LUMS Alum’s Breshna Wins from Over Thousand Competitors at PITCH, Web Summit Qatar’s Start-up Competition

Mariam Nusrat


A 2010 MS Economics graduate, Mariam Nusrat’s start-up Breshna has won the Web Summit Qatar start-up competition, PITCH. This year, Web Summit, the world’s largest technology conference hosted 15,453 attendees from 118 countries. Forty of the 1,043 start-ups - out of nearly ten thousand applicants - qualified for the three-day competition and Breshna came out as the winner. Every year, PITCH brings together the world’s leading early-stage start-ups for a live onstage contest that is open to alpha and beta start-ups that had received less than €5 million in funding.

Commenting on the win, Nusrat said, “It's an honour to be crowned the winner of Web Summit Qatar 2024. Having competed against 1,043 global tech start-ups, the victory is a testament to my team's relentless efforts and our commitment towards empowering the next 100 million people to tell their stories with video games.”   

The competition itself proved to be both exhilarating and wildly exciting to Nusrat and pitching to top tier VCs at one of the biggest stages in the tech world is an honour that she deeply cherishes.

Nusrat is the founder of GRID (Gaming Revolution for Inspirational development), a non-profit gaming studio aimed at creating low-cost mobile games for positive behaviour change. Her platform, Breshna, meaning lightning in local Pashto language, empowers users to create, share and monetise their own educational video games, with no code and at great speed. Nusrat, a US-based Pakistani entrepreneur, has 11 years of experience in the purposeful video games sector and 15 years in EdTech working across 22 different countries. As an Economist at the World Bank she has led several development projects that improve educational outcomes and disrupt traditional delivery models.

Talking about how GRID and eventually, Breshna came into being, she says, “Drawing from my extensive experience in the education industry, I witnessed the profound effect video games can have on behaviour change and educational retention. During my second masters at George Washington University, I founded GRID. These include games to fight stereotypes (StereoWiped), making math learning fun (Gumbers), educating policy makers on randomised control trials (Randomania) and raising awareness around reproductive health (MoHiM, Nari Paila and SurrEndo).” 

Immersed in the world of purposeful video games Nusrat learned two important lessons, firstly, that people are hungry for video games that make purposeful communications more fun, and secondly, GRID couldn’t build these games fast enough, the demand was insane! Thus, the start-up needed to empower its users to build their own purposeful video games with no code and at lighting speed. So, in 2021 was born, allowing anyone to create snackable games for entertainment, educational, marketing, and training purposes!

Talking about Breshna, Nusrat says, “My approach to building Breshna is not just to create a product but disrupt an industry! We are positioning ourselves as a category leader in the no-code-for-purposeful-video-games space. We show up every single day, with a fire in our bellies, building a world where everyone can tell their stories with video games”. 

With 175k game makers and 6m+ game clicks, USD 2.5 million raised from investors including Paris Hilton and Randi Zuckerberg, and an AI-powered text to game engine and metaverse launching next quarter, Breshna is positioned as an industry leader democratising content creation with video games.  

Nusrat has several laurels to her credit. She is a Forbes Next 1k Entrepreneur, Clinton Global Initiative Honor Roll member, and winner on platforms like David Meltzer's 2-Min Pitch and Entrepreneur Magazine's Elevator Pitch TV shows.

“I've shared the stage with President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative University, shared a panel with President Jim Yong Kim at the World Bank, delivered two TEDx talks, and served as a keynote speaker at DC Startup Week, introducing Mayor Bowser at DC. These experiences have refined my leadership skills, emphasising a commitment to driving positive change and fostering innovation in technology and education,” elaborates Nusrat.

Nusrat has always been a motive-driven student. Acknowledging LUMS to have laid the academic foundations for her entrepreneurial ventures, Nusrat says, “LUMS taught me the importance of purpose, passion and perseverance.”

Now that she is achieving what she had set out for, Nusrat says, “This is just the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. There is a long way to go but I stand tall knowing that I get to transform the gaming industry so that our users can make the world a better place, one game at a time.”

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