Pakistan’s Colabs needs to construct a neighborhood of 100,000 entrepreneurs and freelancers

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Pakistan’s Colabs needs to construct a neighborhood of 100,000 entrepreneurs and freelancers


Colabs is a Lahore-based startup that goals to construct Pakistan’s largest neighborhood of entrepreneurs and freelancers by means of its coworking areas, enterprise options, occasions, and academic packages. It was began in 2019 by twin brothers; Omar and Ali Shah, as a coworking firm, and at the moment operates two areas in Lahore, with a 3rd on the best way. On the floor, it looks as if simply one other coworking operator however what units it aside is its ambition to create the biggest neighborhood of entrepreneurs and freelancers within the fifth largest nation on the planet.
“We wish to knit collectively a neighborhood of 100,000 entrepreneurs and freelancers in Pakistan, beginning with 5,000 seats inside the subsequent two years,” acknowledged Colabs co-founder and CEO Omar Shah in a dialog with MENAbytes. He beforehand spent 7 years working in Dubai as non-public fairness and enterprise capital investor in rising markets together with Mexico, UAE, Turkey, and Pakistan, earlier than shifting again dwelling to Lahore in 2019, to ascertain Colabs. Ali Shah, Omar’s twin brother is an actual property developer in Lahore, who leads the household’s development and improvement agency, Sabcon, which develops modern and fashionable business buildings throughout Lahore up to now decade.
The startup at the moment has about 700 members who work from its areas. It expects so as to add one other 400 when it launches its third website early subsequent yr. However how can a coworking firm in Pakistan with 700 seats construct the capability for 100,000 members over the subsequent 5 to seven years, we requested Omar.
(For context, WeWork at the moment has a capability of about 60,000 seats in India. It entered the market because of a three way partnership with a neighborhood firm in 2017 and has invested tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} up to now.)
“As a household, we now have been creating and managing properties in Lahore for a lot of many years. Initially, it was conventional actual property however then Ali began Sabcon to do fashionable, modern buildings just a few years in the past, so we perceive the area very properly. We will design our areas for extra environment friendly utilization than a mean coworking operator and drive increased income per sq. foot at half the construct value. With all of the learnings we now have from our first two years, we’re able to scale our areas throughout Pakistan. We’ve created a playbook that permits us to rapidly flip buildings of various sizes into coworking areas in just a few months.”

When requested if there’s sufficient demand in Pakistan to promote 100,000 seats, he acknowledged that the speed at which startup and freelance ecosystems of Pakistan are rising, they gained’t have any points when it comes to demand, “It’s extra about creating the capability to serve the demand.”
Colabs has been largely bootstrapped till now however to maneuver ahead with its growth, it will want exterior cash, “We had raised a small pal and household spherical after we began the corporate and didn’t have to lift any capital after that. We’re now contemplating elevating a seed spherical as there’s plenty of inbound curiosity and we’re able to scale our product.” mentioned Omar, chatting with MENAbytes, with out disclosing the small print of how a lot they’re trying to elevate. He mentioned that the economics of the enterprise are very sturdy they usually’re worthwhile even right this moment in the event that they cease investing in development.
The coworking operator all the time had plans to transcend promoting workplace area and seats however is placing them in motion now, “We’ve constructed a neighborhood of startups, SMEs, massive corporates and a few very proficient freelancers who come and work from our areas day by day and we’re always attempting to suppose how we will serve them higher. One small instance is that we not too long ago began providing an end-to-end payroll administration service for our shoppers after receiving a number of requests for it,” acknowledged Fatima Mazhar, the not too long ago appointed Chief Working Officer of Colabs.
She was one of many first ten staff at Careem and led the corporate’s growth into 100 cities as its Head of Enlargement. Talking about why she determined to affix Colabs despite having gives from totally different main startups and know-how corporations in Pakistan, she acknowledged, “When you go to Colabs, you instantly wish to develop into part of it. I’ve all the time been drawn to formidable startups which might be attempting to reimagine the native panorama of their business. Colabs wasn’t the primary coworking area within the nation but it surely was the primary one to suppose on a scale that may make an actual distinction to the way forward for work in Pakistan.”
Commenting additional on what makes Colabs totally different from different gamers available in the market, she mentioned, “Our neighborhood and community is what we’re actually pleased with. That’s what we imagine differentiates us from a mean area within the nation. We’re additionally utilizing know-how to optimize our processes and join everybody who’s a part of our areas. From incorporation to payroll administration, we’re attempting to introduce various kinds of companies to assist individuals begin up after which scale their corporations.”
Along with serving to native startups, Colabs has additionally made it simple for various worldwide know-how startups (and firms) to open their workplaces in Pakistan by offering them with area and different companies, “We’ve got a one-stop-shop providing for worldwide corporations that allows them to arrange a presence in Pakistan,” acknowledged Fatima in her dialog with MENAbytes.
Since its launch, Colabs has partnered with over 100 entities to arrange occasions and provide various kinds of perks to their communities. A number of the notable occasions that they’ve hosted at their areas embody Uber Pitch and She Loves Tech. The corporate additionally has its personal line of in-person and on-line classes the place they interview founders and traders from the startup ecosystem of Pakistan. They’re now additionally engaged on an employment platform that can join tech expertise with startups within the nation.
The Lahore-based startup has constructed a robust basis within the final two years but it surely must punch above its weight to have the ability to obtain its goal of constructing a neighborhood of 100,000 members.



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