In the summer of 2018, Gul returned to his hometown in Lahore (Pakistan) on a one-month vacation prior to business school. Upon experiencing the difficulty involved in the daily commute in Lahore, he started thinking about ways to use higher capacity vehicles to build an efficient mass transit network, one that relied on previously underutilized vehicles that were already present in the market.
Four months later, he dropped out of INSEAD’s MBA Program to launch Airlift Technologies. On March 1, 2019, a small founding team launched operations with a pilot project in Lahore. Airlift introduces a marketplace solution that allows bus owners to operate their buses on fixed routes, offering a stop-to-stop solution.
Capitalizing on the enormous latent demand in the market, in less than five months, Airlift started doing well over 50,000 rides/month and raised seed financing of over $2.2M. Fatima Gobi Ventures, through their Techxila Fund I vehicle co-led the round with Indus Valley Capital; several other notable angel investors participated in the earlier stages.
Prior to moving to Pakistan, Gul worked at DoorDash, a food delivery unicorn headquartered in San Francisco. Tony Xu, Founder/CEO at DoorDash, which was valued at $12.6 billion in the last round, was among the first few angel investors to support Airlift. Pritesh Gupta, one of the co-founders of ZipGo, which offers a similar solution, joined Airlift as an official advisor.
Airlift now seeks to build the mass transit infrastructure for the developing world. The Company is spearheading the third wave of ride-sharing, in which higher capacity vehicles are playing an increasing role in enabling urban commute that is fast, reliable and economical.
Airlift’s founding team, consisting of Ahmed Ayub, Awaab Khaakwany, Meher Farrukh, Muhammad Owais and Zohaib Ali, is now on a trajectory to expand the Company’s footprint to other major urban centers in the developing world.