Pakistan’s Airlift raises $12m led by Uber-backer First Round Capital

Airlift, a Pakistan-based transportation startup, has raised $12 million in Series A funding round led by US-based venture capital firm, First Round Capital.

The round is the largest venture-backed Series A round in Pakistan on record, confirming an earlier report by DealStreetAsia on Friday.

The other investors joining the round are Fatima Gobi Ventures and Indus Valley Capital. First Round Capital, which led the round, was an early investor in companies like Uber, Square, Roblox, Looker and Notion.

According to a statement, Airlift said it plans to invest the funds raised in technology and operations.

“In the future, mass transit systems will be dynamic in nature, catering and adapting to the changing needs of the urban population. Our vision for a decentralized mass transit system is a new concept, one that will fundamentally redefine how people commute in urban centers,” says Usman Gul, Airlift’s co-founder and CEO.

Founded by Usman Gul, Ahmed Ayub, Awaab Khaakwany, Meher Farrukh, Muhammad Owais and Zohaib Ali, Airlift provides a marketplace enabling bus owners to operate their buses on fixed routes, offering a stop-to-stop solution. Users can book rides on premium quality and air-conditioned buses and vans that have fixed routes, stops and times in Lahore and Karachi.

Airlift had recently closed a $2.2 million seed round in August – indicating a quick follow-on raise for Pakistani startup.

Its seed round was co-led by Fatima Gobi Ventures, a joint venture between VC firm Gobi Partners and Pakistan’s Fatima Ventures, and Indus Valley Capital, a newly-formed Pakistani VC firm. Tony Xu, founder and CEO of US food delivery giant, DoorDash, is also one of Airlift’s angel investors.

Pakistan has begun to appear on the radar of foreign investors in recent months, suggesting a growing interest in the South Asian market. Other Pakistani startups, which have raised overseas capital include Bykea, which closed its $5.7 million Series A round in April, and EasyPaisa, a digital wallet that is 45 per cent owned by Alibaba’s Ant Financial.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.