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Pakistan’s Airlift raises $85 million for its quick commerce startup, eyes international expansion – TechCrunch

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A one-year-old startup that is attempting to build the railroads for e-commerce in Pakistan has just secured a mega round in a major boost to the South Asia nation’s nascent startup ecosystem.

Airlift operates a quick commerce service in eight cities in Pakistan. Users can order groceries, other essential items including medicines and electronic products from Airlift website or app and have it delivered to them in 30 minutes.

The startup said on Wednesday that it has raised $85 million in its Series B financing round at a valuation of $275 million. Harry Stebbings of 20VC and Josh Buckley of Buckley Ventures co-led the financing round, by far the largest for a Pakistani startup.

Sam Altman, former president of Y Combinator, Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and Medium, Steve Pagliuca, co-chairman of Bain Capital, Jeffrey Katzenberg, ex-chief executive of Disney and Quibi, and Taavet Hinrikus, founder and chief executive of TransferWise also participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s to-date raise to $110 million.

Stanley Tang, co-founder of DoorDash, Simon Borrero, founder and chief executive of Rappi, Baastian Lehman, founder and chief executive of Postmates, Quiet Capital and Indus Valley Capital also participated in the new round.

Airlift started as a transit business, building a service similar to Uber for buses in Pakistan. The startup was already clocking over 35,000 rides a day before the pandemic arrived, disrupting all mobility in the country.

That’s when Usman Gul, the founder and chief executive of Airlift, took the call to pivot to quick commerce, he told TechCrunch in an interview.

“This entire space of quick commerce is on the brink of global transformation. Airlift is in the forefront for leading that transformation in Asia and Africa,” he said. Gul said he plans to expand the service to many international markets in the next few months.

Gul left his job at DoorDash and moved back to Pakistan to start Airlift. “The idea was to create impact at the base of the pyramid and solve problems that would enrich millions of lives — for whom change is desperately needed. That drove my transition frankly,” he said.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

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