Note # 002

Zahid Lilani
Note # 002

01 – Attending ‘Invest in Pakistan’ Summit

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a.k.a Silicon Valley. Last month, the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington D.C. hosted Invest in Pakistan Summit in the Bay Area.

Here are some key takeaways from attending the summit.

02 – News and Views

🚗 Driving to success (Newsline)
A brief history of Careem covering its humble beginnings and where it is headed as it looks towards upending mobility in Pakistan and beyond.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Is the founder’s role in a startup overstated? (LinkedIn)
Haroon Sethi, founder and CEO of Khareed, pens this interesting take on early startup employees who become the true “first followers” and end up being forgotten while the CEO receives the limelight.

🏥 How one Pakistani techie helped build a $20 million US-focused startup (Profit)
Profile of Fahad Aziz, the co-founder and chief technical officer of CareAxiom, a subsidiary of US-based company Caremerge, with offices in Chicago, San Francisco, and Lahore.

📣 What’s wrong with the Pakistani startup ecosystem! (Medium)
Pervez Abbasi, Director at National Incubation Center (NIC), has had it with the haters. In his Medium post, he argues that there are two sides to every story and NIC, though inefficient and bureaucratic, does a fair amount of good than bad.

🚌 Could Airlift be the solution to our mass transit problems? (Dawn)
A profile of Airlift, the smart bus company that has taken Pakistan by a storm and continues to gain ground where others have failed.

🎤 Interview: In a conversation with Usman Gul, co-founder & CEO of Airlift (MENAbytes)
A Q&A with Usman Gul, co-founder of Airlift, his journey from Doordash to Airlift and his vision for “a decentralized mass transit system.”

💼 Doing Business in Pakistan (Dawn)
The initiatives of the new PTI government are proving beneficial as highlighted by the 28 points YoY change on the ease of doing business index as published by the World Bank.

📊 Pakistan Startup Ecosystem Report 2019 (i2i)
This comprehensive guide released by the good folks at i2i is a deep dive and the most comprehensive look into the Pakistani startup ecosystem.

I try my best to keep track of all that is happening in the ecosystem. In case I missed something important and interesting, I would appreciate it if you can email me.


03 – Funding

🏫 Knowledge Platform, an EdTech startup, raised $2 million in Series A (TiA)
Founded in 2003, Knowledge Platform creates an integrated experience for schools to provide a solution for learning and reporting. The Series A funding comes from Pakistan-based VC firm Lakson Investments Venture Capital.

💊 Dawaai, an online-pharmacy, raised $5 million in Series A (Deal Street Asia)
Founded in 2014 and based in Karachi, Dawaai raised $5 million in Series A from Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups.

🚌 Airlift, the bus transportation service provider, raised $12 million in Series A
Founded in 2018 and based in Lahore, Airlift raised a whopping $12 million in Series A from Silicon Valley-based First Round Capital.

💬 Tello Talk, a local version of WhatsApp, raised $1.6 million in Seed (TechJuice)Founded in 2017 and based in Karachi, Tello Talk raised $1.6 million in Seed from Pakistan-based i2i Ventures and South Korea-based SparkLabs.

🛒 PriceOye, an E-Commerce price comparison tool, raised $450K in Seed. (TechJuice)Founded in 2015 and based in Islamabad, PriceOye raised $450K in Seed from Fatima Ventures.

Note # 002

04 – On the Pod

Kalsoom Lakhani talks to Danial Song on Asia VC Cast, a podcast covering venture capital in Asia.

Kalsoom runs i2i Accelerator in Pakistan and is also a partner in i2i Ventures, a venture capital fund investing in Pakistani startups.

In the podcast, she discusses her background, the startup ecosystem, and some of the challenges in the ecosystem.

iTunes | Google


05 – On the Tube

Atif Mian needs no introduction. He was speaking at UC Berkeley on the topic of ‘What to do about Pakistan’s Economy’ the same day Junoon was performing in San Jose. I didn’t attend either as my wife’s friends were in town from Chicago. Plus, she is Indian, and there’s too much flag-waving at Junoon concerts.

But thankfully, we have YouTube.


06 – Next Month

I am going to unpack some of what is in the ecosystem report released by i2i and compare it to some of my notes and data. I have been collecting publicly available startup funding data since 2013 and have few insights on the funding landscape.

Note # 002

For instance, in this 2019 snapshot, you can see that in 2019, Pakistani startups have raised $38 million. In fact, 2019 is the best year (yet) for the amount of funding raised by startups in Pakistan. Previously, the ecosystem set a record in 2016 with $27 million. The funding is also up 569% YoY.

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