Saturday, February 4, 2023

Pakistan’s Airlift raises record $85 million in startup funding

PM Khan lauds Airlift achievement of securing $85m financing

Airlift Technologies has raised $85 million in the largest-ever funding round – the largest in Pakistan’s history.

“Airlift Express alone with its series B funding of $85 Million has added 5% to Pakistan’s FDI for the Fiscal year 2021” according to the official statement.

The Lahore-based online shopping delivery firm raised $85 million in Series B financing co-led by Harry Stebbings from 20VC and Josh Buckley from Buckley Ventures Ltd.

Former Y Combinator president Sam Altman, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, former Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, TransferWise’s founder and CEO Taavet Hinrikus, Bain Capital’s Chairman Steve Pagliuca, DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang, Rappi co-founder and CEO Simon Borrero, Postmates founder and CEO Baastian Lehman, co-chairman of Bain Capital Seve Pagliuca, Indus Valley Capital’s Aatif Awan also participated in the round.

This is the largest-ever round for a Pakistani startup, according to venture capitalist fund Invest2Innovate data.

“With this financing, we as Pakistanis must return to where we started from — fighting against the odds and staying true to our core values of hustle, teamwork, resourcefulness, and bias to action. If this is the journey of a thousand miles, we have taken only the first step” said Usman Gul, co-founder and CEO of Airlift.

Founded in 2019, Airlift started as a mass transit startup but had to halt operations due to COVID-19 pandemic, the company transformed into a 30-minute grocery delivery platform that is now available across eight cities of Pakistan.

The platform has grown 30-50 percent month-over-month on average and is looking to expand its business to different markets in Asia and Africa.

Airlift is also building a farmer-to-consumer distribution channel for fresh produce.

Josh Buckley, who co-led the round, said “The best operators in the space are backing Airlift, in large part due to the track record of the team and the company’s focus on Asia and Africa — for this model, developing markets will get to profitability much faster than similar companies in developed markets.”

Commenting on the investment, Sam Altman said, “Airlift’s early traction in Pakistan is a window into the future for how quick commerce will play out in the developing world.”

Harry Stebbings shared that “When I first met Usman, I knew this was an entrepreneur who was going to create an industry-defining company. Humble, ambitious, and strategic, Usman will be one of the great founders of this generation.”

‘Pakistan is open for business’

Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the investment, proclaiming that “Pakistan has huge potential” and the country is open for business

“We welcome the recent investment of $85m by leading VCs (venture capitalists) of the world in Airlift, a company led by young Pakistanis,” he tweeted.

He said that his government was “fully committed” to creating further opportunities.

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