Lahore-based coworking operator COLABS has raised $3 million in a seed round as the startup plans to become the launchpad for startups and freelancers.
The seed round was led by Pakistan-focused funds Indus Valley Capital, Zayn Capital and Fatima Gobi Ventures. The round was also joined by Shorooq Partners, Kinnow Capital, Muir Capital, Sai Ventures, and some key angels including Turner Novak, William Hockley, and Teddy Himler.
Colabs was founded in 2019 by Omar Shah, a former private equity and venture investor, and his twin brother Ali Shah, who operates long established family-run real estate and development firm SABCON, which designs and builds out COLABS facilities. “COLABS has grown into a community of over 1,200 members and over 100 companies across multiple facilities in Pakistan,” a statement from the company read.
COLABS currently hosts a mix of freelancers, startups, SMEs and MNCs. From its flagship site in Lahore, COLABS has expanded its presence in Karachi and recently received a license from the Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) to operate a coworking space in Islamabad.
According to a statement from the company, its initiative COGROW enables local and international companies to enter, startup and accelerate growth in the Pakistani market fostering a diverse and interconnected ecosystem. Its SaaS-based business solution caters to payroll processing, attendance management, talent sourcing and management, and legal services for startups and companies housed at COLABS.
Because of the services it provides, Omar Shah, the CEO of the company, asserts that it is not only a coworking operator but a startup which makes it easier for freelancers, startups, and even international companies entering Pakistan, to start and manage their businesses.
COLABS claims to have a partner network of over 100 organisations involved in taking initiatives to boost the Pakistani startup ecosystem’s growth. “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,” says Omar Shah
COLABS plans to use the fresh capital to build its tech solutions and productized services which could be extended to people and institutions outside of its network, in addition to hiring people for the next phase of growth. Within a period of two years, COLABS seeks to grow enough to increase its capacity to house 10,000 members, eventually taking it up to 100,000 over the next few years.
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.”
Faisal Aftab, co-founder and 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 enough to have met some of the startups we invested in, in 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.”