|Qasar Younis (Source: Linked-In)|
Younis' start-up TalkBin was offered a $7 million seed round by Y Combinator. However, it was acquired by Google in 2011 even before signing the seed-round term sheet. Younis joined the Google Maps team where he worked to bring local businesses onboard them. He stayed there for three and a half years.
Y Combinator is set to graduate 222 startups, including Pakistani start-up Markhor, this year. There are currently 7000 startups vying for 106 spots in the program, according to ProPakistani.pk. Markhor, co-founded by Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim is the first Pakistani company based in Pakistan to be accepted into Y Combinator as a part of the Summer 2015 class, according to Tech Crunch. Markhor launched a Kickstarter campaign that brought in over $107,000 in seed money from 508 backers in two months.
Silicon Valley is home to 12,000 to 15,000 Pakistani Americans. Thousands of them are working at Apple, Cisco, Google, Intel, Oracle and hundreds of other high-tech companies from small start-ups to large Fortune 500 corporations. Pakistani-Americans are contributing to what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe as "The Second Machine Age" in a recent book with the same title.
Pakistani-American entrepreneurs, advisers, mentors, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accountants and lawyers make up a growing ecosystem in Silicon Valley. Dozens of Pakistani-American founded start-ups have been funded by top venture capital firms. Many such companies have either been acquired in M&A deals or gone public by offering shares for sale at major stock exchanges. Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) has become a de facto platform for networking among Pakistani-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. It holds an annual event called OPEN Forum which attracts over 500 attendees.
Talk by Riaz Haq for Pakistan Club Chicago May... by urduonair
A PDF version of my full presentation at University of Chicago Booth Business School is available on PakAlumni WorldWide
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I was just checking out this Markhor website and their shoes are about $235 USD. Damn that's steep for a new company.
Junoon: "I was just checking out this Markhor website and their shoes are about $235 USD. Damn that's steep for a new company. http://themarkhor.com/collections/mens-shoes-1"
At $235 a pair, it's a bargain for hand-crafted high-quality shoes for western customers.
YC Backed Gradberry Curates Technical Talent
(Y-Combinator supported Gradbury) Founder Iba Masood is a tech nerd. From the time her family got their first computer when she was four, she has been fascinated with technology and the impact it could play on society. From tinkering with hardware to early online gaming, Masood soon found her community on the pages of TechCrunch and HackerNews.
Masood is from Karachi, Pakistan and grew up in the UAE. While in college, she met Syed Ahmed, a self-taught developer with a similar enthusiasm for all things startup. After attending university, they decided they wanted to start a company. Masood’s parents, who are in the diesel industry, encouraged her to pursue a more traditional business, “a cupcake shop, for example.” Ahmed’s family had much of the same reaction.
Despite this, Masood and Ahmed persevered. The pair saw an opportunity in the widening skills gap and began to develop courses teaching skills in high demand by local employers. Unlike other attempts at online education, whereby candidates take a course and only then can apply to a job, Gradberry switched the model on its head. Candidates could apply, but when they were deemed unqualified, Gradberry provided them with courses to improve.
For nearly two years, Gradberry existed as a regional business. They were profitable but the sales cycle to bring on employers was slow and the market limited. To grow their business outside of the UAE, Masood and Ahmed knew they needed funding.
But while there is a nascent tech scene in the region today, three years ago no accelerators or international funding existed. There was no appetite for investing in a startup building something innovative. And Masood explained how, on many occasions, investors were confused by their vision and told them to instead bring proven business models to the Middle East. When investors were interested, the terms were terrible.
12 #startups from #Pakistan that raised funding in 2015. #technology https://www.techinasia.com/12-startups-pakistan-raised-funding-2015/#.VnLYJej4wBk.twitter …
1. Zamzama Property Group
Zamzama Property Group, which is the parent company of real estate sites Zameen and Bayut, raised US$9 million in series B financing, marking the largest investment in a Pakistan-based startup this year.
2. Naseeb Networks
Naseeb Networks is the holding company of job portals Rozee and Mihnati, concentrating on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, respectively. The startup raised a US$6.5 million series C round, bringing its total funding to US$8.5 million.
Wifigen, a startup that provides wifi solutions for businesses in exchange for social media logins, raised an undisclosed amount of seed investment valuing the company at US$1 million. The angel investor behind this round is John Russell Patrick – a former executive at IBM and an early-stage investor in Uber.
Bookme, an online platform for booking bus, cinema, and event tickets, secured an undisclosed amount of seed investment from Element Ventures, which valued the company at US$4 million. The startup was previously one of the Startup Arena finalists at Tech in Asia Jakarta 2014.
EatOye, an online food delivery service, was acquired by Rocket Internet’s Foodpanda as part of a regional acquisition spree to assert its dominance in the sector. The startup was a late entrant to the online delivery space in Pakistan, but had started to seriously threaten Foodpanda’s position at the top of the perch – hence the buyout.
Delivery and logistics startup Forrun was acquired by technology services company Arpatech. The acquisition was made in line with a concentration on ecommerce, logistics, and technology verticals.
Markhor, which makes handcrafted artisanal shoes, stole the show this year when it became the first startup from Pakistan to be accepted into Y Combinator, thus receiving US$120,000 in seed capital. Waqas Ali, founder of Markhor, had told Tech in Asia that the acceleration was aimed at strengthening Markhor’s position as a luxury lifestyle brand.
Interacta, a startup which is trying to redefine conventional broadcasting by making television shows interactive, raised US$220,000 in seed funding from Fatima Ventures. The startup’s app, which is similar to music detection service Shazam, analyzes sound coming from television channels and pushes content accordingly. For example, in cooking shows, users can view the recipe directly on their phones. Broadcasters can also use the app for targeted advertisements.
Sportskot is a marketplace for sporting goods manufactured in Pakistan. There’s a large, fragmented industry of sports apparel and equipment, and the startup is trying to bring them all under one umbrella to assist in visibility and appeal to international clientele. Sportskot raised US$140,000 in seed funding to expand its operations.
MySmacED, a startup in the edtech space, is a communication platform that enables real-time information sharing between parents, teachers, students, and administrators. It creates a “moderated social network,” while also assisting with feedback on child performance and easier information sharing between teachers and students. The startup raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding valuing the company at US$2 million.
Autogenie is Pakistan’s first on-demand car service and maintenance startup. Other than these basic services, it also offers premium members things like roadside assistance, regulatory and tax compliance, and car analytics. The startup raised US$100,000 in seed investment from PakWheels.
Mezaaj is a platform for fashion designers to showcase their work and get noticed in the digital sphere. .... The startup secured an undisclosed amount of seed investment, valuing the company at US$500,000.
#Pakistan's "godfather of #MMA" has a gym to keep young #Pakistanis away from radicals http://ti.me/1LpRful via TIME WORLD
One man who is trying to prevent impoverished, uneducated children from getting caught up in sectarian violence is Bashir Ahmad. What makes him strikingly different to the other would-be saviors of Charrah Pind is the fact that he is a 33-year-old U.S. Army vet, raised in Virginia. He’s also a professional mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fighter.
‘Where we create good citizens’
Ahmad was born in Pakistan and grew up in the U.S. before returning to Lahore in 2007, after completing his U.S. military service. He has since built up a community of MMA fighters, established the country’s first promotion — as companies that organize MMA bouts are called — and opened two gyms. But most importantly, he is using the sport to create opportunities for kids to get out of poverty.
“Peace through sports,” he says. “I’ve got that on my shorts.”
Ahmad’s commercial gym is called Synergy. But, in Charrah Pind, he has opened a second facility named Shaheen (“Falcon”) and gives free classes to the neighborhood kids. He drives there, passing mothers bundled in ragged shawls and children going from car to car begging for money or selling roses.
The slum is an island of destitution encircled by the more affluent, military-owned Defense Housing Authority township that surrounds it. Rickshaws, mopeds and the occasional horse and cart clog up the narrow roads. A butcher slaughters chickens on a wooden table. Bloodied feathers flutter to the ground.
Shaheen is in the basement of a nondescript building. It doesn’t seem like much — some mats, a couple of punch bags and a ring — but to the kids that use it, it is everything. Among them is Abu Bakr, a quiet 11-year-old with neatly brushed hair who lives in Charrah Pind with his family. Abu Bakr’s mother is a cleaner at Ahmad’s other gym, where Abu Bakr would sit for hours, watching as Ahmad and the other martial artists sparred and grappled, before being asked to train with them.
A new Midas Lister, Mamoon Hamid founded The Social+Capital Partnership ... Born in Pakistan and raised in Frankfurt, Hamid is a dual U.S.-German ...
The Social+Capital offices are in an old Palo Alto bus depot made over with the lustrous industrial aesthetic of a Chelsea art gallery. Palihapitiya hosts a monthly happy hour, along with his partners Mamoon Hamid and Ted Maidenberg, both of whom he lured away last fall from U.S. Venture Partners. Guests drink and mingle among the brushed-metal furnishings and ergonomic chairs. If Palihapitiya is interested in talking to someone, he’ll take them into the main conference room, a glass cube in the middle of the polished concrete floor.
In contrast to traditional VC funds, where the partners have comparatively little of their own money at stake, Palihapitiya, Hamid, and Maidenberg are providing nearly a quarter of the fund’s total.
3 #Pakistan accelerators named among top 20 accelerators of #Asia & #Oceania. #startup #technology http://bit.ly/2ehPtjm via @techjuicepk
Gust and Fundacity recently released their Annual Asian and Oceanian Accelerator Report 2015. Three accelerators from Pakistan were featured in the top 20 active accelerators in the region – who accelerated the most startups in the past year. LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship, PlanX and Invest2Innovate made it to the list.
This year’s report is a follow-up to the report released in 2014 and its main objective is to understand how the accelerator industry has developed in the region, how accelerators are funded and monetized, while providing insights on the direction of the industry in the near future. The report includes some very thoroughly researched statistics for which over 125 organizations were surveyed in the Asia/Oceania region, out of which 54 qualified as accelerators.
According to the report, the region saw a total investment of US $16,842,427. Australia took the lead with US $5,620,000 in investment. Not far behind was India at US $3,981,000, followed by South Korea at US $1,960,460, and China at US $1,920,000. India, however, took the lead by accelerating 568 startups in the year 2015 alone.
Going by the number of accelerated startups, this news does sound good for Pakistan. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. It all boils down to the issue of quality versus quantity. Right now, we have a lot of emerging startups but very few of them are targeting hot markets.
According to the survey, because of the global prominence of Fintech, Internet of Things, Health, and Education, these were the hottest markets Asian accelerators were most interested in. Apart from Health, the rest of the markets remain largely untapped by Pakistani startups. In order to understand this, compare the amount of investment raised by Pakistan’s 54 startups and that raised by China’s mere 13 startups. The need of the hours is to bring a focus towards emerging segments in order to attract international venture capitalists.
The report also featured some insights about how accelerators in the Asia and Oceania Region fund themselves in order to remain functional. 30% of accelerators reported that they either received a mix of private and public funding or were 100% publicly funded. When it comes to generating revenues, most of them, it appeared, invest a small amount in their incoming startups in exchange for some equity. 43% of Asian and Oceanian accelerators earn revenue from startup exits within the short-term (within 12 months), while 62% of them plan to earn revenue from startup exits over the long-term (12 months or longer).
Three #Pakistan startups make it to #Digital Winners #Asia. #Education #Energy #Employment http://bit.ly/2e4O0eU via @techjuicepk
In November, three startups from Pakistan will be flying to Myanmar for they have been shortlisted to participate in Digital Winners Asia, a regional startup event that will host enthusiastic startup teams from Telenor’s accelerator programs across Asia.
The two-day event will be held on November 1-2 in Yangon, Myanmar. The Telenor Group’s maiden regional startup event will include case preparation sessions, in which startup teams will prepare to compete for 100,000 Norwegian Kroner in initial expansion funds.
The three Pakistani startups shortlisted to feature on the event cater to Energy, Education and Employment, the three key areas the country has long faced challenges in. EcoEnergy, a startup aiming to solve energy crisis in Pakistan, facilitates the spread of sustainable electricity, specifically to rural locations of the country. Where as Edjunction, a social network connecting parents with teachers, is a mobile communication platform to bridge the gap between parents, teachers, students and the schools. Fori Mazdoori, a Pakistani startup aiming to mobilize laborers across South Asia, enables blue-collar workers to register on an employment database to be searchable by employers.
“Establishing Digital Winners in Asia is a natural move for Telenor since we experiences strong growth in the region, and we believe there is a great innovation and entrepreneurial spirit growing here,” said Gunnar Sellaeg, the SVP & Head of Product Innovation at Telenor Digital.
Bilal Kazmi, Chief Marketing Officer, and Telenor Pakistan also extended his complements to the selected startups saying,
“We are pleased to see how Pakistani youth is finding innovative solutions to their own longstanding problems through technology, and it’s a sheer reflection of how Telenor Pakistan’s efforts of digital inclusion in the country are materializing”.
The nine teams attending Digital Winners Asia are from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. The teams consist of current and past participants of Telenor’s five startup incubation and acceleration programs across the region. Each company has been selected based on the company’s life-cycle and potential to break into to new markets, as well as grow alongside Telenor. Two representatives from each company will participate in Digital Winners Asia. This inaugural year’s participants represent a diversity of industries: marketing services, energy, artificial intelligence, tourism and education.
The event has been designed so as to promote cross border and hence extend sharing of skills, knowledge and tools across markets. The proposed theme has been devised primarily in order to tackle digital business opportunities across markets. Telenor has been promoting individuals to pursue entrepreneurship a lot. Velocity, Telenor’s go-to-market accelerator for Pakistan, recently introduced its first cohort.
Atoms, shoe #ecommerce #startup founded by #Pakistani husband-wife team of Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, nabs $8.1M investment for sneakers you can buy in quarter sizes for each foot. Investors include Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Kleiner-Perkin. https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/30/atoms-nabs-8-1m-for-shoes-you-can-buy-in-quarter-sizes-and-separate-left-right-measurements/
Atoms, makers of sleek sneakers that are minimalist in style — “We will make only one shoe design a year, but we want to make that really well,” said co-founder Sidra Qasim — but not in substance — carefully crafted with comfort and durability in mind, sizes come in quarter increments and you can buy different measurements for each foot if your feet are among the millions that are not exactly the same size — has raised $8.1 million.
The company plans to use the funding to invest in further development of its shoes, and to expand its retail and marketing presence. To date, the company has been selling directly to consumers in the U.S. via its website — which at one point had a waiting list of nearly 40,000 people — and the idea will be to fold in other experiences, including selling in physical spaces in the future.
This Series A speaks to a number of interesting investors flocking to the company.
It is being led by Initialized Capital, the investment firm started by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan (both had first encountered Atoms and its co-founders, Qasim and CEO Waqas Ali — as mentors when the Pakistani husband and wife team were going through Y Combinator with their previous high-end shoe startup, Markhor); with other backers including Kleiner Perkins, Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin, Acumen founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, TED curator Chris Anderson, the rapper Chamillionaire and previous backers Aatif Awan and Shrug Capital.
Investors have come to the company by way of being customers. “The thing that I love about Atoms is that it isn’t just a different look, it’s a different feel,” said Ohanian in a statement. “When I put on a pair for the first time, it was a totally unique experience. Atoms are more comfortable by an order of magnitude than any other shoe I’ve tried, and they quickly became the go-to shoe in my rotation whenever I was stepping out. That wouldn’t mean anything if the shoes didn’t look great. Luckily, that’s not a problem, I wear my Atoms all the time and even my fashion designer wife is a fan.”
Even before today’s achievement of closing a Series A, the startup has come a long way on a relative shoestring: with just around $560,000 in seed funding and some of the founders’ own savings, Atoms built a supply chain of companies that would make the materials and shoes that it wanted, and developed a gradual but strong marketing pipeline with influential people in tech, fashion and design. (That success no doubt played a big role in securing the Series A to double down and continue to build the company.)
Within the bigger trend of direct-to-consumer retail — where smaller brands are leveraging advances in e-commerce, social media and wider internet usage to build vertically integrated businesses that bypass traditional retailers and bigger e-commerce storefronts to source their customers and sales more directly — there has been a secondary trend disrupting the very products that are being sold by using technology and advances in manufacturing. Third Love is another example in this category: The company has built a huge business selling bras and other undergarments to women by completely rethinking how they are sized, and specifically by focusing on creating as wide a range of sizes as possible.
So while companies like Allbirds — which itself is very well capitalised — may look like direct competitors to Atoms, the company currently stands apart from the pack because of its own very distinctive approach to building a mass-market business, but one that aims to make its product as individualised as possible.
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