Pakistani ‘Fulbright Hero’ built a startup — and a smart collar for cows

“My name is Umer Adnan, and my goal is to bring technology designed in Pakistan to the world.”

Adnan launched his company, E4 Technologies, in Islamabad after winning a Fulbright scholarship in 2011. The prestigious scholarship program of the U.S. government brought Adnan to Arizona State University for a graduate degree in electrical engineering. Through the program, he got a chance to work with computer scientists from American tech giants such as Intel, Amazon and Google.

These types of people-to-people connections helped Adnan do something big. When he returned to Pakistan in 2013, he started a tech company from scratch. “I still remember the first day. There was no furniture, so I sat on the floor of my office and started working from there,” he said.

Adnan shared his experiences in a video for the U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan.

Soon Adnan’s Islamabad startup employed almost 20 people. His products included smart grow lights, crop sensors, and a wearable fitness device for cows. He calls his smart collar a “Cowlar.”

“It helps farmers improve herd health, and increase their income,” Adnan said. As cows wearing smart collars increase dairy production, Pakistan could add $2 billion to its economy, he said.

Adnan’s experiences in tech — from Islamabad to Arizona — have only reinforced his core mission. “There’s a saying in our office, that we run on coffee and willpower. We have a sense of purpose behind the things that we’re trying to do.”

New perspectives

Adnan’s story of success is shared by other students and professionals who participate in U.S. exchange programs.

In Pakistan, about 1,000 awardees will travel to the U.S. on exchange programs. The U.S. Department of State sponsors scholarships for secondary school students, undergraduates and graduate students, as well as teachers, journalists, businesspeople and young professionals.

To find an exchange program in your area, visit the U.S. State Department’s Exchange Programs online.