Singapore’s High Output Ventures launches an early-stage fund to invest in Pakistani startups

High Output Ventures, a Singapore-based venture studio has launched an early-stage fund to invest in Pakistani startups, it told MENAbytes today. The fund is setting up an accelerator program called HOV Accelerate that will connect the selected Pakistani entrepreneurs to global mentors and provide them with the money to scale their companies. HOV is not disclosing the size of the fund and names of its limited partners for now but has told MENAbytes that it is ready to deploy the capital through its accelerator program right away.

Pakistan already has a lot of accelerators and incubators (how the two are different is debatable) – some of which are running their programs with the help of government grants but almost none of them offer the kind of capital a startup would need if it were to have a decent runway before turning to other investors.

That’s the gap HOV Accelerator wants to fill. The investor says that it wants to build the Y Combinator for Pakistani startups. It is obviously easier said than done but they’re taking the first step towards it, with its remote accelerator program for early-stage startups in Pakistan.

Usman Sheikh, the Managing Director of HOV who is originally from Pakistan has built, led, and sold different technology companies over the last fifteen years and now he wants to use his experience, network, and the team he has built to help Pakistani founders build great companies.

Usman who has also invested as an angel in some startups across the world, commenting on the launch of High Output Ventures (Pakistan), said, “We feel Pakistan’s market, as well as its founders, has great potential particularly in the early stage where we see founders with a lot of grit and determination building good companies with very limited resources. Our job is to help these founders take their startups and themselves to the next level. We want to help repair the pipeline for downstream investors by churning out high quality, polished companies.”

HOV Accelerate will invest $50,000 in 20 Pakistani startups spread across two cohorts – with the first one expected to start in October. It is a sector-agnostic program that will connect the selected startups with global domain experts based on their needs in what it says will be a bespoke model.

Omar Parvez Khan, a partner with High Output Ventures, speaking to MENAbytes about their USP (in addition to the capital they offer), explained that their experts will work individually with each startup and keep an eye on their progress, “At the start of the program, they’ll do an audit of the startups around their expertise (e.g. marketing) and create a dedicated strategy for each one fo them with individual KPIs. Every company is different and using this approach means that the curriculum of the program gets tailored for each one of them instead of everyone just getting the same guidelines.”

He also explained that the modules of the program will include product design, finance, legal, and a few others. The program wil also feature some additional lectures and workshops, “The main value is basically giving each company free top-quality consultants,” said Omar.

The investment will be made in two tranches – the first one being of $25,000 that will be given to every selected startup at the start of the program and the second one of $20,000 or $30,000 that will be given to the startups at the end of the program, depending on their performance.

They are not completely transparent and upfront about the equity they’ll take from the startups, “Due to the diversity of applications ranging from early-stage startups to more established companies, we are not standardizing our equity terms. The equity percentage will be a discussion that we will have with startups who have reached the final stage of the application process,” notes their website.

HOV will help the startups that will take part in its accelerator program with market segmentation, building the team, attracting investors, and generating (and keeping) momentum. The entire program will be run remotely.

The accelerator is currently accepting applications for its first cohort.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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