer balance only to make online payments (Payoneer supports payments in USD, EUR, and GBP). OR you can make online payments for your friends and get the money in PKR here in Pakistan. Both you and your friend will save the conversion fees this way.

Kickstart member – Mujahid Ishtiaq – has been using the service for past few years and we asked him for his comments on the service. He said, “Payoneer is especially suitable for those freelancers who want to make online payments using their Payoneer account because for online payments in USD, users will avoid the 3.5% currency exchange fee plus the hefty transaction fees they have to pay owing to the limits on withdrawals by Pakistani banks.” Another member freelancer – Kamal Subhani – also voiced a similar opinion. He said: “I use my Payoneer account to make payments for my servers and other online services I avail.”

These methods ask for an involvement of others to complete the money transfer which might seem like a task at first but it in co-working spaces it is just a matter of a post in the network or a small conversation over tea or cigarette.

If you are aware of or have used a payment transfer method that is fast and cheap, please let us know about that in comments or email at cowork@kickstart.pk. We would love to share that with our community.

4 Benefits Coworking Space are Providing to Freelancers in Lahore

Technology freelancers have been growing rapidly in Pakistan for some years now, but there were not a lot of places where they could get together and be seen. The rise in the number of co-working spaces in Lahore in the recent months have seen these freelancers come out of the closet and, as a result, some amazing things are happening. Just last week, I was part of a conversation where a node.js developer- Imran- was talking to one of his senior co-workers and telling him about the work he is doing for his clients in the US. His peer, somewhat amazed by the kind of work that is being done by programmers in Pakistan, immediately offered him some more work on some fascinating projects he was undertaking. He was somewhat distressed by the fact that there are a lot of brilliant coders like Imran who are lying in the abyss – undiscovered – with their talent not completely realized.

But in the recent month, the rise of co-working spaces have given an opportunity for freelancers to come out and know what their peers are up to. Co-working spaces offer a variety of benefits to freelancers and open a sea of possibilities for them. Here are some of the benefits I have observed based on my experience of a year working from a co-working space in Lahore.

Freelancers trying to launch products of their own can find partners and form a team:

After I have regularly pulled off 12-hours work days for years now working on the projects of my clients and seeing some of my clients make millions by building successful businesses on applications developed by us, I am moving on to building products of my own. I think this time comes in the life of every established freelancer and this is where co-working spaces provide us the greatest benefit.

Global Co-working Survey

Building a successful business on a product requires people from different backgrounds and diverse skill sets. Finding a person who can complement us in business is not easy, and there is a myriad of factors involved. Co-working spaces come really handy here because one gets to see the work and work ethic of people from various backgrounds – who could potentially be your business partners.

 

Another finding from the global co-working survey 2017:

 

Reinforcement and encouragement:

Parents of more than 90% of technology freelancers do not know about the kind of work their son does. Some of the very established and experienced freelancers told me that their parents tried to take them out of freelancing into a job where they could actually see their son go to an office in the morning and come back in the evening. Early days are the most difficult ones when work is rare and there is very little money coming in. In an environment like this with negative energy, one can easily get demotivated. Co-working spaces play a vital role here where all of my coworkers can empathize with me because they had been through the process. Just being around them can be a tremendous support on a tough day.

High Productivity

This is one of the ancillary benefits of co-working I have personally experienced after working for a year from Kickstart Zblock. Working from an environment where everybody else is also working pushes me to work harder. But I acknowledge that the same rule cannot be applied to everybody. I have met people who are more productive in front of a TV than from working out of a silent, peaceful room.

A Cure for Blurring of Work-Life boundaries and provide an opportunity to socialize:

Working out of your bedroom seems convenient because you can save a lot of time that would be otherwise wasted on the commute. However, I have realized through experience that it is only good in the short-run. When you continuously live and work from the same space for months, work-life boundaries become blurry. You don’t know when you are at work and when you are not. Having another place for work helps to keep things smooth and clear and avoiding burnout. This is a benefit of co-working spaces that is more enjoyed by the experienced freelancers.

Co-working industry in Lahore is still in its early stages, and there is much more to come in the future. Co-working spaces in the mature markets are providing so many benefits that it stops making sense for freelancers to stay at home or work from a secluded office. I am hoping for it to happen in Lahore and Pakistan soon.

Business Owners and Startup Founders Learn How to Grow their Businesses with Digital Marketing

The session aimed at educating business owners on how to grow their businesses with digital marketing was organized by Digital Academy™ and Kickstart in DHA Lahore.

Several business owners and startup founders learned how to grow their business on digital platforms through digital marketing in a session here in Lahore. The session was organized by Digital Academy™ and Kickstart in DHA, Lahore. Quite a few businessmen and startup founders hailing from diverse backgrounds attended the session.

“Digital platforms have already become the habits in our lives. It’s just a matter of time when every business will feel the need to go digital”, said Usman Latif, the founder of Digital Academy™ and Digital Marketing Pakistan™. He continued that, “The ones (businesses) who are already marketing their businesses on digital platforms are way ahead of their competition, but there’s still a lot to be done to make traditional businesses aware of this avenue and train them on how to leverage this new medium.”

The session focused on equipping the audience with a framework that can effectively guide the process of conception of growth hacking strategies and how digital marketing channels can be leveraged to grow the online and offline businesses. The attendees learned the basics of the growth hacking, digital marketing and how different models can be used by different businesses to grow their user base and get more leads and eventually sales of their digital assets.

Usman used the classic purchasing funnel to guide and structure the thoughts of the audience before picking up a few businesses and mapping their customer journeys on a whiteboard to further solidify their understanding. At the end of the session, participants had dissected the aforementioned purchasing funnel and had a framework to devise their digital marketing strategy.

The session started with an opening statement by Saad Riaz – community manager of Kickstart – who asserted that Kickstart provides more than just space. He said, “Kickstart aims to catalyze the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. Currently, we are doing so by providing entrepreneurs and freelancers spaces where they can interact with each other to receive much-needed inspiration and reinforcement. Workshop series also contributes to our broader mission of helping young entrepreneurs”.

At the end of the session, there was an extensive Q&A session. Almost every participant took part in the discussion and explored opportunities on how to grow their businesses. Digital Academy™ and Kickstart showed their determination to hold more sessions of this kind in future.

Co-working spaces provide more than Just Space!

Pakistan is a country that boasts one of the largest freelancer communities in the world. Recently, the growth of start-up ecosystem has added to the number of self-employed workers in the country. With this ever growing increase in the number of entrepreneurs and freelancers, there arises a need of co-working spaces, and more and more co-working spaces are opening up in the country. Many entrepreneurs and freelancers have already started taking advantage of these co-working spaces and it is evident from the fact that five co-working spaces have popped up in Lahore in the last six months. However, there is an attitude among the entrepreneurs and freelancers that might halt them from taking the full advantage of these spaces. In my recent interaction with entrepreneurs in Lahore, I learned that most of them are joining co-working spaces because it saves them the hassle and costs of setting up and managing an office. It is a fact that co-working spaces save their members a lot of cost and hassle but their greatest benefit lies somewhere else.

Breeding grounds for new ideas: Co-working spaces can serve as a platform to start discourse around the business models and the ideas on which they are based. At the time when the start-up culture is still in its infancy, these spaces have the potential to provide valuable critique and necessary reinforcement to the entrepreneurs. A few weeks ago an event was organized at the launch of Kickstart’s new location in Johar Town where five tech start-ups demonstrated their technologies and business models in front of an audience of local entrepreneurs. An interactive Q&A session and discussion around the presented ideas evolved into a networking event that lasted for a few more hours after the event.  Similar events are being organized in other co-working spaces as well. Through events like these, co-working spaces are also bridging the gap between industry and start-ups by organizing events that are attended by both the people from industry and entrepreneurs. The Hive at Islamabad regularly invites industry mentors who share valuable insights about the industry with the entrepreneurs.

Co-working spaces promote openness: At co-working spaces, networking is a constant activity. When people work together, they learn that they can help each other in ways they had not imagined before. Regular interactions between members lead to strong relationships that can lead to mutually beneficial partnerships.  “I couldn’t have found a designer for Dharti.pk who could be a better fit than Qasim Asad,” says Talha Masood after entering into a partnership with the coworker Qasim Asad at Kickstart. Talha, in return, is helping Qasim develop a technology for his anonymous social networking app, Campusfeed. During my recent interaction with the entrepreneurial community of Lahore, I found out that most of them underestimate the collaborative potential of co-working spaces. It was also hinted in a survey that we conducted with the members of different co-working spaces in Lahore. The results showed that about 35% of the members were working from the co-working spaces only because it is the cheapest alternative. They didn’t think their co-working space was helping them in any other way. While it can be partly attributed to a lack of effort on behalf of co-working spaces to nurture a sense of community among members but still we cannot entirely blame co-working spaces for it. Another strong social factor also seems to be involved:  It is nothing but natural for an entrepreneur who stems from a society enveloped in chronic mistrust to be asking for more privacy at the working space. Co-working culture promotes the values of collaboration and openness which helps in building trust among the community members that can eventually lead to meaningful partnerships.

Dynamic Ecosystem: Co-working spaces provide a dynamic ecosystem that can help start-ups at all stages of growth. You could enter into partnerships or take benefit from the knowledge of co-workers from backgrounds ranging from coding to accounting and designing to advertising. “It’s been four months since I have joined Kickstart and I have already entered into a partnership with one of the co-founders of the co-working space,” says Ali Ibrahim who runs three start-ups out of Kickstart. He recently entered into a partnership with Saad over the development of a food product that they plan to launch in the US and Canada. While the government of Punjab has done a decent job by establishing Plan9 incubator and Techhub Connect space, there is still a need for lot to be done in this regard by the private sector and the co-working spaces can play a central role in the establishment of such ecosystems across the country.

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