The Big Bird is Ready to Fly!
In January 2015 I was on my way back to Pakistan after four venturous and exciting months in Silicon Valley. I won’t deny I did have a bitter feeling that I would be welcomed with umpteen hours of load shedding, a dreadful internet connection, mass quantities of closed mindsets, and rishta aunties lurking around waiting for their shot. Little did I know that just three days after being back in Karachi, my life, and perception of Pakistan would change forever, and I’d find a little haven I would soon call home.
During my flight back to Karachi, I was felt a bit defeated because of all the energy and innovation that I was leaving behind. Nevertheless, I started brainstorming ideas for my after-Silicon Valley life, and jotted down names I could reach out to for some career guidance. I had sort of heard about a Jehan Ara in the tech space, and had even met her a couple of times, but I didn’t know too much about what she really did. I decided to reach out to her anyway and share the journey of my life-changing entrepreneurial bootcamp.
The very next day Jehan asked me to come over and check out this new cool place she was about to launch, The Nest IO and help out for a couple weeks till she had a full team. Neither of us knew that this little helping out would turn into an unofficially official position of The Nest IO’s first Entrepreneur in Residence.
I wasn’t even done with week one and I had already forgotten about Silicon Valley. The Nest IO was a unique and captivating space — always brimming with new ideas, great conversation, positive energy, aspiring founders, excited investors, inspired community members, and so much more. I don’t think even Jehan knew the impact she was about to create and the lives she was about to transform. I stayed close to the Nest IO because the environment and community Jehan had created gave me and many others like me, a purpose, a direction to channel our passion, and a sense of belonging that I had never before witnessed. Some of the most brilliant people I’ve met in life, friends, mentors, and visionaries, have all been through this magical place. It’s an understatement to call the Nest IO just a startup accelerator.
There are many many people who have made the Nest IO what it is today, and of course it has all been a team effort. But really, there’s only one real backbone who has been behind everything we have achieved as a community; the Big Bird, aka Jehan Ara.
I have worked by Jehan’s side, and I am grateful to call her a mentor and a friend. I was lucky enough to be around in the early days of the Nest IO and witness how she built the community we have today. I cannot begin to put in words the powerhouse Jehan Ara is, and all that she has taught me. We’ve laughed, argued, hugged and cried. We’ve had allnighters, taken crazy trips, seen founder cat-fights, celebrated milestones, but we’ve always always had fun! Jehan has taught me many valuable lessons about business and life, but her passion is what inspires me time and again, and that’s what I try to live by every day of my life.
We’ve all heard the famous Steve Jobs quote… “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”. Well, Jehan is one such crazy little one. As sad as I am about not seeing Jehan surrounded by her Androids in her bright yellow room full of quirky little gadgets when I visit Karachi next, I am also extremely excited for her next phase! No matter where she goes, and what she does, I cannot wait to see the magic she sprinkles to make things happen!
Jehan has started the chain reaction of empowerment for the Pakistani entrepreneurial ecosystem which has grown exponentially in the last 6 years, and will continue to do so over the years. I can’t imagine where I, or our ecosystem would be today if it weren’t for Jehan.