KARACHI: CarFirst, a startup that dealt in used vehicles, announced on Friday it was shutting down operations in Pakistan.

In a post on its LinkedIn page, the automobile marketplace thanked its stakeholders and said a team would remain in place to handle the “closing of the entity”.

CarFirst bought used cars and sold them onwards at a profit while promising its customers a “secure, convenient and hassle-free process”. It operated through a mobile app as well as a brick-and-mortar network of 35-plus purchase-and-sale centres in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Hyderabad.

According to Crunchbase, a prospecting platform for dealmakers, CarFirst raised a total of $89 million in funding in two rounds. Their latest funding was raised on May 31, 2018 from a Series A round.

Used-vehicle startup raised $89m in two funding rounds; VavaCars also shut down operations earlier this year

The startup was funded by Frontier Car Group, a German entity that develops, launches and operates used-automotive marketplaces within emerging market economies. Its other ventures include Bayut-Dubizzle in the United Arab Emirates, Zameen in Pakistan, OLX in both Pakistan and Egypt, Lamudi in Indonesia, Philippines and Mexico, Mubawab in North Africa, and Kaidee in Thailand.

Earlier in June, a similar startup, VavaCars of Turkish origin, shut down its operations in Pakistan. Its closure followed layoffs, service rollbacks and outright closures by many other prominent ecommerce players in recent months. Backed by the Dutch energy giant Vitol, VavaCars had raised as much as $50 million in a Series B round in October 2021.

Pakistan’s startup ecosystem is in the midst of a tumultuous period. Global investors that generously injected cash in startups with fancy pitch decks have now started demanding early break-evens instead of mere top-line growth.

Prominent players like Airlift, Careem, Swvl and Truck It In have laid off employees and curtailed the scope of their operations recently in view of the global recession and unfavourable economic conditions on the local front.

CarFirst’s LinkedIn page showed the company had at least 366 employees with LinkedIn profiles. There was no word on the employees’ compensation in the wake of the company’s sudden closure. Company co-founder and CEO Raja Murad Khan didn’t respond to a request for comment on the reasons for the operational shutdown of CarFirst.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2022

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