Something fascinating is happening in Pakistan right now. After a slow build over the years, the Pakistani startup ecosystem has hit an inflection point in the last 12 months.
It started with AliBaba acquiring Daraz, the leading Pakistani ecommerce startup, for $150M+ a year ago (they sold too soon I think). Since then the pace of investments has picked up materially. Bykea, the ride-sharing startup using motorbikes (Go-Jek of Pakistan), raised $5.7M in April in the largest Series A in Pakistan. While Pakistani market is still nascent with relatively low valuations, there are actually 3 unicorns already that are powered by R&D in Pakistan: KeepTruckin valued at $1.25B, Afiniti valued at $1.6B and Careem, which was recently acquired for $3.1B by Uber.
The Careem acquisition, in particular, has galvanized the Pakistani startups as well as the diaspora. Many Pakistanis in the US are now considering investing in or advising startups and some have gone back already to start one themselves.
I know because I asked. I did a survey to find others who're also interested in Pakistani startups and got 300 responses! Results from the survey are at the end of this article. We're going to do a series of events to share notes and opportunities and put together a guide for others who're interested. We'll also do a similar survey for Pakistani startups and connect the diaspora with them. Join us by taking one of the surveys below:
Pakistani diaspora: take this survey so we can connect you to relevant Pakistani startups and related events.
Pakistani startups: take this survey to connect with investors, advisers and potential hires in the Pakistani diaspora.
We're doing our first event in the San Francisco Bay Area soon.
- What: Indus Valley Connect: Exploring Pakistani Startups
- When: June 30, 2019, Sunday afternoon 3-5pm
- Where: San Mateo, CA
- RSVP: here
Look forward to seeing you there if you're in the Bay Area!
What People Said in the Survey:
Mostly people wanted to connect with others in the diaspora who're also interested in Pakistani startups and with the Pakistani startup founders across a variety of verticals. Here are the top verticals of interest:
We've got a good mix of people between those wanting to do a startup and those who want to join one or advise/invest.
Quite a few folks have already moved back to Pakistan and many are considering a move or visiting pretty regularly.