Investments

Remotebase raises $1.4 million seed to connect Pakistani software engineers with Silicon Valley startups

Lahore-based ten-month-old remote talent startup Remotebase has raised $1.4 million in a seed round led by Pakistan-focused VC Indus Valley Capital (which closed its maiden fund with $17.5 million last week), it told MENAbytes today. Draper Associates, the VC firm of Tim Draper, US-based early-stage VC Hustle Fund, and some other investors also participated in the round. It is the first investment for both Draper Associates and Hustle Fund in a Pakistani startup.

Remotebase enables startups (mainly in the Silicon Valley) build remote engineering teams in as little as 24 hours. Founded by Qasim Asad Salam and Talha Masood, the Pakistani startup hires, trains, and places (what it says are the top 5 percent) local software engineers in the US startups. The idea may not have resonated with both engineers and the startups a year ago but with remote work becoming mainstream (thanks to Covid-19), Remotebase has been witnessing double-digit month-over-month growth consistently since its launch in April last year.

For the engineers, its proposition is simple: work for innovative startups in the Silicon Valley from the comfort of your home in Pakistan, for a fixed monthly salary (that it claims is better than what they would usually get in the local market) and other benefits including health insurance. All the engineers that work with Remotebase are on its payroll but they work with the startups as part of their core teams (and learn in the process).

The startups that work with Remotebase enjoy access to top engineers almost instantly so they don’t have to spend money or efforts on adding engineering resources (i.e. their recruitment process) to their existing teams or building new ones from the scratch. Remotebase charges startups a fixed monthly fee for every engineer and they do all the heavy lifting. It did not share the specifics with us but said that hiring an engineer through its platform is way cheaper than hiring a similar resource in the United States.

“What’s very interesting is that many of our clients have told us that our engineers are the best resources they have on their teams and we’re talking about teams made up of top-notch engineering talent from all around the world,” stated Remotebase’s founder and CEO Qasim Asad Salam, speaking to MENAbytes. It is Qasim’s third startup. Prior to launching Remotebase, he was running a software agency in Pakistan.

Speaking about how they ensure that they recruit the best engineers in the market, Qasim explained their hiring process, “We have an entire hiring funnel that a candidate moves through. The process involves HR interviews, technical interviews, technical tasks, and then a final interview with the CTO. All technical interviews other than the final interview are done by the engineers who are a part of our community. As we hire more engineers, we can do more interviews, vet more people and grow faster.”

The selected engineers then join bootcamps run by Remotebase where they improve their skills and build different internal tools before getting placed in US startups.

Remotebase's team

Remotebase’s team

Remotebase hasn’t lost any of its clients since it launched its services, “We’re consistently getting requests from new as well as our existing clients and we hope to add hundreds of engineers within the next one year to our team,” said Qasim, explaining that they currently have close to 30 engineers placed in different American startups. For the entire team of the startup, as you would expect, the office is completely optional.

Aatif Awan, the Managing Partner of Indus Valley Capital thinks Remotebase will help Pakistani tech ecosystem earn its well-deserved place in the world, “As tech companies go remote, Remotebase can help Pakistani talent fulfill this demand and gain experience with the best startups around the world. Over time this will also materially increase the supply of experienced tech professionals in the country, benefiting all local companies. We’re thrilled about our mission alignment with Remotebase and are excited to back them.”

The startup has been profitable since its first month so it does not really need the funds it has raised, “Raising money was one of the most difficult decisions for us. We decided to go for it because the network of investors like Indus Valley Capital and Tim Draper will help us with our distribution, mentorship, contacts. It will allow us to scale way more quickly than we would have been able to do on our own,” noted Qasim.

Tim Draper said, “Knowing Qasim and having seen him work right outside my office, I can say that he and his team are going to take Remotebase to the moon. We are so proud of what they have achieved so far, and are looking forward to helping him and his team on this incredible journey.”

Talha Masood, the co-founder and CTO of Remotebase has been working remotely for companies in the Silicon Valley for years and that’s where his inspiration to start the company came from, “I had immense freedom, meaningful work and I got to learn from the best companies in the world. One went on to become a multi-billion dollar startup. I want other Pakistani engineers to have the same experiences and opportunities I had.”

In addition to hiring more engineers, Remotebase will use the fresh funds for different initiatives including hackathons, and programs for women. The engineers looking to work through (/for) Remotebase can apply here.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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