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MIT CEF BAP 2009 – Finals (unofficial, unsanctioned, undercover coverage)

I have been spoilt rotten.

After blogging about the PASHA SI session as well as the Tech Crunch Awards live, I expect events to be blogged about instantenously. My pictures, my videos, my time.

Which is why when I decided to gate crash the MIT CEF BAP party, I brought my own camera. Though by my standards this news update is about 12 hours too late. This post should have been up and running by 1 am this morning.

To begin with the lineup was impressive by any definition. I had been lucky enough to mentor three of this year’s participants and their excitement had already seeped in to the BAP community much before 13th November.

The very first Mentee was Riaz Salim at Khao Peyo. Riaz took a personal pain (food, on time, combined with social networking) and built a business out of it. The KP presentation went smoothly and interested Ken enough for him to ask about the origin of the name.

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My next Mentee was Jim Hasnain at AeroCar. An Airforce Aeronautical engineer by training and profession Hasnain has been building transaction machines for about a decade now. I still remember when he first walked into my office at the start of the BAP cycle a few months ago, I had no idea what AeroCar did. Two hours later when he walked out I was so excited by what was possible that I told him, you have a potential winner here. AeroCar, Hasnain’s firm builds what can only be classified as a Battle Field ATM – Rugged, Low energy foot print, maximum uptime and customizable to the nth’ degree based on the deployment needs of his customers.

My third Mentee was Khurram Samad at GeniTeam. Khurram and I met at the PASHA Tech Crunch Award when he first presented the Gangwars concept. This trip I was able to kidnap Khurram from right outside MIT CEF’s offices and lock him up in the interrogation room at Alchemy for two hours. Khurram was only allowed to leave when he finally saw the light of the Ken Morse way, as advocated by the Ken Morse cult in Karachi.

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It is a fair assessment to say that I am biased strongly in favor of the three companies I had the opportunity to confuse beyond hope. However it is far greater compliment that despite this bias the other two participants, Ikonomy and KomConsult made very precise, focused and cutting edge pitches that did make me stand up and notice.

Ikonomy does fairly interesting work for the NHS, while Komconsult did an outstanding job of explaining how and why their business works.

The judges were completely engaged. By the Q&A that followed after each presentation you could tell that if cynicism had found a home in Karachi that night, it was at the front row seats at the Karachi Marriot Crystal Ball Room.

In a good way ofcourse. But what made me especially proud was while we had faltered in the Q&A session at our BAP presentation two years early, on 13th November 2009, each company and presenter knocked questions right out of the park. There were obviously some weak moments but by the time it was Komconsult’s turn to be interrogated the judges had surrendered in front of the 3 days of preparation put in by the teams for this grilling.

While others, some of whom shall rename un-named, carried on with their undercover assignment of recording the pitches for posterity and possibly a blog post or two on their connecting flight to another continent.

Post the pitches a rag tag batch of BAP surivors made it to the stage to share their horror stories so the audience and the finalists for this years event could appreciate what a sweet ride they have had so far compared to the the historical annual BAP pilgramage.

In the absence of Ken Morse and Azhar’s adult supervision we quickly took the discussion everywhere but the planned direction.

After the customary historical heated, much extended, mucho secret judging session discussion, the winner was finally announced by Imran Saeed after disclosing the names of the first two runners up. When the first runner up was announced we took a deep breath because it made the remaining four names all the more exciting.

None other than the maker of the most rugged, most flexible, lowest carbon footprint and downtime ATMs and transaction machines in Town. Aero Car.

Quick photo opportunity and Jehan and I both ran for prior appointments that we had kept on delaying because we didn’t want to leave before finding out who won. Jehan to prepare for her flight early next morning, moa to home to take over from the kids.

A great job delivered once again by the exceptional commitment of the MIT CEF team on the ground here in Karachi. Thank Dr. Zahir, Azhar and Sarah.

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