Despite global downturn, ed-tech sector sees hope with Maqsad’s $2.8 million round

LAHORE: Despite a global slump in venture financing and an abysmal year for Pakistan’s startup ecosystem, ed-tech startup Maqsad has managed to raise $2.8 million funding in its seed round. The startup raised $2.1 million in a pre-seed round in 2021 which brings the total capital raised to $4.9 million. 

The seed round was led by Speedinvest and returning investor Indus Valley Capital. Other participants included Stellar Capital, Alter Global, Johann Jenson (SVP Product at GoStudent) and other strategic angels. Incoming investor Speedinvest is one of Europe’s largest seed funds and already has an edtech unicorn in its portfolio, Vienna-based GoStudent. 

Maqsad behind Maqsad

The Karachi-based ed-tech startup was founded by two high-school friends Rooshan Aziz and Taha Ahmad in 2021. The founders’ launched the startup with the vision of making quality education accessible to 9-12 graders. Pakistan has one of the highest student to teacher ratio, of about 44 students to only one teacher due to which a lot of students rely on after-school tutoring.

The app covers syllabuses of Sindh, Punjab and federal text book boards and teaches math, physics, chemistry and biology and will be adding English lectures soon. Maqsad claims that the app has been downloaded over a million times, answered 4 million student queries. It further claims that the app’s interactive query solving technology and improved assessment features led to greater than 150% month-on-month growth in questions attempted.

For now, the app is largely free, however the cofounders are planning to introduce some premium features in the future. According to the co-founder Aziz, the app offers various packages but on average, a student can have full access to the entire range of subjects at a monthly fee of around Rs 500-600. He further stated that the startup would hit break even within two years. 

Ed-tech potential in Pakistan 

The most valuable startup in India is an educational technology company. EdTech companies, as they are known in financial circles, have a grip on India. Byjus, which also has its brand logo on the Indian cricket team’s kit, has been valued at $18 billion and have been given a ballpark estimate of a valuation over $50 billion if they go public by next year. And they aren’t the only massive edtech out there either.

India has four unicorns just in the EdTech sector – Unacademy, Vedantu, UpGrad and Eruditus – in addition to 3,500 other startups. But then why isn’t the same happening in Pakistan?

In the world’s fifth most populous country, there are only a handful of edtech startups purely homegrown trying to digitise learning at and out of schools. These startups have only caught the eye recently, with their funding announcements. The unsung heroes for the industrious work they are doing are EdKasa, Maqsad, Out-class, Taleemabad, and Sabaq – a few names you might have heard about. Then there are others like Noon Academy, Knowledge Platform and Educative which are not purely home grown.

Except Knowledge Platform and Educative, all others are consumer facing EdTech startups; they are providing learning to end students directly. Both Knowledge Platform and Educative are B2B startups, targeting schools to digitise them for learning at school. Among the B2C startups, the prominent ones are EdKasa, Maqsad, Noon Academy and Taleemabad, which have made a headway in the space and have created their own apps.

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