Desi Back to Desh

Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

The Faisal Chohan Posts – II

The second post was written 5 days later for Friday times.  Friday times ran a shorter, edited and modified version. Gist is still valid today.  Forget PTCL and PSO, give technology a chance and you will not recongize Pakistan 10 years from now.

Three technology entrepreneurs, one in Adiala Jail, one in Stanford, one on the run in Pindi.  They all ran after the farmer’s VoIP and he cut off their tails with a carving knife. That, in brief is Cogilent’s story.

VoIP used to be like magic dust. With it another little company with two founders and 200 employees sold for 2.6 billion dollars. The name was Skype and it even rhymed with VoIP. Closer to home, Youtube with a Bangladeshi co founder, also at Stanford, sold less than two months ago for 1.65 billion dollars. Not monopoly, not Singaporean, Malaysian or Australian dollars; genuine, in God we trust, greenbacks. The company was 19 months old. Cogilent may well have been another desi success story, before it was rudely interrupted on 5th December 2006.

But that is okay. We (techno geeks) all came back knowing very well that this is Pakistan and every now and then some body will do something to make you want to head back again. But home is home and our companies built on desi ghee and chapaties can withstand such shocks. At last count there were 800 odd potential Skypes and Youtubes working in Pakistan in cities as unlikely as Sialkot and Peshawar. Founded and run by pure desi’s, impure expats and hybrid ABCD’s, we are driven by our passion for technology, by mangoes in summer, Lahore in winter, the snow in Murree and the raw talent of a Pakistani programmer high on Mountain Dew.   Ours is NOT a banana republic, we know that ultimately sense will prevail and the system will work.  We can stand being in Jail – as long as we are guilty. Even when we are innocent we can stand being in Jail – for a few days – make that two nights tops with an mp3 player; four nights with a laptop and a broad band connection.

But we cannot stand indifference. Remember what drives our companies – one word – Passion. The multi billion dollars valuations are not for ideas or concepts or business plans on paper. They represent the value put on zeal and young blood that can change the world.

The future of our great nation is not in companies that live in the past. It is in companies that we are building today. Mixit, Techlogix, Pixsense, Iscrybe, Mobile Complete, TPS, Systems and Cogilent – product based companies that will sell for a few billion dollars each in the coming years.

We came back home in search of passion. Please don’t make us head back with indifference.