Indian business win investment from Shark Tank Show
FastBeetle, a courier delivery start-up in Kashmir, secured 900,000 rupees ($10,970; £9,266) on Shark Tank India, the first company from the region to receive funding on the show. The founders, Sheikh Samiullah and Abdul Rashid, launched the business in 2019, six months before the Indian government revoked Article 370, leading to economic setbacks in the region.
by Ana Machado
FastBeetle, a courier delivery start-up based in Kashmir, has raised 900,000 rupees ($10,970; £9,266) on Shark Tank India, a reality TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors or “sharks”. This marks the first time a company from the region has raised funding on the popular TV show, boosting hopes for budding entrepreneurs in the area. FastBeetle’s founders, Sheikh Samiullah and Abdul Rashid, applied to Shark Tank on a whim after seeing an advertisement about the show on LinkedIn. With this funding, they aim to inspire more young people in Kashmir to start their own businesses.
The region of Kashmir, located in the Himalayas, has been a contentious area as India and Pakistan both claim it in its entirety while ruling over parts of it. For over thirty years, separatist militants have waged an armed rebellion against India’s control over the region, with India accusing Pakistan of supporting these militants – an allegation which Pakistan denies. In August 2019, the BJP-led government removed Article 370, a section of the Indian Constitution that granted substantial autonomy to the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir state, and reorganized it into two federally-administered territories. The announcement resulted in internet shutdowns and curfew-like conditions that lasted for several months, and additional troops were deployed to address potential unrest.
According to official figures, investments in the Kashmir region have declined in the past four years since the Indian government revoked the special status of the region, citing the need for economic development. However, officials argue that the region is now experiencing a boom in local start-ups. Aijaz Ahamd Bhat, director of Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute, claims that the government is working on a new policy to facilitate the establishment of 3,000 start-ups in the region in the next five years, which would create jobs and boost the economy. The “J&K Startup Policy 2023-2028” was previously delayed due to issues and the pandemic, but amendments are being made with the help of experts, and a new policy will be made public in the coming weeks.
In 2019, Mr Samiullah and Mr Rashid founded FastBeetle, a courier delivery service, in Kashmir. They based the business model on an e-commerce company that delivered products throughout India, hoping to create their own brand. However, the abrogation of Article 370 brought their business to a halt. The founders were unable to communicate with their staff for months due to communication blockades, and the company suffered significant losses. Despite the setback, they applied to Shark Tank India and were able to secure funding for their business.
After facing setbacks due to the abrogation of Article 370 and the pandemic, FastBeetle, a Kashmir-based courier delivery service founded by Sheikh Samiullah and Abdul Rashid, has bounced back. They initially started the business in 2019, picking up products, packing them in Srinagar, and delivering them on motorbikes and minivans. However, the scrapping of Article 370 caused the business to come to a standstill. The pandemic further exacerbated the situation, resulting in months-long lockdowns. The founders dipped into their personal savings to pay salaries and keep the business afloat. FastBeetle restarted by delivering apples across Kashmir when apple traders were struggling to deliver their produce, and also delivering oxygen cylinders and medicines patients. Today, the company has 130 employees, delivers everything, operates throughout India, and in over 55 countries. FastBeetle works with over 1,500 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
FastBeetle, a courier delivery service in Kashmir, raised almost 900,000 rupees ($10,970; £9,266) on Shark Tank India. The founders, Sheikh Samiullah and Abdul Rashid, started the business in 2019, just six months before the Indian government revoked Article 370, which resulted in significant economic setbacks for the region. Despite the challenges they faced, including communication blockades and lockdowns, FastBeetle managed to adapt and pivot their business model to help deliver produce and medical supplies during the pandemic. FastBeetle now delivers a variety of products across India and abroad, employs 130 people, and works with over 1,500 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The success of FastBeetle has inspired other entrepreneurs in the region to pursue their own business ventures. The founders hope to build an “ecosystem of start-ups” in the region despite challenges such as uncertain political situations and unpredictable weather.
About the author / Ana Machado
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