Shorooq Partners invests with Pakistan-based COLABS COLABS is a Lahore-based startup that allows entrepreneurs, freelancers, and SMEs to grow and develop their businesses through its spaces. It has raised $3 million in seed funding.
Fatima Gobi Ventures and Zayn Kapital led the round. This is the first time that these three VCs with a focus on Pakistan have invested together in a startup. Shorooq Partners and Kinnow Capital joined the round, as well as Muir Capital and Sai Ventures. Some key angels included Turner Novak, William Hockey and Teddy Himler.
COLABS was created in 2019 by Omar Shah and Ali Shah, both former venture investors and private equity capitalists. Ali Shah is the twin brother of Ali Shah, who runs long-standing family-run real estate development and construction firm SABCON. COLABS facilities are designed and built by SABCON. Its. Fatima Mazhar (COO), a former executive at Careem who helped scale the company in many foreign markets, is also part of the leadership team. COLABS began as a coworking space with a Lahore facility. However, the company has evolved to offer many additional services and tools for entrepreneurs and freelancers. These include educational bootcamps, a SaaS platform that offers back-office solutions like business incorporation, talent sourcing, management and payroll processing, legal and tax compliance, and more.
Aatif Awan, Founder and Managing Partner of Indus Valley Capital, said, “The first time I visited COLABS, I found the community and energy to be a microcosm of the fast-growing Pakistani tech ecosystem. We’re thrilled to partner with the COLABS team to help them build the leading platform and community that will power the growth of Pakistani tech across startups, freelancers and global companies expanding into Pakistan.”
COLABS is a coworking space that has been different from other spaces. It offers a unique offering in the market. Today, COLABS has a partner network of 100+ organizations involved in taking initiatives to boost the Pakistani startup ecosystem’s growth. COLABS has been a key player in the development of Pakistan’s startup scene through its events and networking forums. COLABS has hosted 250+ community-relevant events each year with an aggregate attendance exceeding 200,000. COLABS’s support has enabled community members to thrive, grow, hire and invest in the right talent, and raised investment.
Omar Shah, co-founder, and CEO of COLABS, said, “We had founded COLABS to help accelerate the Pakistani startup ecosystem and we’re very proud of what we have achieved in a little over three years. Even though we’re mainly seen as a coworking operator, what we have built is a solid foundation to make it easy for freelancers, startups, and even international companies entering Pakistan, start and manage their businesses. Today anyone looking to start a company in Pakistan could use COLABS not only as a place where they work but also as a partner that manages their different back-office functions.”
“With the capital we have raised from leading investors today, we’re now looking to turn our offerings into software-based solutions and productized services that could also be extended to people and institutions outside of our network, in addition to bringing on world-class talent to our existing team of rockstars” he added.
Faisal Aftab, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Zayn Capital said, “I have closely watched COLABS grow into one of the key players in Pakistan’s startup ecosystem. We were fortunate to have had the chance to meet some of these startups at their spaces. Omar and his team continue to do excellent work to accelerate the growth of the startup ecosystem here and we are excited to join their journey in serving tens of thousands of founders and freelancers across Pakistan.”
COLABS plans to create a network of 100,000 entrepreneurs and freelancers within Pakistan with this investment. It will begin with 10,000 members in the next two-years. This goal will be realized by the expansion of COLABS to major cities like Karachi, Islamabad and other parts of Pakistan. COLABS can achieve the goal because of the strong foundation that has been built in the last two-years.