COLABS, the Lahore-based startup that enables SMEs, entrepreneurs and freelancers to build and grow their businesses through its spaces and technology platform, raised $3 million in a funding round.
The round was led by Indus Valley Capital, Zayn Capital and Fatima Gobi Ventures. This is the first time that these three leading Pakistan-focused VCs have invested together in a startup. The round was also joined by Shorooq Partners, Kinnow Capital, Muir Capital, Sai Ventures and some key angels including Turner Novak, William Hockey and Teddy Himler.
COLABS was founded in 2019 by Omar Shah, a former private equity and venture capitalist, and his twin brother Ali Shah, who operates a long-established family-owned real estate and development company, SABCON, which designs and builds COLABS facilities. Its management team also includes Fatima Mazhar (COO) who was an early leader of Careem and helped the company expand into many international markets. COLABS started as a coworking platform with a state-of-the-art facility in Lahore, but has since evolved to offer several additional services and tools for entrepreneurs and freelancers, including educational bootcamps and a SaaS platform for back-end solutions. -office such as business incorporation. , talent sourcing and management, payroll processing and legal and tax compliance.
Aatif Awan, Founder and Managing Partner of Indus Valley Capital, said, “When I first visited COLABS, I found community and energy to be a microcosm of Pakistan’s growing tech ecosystem. . We are excited to partner with the COLABS team to help them create the premier platform and community that will propel the growth of Pakistani tech among startups, freelancers and global enterprises growing in Pakistan.
From the beginning, COLABS took a different direction from conventional coworking spaces by creating a unique proposition on the market. Today, COLABS has a partner network of over 100 organizations involved in taking initiatives to drive the growth of the Pakistani startup ecosystem. COLABS has placed itself at the heart of the startup agenda in Pakistan through its events, networking forums and startup animations. One of the many ways COLABS creates impact is by hosting over 250 events relevant to the startup community each year with a total attendance of over 200,000 significant visitors to date. The facility has seen community members grow, hire the right talent, increase investment, and thrive with the support provided by COLABS.
Omar Shah, Co-Founder and CEO of COLABS, said, “We founded COLABS to help accelerate Pakistan’s startup ecosystem and we are very proud of what we have achieved in just over three years. Even though we are primarily considered a coworking operator, what we have built is a solid foundation to enable freelancers, startups and even international companies entering Pakistan to easily start and run their businesses. Today, anyone wishing to start a business in Pakistan can use COLABS not only as a place of work, but also as a partner who manages their various back-office functions. »
“With the capital we raised today from leading investors, we are now looking to turn our offerings into software solutions and product services that could also be extended to people and institutions outside of our network, by more about bringing classy talent to our existing team of rockstars,” he added.
Faisal Aftab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Zayn Capital, said, “I have watched COLABS firsthand become one of the key players in the startup ecosystem in Pakistan. We had the chance to meet some of the startups we have invested in, in their spaces. Omar and his team continue to do great work in accelerating the growth of the startup ecosystem here and we are excited to join their journey serving tens of thousands of founders and freelancers across Pakistan.
In recent years, diverse, fair and inclusive policies have taken hold in many companies. however, there is still much to do. Different perspectives equip diverse teams with better problem-solving abilities, which translates to better employee engagement and productivity. “We lead by example in terms of inclusivity and diversity, and promote the same in the community we have created at COLABS,” said Fatima Mazhar (COO, COLABS, former head of expansion at Careem) when asked about growing at COLABS.
With this investment, COLABS aims to bring together a community of 100,000 entrepreneurs and freelancers in Pakistan, starting with 10,000 members in the next two years. This ambition will materialize through national expansion in major cities of Pakistan such as Karachi and Islamabad. The solid foundation built over the past two years will allow COLABS to achieve its goal.