|Dr. Safwan Shah, CEO PayActiv Inc.|
“American families are facing more financial stress than they have in generations. The timing gap between work and wages is the main reason workers get hit with punitive late fees, overdraft fees and other penalties. Cumulatively, these fees reduce wages by seven percent every month. The PayActiv platform is the only system where everyone wins: employers lift worker morale with little to no cost and huge dividends; employees get wages when they actually need them most; and cash re-enters the economy faster, making communities financially healthier.”
Dr. Safwan Shah graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from NED University of Engineering in Karachi, Pakistan in 1985. After coming to the United States in 1989, Safwan received his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from University of Colorado at Boulder in 1990 and 1994 respectively.
Safwan started Infonox, a payment platform company, in 2005 and sold it to TSYS in 2008 for an undisclosed amount. He then started PayActiv in 2012.
NED University alumni Idris Kothari and Saeed Kazmi are among the early pioneering duo in the world of technology startups in Silicon Valley. Since 1980s, they have started, built and sold several technology companies, including VPNet, Silicon Design and VIA Technology. They are currently running Vertical Systems Inc. which has a development center in Pakistan.
Safwan Shah is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of Pakistani origin in Silicon Valley. Safwan Shah's startup is solving a real economic problem faced by millions of poor Americans. Like another successful NED alum Ashraf Habibullah of Computers and Structures Inc. (CSI), Safwan is also very generous with his time and money for NED University Alumni Association activities in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the United States and the world. Safwan and Ashraf are among a handful of NED alumni in San Francisco Bay Area who have done very well and made fellow NED alumni take pride in their alma mater. Other successful NED alumni in Silicon Valley include Raghib Husain (Cavium/Marvel), Naveed Sherwani (SiFive), Rehan Jalil (Securiti.ai) and Khalid Raza (Viptela). They all serve to inspire NEDians everywhere.
Here's a video of Safwan Shah speaking at a Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit:
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You forgot to mention Saeed Kazmi and Idris Kothari who are also serial entrepreneur --- Silicon Design, Via Tech, VSI etc. There may be other NED Alumni who might feel slighted.
Thank you for sharing such useful and informative information about these great and successfull Pakistanis of America .
But my question is that as a collective nation what progress did we make in the field of IT ?
Till now in Pakistan ,we have not been able to setup any IT Hub in any city, on the other hand their are few cities in India egMumbai,Bangalore and Hyderabad where they have IT Hubs.
PayPal ,Microsoft and other big giant IT companies are investing I think billions of US $ in these IT Hubs of India but why these big IT companies don't invest in IT sector of Pakistan ? Is their any political reason for this ?
Pls kindly throw some light on this .
Unfortunately IT companies will never make it big in Pakistan, at least for now - not because of political reasons, but business reasons.
It takes a lot of money and effort to setup a Geo site, and unless there is a lot of future potential, it will not get considered. It is the same reason why we don't see IT companies in other countries, say Sri Lanka.
Apart from a few institutions like NED, others simply fall way behind.
The only way forward is for the education institutions to up the ante, and not look for immediate ROI.
Anon: "It takes a lot of money and effort to setup a Geo site, and unless there is a lot of future potential, it will not get considered. It is the same reason why we don't see IT companies in other countries, say Sri Lanka."
I strongly disagree. Pakistan has the world's 5th largest population and its youngsters are increasingly better educated and skilled.
Pakistan has a thriving community of freelancers. Its digital gig economy growth is the fastest in Asia and fourth fastest in the world, according to digital payments platform Payoneer.
Pakistan's computer services exports are increasing rapidly. The IT exports grew 23.7% in last fiscal year 2019-20
United States leads gig economy growth of 78% followed by the United Kingdom 59%, Brazil 48%, Pakistan 47% and Ukraine 36%. Asia growth was led by Pakistan followed by Philippines (35%) , India (29%) and Bangladesh (27%).
The rapid gig economy expansion of 47% in Pakistan was fueled by several factors including the country's very young population 70% of which is under 30 years of age coupled with improvements in science and technical education and expansion of high-speed broadband access. Pakistani freelancers under the age of 35 generated 77% of the revenue in second quarter of 2019.
SiFive Lands Another $60 Million in Funding to Challenge Arm
The Silicon Valley startup said its latest round of funding was led by SK Hynix, one of the world's largest manufacturers of memory chips. The investment arms of Intel, Qualcomm, and Western Digital, and other current investors joined the Series E round.
The startup is led by president and chief executive officer Naveed Sherwani, who was hired for the position in 2017.
The startup raised $65 million in Series D funding led by Qualcomm Ventures last year, after it landed $50 million in Series C funding from Spark Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures in 2018.
Silicon Valley startup SiFive raised $61 million in its latest round of funding to continue rolling out its open-source semiconductor technology and challenge its major rival Arm.
The startup said its latest round of funding was led by SK Hynix, one of the world's largest memory chip manufacturers, and was joined by its existing investors, including the venture capital arms of Intel, Qualcomm, and Western Digital. The funding brings the total amount raised by the company to more than $190 million since it was founded in 2015.
The startup has developed a range of processor cores, accelerators, and other IP based on the RISC-V architecture, the popular open-source instruction set used as the starting point for building chips. SiFive said that its product portfolio spans high-performance processors used in data centers to tiny, power-sipping cores ideal for the Internet of Things. SiFive has rolled out products that compete against Arm's Cortex-A, Cortex-M, and other chip designs.
While anyone can access the open instruction set architecture free of charge, building chips based on the technology can be very costly and take years of development time. SiFive has rolled out a set of development tools that can be used to add custom features to its RISC-V cores, giving customers the ability to differentiate their products. It has rolled out another set of tools that customers can use to assemble the IP into systems on a chip, or SoCs.
SiFive, which also offers chip design services to customers, said the use of its intellectual property and cloud-based tools reduces the cost and time-to-market for custom silicon.
SiFive has been gaining ground in the global chip business in recent years. Last year, the company said it counted six of the top 10 semiconductor suppliers in the world, including Qualcomm and SK Hynix, as its customers. "SiFive's winning product portfolio will continue to expand and be adopted for solutions that require domain-specific architectures," the CEO said in a statement Tuesday.
The company was founded in 2015 by Andrew Waterman, Krste Asanovic and Yunsup Lee, who co-developed the free, open-source architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
SiFive has raised a total of $190.5M in funding over 5 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Aug 11, 2020 from a Series E round.
SiFive is funded by 13 investors. Western Digital Capital and Qualcomm Ventures are the most recent investors.
SiFive has a post-money valuation in the range of $100M to $500M as of Jun 7, 2019, according to PrivCo.
Aug 11, 2020
Series E - SiFive Logo
Series E - SiFive
8 $61M SK Hynix
Jun 6, 2019
Series D - SiFive Logo
Series D - SiFive
6 $65.4M Qualcomm Ventures
Apr 2, 2018
Series C - SiFive Logo
Series C - SiFive
10 $50.6M OUP (Osage University Partners), Spark Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures
May 8, 2017
Series B - SiFive Logo
Series B - SiFive
3 $8.5M Spark Capital
Sep 1, 2015
Series A - SiFive Logo
Series A - SiFive
1 $5M Sutter Hill Ventures
Two Fintech Deals Add to Startup Funding Rush in Pakistan
by Faseeh Mangi
A flood of overseas capital into Pakistan’s fintech startups that began during the coronavirus pandemic is continuing unabated, with two new fundraising deals announced on Monday.
Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Securities Pvt.’s fintech trading app KTrade as well as former Morgan Stanley fund manager Omair Ansari’s early wage access platform have raised a total of $6.6 million, adding to the $19.3 million funding for the country’s startups in the first quarter of 2021.
Of that, nearly $15 million came from foreign investors, which poured a record $48 million into the sector last year, according to an April tweet by Invest2Innovate that support startups. The decrease in global air travel during Covid-19 has been an unexpected boon for startups in the South Asian nation, which has had travel advisories issued against it by many nations.
“Covid has helped us because previously an investors’ due diligence process would usually involve them coming to the country. It was not that easy for them to visit Pakistan,” Ali Farid Khwaja, chairman at Karachi-based KASB Securities, said in an interview. “Now they can’t go to any country, they became open to speaking with founders over Zoom and other digital means.”
KTrade, which allows investors to buy and sell equities on the Pakistan Stock Exchange, raised $4.5 million in a funding round led by Hong Kong-based TT Bond Partners and HOF Capital from New York, according to a statement by the company. German investor Christian Angermayer also participated in the round.
Ansari raised $2.1 million in seed funding for Abhi, which like Payactiv Inc. and Wagestream Ltd. allows employees to access already earned wages before they’re paid out. Investors included VEF Ltd. and Village Global, Ansari said in an email.
“There are always stages in an ecosystem,” said Talal Gondal, Chief Executive Officer at TAG Innovation Pvt., which recently raised one of the highest pre-seed fundings in the region. “Pakistan’s fintech wave is just starting.”
The rocky road ahead for Pakistan’s start-up ecosystem | fDi Intelligence – Your source for foreign direct investment information - fDiIntelligence.com
February 22, 2023
Based out of the NED University of Engineering and Technology, NIC Karachi is funded by Pakistan’s national technology fund, Ignite, and operated by LMKT, a private tech company which runs two other NICs in the cities of Hyderabad and Peshawar.
Atif Khan, the chairman and CEO of LMKT, says the philosophy behind the incubation centres “was not to create unicorns”, but to act as digital skills development centres: “We are training and grooming a lot of talent in the country.”
NIC Karachi has already incubated more than 250 start-ups, such as ride-hailing app Bykea and London-based proptech platform Gridizen. Kamran Mahmood, the CEO of Gridizen, who recently returned to Pakistan to join NIC Karachi, says he has found it even easier to meet decision makers at large companies in Pakistan than the UK.
“[NIC Karachi] is doing an excellent job of internationalising and progressing the start-up scene in the country,” he says. Data Darbar figures show that Karachi-based start-ups attracted $236.7m of funding in 2022, equivalent to two-thirds of Pakistan's total and almost double the previous year. The financial capital is followed by Lahore ($69.2m) and Islamabad ($41.6m).
In July 2022, Pakistan’s fledgling start-up scene was dealt a major blow. Airlift, a fast delivery start-up that had raised $85m barely a year earlier, said it would permanently close operations due to the “devastating impact” of worsening economic conditions.
“This has been an extremely taxing decision that impacts a large set of stakeholders and an emerging technology ecosystem,” Airlift wrote in a statement. Start-up failures are common in more mature markets, and seen as an integral part of the innovation and disruption process. But the collapse of a company hoped to be Pakistan’s first ‘unicorn’, or start-up valued at above $1bn, rattled the country’s nascent tech scene.
Several advisors, investors and entrepreneurs tell fDi that Airlift’s failure has caused Pakistani start-up founders and investors to shift their focus away from pursuing “hyper-growth” to building more “sustainable” business models.
Similar to the caution permeating the global tech and venture capital (VC) industry, start-up funding in Pakistan has dropped considerably. Start-ups in Pakistan raised just over $15m in the final quarter of 2022, the worst volumes since the first quarter of 2020 and 79% lower than the same period a year earlier, according to Data Darbar, which tracks the Pakistani start-up scene.
“Given the global slowdown and Pakistan’s macroeconomic and political challenges, things are tough right now and will likely remain so in 2023,” says Aatif Awan, the founder of early stage venture fund Indus Valley Capital, which is focused on Pakistan and had invested in Airlift.
Several acute challenges currently facing the country — including dwindling foreign exchange reserves, security issues, blackouts and severe flood risks — are causing many young Pakistanis to leave. Despite significant obstacles, those involved in Pakistan’s ecosystem believe that the country’s demographics and rapidly digitalising economy make it an untapped opportunity with potential for long-term growth.
When Shamim Rajani co-founded her software development business Genetech Solutions in Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi back in 2004, she remembers a “lot of stubbornness” from the government and local corporates towards the IT sector.
“Pakistan wasn’t [even] ready for women CEOs in the tech sector then,” remarks Ms Rajani, adding that she had to look for global clients in countries like the US. “Saying these words today, I don’t even believe it myself.”
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