Author: Lace Nguyen
Dastgyr, a B2B marketplace connecting suppliers to mom-and-pop retailers in Pakistan, announces today that it has raised a $3.5 million seed round led by SOSV. It aims to connect over 2 million underserved retailers in Pakistan and millions more in similar emerging markets directly to manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers to fix what is currently a fragmented supply chain. Dastgyr will deploy this seed funding to launch products for financial inclusion in Q3 2021.
Founded in 2020 during the height of Covid-19, Dastgyr is a B2B marketplace app that enables retailers to order wholesale inventory of over 2,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) with guaranteed next-day delivery and telephonic helpline support. Product categories on the app include fast-moving consumer goods, stationery, mobile accessories, and more.
SME retailers are the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, representing a combined market of roughly $125 billion dollars, about 30-40% of the country’s GDP. Dastgyr aims to empower and uplift this segment with a near-perfect supply chain and financial inclusion to increase that contribution even further.
Dastgyr’s seed round, which was led by SOSV, also included ADB Ventures, the Asian Development Bank’s venture capital arm, Seedstars, and Edgebrook Partners, marking their first investments into the Pakistan market. Strategic institutional and angel investors from the MENA region also participated in the round, including Zayani Venture Capital and Tricap investments. Dastgyr has now raised a total of $4 million thus far, including its angel round in July 2020.
“Pakistan is seeing the same patterns as India five years ago and China 10 years ago: with 75% of the population owning a smartphone, the first-movers in mobile-first services will be the winners. We are particularly impressed with the Dastgyr’s culture of growth: the company’s fintech offering is truly a game-changer for the unbanked and underbanked while ensuring the success of their businesses,” said William Bao Bean, General Partner at SOSV, Managing Director of MOX.
Dastgyr’s asset-light model functions on a cross-docking approach: goods are delivered to sorting centers, sorted into individual orders and routes, and are then dispatched to retailers. Currently operational in both Karachi and Lahore after its official launch in September 2020, it has fulfilled hundreds of thousands of orders worth millions of dollars to roughly 30,000 customers.
Dastgyr hasn’t raised an incredibly large dollar amount in this seed round, but its management has been conscientious about ensuring that their deployment of capital remains exceedingly efficient. Its current investment to gross merchandise value (GMV) ratio is $1 into $58.
Dastgyr’s team includes former members of some of the region’s fastest growing startups, including Daraz (Rocket Internet venture acquired by AliBaba), Careem (acquired by Uber), and Airlift (raised Pakistan’s largest Series A at the time led by First Round Capital).
Muhammad Owais Qureshi, Co-Founder of Dastgyr, says on this announcement: “Both our co-founder Zohaib and I have previously done extensive work in moving people. We’ve studied and even remedied many of the problems in transit logistics, but the movement of goods is a far larger problem for the economy as a whole. Once the pandemic rolled around, this problem was exacerbated and no one was hit harder than small businesses. We launched Dastgyr to help those small businesses like Abdul in Lahore and Saeed in Karachi, two of our very first customers.
This seed round is a small milestone on our journey to continue to grow that impact. Our plan moving forward is to launch fintech products for our customers and expand to other cities in Pakistan very soon.”
Haseeb Siddiqui, Founding Member and Head of Product at Dastgyr, says, “Building a multi-sided marketplace in Pakistan is one of the most stimulating problems I’ve had a chance to work on, particularly in an industry which has traditionally remained offline, with users who are skeptical of technology’s value addition to their lives. I find it very exciting to drive behavioral change by focusing on our user’s motivations, abilities, and triggers while building our products. The principles remain the same for both external and internal product offerings: make your users’ lives easy.”
The seed funds announced here will be allocated towards improving Dastgyr’s tech stack, scaling operations & customer acquisition, and hiring new team members where the current headcount has grown quickly to over 280 staff members. Most importantly, the funds will be deployed towards officially launching new fintech solutions that Dastgyr’s team has already been experimenting with, including ‘Buy Now Pay Later’. Its fintech products will solve for financial inclusion of the retailers that Dastgyr aims to serve, the majority of whom remain unbanked. Access to financing options will ultimately enable them to have more purchasing power and expand their businesses to include more categories, improve store capacity, or purchase new equipment like refrigerators and shelves.
Financial inclusion and wellness for retailers has been a core part of Dastgyr’s business model since day one. Typically, the average SME retailer, known as kiryana in Urdu, has a total monthly working capital of roughly $2,000 to $3,000 with no access to external funds. Dastgyr will launch microlending products to remove that hindrance and offer loans to its customers to inject new working capital into their businesses. In addition to this, it will launch ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ schemes so that customers can purchase items on a line of credit.