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Pakistani-American Heads Top Silicon Valley Incubator Y-Combinator

33-year-old Qasar Younis, a Lala Moosa born Harvard-educated Pakistani-American, is the new Chief Operating Officer of Y-Combinator, a spawning ground for emerging tech giants Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe in Silicon Valley, according to Fortune Magazine.

Qasar Younis (Source: Linked-In)

Younis was born on a farm in Lal Moosa, Gujarat, Pakistan. He was brought by his parents as a 6-year-old boy to the United States where his parents found work as blue collar workers in the auto industry in Detroit, Michigan.

Younis' start-up TalkBin was offered a $7 million seed round by Y Combinator. However, it was acquired by Google in 2011 even before signing the seed-round term sheet. Younis joined the Google Maps team where he worked to bring local businesses onboard them. He stayed there for three and a half years.

Y Combinator is set to graduate 222 startups, including Pakistani start-up Markhor, this year. There are currently 7000 startups vying for 106 spots in the program, according to ProPakistani.pk. Markhor, co-founded by Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim is the first Pakistani company based in Pakistan to be accepted into Y Combinator as a part of the Summer 2015 class, according to Tech Crunch. Markhor launched a Kickstarter campaign that brought in over $107,000 in seed money from 508 backers in two months.

Silicon Valley is home to 12,000 to 15,000 Pakistani Americans. Thousands of them are working at Apple, Cisco, Google, Intel, Oracle and hundreds of other high-tech companies from small start-ups to large Fortune 500 corporations. Pakistani-Americans are contributing to what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe as "The Second Machine Age" in a recent book with the same title.

Pakistani-American entrepreneurs, advisers, mentors, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accountants and lawyers make up a growing ecosystem in Silicon Valley. Dozens of Pakistani-American founded start-ups have been funded by top venture capital firms. Many such companies have either been acquired in M&A deals or gone public by offering shares for sale at major stock exchanges. Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) has become a de facto platform for networking among Pakistani-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. It holds an annual event called OPEN Forum which attracts over 500 attendees. 

Here's a video of a recent presentation I made at University of Chicago Booth School of Business on Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley:


Talk by Riaz Haq for Pakistan Club Chicago May... by urduonair

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1t1orh_talk-by-riaz-haq-for-pakis...



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VZSUo4jH3w

A PDF version of my full presentation at University of Chicago Booth Business School is available on PakAlumni WorldWide

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Views: 160

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 17, 2019 at 10:24pm

Atoms, shoe #ecommerce #startup founded by #Pakistani husband-wife team of Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, nabs $8.1M investment for sneakers you can buy in quarter sizes for each foot. Investors include Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Kleiner-Perkin. https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/30/atoms-nabs-8-1m-for-shoes-you-can...

Atoms, makers of sleek sneakers that are minimalist in style — “We will make only one shoe design a year, but we want to make that really well,” said co-founder Sidra Qasim — but not in substance — carefully crafted with comfort and durability in mind, sizes come in quarter increments and you can buy different measurements for each foot if your feet are among the millions that are not exactly the same size — has raised $8.1 million.

The company plans to use the funding to invest in further development of its shoes, and to expand its retail and marketing presence. To date, the company has been selling directly to consumers in the U.S. via its website — which at one point had a waiting list of nearly 40,000 people — and the idea will be to fold in other experiences, including selling in physical spaces in the future.

This Series A speaks to a number of interesting investors flocking to the company.

It is being led by Initialized Capital, the investment firm started by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan (both had first encountered Atoms and its co-founders, Qasim and CEO Waqas Ali — as mentors when the Pakistani husband and wife team were going through Y Combinator with their previous high-end shoe startup, Markhor); with other backers including Kleiner Perkins, Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin, Acumen founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, TED curator Chris Anderson, the rapper Chamillionaire and previous backers Aatif Awan and Shrug Capital.

Investors have come to the company by way of being customers. “The thing that I love about Atoms is that it isn’t just a different look, it’s a different feel,” said Ohanian in a statement. “When I put on a pair for the first time, it was a totally unique experience. Atoms are more comfortable by an order of magnitude than any other shoe I’ve tried, and they quickly became the go-to shoe in my rotation whenever I was stepping out. That wouldn’t mean anything if the shoes didn’t look great. Luckily, that’s not a problem, I wear my Atoms all the time and even my fashion designer wife is a fan.”

Even before today’s achievement of closing a Series A, the startup has come a long way on a relative shoestring: with just around $560,000 in seed funding and some of the founders’ own savings, Atoms built a supply chain of companies that would make the materials and shoes that it wanted, and developed a gradual but strong marketing pipeline with influential people in tech, fashion and design. (That success no doubt played a big role in securing the Series A to double down and continue to build the company.)

Within the bigger trend of direct-to-consumer retail — where smaller brands are leveraging advances in e-commerce, social media and wider internet usage to build vertically integrated businesses that bypass traditional retailers and bigger e-commerce storefronts to source their customers and sales more directly — there has been a secondary trend disrupting the very products that are being sold by using technology and advances in manufacturing. Third Love is another example in this category: The company has built a huge business selling bras and other undergarments to women by completely rethinking how they are sized, and specifically by focusing on creating as wide a range of sizes as possible.

So while companies like Allbirds — which itself is very well capitalised — may look like direct competitors to Atoms, the company currently stands apart from the pack because of its own very distinctive approach to building a mass-market business, but one that aims to make its product as individualised as possible.

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