Pakistani venture capital firm Fatima Gobi Ventures has announced the five startups that have received funding from their maiden fund, Techxila Fund I, which was announced late last year. The companies boast experienced founders in their management teams and operate in a variety of industries from e-commerce, travel, FinTech SaaS and logistics. All of these startups are driven to give Pakistani consumers and businesses a boost with their own individual products and services in spite of the current economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping the local ecosystem grow, five startups that Fatima Gobi Ventures is backing are outlined below.
Tajir is the first Y-Combinator startup based in Pakistan, Tajir is a B2B marketplace. Through their platform, stores can order inventory, receive on-demand delivery services as well as enjoy transparent and competitive prices. The company essentially takes a process that usually consumes a dozen hours weekly and reduces it to a few minutes. On the supplier side, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors can directly sell their products to kirana stores via Tajir while enjoying greater sales at higher margins with zero additional investment. Founded by brothers Babar and Ismail Khan in 2019, the company’s vision is to provide every kirana store in Pakistan with the essential services it needs to grow.
The second one, SafePay, is a FinTech platform and online payment gateway, Safepay is the first Pakistani FinTech to be selected by YC for their Summer 2020 batch. With a business model similar to Stripe in the US, the company has developer-focused APIs and plugins available for Magento, OpenCart, Shopify, and WooCommerce platforms. Founded by wapistanis Ziyad Parekh and Raza Navi, Safepay’s main focus is on enabling online payments for B2C and e-commerce platforms. The platform has integrated Visa, MasterCard, and local payment methods, such as mobile wallets and bank accounts to facilitate e-commerce transactions. Their seed funding has drawn some leading backers from the West, including Y Combinator.
Inventhub is a first-of-its-kind SaaS startup in deep tech, InventHub was founded by Usama Abid. A truly homegrown entrepreneur, Usama’s vision for InventHub’s is to enable inventors to bring their products to life and help current hardware companies optimize their collaboration processes. The company has developed efficient processes that help eliminate redundancies which translates into lower costs for hardware development and enables faster, more affordable innovations to happen. Despite its founder’s humble beginnings, InventHub has been backed by foreign capital, namely from Tim Draper, an American venture capitalist.
Airlift, which set out to build an efficient logistics platform in Pakistan, raised the country’s largest Series A round of US$22M led by early Uber-backer, First Round Capital. The investment was also the firm’s first venture into the Pakistan startup ecosystem. Initially, the Airlift team began by trying to solve the daily commute problem with the introduction of an efficient mass transit system. However, COVID-19 gave Airlift an opportunity to launch quick ecommerce as lockdowns in the country accelerated the adoption of online purchasing of daily essentials. They now offer customers the delivery of all household goods within 45 minutes. By connecting manufacturers directly with consumers, Airlift provides an efficient and low-cost distribution network for consumers.
Sastaticket, which commenced operations in 2016, is an emerging online travel agency (OTA) that aims to give Pakistani travellers access to all travel products in the country. They are essentially democratizing access to travel suppliers and standardizing transactions via a user-friendly platform. Known as one of Pakistan’s leading OTA, the COVID-19 pandemic had a definite impact on Sastaticket. However, as travel restrictions within the country were lifted, the company recorded a V-shaped recovery; as of October, the number of bookings recorded in the month was 150% over pre-COVID levels. Sastaticket is on track to raise a growth round next year as they seek to expand into more markets locally and aim to dominate 50% of the online travel market share.
Onward and Upward – Techxila Fund – Reaches First Close
These first five companies are just the beginning for Fatima Gobi Ventures. Since commencing operations in 2019, the firm has gone from five team members to eight, and has now established offices in both Lahore and Karachi. Their vehicle, Techxila Fund I, is set to invest in another 10 to 15 companies over the next few years, and focuses on Seed and Series A investments in technology-enabled businesses that address current pain points in Pakistan, a market with a population of 200m+ and over 75m internet users. Target sectors include travel, logistics, FinTech, healthcare, education, e-commerce, consumer tech, industrial Internet, and TaqwaTech, an investment vertical that targets innovative startups offering products and services that cater for the global Muslim population.
The firm has also announced the first close of Techxila Fund I. Over 70% of the targeted size has been raised thus far and the fund is on track to complete the final close early next year. LPs include leading entrepreneurs representing industries that include agriculture, banking, energy, textiles, and other important sectors of the economy, as well as former Amazon MENA’s Regional Finance Director and Souq.com Group CFO Asif Keshodia.