Pakistani Startups Making Waves Internationally

The rise of digital startup and its progress in the last some years has been quite vibrant. According to McKinsey & Co’s latest report on the Pakistani ecosystem, Pakistan has become one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.

According to McKinsey & Co’s latest report on the Pakistani ecosystem, Pakistan has become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.

The report also claims that since 2010, in Pakistan, around 720 startups had been created and from which 67 per cent are still operational, including 100 that have gained funding from international investors. One of the most successful ones is Airlift, which has earned $12 million last August in Series A funding from First Round Capital, a notable American VC firm. It is the company’s first investment in Asia in more than ten years.

International companies have also shown their trust in Pakistan’s tech market. The Chinese famous e-commerce giant Alibaba.com has acquired Pakistan’s well-known e-commerce store, Daraz.pk, for $200 million. Such acquisitions have helped the country in enabling its economy. The Egyptian firm Swvl has also moved in the country’s growing market for tech startups and vowed $25 million investment over the next two years to fund startups and to create over 10,000 jobs.

The Egyptian firm Swvl has also moved in the country’s growing market for tech startups and vowed $25 million investment over the next two years to fund startups and to create over 10,000 jobs.

Although the startup culture in Pakistan is still in the nascent stage, many startups have gained international recognition based on their innovative ideas. Here are few of the shining startups of Pakistan that are achieving immense success in a short-term period.

Zameen.com ($29 million)

Zameen.com was founded in 2006 and is one of the most well-funded startups in Pakistan. It lets you buy, sell, invest or rent properties in all major cities of Pakistan. Up till now, in disclosed venture capital funding, Zameen.com has raised $29 million.

Airlift ($14.2 million)

It is an app-based transportation service provider. It allows fixed-route travellers to book rides on luxury buses. To date, Airlift has raised $14.2 million in disclosed venture capital funding.

Cheety.pk ($11.5 million)

It is a Pakistan-based logistics company that offers multiple online delivery services such as delivering gifts, food, medicines, books, parcels, cosmetics, etc. The Startup managed to raise $7.8 million in a Series A round from USbased investors in 2019, taking the total accumulated investment of the company to $11.5 million. Currently, it is working in the major cities of Pakistan, like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi. The company also aimed to increase the employment rate and development opportunities in the country.

Rozee.pk ($8.5 million)

It is the most popular website for employers and job seekers in Pakistan. Till now, Rozee.pk has raised $8.5 million in disclosed venture capital funding.

Bykea ($5.7 million)

Founded in 2016, it is an on-demand transport and logistics startup. Up till now, Bykea has raised $5.7 million in disclosed venture capital funding.

Inov8 ($5.4 million)

It is the most well-funded FinTech startup in Pakistan. It is a B2B payment solutions provider specializing in e-commerce, branchless banking and mobile banking. It raised Series A investment of $5.4 million from the Dubai-based Angel investor Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

For the past few years, the previous year seems to be the best in getting funds. According to Crunchbase, in 2019, investors poured $36 million into 14 Pakistani tech startups across 15 deals.

Here is the list of top five tech startups that raised Seed funding in 2019

  • Airlift Got $2.2 million from Fatima Ventures, Gobi Partners, & Indus Valley Capital.
  • Tello Talk Got $1.6 million funds from i2i Ventures and SparkLabs Ventures.
  • Eat Mubarak $700K from Karavan and other undisclosed investors.
  • PriceOye $450K from Fatima Ventures & Artistic Ventures.
  • pk $425K from Lakson Investments Venture Capital.

After seeding, here are those startups that raised Series A funding in 2019

  • Airlift Got the highest amount of $12 million from First Round Capital, Fatima Ventures, Gobi Partners, and Indus Valley Capital.
  • pk Got $7.8 million funds from undisclosed investors.
  • Bykea Got $5.7 million funds from Sarmayacar & Middle East Venture Partners.
  • Knowledge Platform Got $2 million from Lakson Investments Venture Capital.

The Government is also taking part in boosting the economy by encouraging the startup environment. Because of the one-window operations for legal paperwork, Pakistan now stands at 108 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. To solve the problems of seed capital, the Federal Government started an entrepreneurial loan scheme for young people back in 2014.

Because of the one-window operations for legal paperwork, Pakistan now stands at 108 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.

There are also several business incubators and accelerators that support entrepreneurs in initiating their startup businesses until they get successful enough to branch out on their own. PLAN9 by PITB, Microsoft Innovation Center and LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship provide various business workshops to help creative minds polish their ideas and create a masterpiece.

PLAN9 by PITB, Microsoft Innovation Center and LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship provide various business workshops to help creative minds polish their ideas and create a masterpiece

In a country, where the Startup’s culture is at its initial stages, there is a lot more work to do. There are numerous problems that young people with innovative ideas have to face, the first and foremost is the lack of awareness about how to go forward with their idea as they have a lack of funding.

In addition to that, awkward taxation regime, regulatory hurdles in IT sector payments from abroad and capital requirements for outside investors collectively create a massive barrier for the startups. Addressing these issues can help to boost up the growth for the startup space. Moreover, the Government should build a framework for investors and startups so that they exit their investment at maturity seamlessly.

The Government should build a framework for investors and startups so that they exit their investment at maturity seamlessly

There is a need for awareness programs to put more focus on how to achieve a positive startup environment in the country.

The Pakistani market can become a hub for startup investments . With so many startups emerging and growing every year, hopefully Pakistan will shortly have its Nexicons and Unicorns.

Pakistan is the 5th largest market in the world which comprises a rising consumer class, presenting enormous investment opportunities. The Pakistani market can become a hub for startup investments and with so many startups emerging and growing every year, hopefully Pakistan will shortly have its Nexicons and Unicorns.

Onsa Mustafa

Onsa is a Software Engineer and a tech blogger focuses on innovation in technology. She likes music, photography, traveling and exploring nature.
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