Fixing Pakistan’s outdated logistical infrastructure will help boost the country’s business growth and economy, says start-up Ware, which is announcing a $ 3.3 million seed financing round today. Founded last June, the company promises to help businesses increase sales through more flexible warehousing and smart distribution.
Raja Kazmi and Adlil Nisar, the founders of Over, argue that businesses across Pakistan have been blocked by the old logistics system. They struggle to secure new warehousing capabilities to store inventory, the founders say, as their inventory is difficult to monitor and complex distribution problems.
“Our solution to that problem is based on a shared infrastructure that enables businesses to build sales without significantly increasing their costs,” Nisar explained. “The goal is to level the playing field for Pakistani businesses, as at present it is only a large multinational company that has access to modern systems.”
In that sense, the overhaul solutions are basically threefold. First, the business has opened 15 warehouses in four cities offering 350,000 square feet of space for rent; Businesses can sign up to lease the space they need in any one of these facilities instead of warehousing for themselves.
In addition, Oware offers a delivery service that allows businesses to match their orders from warehouses to customers such as retailers and complementary centers. This business-to-business delivery is crucial in a country where competition for last-mile delivery to consumers has improved performance in recent times, but where previous delivery steps have been neglected.
The ultimate part of Jigsaw is modernized logistics technology. Oware is creating a dashboard that connects all moving parts of supply and distribution so that customers have more visibility of their stock levels and activities. The technology can also help reduce costs – for example, analyzing trade-offs between warehousing costs and delivery costs to determine where the best inventory can be stored.
“Local businesses are stuck in an old and opaque environment that works with outdated supply chain systems that are no longer fit for purpose and are slow, limited and capital intensive,” Kazmi said. “Operations are too long to set up, orders have limited visibility or tracking, and processes are inefficient in terms of speed and cost, which we aim to address.”
“To reach its final destination, a product has to go through several warehouses, filling centers and trucks,” Nisar added. “This complex ballet is managed by multiple businesses without interconnected systems. Our vision is to build a connected world on a large scale. Distribution that enables a fast route to the market for our customers.”
Those customers seem to like the idea. In just a few months of business, Oware has already signed up more than 30 businesses that have been attracted to the offer of a warehousing and distribution network that is within reach of 75% of the population of Pakistan on the same day. The company aims to reach 90% by the end of the year.
Like many entrepreneurial concepts, Over was born out of the founders’ own experience and difficulties. Nisar previously worked for ride-sharing technology company Karim before setting up his own company to source, produce and distribute light problems; He soon fell into the infrastructural problems that Over wanted to solve now, meeting CFO Kazmi, a group at a large multinational distribution house, because he wanted to overcome his challenges. The pair saw the opportunity to start a business that would do just that.
After proving the concept works, Ower is now keen to scale it as soon as possible. Demand is not a problem, Nisar said, a frustration for many Pakistani businesses, but the company now needs to build capacity to meet it. This will require more warehousing space, more investment in distribution and the evolution of technology stacks.
To that end, today’s Seed Fund announcement will prove invaluable. Oware’s $ 3.3 million funding round is supported by US investors, including Flexport Fund and Ratio Ventures, as well as global investors, including investors Seedstars International Ventures, The Osiris Group, Swiss Founders Fund, Reflect Ventures, +92 Ventures and Walled City Co.
These proponents are attracted by the size of the opportunity in Pakistan, where the logistics market is worth about $ 35 billion a year – but also by the possibility of replacing the business model in other economies. Many developing economies are struggling with similar infrastructural problems – in Asia, but also in the Middle East and Africa.
“Weaver brings a vast ancient industry directly into the world of flexibility and management of 21st century demand, visibility and insight,” said Michelle Friedman, a partner at Reflect Ventures, one of the investors. “This is a great opportunity for O’Brien and an important part of the rapid modernization of Pakistan’s economy.”