Looking Back to Look Forward: Nick Feneck, Seedstars in Conversation


Seedstars World is a global startup competition, network, and investment fund that focus in high growth and emerging markets with an aim to impact people’s lives through technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In a span of merely 4 years, they have succeeded in becoming one of the largest and the most exclusive competition with 65+ markets worldwide.

Speaking to IDG Pakistan is Nick Feneck, Regional Manager of Asia Seedstars;

The local ecosystem must evolve and develop to face new challenges. It is multi-faceted and must engage players from every level: supporters such as corporate/government, enablers such as accelerators/incubators and of course actors such as startups/entrepreneurs.”

Nick also spoke about the local corporate-startup collaboration saying that, even though the ecosystem is well supported by the universities and academia at large, it would be beneficial if the corporate sector and government were more active in supporting it. Corporations should see the value in supporting startups to help their own business objectives.

“We’d like to see more hackathons, events, workshops, even corp-back accelerators to help this.”

What’s been a busy year (2016) for Seedstars in Pakistan, with JumpStart taking the roadshow across cities, Nick comments on the local space:

Not knowing what to expect, I was incredibly impressed by the quality and quantity of the startups pitching at our local finals in Islamabad, late 2016. These startups travelled great distances to pitch and their products would not be out of place in Singapore or Silicon Valley.

This is something that should be supported and actively encouraged, as our partners JumpStart and IDG seek to do!”

But what’s a startup ecosystem without conversation on investments? Nick responds:

“The investment scene appears to be young – only angels and HNWI, and no local VCs. However, we believe that this will change, and there has been growing interest from overseas – especially USA (due to the Pakistani diaspora) and Singapore. The best approach is always to demonstrate to investors the value, in financial terms, of these Pakistani startups. As soon as success stories are made, and startups are scene as more investible, the dragons will come – make no mistake!”

Speaking of the dynamic team that makes up the Seedstars World, Nick adds:

“I myself am but one part of a very ambitious and intelligent team operating worldwide. The biggest challenge is remaining connected and clear despite communicating across multiple time zones and only online. Organization and communication is key, as it improves efficiency. Trusting those around you are also important, and letting colleagues pursue their OKRs effectively without micro-managing.”

Currently for 2017, planning for the annual Seedstars Summit where 65 startups from 65 countries compete to be crowned the best startup, is underway which is to take place in Lausanne this April. It is the highlight of the year, and sees all the startups convene in Switzerland to be put through a rigorous boot camp and compete for equity investment.

From a select list of 5 top startups that Nick believes are big on using new technologies, or create social impact, are:

– PiQuant – IoT milk scanner to identify poison
– MyCashOnline – e-wallet for migrants without bank accounts
– MimosaTEK – agritech platform for farms
– Graphene Healthcare – telehealth platform
– TAME – wearable tech to support people with tremors