Investments

HOV Accelerate’s first cohort in Pakistan: cloud kitchen startup, baby products ecommerce platform, and an online retailer for pre-loved shoes

Singapore-based venture studio High Output Ventures launched an accelerator program HOV Accelerate earlier this year to invest in Pakistani startups. Two months after announcing its launch, HOV Accelerate has revealed the three startups that have made it to its first cohort. The first batch includes a cloud kitchen startup, a baby products ecommerce platform, and another ecommerce platform that sells original pre-owned shoes.

The accelerator is investing $50,000 in each one of these startups. In addition to providing them with the capital, HOV Accelerate’s remote program is helping the startups with what it says are vigorous one-to-one sessions. All the sessions, it said, are designed while keeping the needs of every startup in mind.

The sessions being conducted are around strategy, growth, brand, design, finance, marketing, legal, product, investor relations, talent acquisition, pitching, and fundraising.

The startups are also supposed to work on different things assigned by HOV Accelerate during the program and submit deliverables.

Meet the startups

Hotpod

Hotpod is a Karachi-based cloud kitchen startup that’s building the Kitopi for Pakistan, enabling restaurants to expand their distribution network. The F&B entrepreneurs and players can use Hotpod to scale their reach. The startup sets up shared kitchen spaces where it prepares food for different brands it partners with (on their behalf) and delivers it to its customers using food delivery aggregators. The kitchens are optimized for food delivery. Hotpod was founded earlier this year by Abdus Samad Rashid who had previously founded and led Wah Brands, a company that runs different brands of fast food and fine dining restaurants.

Swag Kicks

Founded earlier this year by Mateen Ansari, Nofal Khan, and Hamza Sheikh, Swag Kicks is an ecommerce platform that sells pre-owned original shoes. The platform features shoes from brands like Nike, Adidas, Fila, Skechers, and American Eagle. The startup sources the shoes sold on its website from different countries with most of them coming from the United States. A quick scan of the website suggests that the shoes being sold on Swag Kicks are up to 50 percent cheaper than what their new pairs would cost in Pakistan.

Baby Planet

This one is the most interesting to have made it to HOV Accelerate’s first cohort for different reasons. It has received $250,000 investment in a seed round led by High Output Ventures’ seed arm earlier this year. The firm is now investing another $50,000 into it through HOV Accelerate. And unlike the other two, Baby Planet has been there for over six years. It was founded in 2014. Led by Irfan Ahmed and Muhammad Raza, Baby Planet sells baby products on its online platform. The startup currently features over 5,000 SKUs, delivering the products all over Pakistan.

Over 200 applications

Usman Sheikh, the Managing Partner of High Output Ventures, speaking to MENAbytes, said, “The three companies we selected for our first cohort have the foundation to be category leaders in their respective industries. They had strong teams with traction that made them a perfect fit for our program.”

HOV Accelerate had received over 200 applications for the program.

Speaking about why they selected only three startups, Omar Parvez Khan, a Venture Partner at High Output Venture said, “Since this is our first cohort, we wanted to make sure that we set up the right processes and systems to ensure a smooth program with high quality. We’re taking the learnings and streamlining everything for future cohorts and plan to have more companies in each going forward. This is our pilot and we want to validate a lot of things to refine everything.”

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Lahore, Pakistan. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.
Zubair Naeem Paracha
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