LUMS Alumni Make it to Forbes 30 Under 30 List
Success and accolades are in the DNA of LUMS alumni. They have always challenged the status quo. CEOs. Scientists. Politicians. Entrepreneurs. Award Winners. And everything in between. One or another among the 14, 298 alumni spread across the globe keep bringing laurels home. More recently, alumni Muhammad Owais Qureshi (BSc 2014) and Zohaib Ali (BSc2014) have been featured in this year's Forbes 30 Under 30- a set of lists of people under 30 years old issued annually by Forbes magazine and some of its regional editions.
Last year, when the pandemic hit, Qureshi and Ali founded their start-up, Dastgyr, a B2B E-commerce Marketplace. Starting with only a seed amount of $300,000, success came running their way and today they have already served tens and thousands of retailers in Karachi and Lahore, attracting millions of dollars in investments in Pakistan. On being asked, why they ventured into this rather different sector, Qureshi replies, “It started as a mere conversation between us and a retailer in Sheikhpura, right next to Ali’s family’s factory. Conversing with him, we realised what a grave challenge it is for these MSMEs to purchase inventory. We also spoke to 143 more small-scale retailers and understood that this is a macro-level problem in Pakistan that needs a solution.” From here onwards, there was no looking back.
The two of them became close friends during their time at LUMS, and the bond continued even after they graduated. “The one cause both of us feel strongly about is creating a massive economic impact in Pakistan. During COVID-19, we understood that Dastgyr’s business model could solve the procurement problems retailers face, create positive ripple effects in the USD 150 billion retail industry in Pakistan, and have a long-term impact on the country’s economic landscape,” explains Qureshi. Motivated to empower people to make convenient and sustainable livelihoods for themselves, solve the problems at scale so that we can create macro level disruptions, and help Pakistan be recognised as the country with immense economic potential and one of the most competent talent pools across the globe, they kicked off the pilot phase of Dastgyr in May 2020.
Today, the success of their story has a multi-faceted impact. Dastgyr is serving tens and thousands of customers every month, and this has translated into creating a positive impact on their lives with every transaction that is conducted. The company has also created employment opportunities for people with different backgrounds, ages, and educational level. Also, they have helped highlighted Pakistan as a significant player in the start-up ecosystem across the world. Earlier in 2019, they were also part of the team that founded Airlift, a mass transit start-up in Pakistan.
Qureshi and Ali attribute a huge part of their success to their alma mater. “LUMS has played an important role in the birth and continuation of Dastgyr as the leader in the B2B marketplace. Firstly, through exposure to both academic and practical challenges, LUMS helped shape our personalities. Secondly, we have a strong alumni network that translated into robust support in various sectors. Thirdly, a significant proportion of the Dastgyr team comprises students and graduates from our alma mater. This has made Dastgyr one of the strongest teams in Pakistan.”
Both batch mates share a similar trait: they have both been consistent in their lives since childhood is the urge to chase impact and make a difference. “Whether it was restarting the LUMS Chess Club or spearheading multiple relief drives during high school and college - everything had the same purpose: creating impact and we live by this purpose whenever and wherever we can,” says Qureshi.
So what is their formula to success? “First, you should solve real problems with like-minded people. This will not only allow you to hone your problem-solving skills but also discover yourself. Second, make friends! They will help you with your goals. Third, make the most out of your LUMS journey and the 360-degree learning experience it provides through academics, sports, societies, and events. Last and most important, be ambitious.” Rightly said and rightly enacted. Best of luck for your future and LUMS is sure more alumni will follow in your footsteps.
Looking back, this is the second time that LUMS alumni have been placed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Fiza Farhan (BSc 2007) was the first one from LUMS to be given this accolade in 2015 in the category of Social Entrepreneurs. The prestigious endowment was made on the basis of bringing clean energy loans and innovative impact investment projects to the poor, rural areas of Pakistan and had been able to train 135 women as energy entrepreneurs; who have brought solar energy to 6,750 households.