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Kashmir startup ‘Fastbeetle’ gets seed funding to expand ops

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Srinagar-based logistics company ‘Fastbeetle’ has closed a seed funding round at an undisclosed valuation from angel investors including Anuj Sharma of Alsisar Impact and Kartik Desai of Asha Impact.

“The company has provided inbound and outbound full-stack logistics services across 40 pin codes in JK for over 1,000 micro-entrepreneurs and 500 SMEs, of which 60% are run by women, helping drive entrepreneurship in the region and providing critical services in areas not serviced by larger companies,” said Alsisar Impact, a transaction advisory company, in a press release.

 

It further said that during the lockdown, Fastbeetle has been widely credited with helping keep crucial business lifelines open and has seen rapid growth over the last year through the pandemic, becoming akin to an essential service for more than 30,000 Kashmiri customers.

Led by experienced Kashmiri entrepreneurs, Sheikh Samiullah and Abid Rashid, Fasbeetle has built a full-stack technology interface for intra and inter-city logistics specific to the circumstances of J-K and has presence in 8 districts of the state. “Fastbeetle recently announced a strategic tie-up with both Amazon and Flipkart to enable last mile logistics in 10 pin codes in Kashmir and will use the funding to strengthen the team and expand business operations to all districts including Jammu, as well as to the adjacent union territory of Ladakh,” read the press release.

“The funds shall help us in expanding our reach to even more remote parts of the region, while helping boosting local economic growth and the income growth potential for the people by helping local entrepreneurs forge channels with the global market,” said the founders.

The company has grown steadily after its selection last year at a special incubation program held in Srinagar by ALSiSAR Impact, a double bottom line impact incubator and transaction advisory firm, that has a special focus on frontier markets and the Himalyan region. “Fastbeetle is a great example of the type of social enterprise that is much needed to spread the benefits of growth to underserved regions. ALSiSAR Impact is proud to have supported the founders from an early stage.”  said Anuj Sharma, Founder and CEO of ALSiSAR Impact.

Kartik Desai, Executive Director of Asha Impact said, “Very impressed by Fastbeetle’s vision and team, local knowledge and execution capabilities, and partnerships and growth potential, I have made this investment in my personal capacity and I look forward to helping Sami, Abid and Anuj scale the company to the next level and provide a critical service to a vastly underserved population. Their impact is truly incredible in creating opportunities where it is most needed in desperate times.”

The other investors in the round included angel investors Abrar Asif and Tayib Ahmed, who stated: “The last-mile delivery space in India is growing and Fastbeetle is well poised to take a lead in the coming years. We wish Sami and Abid the best of luck in their journey to scale up Fastbeetle despite being from one of the most conflict-hit regions of the world.”

“Despite the growth in VC and impact investing in India over the last few years, non-metro regions and frontier markets, especially in Himalayan region, seldom receive early-stage investment and support. This is one of the first such investments in the region that is full of potential for both social and economic impact. It also signals to other capable entrepreneurs,” the communique added.

Fastbeetle wants to champion local businesses across all of Jammu and Kashmir by empowering them with tech based solutions and reliable end-to-end logistic needs, it added.

Locally referred to as ‘Beetles’ the start-up has demonstrated the ability to overcome the difficult connectivity issues that have long plagued the business sector in the Valley and become the catalysing force for Kashmiri entrepreneurs with its last-mile delivery and logistics services.