Business is not about winning or losing, it’s about a lifestyle.

Ahsan, Pakistan

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Ahsan Aftab

About me

Pakistani Ahsan Aftab’s successful record includes accolades for designing the world’s first global CEM network. In 2015, he established the first big data ecosystem at HAII (Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute) in Bangkok, Thailand for data-led water and energy management. This was one of the pioneer government projects in the big data domain in Thailand and aimed at better forecasting rainfall, solar energy potential and water management at the reservoirs. Graduating with an International MBA and a Master in Business Analytics and Big Data, Ahsan combines both disciplines in his career. After graduation, Aftab partnered with other IE alums to create three startups, AI.42, Equal.42 and Datatouch.42.

As an entrepreneur, persistence is of great importance for him. Aftab ultimately believes there’s no winner or loser in business. Business is not about winning or losing, it’s about a lifestyle.

Ahsan Aftab, Pakistan


Partner at AI.42, Equal.42 and Datatouch.42

Program studied

International MBA

Why did you choose to study at IE?

Coming to IE was one of the most important decisions in my life. If I look back it actually pertains to the fact that I was looking for three things. I had a strong technical profile when I joined IE. So what I really wanted to further complement it was networking, diversity and international faculty.

Why did you choose to pursue the International MBA in addition to the Masters in Business Analytics and Big Data?

Back in 2017, when I joined IE, I felt that the backbone of every business would be data. On top of that, every business would be complemented by technology because there would be no business that exists without technology. Although many of the courses that are taught at IE are technical, they are actually meant to complement the business itself. They actually teach you how you can complement a business– or your business– with these technologies. That was the reason I chose this combination and it has proven to be really strong for me.

How have both Masters programs influenced your career?

I had a few choices to make once I left IE.  One of the key choices was, do I want to pursue my career in business or do I want to move more into a career in technology. I chose the technology route because I felt that the MBA complements my business and communication skills, but my experience and my prime strength has always been technology.  I’ve been working on my company, AI.42. We are basically bringing artificial intelligence into this whole arena of digital products and digital accessories. We want to solve the problems of the small industry and businesses. We want to complement them, especially in the far parts of the world, like Pakistan or Africa.

How was the sense of community for you at IE?

I have the best friends from IE and we’re still working together. I am working on three startups with four of my colleagues from IE. We shared some great moments and memories at IE, but on the top of that we really hold the same values.

What would you say the IE network gave you?

I think IE really empowered us with networking. IE helped me grow my network in absolutely no time.  I’ve worked with many colleagues on new startups and that clearly manifests the networking and growth potential that IE has empowered us with.

Can you tell us about your startups?

AI,42, Equal.42 and Datatouch42 are three startups my team and I have been continuously working on since our graduation from IE. We initially came up with the idea during the start up lab. We chose to go with three firms simultaneously because of how they position themselves in the market. Datatouch42 aims to digitally empower very small businesses or startup ideas. Once their organic growth is ensured, most of the processes are seamlessly moved to Equal.42, which excels in scalable data management through big data and microservices. AI.42 is the last step in this journey and empowers Equal.42 clients to gain business insights using AI, machine learning and deep learning.

As an entrepreneur yourself, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Persistence. I think that’s what startups and entrepreneurs really need to focus on. If the persistence is missing– even if everything else is there– it’s not going to work. On the other hand, if everything else is not there but persistence is, it might work. That’s the one key word. Persistence.