Karachi-headquartered on-demand transportation and logistics startup Bykea has raised USD 13 million in a Series B round, it announced in a statement to MENAbytes. The investment was led by Prosus Ventures (formerly Naspers Ventures), a leading global tech investors. It is their first investment in a Pakistani startup. The round also included the participation of existing investors Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) and Sarmayacar, and takes Bykea’s total funds raised to USD 22 million, making it one of the best-funded startups of the country. Bykea raised USD 5.7 million in a Series A round last year.
Founded in 2017 by Muneeb Maayr, Abdul Mannan, Ishaq Kothawala, and Rafiq Malik, Bykea pioneered the concept of motorbike taxis in Pakistan. The company offers different types of transportation, logistics, and payments services in Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi, using its network of more than 30,000 active drivers. The drivers on Bykea’s network are freelancers, most of whom work part-time for Bykea to make extra money on top of their regular income.
The services that Bykea currently offers in addition to motrobike ride-hailing (which is its most popular offering) include courier services, on-demand delivery from nearby stores, utility bill payments, and mobile wallet top-ups. The startup also has a section for classifieds on its app, where it enables users to publish listings of products that can be delivered through its network of drivers. All services are offered through Bykea’s mobile app, which is available in English and Urdu.
Bykea plans to use its fresh funds to grow its presence in e-commerce logistics, food, and payment services in 2021. The startup will also use a part of the investment to expand to smaller cities, where it says that international players with English-language platforms have struggled to take off.
Muneeb Maayr, the founder and CEO of Bykea, previously co-founded Rocket Internet’s Daraz, which was acquired by Alibaba in 2018. Maayr commented on the occasion and said, “Bykea is one of the few internet businesses offering an interface in the Urdu language and we drive our competitive advantage from being highly localized. This approach has helped us become the preferred partner for part-time motorbike gig workers. Our brand is now widely used as a verb for bike taxi and 30-minute deliveries, and the fresh capital allows us to expand our network to solidify our leading position.”
The three cities that Bykea is active in have a combined population of 30 million. In a statement, the company said that public transportation is underserved in all three locations. “Motorbikes are the rails for distributors, couriers, e-commerce retailers, and restaurants to move goods and collect receivables, almost entirely in cash in one of the least banked countries in the world. With 17 million two-wheelers in Pakistan—four times the number of cars—Bykea offers millions of people the chance to earn an income by tapping into the tremendous opportunity in the country for both transport and hyperlocal commerce,” noted the statement.
Fahd Beg, the chief investment officer at Prosus, said, “Pakistan is primed to experience extremely strong growth in internet services over the next decade, with a rapidly increasing middle class. This growth provides immense opportunity for companies like Bykea that are transforming big societal needs like transportation, logistics, and payments through a technology-enabled platform. Bykea has already seen impressive traction in the country and with our investment will be able to execute further on their vision to become Pakistan’s Super app.”
This article first appeared in MENAbytes.