By Faizan Jaffer/Rafiq Vayani
KARACHI: The third edition of Pakistan’s leading entrepreneurial and innovation conference, 021Disrupt, was organized by The Nest I/O on November 2nd & 3rd at a hotel in Karachi, to connect local and international investors, innovators, and tech pioneers with the entrepreneurial community of Pakistan. The conference was not only an opportunity to exchange innovative ideas and insights but also provided investment and partnership opportunities.
This year 021Disrupt attracted a footprint of 1100+ entrepreneurs, investors, influencers, professionals and students attending the conference from all over Pakistan. The speaker line up included global voices from the USA, UAE, Norway, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and other countries. More than 600 startups from across the country engaged with 23 investors in over 200+Office Hours.
There were major announcements at the conference that will influence the investment climate in the coming years.
“The startup ecosystem is ready now! No one can hold us back, as long as we support each other and grow with each other” commented Jehan Ara, President President P@SHA and Founder of The Nest I/O.
Investment announcements at 021Disrupt 2019:
- Fatima Gobi Ventures closed the biggest Series A funding of Pakistan of $12 million in Airlift, a mass-transit ride hailing service;
- TelloTalk, Pakistan’s first homegrown messenger, closed their Seed Funding Round of $1.2 million led by Spark Labs and multiple global investors who are investing in Pakistan for the first time;
- Swvl announced that it would invest $25 million in Pakistan in the next two years to mobilize 500,000 commuters, create 10,000 jobs per year, fund pre-seed startups working in the mobility space, and build an off-shore support office
- PriceOye closed a seed funding round of $450,000 led by Fatima Ventures, Artistic Ventures and Kinetico;
- Oman Technology Fund closed Seed Funding Round of $100,000 in Queno, an ed-tech startup that provides a communication solution for parents and teachers;
- Find My Adventure announced its acquisition of K-Town Rooms and the launch of 100 FMA Rooms across Pakistan with a flat rent;
- HBL COO Saghir Mufti announced its Open Banking initiative and the launch of an Investment Fund for FinTech Startups by January 2020.
- Rabeel Warraich, Founder & Managing Director Sarmayacar also launched the Venture Capital Association of Pakistan (VCAP), an association of 12 VCs fueling the investment landscape of Pakistan.
The conference hosted breakthrough talks and panel discussions addressing diverse themes of engineering, technology, investments, user design, civic innovation, mobility and transport, tourism and agritech. Isfandiyar Shaheen from NetEquity networks shared a tangible plan to bring internet to every human in Pakistan by April 2023. Usman Riaz from Mano Animation Studios shared his journey on building Pakistan’s first hand-drawn animation studio. Mudassir Sheikha Co-Founder of Careem traced back the steps of Careem’s journey and beat all odds by partnering up with local businesses and growing as a brand. Pakistan is now Careem’s largest network with half a million captains and over three million users. His talk was inspirational and was followed by an active Question & Answer session.
Panels at 021Disrupt 2019:
The Cash to Scale panel hosted local and global investors who have invested in Pakistan and explored the investment climate of the local ecosystem. 021Disrupt also hosted the biggest Mobility & Transport panel putting all the competition together with disruptors from major ride-hailing services including: RoshniRides, Careem, Swvl, Bykea, and Airlift. In a houseful session, Wasim Akram, Shaneira Akram, Shehzad Roy, Aminah Sheikh, and Hina Khawaja engaged in a conversation moderated by Shehryaar Taseer to use the soft power of influence and project a positive image of Pakistan and to create social impact. First movers of the fintech industry in Pakistan also mapped the path to the future of fintech in the Banking on Fintech Panel.
“If we are to make sure that Pakistan is going to become one of the greatest startup destinations, we will have to do it together, and collaboration is where we’ve got to focus. 021Disrupt is our attempt at doing that. We started it not to hold another conference, but to have conversations, to decide what is important, to bring relevant people into the country, and to facilitate the growth of the startup ecosystem, because I feel that the time is right” said Jehan Ara in her closing speech.