A Pakistani startup, which took inspiration from China’s JD.com and India’s Flipkart to create a managed electronics marketplace, said on Tuesday it has raised seed money from numerous investors, including PayPal founder Peter Thiel.
Launched in March 2020 – just two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world – Islamabad-based startup PriceOye offers a range of electronics including smartphones, TVs and home appliances.
Its seed funding round was led by JAM Fund, a venture capital firm of Tinder founder Justin Mateen. The institutional funding round also included participation from Beenext, DG Daiwa, Mantis VC, HOF Capital, Jet.com investor Palm Drive Capital, and Atlas Ventures, among others. Angels including Thiel, Immad Akhud of Mercury Bank and Asif Keshodia of Souq also participated in the round – alongside previous investors Fatima Gobi Ventures, SOSV and Artistic Ventures. This is Thiel’s first investment in Pakistan.
PriceOye has served 45 million unique users in Pakistan over the past two years, covering 37.5% of the country’s total internet user base, Adnan Shaffi, co-founder and CEO of the startup, told TechCrunch. in an interview.
“We are the second most visited shopping website nationwide, with over two and a half million monthly active users coming to the platform, searching using our recommendation engine. products and then learning about different products,” he said.
After leaving two startups, Adan and his brother Adeel Shaffi came up with the idea to launch PriceOye while doing “a lot of island hopping” in Southeast Asia. The duo looked at several startups in Indonesia and India and found that Asian markets were seeing similar consumer internet trends unfolding, but at a different pace. They built a thesis that Pakistan will see a similar adoption of consumer internet services in the next four to five years.
This is the genesis of PriceOye.
The duo decided to opt for the managed marketplace model, where only brands and their official representatives are allowed to sell products, to limit instances of common fraud and errors that have proven painful for marketplaces in traditional line, Adnan said.
“We realized that in a market, where trust is one of the most important factors, and where there is a lot of trust deficit between the consumer and the brand, the only way a market can work is the model. managed marketplace, which originally started in China from JD.com, then replicated by Flipkart, and many other players in Southeast Asia,” Adnan said.
PriceOye sees 30% repeat users of its entire customer base regularly visiting the platform to purchase consumer electronics. The startup also claims to sell four smartphones to a single user per year on average.
It is the largest online platform for selling mobile phones and accessories in Pakistan, Adnan said, adding that 35% of its overall orders come from tier two and tier three cities across the country. country.
“In a short time, PriceOye has grown exponentially and cemented its position as the national leader in online consumer electronics. We are thrilled to join PriceOye in its mission to change the way people shop in Pakistan,” said Alex Pall, founder and partner of Mantis VC, in a prepared statement.
PriceOye is looking to deploy the new funding to expand its 97-member team by hiring new talent. It also plans to bring its platform closer to the people of the country by launching offline experience centers – starting with three centers in high-end malls in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Other new products and categories are also in preparation for the eponymous platform.
Prior to the last round, PriceOye raised $450,000 in pre-seed funding from Fatima Gobi Ventures, Artistic Ventures and SOSV.
“It is always a difficult choice for consumers to spend large sums of money on high value products while being unsure of their authenticity. I was inspired by the vision of PriceOye founders, Adnan and Adeel, to create transparency and bring convenience to customers when it comes to buying consumer electronics,” said Seamon Chan, managing partner of Palm Drive Capital, in a statement.