For Kalsoom Lakhani, investing in the future of the Pakistani startup ecosystem was something of a homecoming. Having grown up in Pakistan before moving to the U.S. for university, Lakhani watched as her native country began to assemble the pieces necessary to support would-be startup founders in the fifth largest market in the world. Leaning on the lessons learned in other regions that have recently seen success in building strong startup ecosystems, such as Egypt and Vietnam, Lakhani launched i2i Ventures with her co-founder Misbah Naqvi to invest in and support this new group of budding Pakistani entrepreneurs.
“When looking across Southeast Asia and other new technology hubs, you can really see themes in the early days of growth,” says Lakhani. “Marketplaces and e-commerce, for example, seem to take off quickly, with startups also popping up to support various parts of that value chain.” This theme can be seen in i2i Ventures’ maiden investment, EZMakaan, a platform for domestic services. That said, Lakhani is quick to point out that while she can glean insights from other countries, building a business in Pakistan is anything but drag and drop. Local knowledge is essential, she says, and clearly i2i Ventures has that more than covered.