Open Silicon Valley Blog

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Nadir Rahman

The Sixth Sense – An Evening with Mohamad Ali

The Sixth Sense – OPEN Spotlight Speaker Series with Mohamad Ali

This past Tuesday, August 27, 2013, OPEN Silicon Valley hosted an evening with Mohamad Ali, Chief Strategy Officer of HP, as part of its Spotlight Speakers series, held at the elegant offices of Pillsbury Law Firm in Palo Alto, CA. The event was well attended with a mix of regular OPEN members and first-time attendees, an encouraging sign of the increasingly diverse reach of OPEN’s content. Those present were treated to an insightful talk delivered in Mohamad Ali’s self-effacing, honest style.

Mohamad Ali’s career arc:

The event started off with Mohamad giving a synopsis of his career trajectory to date and explaining how he ended up as Chief Strategy Officer at HP.

Fresh out of Stanford in the early 1990s, he started his career at Adobe as one of the original software developers of Postscript. He left Adobe to found a startup “Neural Applications”, which he drove to revenues of $10M and profitability. Mohamed served as a Relationship Manager with Microsoft & Intel, gaining broad experience in many fields ranging from finance, marketing, operations to P&L responsibility. His most important contribution at IBM was driving the successful merger and acquisition of several companies such as Cognos and Ascential Software. Having spent 13 years at IBM he realized that if he didn’t make a move before he was 40, he might never leave, which precipitated a move to Avaya, the business communications and networking equipment provider. Here he ran Avaya Labs and spearheaded corporate development and strategy.

Corporate experiences aside, one of his most important leadership achievements was as a member of the board of an Islamic Sunday School. He inherited a chaotic situation where the school was offering 42 classes with a great deal of overlap and had on staff 72 volunteers/teachers whose performance suffered due to chronic absenteeism and unclear roles. Turning around the performance of this organization, personally reaching out to staff and motivating them to be more consistent in attendance was one of his proudest moments.

The Secret to Thriving at HP

Diving into his roles and responsibilities at HP, Mohamad stated a few reasons he chose HP over other companies even though at the time HP wasn’t thriving. Firstly, it was the challenge of taking on a restructuring role, secondly because HP is a unique company, spanning the enterprise and consumer space with tremendous in-house technological prowess, and thirdly, because HP was still generating $7B in Free Cash Flow. He really saw an opportunity for transformational work at HP.

He provided some invaluable tips to aspiring corporate/business-development professionals by observing that even in a strategy role, you’re not respected unless you’ve actually run operations or a business. Corporate strategy is not just about projections, market trends, cloud, mobility – well, at some companies it is, but at HP it’s really about tying in operations to the strategy. The strategy team works closely with the product groups and engages with them all the way through implementation.

So you really disregard the prosaic nuts-and-bolts of running a business, such as understanding the supply chain, manufacturing and engineering, at your own risk!

The Sweet Smell of Success

It was as the discussion segued into the Q&A session that some truly revealing insights were offered by Mohamad. When asked what qualities, other than plain old hard work and smarts, propelled him onto the Boston Business Journal’s ’40 Under 40’ list of leaders, he responded with characteristic self-deprecation, “honestly, a lot of luck”! He elaborated further on his compelling life story, having grown up in Guyana to a family of modest means. Perhaps it was luck that he grew up in the British part of Guyana, instead of the French-speaking part, which helped him to be proficient in English, and perhaps it was luck that brought him to Stanford, and then to the highest echelons of corporate America, while one of his close childhood friends still lives in conditions of relative poverty in Guyana. But my personal observation on the matter is that while it’s not surprising that talent and courage can allow someone to transcend their environment, it’s only a truly remarkable person who cherishes his humble beginnings and appreciates his success with a sense of humility and grace.

The DNA of a Leader: The Sixth Sense

My favorite moment of the evening came when Mohamad explained what he thought it took to rise to the top in a large corporation. It’s all about having some intuition about what market problems will need to be addressed in the near future and divining which teams within the company will need to mobilize to solve those issues – what Mohamad called “a sixth sense”. Similar to Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote about the need to skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is, you need to have an internal sense of where people are moving and position yourself in the right spot. Confront a problem instead of moving away from it and try & fix it. Where I disagreed somewhat with Mohamad was about whether a sixth sense is innate or if it can be developed – he appeared to lean towards the former, but I believe it’s a skill that can be acquired, by talking to people, listening and paying attention to the external business environment and above all by being curious.

Valley Trends and HP’s Future

Shifting to external matters and the technology landscape, Mohamad detailed the 4 big areas of investment for HP as: Cloud, Mobility, BigData, Security, with Social a close fifth. Mohamad keeps this overall focus in mind while challenging HP’s business units to think of how they will integrate with each other. Mobile strategy cuts across all divisions. HP’s Cloud strategy is really about infrastructure – building the most reliable public cloud ever.  HP is in the process of unifying cloud around a common architecture based on OpenStack and deploying that back into the Private Cloud. HP is also not overly concerned about the commoditization of hardware with the use of OpenStack. OpenStack could be as successful as Linux, but in the same way as Linux didn’t destroy the server market, there will still be a lot of places for growth. Commoditization of the market is really taking place through virtualization.

On a final note, Mohamad opined that the most in-demand talent in the Valley going forward will be people with turnaround skills. Many technology companies, from Microsoft to Apple are in the midst of wrenching transitions as they look to grapple with a new world where the enterprise and consumer space are increasingly intertwined and there is a growing need for people who can reorient organizations for these new challenges.

Final Takeaway:

 

Overall, this was an enjoyable evening which left me with several valuable and actionable insights which I intend on applying to my own professional career. The event also underlined OPEN’s role as one of the pre-eminent business organizations in the Valley. The organization of the event, from the venue, to the dinner served before hand, to the opportunities for networking, was a testament to the hard work put in by OPEN’s dedicated team of volunteers. I’ll certainly be back for the next iteration of the Spotlight Series.

Shahab Riazi

Presidents Update

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

06.15.2015

Wow!

What a fantastic ride its been! I see that my previous blog entry was the kick off for OPEN Forum and today, as I sit here writing this last entry before we go into the lull of summer, I am over a week removed from the main event, the 13th OPEN Forum held on Jun 6th at Computer History Museum in Mountain View. It took months to plan the daylong event with a marvellous all volunteer team, who was able to pull together 50+ speakers, multiple panels running in tandem, energized networking and content that was praised by everyone unanimously.

Keynotes from Mike Goguen, Amir Khan, Patricia Wells, and Mehmood Khan were most well received as were specialty sessions with Dilawar Syed, Gene Frantz, Aamir Hussain, and Osman Rashid, among many others. People were raving about the workshops, especially the negotiations workshop, where one attendee that I overheard personally, saying something to the effect that the said workshop just changed his entire approach to the subject.

I must thank the volunteers and our charter members who pulled together most of these sessions and were able to deliver some very high quality content. Our World Cup winner, Asim Razzaq, deserves a special mention as well. His startup stood out among many others who applied. It was apparent that it was a close fight though and a picture perfect finish in the end.

This is also the end of my presidential term as well as the end of the term for the rest of the Execom. Mobashar Yazdani, our General Secretary, and Noman Ali, OPEN SV Treasurer, as outgoing officials deserve a great deal of credit as co-chairs of OPEN Forum 2015 and for the work they did for the past two years dedicating their personal hours to the welfare of the organization. I thank them for their support and help in execution of the vision we shared together.

Over the past two years, we have instituted the Youth Forum as a seperate entity. It now stands on its own and not as part of any other event. I want to thank Reshma Hyder, volunteer extraordinaire and an entrepreneur herself, who served her term as the Youth Board Chairperson and ably delivered on some of the finest monthly and weekly programs for the youth during the past year and a half.

I must also thank Naeem Zafar and the Board Members at OPEN SV, Aurangzeb Khan, Dilawar Syed, Riaz Karamali, Rehan Jalil and Raghib Hussain. They contributed their time and valuable opinion as well as rolled up their sleeves to get to work whenever the organization needed them. Mobashar, Noman and I could not have done this without their help.

Finally, I want to thank the community of OPEN SV. We are a vibrant lot with plenty to offer. There is inspiration, education and experience that is unmatched. The knowledge trust that has built up over the years is available to all in the larger community. You, as a community member of OPEN SV, enable us to put together great events and attract great speakers. You are the reason why our volunteers do what they do. I hope you enjoyed the programming that was on offer for the past 2 years, and before that for the past several years that OPEN SV has been part of this Bay Area community. I have been involved with OPEN SV for the past 10+ years as a volunteer, marketing co-chair and chair, sponsorship chair, general secretary and President. It has been an honor and a priviledge to have served you. I leave with the comforting knowledge that OPEN SV is in great hands. I hope that OPEN will continue to get your support in the future as well.

Thank you,

--Shahab Riazi


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

02.16.2015

We had a very successful kick off launch for OPEN Forum at the Mountain View Google campus, this past Wednesday. With 80+ attendees at the event, the discussion was energetic and involved everyone with an open mic on the planning for OPEN Forum. For pictures of the event and other comments about the event, visit our Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/opensiliconvalley and while you are there, please don't forget to like the page. OPEN Forum is our flagship annual event that will be held this summer and it is large enough where our all volunteer organization gets started months in advance with regular updates and meetings to decide on logistics, content and featured sessions and speakers. 


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

02.06.2015

OPEN SV is launching its traditional kick off meeting for OPEN Forum 2015. In the past, this meeting has been used to reach out to the community members interested in public and community service and volunteering. OPEN Forum is our flagship annual event that will be held this summer and it is large enough where our all volunteer organization gets started months in advance with regular updates and meetings to decide on logistics, content and featured sessions and speakers. I would request all to join us on Feb 11th, at 6 PM at the Google campus in Mountain View and participate in the preparation for the biggest Pakistani-American business conference in North America. 


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

10.06.2014

Anne Wojcicki, Founder of 23andme will keynote at the upcoming Women Leadership Forum on Nov 08th, 2014. Having been familiar with the great story of success that is 23andme, I feel that hearing her talk about her very entrepreneurial journey of success in the valley is going to be most rewarding and inspiring. Register Today to reserve your spot at Women Forum and make sure to bring your youth alongwith on the day since the very vibrant 2nd Annual Youth Forum is on the same day at the same location as well. You can buy tickets in several combinations to save on registration cost today including a family combination that allows for a youth and a parent ticket for much less than the total cost of individual tickets. We have a great program for the Youth Forum as well, with workshops and inspiring young speakers from the OPEN SV community. Register Today!


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

9.29.2014

It is with great pleasure that OPEN SV announced its Fifth Women Leadership Forum and the Second Annual Youth Leadership Forum on the same day at the same location. The date has been set on Nov 8th, 2014 and the location is Computer History Museum in Mountain View. What is important to note is that OPEN SV community members can buy tickets for Women and Youth Leadership Forums together at a discounted price for a limited time. This way, our members can attend Women Leadership Forum and the youth in the family can benefit from the sessions and workshops at the Youth Forum. Get the combination tickets today.


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

4.3.2014

I am very excited to have the "FireEye - Behind the Scenes" look at the incredible saga that culminated with a very successful IPO last year. The story is still being written and OPEN Forum will afford us the opportunity to sit down with the earliest backer of FireEye and Ashar Aziz's vision, Gaurav Garg. The conversation featuring Gaurav and Aref Hilaly seeks to inspire our audience as only FireEye's story can. I would urge you to register for OPEN Forum today and join us as we applaud and celebrate, one of our very own. You can read all about it at our conference website. Special Offer Alert: If you register between Now and April 28th (Next Monday Midnight) using the code "FireEye," you will be invited to attend an exclusive luncheon with Ashar Aziz. This offer is only good for people registering b/w now and April 28th and using the code: "FireEye" - Don't let an opportunity to exchange thoughts 1-1 with the Founder of FireEye before the big show pass you by.


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

4.3.2014

OPEN Forum 2014 in its entirety has a great deal to offer and I am particularly proud of what our Youth Group of Advisers are pulling together for our audiences on the day. We will kick things off with a panel featuring Shiza Shahid, Palash Islam and Sadia Saifuddin and will go into workshops for coding, AP practice exams and preparation as well as our newest feature of LinkedIn speed networking. You can read all about it at our conference website.

Register Today and Save over onsite registration!!

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

03.31.2014

Early Bird Ending Tonight - Take Advantage of the Savings before they are gone - Sign up before Midnight...


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

03.24.2014

Early Bird Registration for OPEN Forum is going to close in 6 days. The incredibly low price for access to the entire conference with keynotes, panels, spotlight features will remain in effect until March 31st 2014. Get yourself registered for less than half the price you will pay at the door. Your early decision to register will be financially rewarding and will provide you with the peace of mind of having one more to-do off your plate.
Our Job Board is going strong with new postings everyday. While we are technology heavy and there are more jobs for high tech skills, we are continuing to work with our partners in different organizations to add jobs from the business side of the shop as weIl as adding internship opportunities in companies around the Bay Area. Please continue to check out our Job Board for jobs that will get updated on a weekly basis. You can send your resumes with the job title in the subject header of your email response directly to the Job Board Managers who will in turn ensure that your resume gets in front of the right people.
Our event in San Francisco with Ms. Kathy Spillar, Chief Editor of Ms. Magazine was a great success with a good amount of diversity on display in attendees who attended the event to learn more about issues that women entrepreneurs face in and outside the valley. Don't worry if you missed the event since Ms. Spillar will be back for OPEN Forum on May 10th, where she will moderate a one-on-one chat with a yet to be announced high profile speaker of interest for our community. Please stay tuned for further developments at the conference and in the meanwhile enjoy the savings by registering at the early bird rates available today and only for another 6 days.

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015 

03.17.2014

Only 53 Days Away from the Biggest show of strength from the OPEN SV community!

Early Bird Registration is now open and will remain open until 3/31/2014.

OPEN Forum is approaching and approaching fast! Get your registrations in early for less than half the price for onsite registration. This pricing will only remain in effect until the end of March.

I am excited and proud to announce the relaunch of our OPEN SV Job Board. In the past, Job Board has been open to our members to post jobs as well as look for positions that interest them however, now we have added resources to the effort who will ensure that jobs posted are relevant, current and helpful to our job seekers in the community. Check out our Job Board for jobs that will get updated on a weekly basis. You can send your resumes with the job title in the subject header of your email response directly to the Job Board Managers who will in turn ensure that your resume gets in front of the right people. I want to thank our volunteer Faridah Hemani who has taken up the task of managing the board and provide the OPEN members with the much needed service.

I would like to mention that our members in San Francisco and East Bay will be getting some attention from OPEN SV where we are planning more events in the two cities (SFO and Berkeley). We held a very successful event with Mohsin Hamid at Berkeley, in collaboration with the Urdu Initiative at Berkeley as well as other partners. I must mention the efforts of Munis Farooqui who has tirelessly worked to bring some important names from Pakistan and elsewhere to Pakistani and non-Pakistani audiences alike. As part of the outreach to expand the influence of OPEN SV events and organization outside of South Bay, we are presenting one of our first events this year in Downtown San Francisco, this Thursday, on March 20th at the Nossaman Law Firm on the 34th Floor. Please register for it and attend the Spotlight Speaker Event with Kathy Spillar and moderated by our own OPEN SV Volunteer and Co-Chair for Marketing Zainab Rahman. Dinner will be served b/w 6 and 7 PM from Shalimar in San Francisco.
Hope to see you all at the upcoming events! Don't forget to take advantage of the early bird registeration for OPEN Forum 2014! It will be an event you won't want to miss! 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015 

02.25.2014

As you can see from the counter on our website that was recently placed, we are less than 75 days away from OPEN Forum - the biggest Pakistani-American Business Conference anywhere in the US. OPEN Forum is going to be held on a new date and during a new month this time around. In the past, 10 OPEN Forums have been held consistently on the first Saturday of every June. This year, after a lot of your feedback and our own experience with speakers and audiences, we have decided to pull the event up to Saturday, May 10th. We will be holding many fireside chats, workshops and several panels on hot topics in the valley and around the entrepreneurial circles in the country. We are in the process of putting together the conference and would love to hear from you. Look for more announcements on how you can actively participate in shaping the upcoming conference. 

While we are planning and preparing for the big event, we also have a busy month of March ahead of us. With IoT or Internet of Things' panel on March 06th with support from our latest addition among our supporters, ATT Foundry, we expect to draw a large crowd to our Spring Quarterly Event. March 08th will see a special presentation, geared particularly towards youth, about how to set up your Linked In profile. And on March 20th, Spotlight Speaker series will present itse second edition featuring the Chief Editor of Ms. Magazin, Kathy Spillar. 

Please look for these events and Register for them. If you are a member, the Spring Quarterly Networking Event and the Spotlight Speaker Event will be free for you. Consider becoming a member and you can attend these events for free plus get a seat at the mentorship breakfast table with our charter members and mentors. In March, we plan to present the Citrix CTO and OPEN SV Charter Member, Waheed Qureshi. Look for that announcement coming soon.

Until next time... 


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015 

02.10.2014

OPEN SV was proud to feature two Pakistani companies led by entrepreneurs who bootstrapped their way to success in the challenging business environment of Pakistan. You can read all about it on our website. The thing that particularly delighted me was the fact that one of the companies signed a deal at the event with a vendor looking for markets in Pakistan. It was particularly rewarding to see the positive response that the attendees had for the entrepreneurs and OPEN SV will continue to support the MIT business plan competition and its winners and participants in the future. 
 
We are now all geared up and ready for our next challenge: OPEN SV LaunchPad. As you well know, Shoieb Yunus has been leading the charge on this particular line and has done a marvelous job building the brand of this competition in the valley. This second edition of LaunchPad for the year 2014 is being held at Pillsbury Law Firm at 2550 Hanover St., Palo Alto and will be an exciting event with great format for a thorough discussion on the ideas that are presented during the session as well as the ideas that will inevitably be generated during and after the presentation. Read more about the program and the judges, at our website.
 
Also, Please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in volunteering for OPEN Forum 2014 which is now 88 days away.

 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015 

01.28.2014

I am happy to report that we held a very successful planning session for OPEN Forum 2014 which will be held on May 10th 2014. OPEN Forum is our flagship annual event and it takes some amount of runway and planning to get an event of this size off the ground. I was very happy to see a great turn out and the energy that was on display from all the participants for the aim of putting together a great event. While we had an open call for volunteers at the event, the call continues to be in place. Please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in volunteering for OPEN Forum 2014. 


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

01.14.2014

We are very excited to announce that we have extended the date to give you more opportunity to sign up as an OPEN member and win the new IPAD Mini. The earlier date was Jan 15th. This date has been extended to Jan 20th. Don't delay any further. Take advantage of our already low prices and enter for a chance to win an IPAD Miin today. Aside from the Prize, the benefits of membership alone make the membership fee a sound investment in your professional goals for 2014. 

On Jan 22nd, at Sierra Madre conference room in PlugNPlay Sunnyvale, we will hold an open call for volunteers interested in signing up for OPEN Forum. Dinner will be served b/w 6 and 7 PM. The end goal would be to start planning for OPEN Forum in earnest. OPEN Forum is our flagship annual event which was held last year in Jun 2013 at Santa Clara Convention Center and was attended by over 700 people. We intend to start planning for an event of this size early and hope that you will join us on Jan 22nd to kick off planning for the event.


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

01.06.2014

I can only speak formyself, but I am still getting used to typing in 2014 at the end of the date. The new year is still new to me and there is still plenty to ponder on what was accomplished during 2013. OPEN SV is gearing up for a busy 2014 but I do want to point out some of the successes that we experienced at our events.

OPEN SV saw a good deal of success in our membership services with Mentorship Breakfasts and Ask An Expert programs. The outreach to our members was very succesful with breakfasts with Zia Yusuf, Lisa Ahmed and Amir Khan. We are going to continue this program going forward and already have Naeem Zafar as our next host for the mentorship breakfast in January. Watch out for that date and register early to book a seat. These breakfasts are intimate events so the seats get occupied in a hurry.

Ask an Expert is another member only program that has seen a lot of success since it has been relaunched. Any OPEN SV current member can send an email to the alias for This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and get connected to an expert in the area that he is interested in discussing. 

I would also like to mention here that our membership drive is going great guns. If you choose to become an OPEN SV member (General or Student), not only will you get to attend memeber only events for free but also attend other events for a hugely discounted price. And if you become a member b/w now and Jan 15th or choose to renew your membership b/w now and Jan 15th, you will automatically be entered to win an IPad Mini.

Aside from member only events, OPEN SV has also had great success with general community oriented events such as Launch pad and our Fall Quarterly Event on Startup Exits. It was also a year of firsts for OPEN SV where we held our First Youth Forum and Hackathon at Computer History Museum. We added Google among our supporters and our current sponsors such as NexLogic, Pillsbury, Shepard Mullin and SOAProjects, have also shown great faith in our initiatives by supporting us throughout the year. I hope that this support will continue in 2014 as well since we are looking to build on the successes from 2013.

OPEN SV will continue to meet every second Wednesday of the month at Lunch b/w 11:30 AM and 1 PM. We will always try to keep it at a central location so that everyone who is available can join us and contribute to the OPEN SV program. Our January meeting is on Jan 08th, this coming Wednesday at PlugNPlay located at 440 N. Wolfe Rd, Sunnyvale. Lunch will be served at the meeting and discussion will center around the events during the first half of 2014.

Join Us and shape 2014 to be bigger and better than all years past!


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

12.09.2013

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I would like to address two specific topics in the blog post today. Firstly, the Youth Board of Advisers is taking shape at OPEN SV with your help. We have received some great nominations so far from our members and larger community. The talent and enthusiasm that is on display in the profiles of some of the young individuals who have been nominated so far is remarkable. The process is quite simple where the nominations can be sent via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by December 31st which is the deadline for all nomination submissions. The nominations must be made by email and cannot be handed in person or in any other form of submission. All we need is the name of the nominee and the email address as well as the name and email address of the nominating party. These nominations will remain open until Dec 31st after which they will be submitted to the OPEN SV Board for their feedback. After the feedback is received, the successful nominations will be announced to all via email and other marketing channels at OPEN SV's disposal by Jan 07th 2014. Throughout the year 2014, the board members of this board of advisers will lead in directing, designing and delivering great content for our youth in the community. We have laid the foundation of the Youth Leadership Forum with the First & Very Successful Youth Leadership Forum on Nov 17th 2013 at the Computer History Museum. We intend to follow up on that success very soon and hold our second annual youth forum in 2014 the date for which would be announced shortly after board is formed and functional. The youth advisers can expect to spend anywhere from 2-3 hours per week and will be expected to meet once a month. They will get mentorship from Senior members of the Executive Committee as well as OPEN SV charter members.

Secondly, OPEN SV will be running a Special Holiday membership drive for the next two months in December and the following January. Look out for special offers and rewards from OPEN SV on becoming a member in either of these months. Please watch this space and our website for these offers and remember, we have been muscling up our offerings for our members exclusively and we will continue to do so in 2014. I would request you to consider becoming a member so that you don't miss out on some of those great members only events and fixtures at OPEN SV.

Thank you for reading and Have a great week! 


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

11.25.2013

I am very proud to announce the success of OPEN SV's first Youth Leadership Forum. 150+ youth gathered at the Computer History Museum on Sunday Nov 17th to interact with interesting young speakers with new ideas; speakers such as Rohan Agrawal, who at 12 year old is the CEO of his own company and Moin Khan, who decided to journey around the world on his bike. The workshops were a huge hit with youth and their parents. The app building workshop was THE most highly anticipated workshop and the animation building workshop that followed it was enjoyed by the youth where they created their own "Wallace and Gromit" like animation. You can read all about the conference here.  

The Youth Forum had a hackathon featured on the same day as well where hackers of all ages came to build in a day long hackathon that started at 8:30 AM and got done at 8 PM. Joined by Judges Karl Mehta and Noman Ali, there were four winning hackers that won thousands of dollars by building some amazing apps. Read the details of that here as well. 

I am happy to also announce the intent to formulate Youth program of advisors at OPEN SV. There will be 7-9 advisors in this program to start with and initially these will be nominated by the President and approved by the Board of Directors. You, as part of the OPEN SV members (Charter & General) community, can send in your nominations for this program.

The requirements are as follows:

1. Youth Advisor has to be a student in good standing, at a middle school, high school or local college OR at most a recent graduate (No more than a year ago), from college.

2. Youth Advisor has to be local to the Bay Area to participate in the program

The one point agenda for the youth advisors will be:

To build events/programs for the youth in the community and deliver them

Any member of OPEN SV (Charter OR General) can nominate a youth advisor to the program by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I would encourage you to do so right away. Youth Programs at OPEN SV are going to be as or more exciting and engaging as our programs have been for the adults in our community. Support us by joining OPEN SV as members and having your young adults join as student members as well.

 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

11.15.2013


I have not been able to update the blog here as regularly over the past couple of weeks as I should have. We have been busy putting together what is shaping up to be a wonderful event: OPEN SV's First Youth Conference and Hackathon. We are almost at the eleventh hour where things are coming together and we believe we will have a great conference on offer for you and your young one. While workshops have hogged a lot of limelight and rightfully so, we have great speakers in our Keynote, Moin Khan, Tech Crunch writer, Larry Magid, Skateboarder Jordan Richter, Squash Coach Rehmat Khan, Political Consultant Nabeela Baig, I2I CEO Kulsoom Lakhani and many more...

We also have a team from Lego presenting their projects in the afternoon featuring 6 kids of all ages. You can learn about participation in nationwide tournaments that Lego puts together for middle and high school kids. We will have a rich offering in terms of booths and show floor at the museum as well. Also, we will be giving out free passes to the museum for youth which would allow them to come back and visit the entire museum for free.

We will have lunch on offer late in to the afternoon (upto 3 PM) so if you have Sunday school and can't join us until later, please feel free to do so for great panels on sports and careers as well as the presentation from Lego.

I hope to meet with you personally on Sunday and welcome you to OPEN SV Youth Forum 2013!

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

10.29.2013

OPEN SV's First Youth Forum is only 18 days away. OPEN SV Execom and volunteers are busy preparing for this conference which is a first of its kind event for OPEN SV. We are already seeing a full agenda fill the day long conference with keynotes from Moin Khan, the biker who biked all the way from San Francisco to Lahore through 21 countries. His amazing story and the more amazing pictures will be featured at OPEN Youth Forum. We will also feature Stanford Business School Professor, Uzma Khan as well as Berkeley Regent and Student Representative, Sadia Saifuddin. In addition, we will have workshops including:

1. How to build an app in less than 3 hours

2. How to Create Animation and a movie

We will have a team of Berkeley students on hand to help you with your college admissions applications if you are applying to local colleges, the deadline for which is coming up on Nov 30th for most schools including Berkeley itself.

We also have the first OPEN SV Hackathon planned on the same day at the same location. This hackathon will feature Karl Mehta of the "Code for South Asia" fame as a judge on our panel of judges. There are prizes worth thousands of dollars that will be available to participants as well.

Register Today and join us at this groundbreaking event!


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

10.21.2013

Tonight, at HP Executive Briefing Center, OPEN SV will welcome a prestigious panel covering the pertinent topic of "Creative exits for startups." The moderator, Faisel Mosleh will be joined by four other panelists following a networking session with the valley's who's who in attendence. You can still register for the event at https://www.123signup.com/register?id=dxmty

We are also approaching our First Youth Conference at Computer History Museum along with the first OPEN SV Hackathon on November 17th at Computer History Museum where we will be joined by "Code for South Asia" fame Karl Mehta as the judge, Moin Khan, the biker who rode his bike all the way from SFO to Lahore and beyond as well as Rehmat Khan, squash coach of Legendary Champion Jahangir Khan. We are also going to hold workshops on how to build an app as well as how to build educational videos in cooperation with The Khan Academy. We will have mentors on hand available for advice on college applicatons for youth looking to get into San Jose State, Stanford and UC Berkeley. Keep an eye on the developing agenda on our first page for more updates and visit our Hackathon registration page for the prestigious cash and gift prizes for winners at the hackathon on the day.

We are also going to hold our 8th Annual OPEN SV Cricket Match at Santa Clara Cricket Club in Santa Clara. This is a tradition at OPEN SV where Charter Members face-off with the Executive Committee and OPEN SV volunteers on a cricket pitch.  This year's event is on Saturday October 26th. The game will begin at 10:30 AM and there will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to cheer on, enjoy the delectable lunch and tea as well as offer cricketing advice where warranted.

We have also launched a very noteable effort involving some of our key volunteers, Rafae Bhatti, Hasan Randhwa and Iram Nawaz. This is the successful launch of the OPEN SV Newsletter the first edition of which is now on our website. Please browse through and offer your opinion and feedback so we can improve it even more.

As you can see, there is plenty going on at OPEN SV and I am sure there is something in it for everyone. I hope you will join us at one or all of these events and help us improve the quality of the events and overall organization.


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

10.14.2013

Fall is here and OPEN SV Fall Networking Session is set to be held in a few days on Monday, October 21st at 6 PM. We are proud to count HP as our latest addition to the OPEN SV supporter family. The Fall Quarterly Panel will be held at HP Executive Briefing Center located at 3000 Hanover Street, Palo Alto, CA. There is a great panel that will be available for a discussion about how start-ups today are exiting in addition to the traditional paths of being acquired and/or going public. Yusuf Safdari of Pillsbury Law Firm, Siddharth Muddu of VMWare, Tae Heah Nahm of Storm Ventures, Mark Heyl of Hopkins and Marley's as well as Feisal Mosleh of Kanzatec IP will be part of the panel. We will have a networking session with dinner b/w 6 and 7 PM and the panel will follow that. I want to particularly highlight a feature of the event called "Speed Dating." This is where you can simply add the acronym to the word Speed Dating, "SD" in the text field while registering for the event and mention if you are looking for a co-founder for a start-up idea, an investor for your start-up, or are looking to invest in a start-up. This part of the event is only open to OPEN SV members so if you are not a member, please sign up for our membership and you will get exclusive access to directed and meaningful networking apart from the general networking that will take place.

The same membership will also bring you benefits such as the ability to register for a mentorship breakfast with Zia Yusuf, CEO of Streetline, that is being organized for this Friday, October 18th. The location of the breakfast will be disclosed to members who register for the event and only members can register for this exclusive event since this is part of the portfolio of OPEN SV member services.

I hope you will consider joining us for the Octobe 21st event at HP and sign up for Mentorship Breakfast with Zia Yusuf as well. I look forward to meeting you at these upcoming events.


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

10.06.2013


Here comes October rushing in!!

Today, I would like to speak with you about OPEN SV Launch Pad, the brainchild of Shoieb Yunus, a Charter Member of OPEN SV. Shoieb has been working on this concept for the past year and has built a program of great repute where in different programs more than 25 startups have presented and recieved direct feedback from investors invited to the event. There are atleast 2 that I heard of getting funded through the connections they made at OPEN SV Launch Pad.

Shoieb has put together a great program for October 10th at Pillsbury Law Firm at 6 PM. We will have plenty of opportunity available for you to network with panelists like Nima Adelkhani, founder of PITME, Rand Owens, co-founder of Startups Incubator and Rehan Jalil, a venture advisor at Mayfield Funds. Shoieb is leading a well rounded panel that also includes Shayan Habib, a partner at Ideavelopers. The panel discussion will be highly interactive and you will get a chance to interact directly with everyone on the panel about your questions on what the investors today are looking for in an entrepreneur. Dinner and Networking will continue b/w 6 and 7:15 PM. The panel will start at 7:15 sharp.

We also have our Fall quarterly panel coming up on October 21st, and HP has partnered with OPEN SV in offering us its exquisite space at the HP Executive Brirefing Center. I must thank Ameer Karim, who is an Executive at HP, for his help in securing the venue for this great panel discussion about creative exits for startups. It promises to be a smash success with extra networking time built in as well as a special feature on speed dating for co-founders, entrepreneurs and investors etc. We have great participation from Kanzatech as well where Feisal Mosleh is leading the charge for OPEN SV. You can register for that event on our website as well.

Check out our jobs section as well where one of our Charter Members is looking for someone with experience in writing PRDs for projects that he is currently working on. If you are looking for a startup, its always best to start with a taste and this may be the best opportunity to get that taste. If you know how to set up a PRD for a net new product to a market, then this jig may be for you. Look for it in our jobs section and write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today with a detailed picture of your experience. This is not an ad for paid position. This is potentially a sweat equity situation only for now.

Opportunities like these and with other startups happen to be just one of the perks of being involved with OPEN SV. Our membership drive is going strong and I would encourage everyone to get engaged and become a member.

We have our monthly planning meeting at Pillsbury Law Firm located at 225 Hanover Street, Palo Alto, CA on Wednesday October 9th b/w 11:30 and 1 PM. Join us and have lunch on OPEN SV for free! You can help us shape our agenda while you munch on lunch. Registration for this event is free.

I will see you on October 9th, 10th and 21st! Until then, continue to work and play hard!


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

09.23.2013


As an OPEN SV volunteer and part of the OPEN SV community, I am proud to honor the success of Ashar Aziz, OPEN SV charter member with his recent public offering of the startup he founded 7 years ago. Ashar has had successful exits in the past but FireEye is definitely his life's work so far. You can read all about this momentous event on our front page feature of CM News.

Once again, Congratulations Ashar Aziz!


Now for the Breaking News:
I am honored and previlidged to announce the date for the first ever OPEN SV Youth Forum and OPEN SV Hackathon here in this space. OPEN SV will hold its first ever Youth Forum along with another first which would be the OPEN SV Hackathon on Sunday, November 17th 2013.

In the past, OPEN SV has held Youth Forums as part of our larger OPEN Forums in summer, however, during this past OPEN Forum we saw a great deal of energy at the Youth Track and felt that we have the critical mass to float an independent event for Youth targeting Middle school, high school and college students primarily. We also have the first ever hackathon that OPEN SV will be hosting that will run alongside the youth forum on the same day. We are in the process of finalizing the event details and will have more to share very soon. In the meanwhile, save the date of November 17th and attend our next planning meeting to be held on October 9th where some of the agenda for the Youth Forum and the Hackathon will get finalized.

We also have a very busy month of October upon us with LaunchPad Kick Off event on October 10th at Pillsbury Law Firm where Shoieb Younis will be moderating a panel discussion around the trends that are visible today in the fundraising space in the valley for entrepreneurs and will also be kicking off the invitations to startups to submit their ideas for evaluations to pitch at the big LaunchPad event on December 05th. You can register for the October 10th event where Dinner/Networking will follow the panel discussion and more networking after the panel discussion is over. It will be a highly interactive session with the audience participation solicited by the panelists so bring your questions and a nerve or two to deliver them.

We will also hold our Fall Quarterly event on October 22nd where a panel discussion on creative exits for startups will be discussed. We will also introduce the concept of speed dating at OPEN SV for our members if they are shopping for an investor, a co-founder or an investment. You can register for the event and indicate your interest at the time of registration in the free text box with the words "SD" followed by your area of interest, or a short note explaining what you are looking for in your potential match on the day. I am very excited about an idea like that where we cut to the chase and allow our members to open up about what they are looking for at the event.

I look forward to meeting you at these events in October and at our big splash in November with the Youth Forum and the Hackathon!!


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

09.16.2013

What a whirlwind of a month it has been at OPEN SV. We have introduced a new series of events in "Spotlight Speaker," which was very well received by the community. We are now retooling the OPEN SV Launchpad series and kicking that off for the year with a panel discussion on October 10th at Pillsbury offices in Palo Alto. If you are interested in raising funds for your startup, I would invite you to take a closer look at our Launch pad program and attend the kick off on the 10th of October at 6 PM. You will hear subject matter experts and investors from accelerators and incubators. The panel discussion will follow dinner at 6 PM and open networking session right after the event. Register online and you can save substantially over onsite registration.

We are also launching our first ever Hackathon as part of our Youth Forum on Sunday November 17th. Youth Forum promises the same vitality and vibe that were on display during the youth track at OPEN Forum, only this time, they will be the focus of the gathering. The Hackathon will be the first ever event of its nature for OPEN SV. Please watch this space for further announcements and to register for the event.

OPEN SV is also looking for an experienced Executive Program Manager. Over the past few years, our growth has been phenomenal and while we are and will always remain a volunteer based organization, it is imperative for our future growth that we organize ourselves around the best practices that we have developed over the years. A limited paid position at OPEN SV will help us grow as a primarily volunteer organization for many years to come. Please look at our job board for details on this position and feel free to forward it to your colleagues and friends whom you think would excel at this position.

Don't forget to register for Amir Khan's breakfast this month as well. It is a member only event so if you are not an OPEN SV member yet, and want to attend, please consider signing up as member. We intend to bring atleast one mentorship breakfast every month going forward.

 

I look forward to some great events that are coming up and hope that you will join us for them as well!


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

09.09.2013

I am very happy to report that our Spotlight Speaker series was a huge success. We had a sell out crowd at Pillsbury Law Firm on Aug 27th to welcome our first feature speaker, Mohamad Ali, HP's Chief Strategy Officer. It was an enthralling event with great offerings for entreprenuers and professionals alike. Mohamad has been in small and mid-size companies as well as worked at Industry giants like IBM and now HP. He was able to offer advice to entrepreneurs in the audience who are looking for exits through acquiring and to professionals about how to thrive in  their environments. You can read all about it at our community blog where OPEN SV's own Nadir Rahman posted the edited version of the blog he was running live on our website at the event.

Check it out at http://opensv.org/index.php/blog/community-blog

Also, you can set up your own blog for the community at the OPEN SV website. As long as it is regularly updated and the content remains within the confines of OPEN SV charter of promotion of entrepreneurship and professional excellence, the blog entry can be created very easily. Send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if interested.

We have also posted a short interview summarizing the key points from the spotlight speaker session in your youtube channel of opensiliconvalley.

Check those videos out at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwFofTu5C-z8bqkNOqO-4Lw

We are also reviving our monthly planning meetings that are open to the public. The twist is that we will be holding these meetings at different bay area locations every second Wednesday of the month between 11:30 AM and 1 PM. Join us and have lunch at OPEN SV.

You can register for free at https://www.123signup.com/register?id=dqvgr - The purpose of the registration is to ensure that we order enough food for everyone, so please register in advance. The added advantage is that you can help shape OPEN SV's agenda for the rest of the year by being part of the monthly planning meeting event.

We are also planning the first ever OPEN SV Hackathon and the first ever OPEN SV Youth Forum this year. We will be discussing these and other activities at the planning meeting.

Mentorship Breakfast has been a very popular series among our members. It returns this month with Amir Khan as the featured mentor. Amir has recently received funding from Sequoia Capital, valley's leading VC firm for his startup. He is an accomplished Executive with many startups and industry giants like CISCO and Juniper on his resume. He is also an accomplished squash player. All in all, a very well rounded mentor who could provide you tips from how to court money from VCs to playing that backhand correctly in a squash court.

You can register for the event, at: https://www.123signup.com/register?id=dqcgz

If you are a non-member, becoming a member of OPEN SV is really simple.

You can sign up directly at our website by going to:

https://s07.123signup.com/servlet/SignUp;jsessionid=A94906F6536A3CBEEF32ED5C9F97898C?PG=1533254182200&P=153325400

I hope to see you at many of the upcoming events at OPEN SV soon! Please keep your feedback coming by going to the comments section of this blog or by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

08.26.2013

While Summer is winding down, OPEN SV activities are ramping up. I am happy to report that our New "Spotlight Speaker" series is going to be launched tomorrow at Pillsbury Law Firm in Palo Alto with HP's Chief Strategy Officer as the first spotlight speaker. The session will be moderated by our Former President Moazzam Chaudhry and audience participation will be a strong feature of the session. Dinner will be served before the event at 6 PM and there will be plenty of networking time before and after the moderated discussion.

I would also encourage you to visit our YouTube channel where we have recently made OPEN Forum 2013 videos available. These include event videos as well as interviews with keynote and panel speakers. The videos are available to our general community in the spirit of education and nurturing continue success of our patrons. Subscribe to the channel to watch out for more additions in the near future.

We also have new jobs featured on our job board. The difference b/w OPEN SV job board and others is that when you apply referencing OPEN SV, you increase your chances of getting your resume in front of the right person at the hiring company, be it a blue chip company or a scrappy startup. That is because the jobs on the OPEN SV job boards are submitted by our members or individuals from the larger community through an interactive process involving our volunteers. It is not an automated process and does not involve bots. Currently we have jobs at Streetline and SugarCRM featured on the job board. If you know of a job opening at your workplace or if you are looking for a talented business or technical oriented talent, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will be happy to have your search featured on our board.

We are also planning to launch our membership drive at the Spotlight Speaker event on Tuesday. If your membership has elapsed recently, it may be a good idea to check out the exclusive discounts available to you at the Spotlight Speaker event on Tuesday. Watch for more on membership drives in the coming weeks.

I hope to see you on Tuesday Aug 27th at Pillsbury Law Firm at 6 PM and at our future events.

Until next time,... 


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

08.19.2013


Welcome to the New Week!

First of all, I am happy to report that OPEN SV was part of a historic and groundbreaking event: The First Ever Flag Raising Ceremony on Pakistan Day at the Government Offices of the County of Santa Clara. Many Organizations came together along with OPEN SV to join hands and hold the ceremony as a joint event making representation and participation of as many Pakistanis from the Bay Area possible. Dave Cortese, the County Supervisor hosted the event and presented the commemorative plaque to all the representatives of the organizations who helped put the event together. You can read all about it at our website by clicking here.  

I would also like to highlight our upcoming event in a new series called Spotlight Speaker. We will feature the leading minds of business as well as society at large in this series. The first event will be held at Pillsbury Law Firm, at 2550 Hanover St. Palo Alto, CA on Aug 27th at 6 PM. Dinner will be served and there will be an open networking session following the moderated chat with Mohamad Ali, Chief Strategy Officer from HP. Our own, Moazzam Chaudhry will be the host and he will be moderating the session. We hope to make it an interactive session with active participation from our attendees. Also, this is a free event for our current members while there is a nominal charge for non-members. You can register on our website for the event. Reserve your place now for this event as the spots are limited.

We are always looking for ideas for events and there are plenty of pots cooking with our most active members engaging us to put these events together for you. If you have an idea for an event or an initiative that you think OPEN SV should be involved in, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. You can reach me by emailing me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Until next time,...


 

Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

08.11.2013

Thanks to a great turn out at the August 1st meeting, OPEN SV 2013-15 Program Launch was a huge success. There was a lot of feedback on the proposed calendars and Chairs of different committees got a chance to speak directly to the attendees about their volunteer needs and team goals. While it was clear that much has been accomplished at OPEN SV with the coming of age of programs like Mentorship Breakfast and Ask An Expert, there was general acknowledgement of the need to do more. There was enthusiastic response from those present as well as others in the days that followed to the call for volunteers. Shama Khan, our Volunteer Management Chair, has the big task of recruiting and working directly with volunteers at OPEN SV. She is an experienced hand and as a dedicated volunteer herself, understands the pains and rewards involved with the program. Myself and the entire community of volunteers at OPEN SV look to her for leadership in managing this great asset of OPEN SV. Other notable volunteer leaders include:

- Faisal Jeddy, Chair of Sponsorship Committee

- Arif Shamim, Chair of Member Services

- Sadia Malik, Chair of Special Operations

- Mohsin Imam, Chair of Channel Marketing and Outreach, and

- Iram Nawaz, Chair of Social Media Outreach. 

I would also like to use this opportunity to highlight the launch of a great new program, "Spotlight Speaker," at OPEN SV. This program will hold moderated discussions with the thought and business leaders of our day in a setting that welcomes open discussion and networking around the event with the speaker and the attendees. Sessions will be moderated by OPEN SV community leaders and members. I would invite you to send your ideas on who should be featured in this series, to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., in the coming months. The program will launch with a welcome reception and a moderated discussion with the Chief Strategy Officer of HP, Mohamad Ali. He will be joining us on Aug 27th, at Pillsbury Law Firm, Silicon Valley offices in Palo Alto. Register for the event today and join us in welcoming a talented leader for a discussion around strategic and corporate leadership as well as M&A insight from the acquiring side of the table. Mohamad was responsible for some big moves from IBM and recently with HP in M&A activity and we hope to have our community pick his brain during the session about that and many other topics. Dinner will be served at the event.

OPEN SV has also joined hands with other Pakistani Organizations in the Bay Area to celebrate the Independance day of Pakistan on Wednesday, August 14th at Santa Clara City Center located at 70 W. Hedding Street, San Jose. We will be joined by Dave Cortese, Councilmember, City of Santa Clara for a flag raising ceremony at exactly 4 PM. I would like to invite all to join us there in solidarity with community organizations doing valuable work of bridge building between the Pakistani community and the community at large. I intend to attend the event and hope you can join us as well.

We are also launching our event committee teams and hope to have you join us with the aim of making an event that you feel should be part of our agenda, a reality. You can do that by joining forces with the volunteers at OPEN SV and leading the way on setting, promoting and executing a great event of your choice. Please reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions and ideas about that.

Until Next time...


Shahab Riazi 2013 - 2015

07.28.2013

I am honored to be elected to the office of the President of OPEN SV, a remarkable organization that has been serving the Bay Area Entrepreneurs and Professionals for over a decade. I have seen OPEN SV come a long way since I started volunteering for it many moons ago and I expect to lead further enhancement in our footprint on the Bay Area community map.

Having volunteered for OPEN SV and other organizations in the past, I hold the spirit of volunteerism in very high regard. I believe that individuals, who are able to think beyond themselves, can lead best. And any community that is comprised of individuals who value the community around them can create the change that they aspire to in their environments. I would like to see OPEN SV re-emphasize the importance of that spirit. I believe that community service is the highest calling for all of us and every one of us has the strength to deliver on the goals that we would like for us to achieve individually and as a community. I would like to call upon everyone to give community service priority in their life goals and get involved in organizations that, in your opinion, deserve your time and energy. I hope to make OPEN SV into an organization would fullfill that criteria for you and then some.

I hope that the OPEN SV Executive Committee and the general membership will continue to foster the idea of community service and pass on the torch to the coming generations of community members. I promise to work towards that goal during my tenure and beyond.

Administrator

Secretary Clinton Announces Launch of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council

STATE DEPT., WASHINGTON DC, SEPTEMBER 24 2012:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council today on the margins of the UN General Assembly, in the presence of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman. Recognizing the critical role economically empowered women play in strengthening stability, security, and prosperity, the Council’s core mission is to promote the economic advancement of women in Pakistan.

The U.S. Department of State and American University in Washington, D.C. are co-founding the Council, in coordination with the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America (OPEN), a Pakistani-American non-profit dedicated to entrepreneurship in the United States and Pakistan. American University President Dr. Cornelius Kerwin and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer will serve as co-chairs.

The Council will connect U.S. and Pakistani corporations, foundations, universities, and individual donors with programs in Pakistan that support economic opportunities for women – such as training in financial management, product development, market access, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The Council will not be a grant-giving organization, but rather will broker connections for collaboration to support such economic opportunities for women.

The Council will be headed by an Executive Director and housed at American University. Senior Pakistani and U.S. officials, business leaders, and prominent members of the Pakistani-American Diaspora will advise on Council activities. Council members will include Pakistani and U.S. business and organizations committed to supporting the economic advancement of women.

For more information, contact Sarah Peck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 202-736-7913, or Afreen Akhter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 202-736-7907.

Source: U.S.  State Department

sadia

An Entrepreneurs Journey: Corporate America to Startup!

In early 2008, Atif Sarwari left his cushy job at Micron Technology to pursue an entrepreneurship venture. “Everyone in the Valley is constantly scouting for ways of getting some more financial independence”, says Atif, “and, it’s evident that the venture route is one with proven multipliers, when successful”. It’s the entrepreneurial culture in the Silicon Valley; people seek to get ventures up and running that take them to the next level.

“The OPEN forum is ‘right-sized’ and it has the benefit of being a small group with a great concentration of intellect. Once you plan on starting a venture, venues like OPEN give you the logical steps on how to get there”

By mid-2008, Atif, along with his co-founders, Naveed Alam & Khurshed Mazhar, started Arktan Systems, Inc., with a vision to introduce a state-of-the-art camera device for Physical Security. Rather than turning to MBA books on entrepreneurship for guidance, they began attending workshops and seminars by entrepreneurs and professional organizations, such as OPEN Silicon Valley.

“Arktan colleagues strongly benefited from OPEN. The OPEN forum is ‘right-sized’ and it has the benefit of being a small group with a great concentration of intellect. Once you plan on starting a venture, venues like OPEN give you the logical steps on how to get there”, says Atif. The information available through OPEN presenters was of excellent value. For example, a talk by Naeem Zafar late-2007 on entrepreneurship was incredibly informative and useful. “I still review those notes”, smiles Atif.

“Within OPEN, you can see first hand the correlation between good/bold decisions and successful outcomes”

Networking at OPEN FORUM

A networking session at OPEN FORUM

Atif has attended numerous OPEN FORUM events which are day-long conferences hosted by OPEN SV every year. These gave him a good opportunity to listen to successful people tell their story. “Within OPEN, you can see first hand the correlation between good/bold decisions and successful outcomes.”

Engineering team at Altia Systems - late-night excitement of first test pattern video

Atif found OPEN to be a good platform to navigate the early adopters and potential users of technology. For example, Safwan Shah, a charter member at OPEN, provided valuable mentorship and introduced the Arktan team to Aurganzeb Khan. That connection led to the asset-acquisition of Arktan by Altia Systems, Inc., and a shift in the market focus for its camera device to address global tele-collaboration needs. The venture is timely – with entrepreneurship and small businesses sky rocketing across the globe, from South America to Asia, Europe, Australia etc., there is a strong need for solutions that ease communication across geographies.

“The thrill is in the journey…”

PanaCast camera designed by Altia Systems

With a team of nine engineers, Altia Systems has just introduced a state-of-the-art tele-collaboration product – an achievement typically done by large teams in established companies. The product will make a huge difference in the everyday functioning of businesses worldwide.

The entrepreneurship journey for Atif continues. “The future is unpredictable – it’s hard to even dot that line – products will evolve and it will take time to nail-down that ultimate high-value product. The thrill is in the journey…”

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