Invest2Innovate Launches i2i Ecosystem to Address Critical Gaps in the Startup Landscape

Invest2Innovate (i2i), a trailblazer in the Pakistani entrepreneurial ecosystem, hosted a launch event for its latest initiative – the i2i Ecosystem on February 28th. The project aims to redefine Pakistan’s startup landscape with three major components: i2iScale, Investor Founder Discovery Platform, and an ecosystem-integrated community. The initiative is supported by a $500,000 commitment from the Visa Foundation.

The event featured panel discussions and keynote addresses, providing attendees with valuable insights into the i2i Ecosystem and its components. Various stakeholders from the ecosystem came together to explore the power of community and discuss the challenges facing startups in Pakistan, including data fragmentation and access to resources.

The event also highlighted i2iScale, a founder-driven, bespoke accelerator that promises a personalized roadmap for the growth, fundraising, and expansion of select startups. Its customized approach goes beyond generic guidance – delving deep into founder aspiration and cultivating a transformative mindset, building powerful growth linkages and meaningful partnerships.

Sarah Munir, CEO of Invest2Innovate, shared in her introductory remarks: “The i2i Ecosystem is a holistic effort to create an inclusive and equitable startup ecosystem in Pakistan. We are very excited to play a pivotal role in unlocking growth and bringing about a meaningful, sustainable change for the entrepreneurial landscape in the country.”

During the event, founders from i2i Ventures portfolio startups also shared insights on shaping the future of innovation in Pakistan, highlighting success stories and lessons learned. Additionally, an investor panel addressed the investment trends for 2024, drawing on key events from the previous year and offering perspectives for the future.

During this panel discussion Kalsoom Lakhani, Co-founder i2i Ventures remarked: “The i2i Ecosystem initiative is the culmination of 13 years of supporting startups & the broader startup ecosystem in Pakistan. Founders today are at an important inflection point, building during some very hard market realities and at a time of funding scarcity. This initiative is designed with founders at the center, with an eye on how to address some of the biggest gaps they face today & the future. As someone who’s now an investor with i2i Ventures, I’m excited for what this multi-pronged approach can mean for our own pipeline, hopefully making more founders investment-ready.”

The event also introduced i2i’s Investor-Founder Discovery Platform, a centralized, verified, repository to facilitate data-driven decision-making and efficient founder-investor matching. This platform aims to solve data fragmentation, biases in funding, and limited founder visibility, thereby promoting growth and inclusivity in the ecosystem.

Community Engagement, another critical component of the initiative, focuses on building an interconnected, inclusive community of startups, investors, mentors, and industry stakeholders, to create a more collaborative ecosystem that promotes knowledge sharing, resource pooling, and mutual growth.

Umar Khan, Visa’s Country Manager for Pakistan & Afghanistan was also among the attendees. During his closing remarks, he highlighted the need for a meaningful solution and emphasized on Visa’s dedication in supporting Pakistan’s startup ecosystem through the i2i Ecosystem initiative.

This project comes at a crucial juncture as Pakistan’s startup scene continues to burgeon, largely driven by the country’s youth.  From its nascent stages with an average annual investment of $10M between 2016 and 2018, the sector has witnessed exponential growth. In 2019, total funding soared to $47M, followed by an impressive surge to $350M in 2021. Despite these strides, Pakistani startups face numerous challenges, including limited access to resources, fragmented ecosystems, skill gaps, and inadequate mentorship networks.

The i2i Ecosystem represents a proactive stride toward addressing critical gaps in the startup sector. With tailored support, customized resources, and a collaborative community approach, it is positioned to unleash the full potential of Pakistan’s tech-savvy youth.

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