As the startup scene in Pakistan picks pace, entrepreneurs and investors are looking to India to learn from the highs and lows of the Indian startup world.
BENGALURU: Pakistani angel investor and VP of TiE’s Lahore chapter, Humayun Mazhar, visited India last week to interact with Indian investors and entrepreneurs to understand the startup ecosystem here, which he calls the “Silicon Valley for Pakistani startups”.
As the startup scene in Pakistan picks pace, entrepreneurs and investors there are looking to India for inspiration and to learn from the highs and lows of the Indian startup world. “This visit was primarily to network with Indian angel investors, and I also met some entrepreneurs, such as Pushpinder Singh of Travel Khana in Delhi. I have met several startups in India during my previous visits as well. The idea is to get a better understanding of the ecosystem of angels and startups in India,” said Mazhar, who launched his venture fund CresVentures in October 2015 and has invested in 3 startups in Pakistan. Earlier this month, he funded auto-hailing tech startup Travly in Pakistan, which he says is similar to India’s Jugnoo.
Singh, who heads Travelkhana-.com, a meal-booking platform for rail passengers, said the problems that need to be addressed seem similar in both countries. “We discussed how there could be a similar startup in Pakistan on the lines of Travelkhana. Mazhar asked me to visit Pakistan and help in building something like that there,” Singh said. Serial Pakistani entrepreneur Adam Ghaznavi says he drew lessons from Ola Cabs when he led Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi Pakistan chapter after its entry in 2012. “When I told an acquaintance in Pakistan about my Indian friend’s startup to book appointments for doctors, he liked the idea and is starting something similar on his own. There are already several other clones of Indian startups here,” said Ghaznavi.
However, he warns Pakistani entrepreneurs against blindly copying Indian startups.
“I used Ola Cabs as an example for Easy Taxi and tried to base my numbers on how Ola was performing. However, I soon realised that the markets are completely different. People in Pakistan were still not comfortable booking a taxi ride. Moreover, they didn’t even have 3G at the time,” Ghaznavi explains. Easy Taxi closed down operations in the country early last year.
Slower technological progress is among the main reasons keeping Pakistani startups behind. An article in a Pakistani technology journal, also carried on Dawn.com this month, explored the question, “should we be looking to the Indians as a role model when it comes to tech startups?”, and identified issues unique to the Pakistani scene — few tech and engineering institutes, a dearth of trained professionals and a lack of hardware components.
“We are culturally behind the startup industry in India when it comes to technology and marketing. I feel we are still 3-5 years away from a synergistic startup eco system,” says Ghaznavi. “While Pakistani startups are still almost two years behind India, the scene has begun to change in the last couple of years, with several incubators coming up as well as foreign investments,” offered Mazhar. Valuations in Pakistan, however, remain low. Ghaznavi underlines the difference saying the highest fund raising effort for a local grown startup in Pakistan has not exceeded $10 million.
Click Here for Original Source – Economic Times