Students in Austin, and around the world can now explore Pakistan through virtual reality as PenPal schools
An organization that took part in the City of Austin’s ATX + PAK Launch Entrepreneurship Program, PenPals Schools, is capitalizing on time spent exploring the innovation and education landscapes of Pakistan with the release of its newest course: VR Field Trip to Pakistan.
Joe Troyen, founder of PenPal Schools, an Austin-based online education startup, was selected as delegate for the ATX + PAK Launch program’s innovation opportunity tour of Lahore, Pakistan in November, 2016. The program, operated in partnership with the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce and Information Technology University of Pakistan, is designed to facilitate international connections. As well as providing access to funders and mentors for Pakistani startups, the program provides a platform for collaboration and joint talent development between Austin and Pakistan.
PenPal School’s new curriculum reflects the impact of the City’s ATX + PAK initiative. Students of PenPal School’s new course will collaborate with online PenPals to learn about Pakistan’s rich history and culture.
“Pakistan is such a complex and beautiful country,” says Joe Troyen, Founder of PenPal Schools. “It’s more important than ever to build understanding and eliminate fear.”
The City of Austin was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State for the ATX+PAK Launch Entrepreneurship program, connecting the vibrant community of entrepreneurs and investors in the Austin startup ecosystem to those in the emerging startup scene in Pakistan.
The ATX + PAK program is continuing to build the bonds between local entrepreneurs and their Pakistani peers with the newest cohort this spring. Six of the best and brightest Pakistani startups are in Austin through March 18 to explore collaboration, partnership and investment opportunities. The entrpreneurs include: Ahmed Malik of Euphoria, Ammar Ali Ayub of NearPeer, Saad Ehsan of Aitomation, Surkhail Suhail of WebDealer Solutions, Usama Abid of DIYGeeks, and Usman Butt of RepairDesk.
The delegation of startups is facilitated by diverse influencers in Austin’s business ecosystem, including representatives from Capital Factory, Tech Ranch, and 3 Day Startup. Areas of focus include the facilitation of commercial and entrepreneurial connections between the tech and creative industries, mentorship focused on social entrepreneurship, and increased access to the innovation economy by under-represented communities.