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Airlift, Ride-Hailing Startup, Raises $2.2 Million

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Airlift secures funding for expansion

Airlift, which is a ride-hailing startup based in Lahore is planning to expand to Kenya and Bangladesh. The expansions comes after gaining $2.2 million in seed round that is led by Indus Valley Capital, China’s Gobi Ventures, and Fatima Group. Hence, making it the most significant investment ever in the seed round of a Pakistan-based startup.

Ahmed Ayub, Usman Gul, Zohaib Ali, Muhammad Owais, Meher Farrukh, and Awaab Khakkwany are the founders. Airlift emerges as a reliable alternative for different public transports. Airlift is offering premium buses and vans in Lahore and Karachi. This app-based transportation service contains hundreds of vehicles which are offering fixed routes and times in these 2 cities.

This seed round is an initiative of Tony Xu, the CEO and founder of the most popular food delivery service DoorDash. Moreover, other investors are also a part of it. Usman was previously working with DoorDash. But he dropped to start the Airlift setup. Ahmed Ayub founded and managed various international and local companies in Pakistan.

What Does the Airlift CEO Have To Say?

According to Usman Gul, CEO of Airlift, company is offering value for both vehicle owners and consumers. He stated that Airlift minimizes both commute cost and time. During an interview, he disclosed that they are receiving several acquisition offers.

Moreover, these offers are from ride-hailing giants, but the company is not currently chasing for exit options or acquisitions. Company’s vision is to develop mass transit infrastructure operating in developing countries. They started this mission from Lahore and Karachi.

Alternative to Other Ride-Hailing Apps

Airlift company has labelled itself as an alternative to Careem, Uber, and other ride-hailing apps. It permits users to book their rides on premium quality vans and buses. These vans and buses have fixed timings, stops, and routes in Karachi and Lahore. For booking a trip, users are required to sign up on the website and reserve their seats.

The seats are reserved by selecting the pick-up and drop-off locations through browsing their routes. The mobile app of Airlift is available for both iOS and Android users. Users can track the location of bus in real-time through the app. Moreover, they can make payments through debit or credit cards. Furthermore, users can also avail the option of paying through cash at the time of boarding the bus.

According to Usman, they have weekly more than 1000 rides and have more than hundreds of buses in their network. This startup is now in competition with Swvl, whose headquarter is in Cairo. Airlift is leading the marketplace with hundreds of buses and tens of routes in Karachi and Lahore while until last week Swvl was operating in only 3 routes in Lahore.

This Egyptian-based startup, Swvl, is backed up by leading regional and global investors. But Airlift is not afraid of this competition. Airlift is, in fact, planning to expand their business venture internationally. Airlift is looking to expand into Nairobi (Kenya) and Dhaka (Bangladesh). Coincidentally, Nairobi (Kenya) was that 1st city that Swvl had extended to (outside Egypt).

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