Pakistan online travel site, Sastaticket.pk, grabs $1.5m in Series A round
The TaqwaTech investment expands Gobi’s footprint to South Asia
LAHORE – Sastaticket.pk, an online travel agency (OTA) based in Karachi, Pakistan, announced today at the 021 Disrupt Conference that it has secured US$1.5 M for its Series A, led by regional venture capital firm Gobi Partners.
The investment marks Gobi’s first venture into the Pakistani market and adds another pioneering company to its growing TaqwaTech portfolio.
Founded in September 2016 by brothers Shazil and Bilal Mehkri, Sastaticket.pk offers domestic travellers a way to book and pay for flights and hotels instantly online. Ever since its launch in 2016, the platform has experienced significant growth in GMV at 125% YoY, and number of orders at 155% YoY, and has over one million flight searches per month, indicating a clear market demand for the platform.
Today, Sastaticket.pk is Pakistan’s largest OTA in terms of flight booking volume. The company is also currently the country’s largest one-stop web platform for all travel-related services.
The company has consistently delivered sound growth and demonstrated technical expertise; they have articulated a clear vision to solve problems faced by Pakistani travellers. “With this round of funding and access to Gobi’s wealth of experience in the online travel sector across Asia, we are excited to enhance our products and services. This funding will help us increase our scale, recruit top talent, and increase our development speed in critical segments such as Islamic tourism,” said Shazil.
Gobi’s Founding Partner, Thomas G. Tsao, also commented on the round, saying, “Gobi has had a lot of success investing in the online travel space. We believe the conditions that led to the growth of giant OTAs in China are also present in Pakistan. Sastaticket has a real opportunity to become one of the first unicorns out of the country.”
Currently, Pakistan is one of Asia’s fastest growing Internet markets, with over one million people going online via their mobile phones every month. The e-commerce market has similarly witnessed phenomenal growth recently, driven by the country’s large population, rising middle class, and strong digital adoption rates; it is growing at a CAGR of over 100%, and as per Google’s analysis, will surpass the US$1 billion revenue mark by 2020.
In addition, the country’s travel market is showing great potential; it stood at US$8.8 billion in 2017, contributing 2.9% of the total GDP, and is forecasted to grow to US$16.4 billion by 2028, representing a CAGR of 5.8%.
Overall, Pakistani travellers face traditional challenges when it comes to booking their trips, due to the high fragmentation of offline travel suppliers as well as high fees being charged by “mom-and-pop” agencies. As the online market in Pakistan matures, there is a growing need for users to be able to purchase their flights, hotels, packages, and other travel products via an online platform at a competitive price. Sastaticket.pk is offering these customers a better solution — democratizing access to travel suppliers and commoditizing travel transactions.
Sastaticket.pk is a one-stop shop for all travel related services. A leading consolidator of travel products, Sastaticket.pk provides reservation facilities for domestic and international flights, domestic and international hotels, and holiday packages.
Gobi Partners is a venture capital firm that focuses on emerging and underserved markets across Asia. With over US$1.1 billion in assets under management, the firm, headquartered in Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, supports entrepreneurs from the early to growth stages in the innovation and technology industries. Founded in 2002, Gobi has raised ten funds to date, invested in over 200 startups, and has grown to nine offices across Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Manila and Jakarta.
TaqwaTech is a vertical which targets innovative startups offering products and services that support the Muslim population. It is a growing sector that transcends borders; businesses that are categorized in this space can be found virtually anywhere in the world that has a sizeable Muslim population. Subsectors covered by TaqwaTech include: content, education, FinTech, F&B, halal cosmetics, modest fashion, nonprofit crowdfunding, pharmaceuticals, and travel.