Meet this Pakistani Entrepreneur who Got Google Funding with Her First Pitch

Entrepreneurs usually don’t strike gold when it comes time for them to pitch their business idea to investors. But Umaima Mendhro, a Pakistani entrepreneur, is one of the lucky ones who got a bigwig venture firm (and at Google Ventures no less) to fund her business idea on the very first try.

It seems like a fantastic story that’s too easy to believe. But there’s a lot more to Umaima’s ‘first pitch’ than just catching a lucky break. It was a pitch that was the result of her childhood ambition.


Umaima Mendhro

This is the story of that pitch.

Umaima Has Always Loved Building Things

Ms. Mendhro has always had this dream of building a reputable multi-national company that she could one day call her very own. She always had big Ivy-League styled plans and aspirations from a very young age.

Of course, like any Pakistani growing up in Pakistan, she was also cognizant of the limits that she could face in getting her venture off the ground in Pakistan.

“Coming from part of the world, and specifically part of Pakistan, where I didn’t have schools around, I grew up with the idea of building my own path… Because of that, education became something I was truly passionate about,” she explains.

Realizing that education can take her places and make her realize her dreams, Umaima studied hard to get into Harvard, securing her MBA in 2009.

Realizing Her Dream

Once her studies were over, it was time for Umaima to fulfil her life’s goal – to build her company.

After the passage of 5 years, she reached out to the connections she made at Harvard and during a brief stint at Microsoft to work at her first pitch. Some of her connections eventually became general partners at Google Ventures.

Mendhro pitched her first startup idea for VIDA, her very own apparel company, to Google Venture. They agreed to fund VIDA, after hearing her plans for the business, offering $1.3 million in seed money.

About VIDA

Umaima wanted to combine art and commerce for her first business venture. The pitch for VIDA was that artists could be able to upload their own customized designs for scarves, sleeves, shirts and any other merchandise. Basically, VIDA was a creative platform designed to cater to the creative types from all around the world.

VIDA invited photographers, painters, sculptors, calligraphers and more. Customers can buy what they like online and creators get paid 10% of the revenue share. It’s a for-profit platform but also one with a social aspect to it – factory workers who design VIDA products are trained by the company as well.

So what made Google Ventures take notice of VIDA?

Umaima’s idea was one that she had been working on for as long as she can remember. This proved to be integral to her pitch as she already had sought out some 500+ artists, factories, customer insights and also had a prototype ready for her website already.

The preparatory groundwork also proved instrumental in determining her margins, and as soon as she got the check from Google Ventures in April 2014, she started selecting artists from diverse backgrounds. She attributed the need for diversity to ensuring that her business was scalable and growth-friendly.

“It was important to me upfront that it was a fiercely streamlined manufacturing process, because once we get that right, we can scale the business. We didn’t want a complex ecosystem.”

VIDA Proves to Be A Smash Hit

Mendhro launched VIDA on November 2014, and since then her product offerings have grown by 1000x. She features artists from over 150 countries and 2,500 cities.

As for VIDA’s financial success, the website has enjoyed a 30x revenue growth between Jan 2015 to April 2016. This has given Umaima increased confidence to prepare her company for another round of funding.

She has already participated in Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day, and following a 5 minute pitch for VIDA, she has secured a deal with one investor. She will be having meetings with several more in the weeks ahead.

Even though Umaima Mendhro has had the benefit of a Harvard education and a great network, she is grateful that she got the chance to realize her dreams. Her hard work and dedication won her kudos, and as a Pakistani entrepreneur, she has raised the profile of Pakistan when it comes to overcoming all odds and making it big with the best of the best.

You can check out VIDA here

Samir heads the sponsored content department at ProPakistani. He also looks after the Life section.

  • Ishtiaq

    Nice, i would definitely like to meet her.

    • Hummad Haider


      • Ishtiaq

        How do u know? I can give u a befitting answer but i won’t. First read the heading “Meet this Pakistani Entrepreneur…..” so why do you say now? Besides that I’d like to meet you too.

        • KMQ

          Aaare Ishtiaq bhai gussa nahi, bhai aap ko majority logon ki tarah samajh rahe they, Jante nahi na aap ko. Aap chill karo..

          Baki rahi baat milne ki tu milne ka ishtiaq tu humain bhi hai aap se. :-)

          • Ishtiaq

            Lol han dekho na yar article k title pe aitraz nahi kar raha humari aik line answer pe ghairat agai isko ko. Khair choro aur bilkul milte hain wahien cheel chowk pe ;) kia kehte ho.

            • Muhammed Ovais Alam

              Cheek chowk to ab ‘saaf’ ho gae hai.
              ‘Nau zero’ ki taraf milnay ka program krlain.

            • KMQ

              Seriously aap liyari main rehte ho?

        • Taha Najam

          You did give him a befitting answer though. #rekt

      • Muhammed Ovais Alam

        Do you have any problem with that?

      • Yara BC pagal ho aap?

      • Ahmed Ali


  • KMQ

    Sir her name is Umaimah not Umaina or Umainah. Please correct that.

  • KMQ

    Good aapne name Umaima tu kar dia ab uski spelling bhi theek kar do :-) Its Umaimah not Umaima. You can check on thier site or on her LinkedIn Profile.

    • Abdul basith Mirrayes


  • KMQ

    Chalo good hai aap ne Umaimah na sahi Umaima tu kar dia but the good thing is its uniform now on whole article :-) Keep up the good work (y)

  • Tariq

    pakistan ka kia taluq hy is se?

    • EZ Boards

      Really. There nothing about Pakistan(i) in this context. She is from Harward, that’s why Google listen her. Is there any example, that some one from a local university or school grad have also did some thing like this? What about “Khaddi”? Do any body knows the history of Khaddi? it was started by few poor un-educated people to survive their life and prepare cloths in their house on self-made “khaddi” machines.

      • Tariq i can’t confirm that “poor un-educated people” claim. Do you have any references?

      • Tariq

        Any references for khaadi history?

      • Ishtiaq

        you are absolutely right.

    • Ishtiaq

      Sub Topi drama hai yar. bas jiska jack lag jata hai uska jackpot nikal aata hai phir woh ethical bhi ho jatey hain social worker bhi. Aur pro pakistani ko aaj kal waisey hi articles k wanday paray huwey hain. Aur is article main content se ziada is bachi ki pics lagai hoi hain woh bhi billboard size ki. Nahi maloom inka kia kaam hai kabliyat se.

    • ہے ناں! پاکستان میں یہ نہیں وہ نہیں، پھر میں نے یہ تیر مارلیا وغیرہ

      • KMQ

        Nailed it!

  • Abdullah

    She is not Pakistani. She is American!

    • Ishtiaq

      It means i can’t meet her now.

      • KMQ

        aap ko yehi fikar kha jaegi :-)

        • Ishtiaq

          hahaha, bas jani humain bhi successful hone ka shok hogaya hai samjh lou.

          • Bilal Iqbal

            success with a shortcut… ha h aha

  • Muhammad Zaman

    Umaima Mendhrore, we are proud of you. Hope you will come to Pakistan soon where great opportunities awaits you. It is just 10 more years when Pakistan will be world financial hub.

    • KMQ

      Allah aapki zaban mubarak kare.

  • GGXD

    born in Pakistan and all the hard work and polishing done by others when becomes famous anyway some
    credit goes to Pakistan.

  • This is very old story and you are covering this now ..

  • Taha Najam

    So Etsy? And seriously, just 10% to the creators? Why does any artist even work with them.

  • I’m a budding designer/entrepreneur myself.. running a small online business. I received VIDA’s email a few months ago. The website felt fake to the point that I had to google about it and it’s owner. I came across a few international media reporting about VIDA but I haven’t joined it yet. The 10% share for each order seems negligible. The idea is certainly not new. Society6 or Threadless is somewhat doing the same, but as far I remember their percentage share is around 30-35%, which is a quite reasonable deal, unlike VIDA. The only issue I had was we have to have PayPal for the transactions. If PayPal launches in Pakistan, our designers can earn a lot from these kind of websites..

  • Haseeb Ulfat

    extra ordinary performance of that lady ..well done