The most promising Pakistani startups are gaining a global footprint in terms of funding and customers.
Appography is transforming the way customers interact with call centre helplines, replacing traditional, audio-only IVR with a more helpful and visual touch experience via their innovative Vivid app. Reducing queue traffic and allowing customers to express their issue whilst waiting, Vivid enhances the customer experience, saves time and millions of dollars for enterprises whilst creating greater efficiency. Backed by Plan9, the Lahore-based startup is also accelerated by Microsoft Ventures UK and Blackbox in Silicon Valley. Founders Omer Khan and Rizman Chand believe there is a significant pool of untapped talent in Pakistan that has largely been overlooked due to the country’s security and economic conditions. “Lack of resources naturally gives rise towards greater resilience and more creative problem solving”, says Omer.
Cricout, a social, online hub for global cricket fans, closed its first seed round from Silicon Valley investors led by Mudar Kothari in January 2013 and has since launched a suite of products for web, iOS and Android. Stickiness of the user is proving a strong success indicator – during March 2014, Cricout’s 50K users spent 25,000 hours across its apps. The company is now seeking a second round of funding whilst aiming to acquire 1M users during the next 12 months.
Financed by entrepreneurial duo Atif and Shabana Khan’s LMKR venture, Islamabad-based Flikkable has developed e-commerce apps for the likes of Office, eBay and SuperDry. Formerly a Microsoft and Amazon exec whilst in the US, Flikkable’s founder Obaidullah Khawaja says “Many Pakistani startups provide a cost-effective tech resource for Western companies. Their investment allows us to grow and develop our skills whilst creating bespoke client solutions.”
Arbisoft are set to launch their first fully owned and developed app Intellistats, having followed the ‘work for hire’ model building apps for foreign tech companies for 7 years. “We have low startup costs with minimal risk as many young people here live with their families,” says Arbisoft founder Yasser Bashir. “Plus, high levels of inefficiency in pretty much every field and vertical create opportunities for more efficient businesses.”
A number of shopping, food delivery and recruitment sites are emerging to serve the country’s growing internet users. Founded by former eBay and Amazon exec Ali Aziz, Shopistan.pk is paving the way for Pakistan’s online retail sector, helping major brands to start selling online. The online marketplace and managed ecommerce services company has attracted investment from Kima Ventures and leading Pakistani retail group, SEFAM. “I have extreme confidence in Pakistan’s tech industry,” says Ali. “I left a high growth career in London and moved my wife and daughter back to Lahore to slug it out. It was a battle to raise my seed round but since then, we’ve made steady progress, seeing strong week over week growth. This Eid (July) will be the biggest ever for online retail, growing close to 100% year on year.”