Orbit is an augmented reality-based interactive learning tool that empowers classrooms with real-time stimulation to strengthen the students’ learning processes. The startup has recently raised seed funding from Boost VC. Below are the excerpts of the talks with the founders of the startup with Manager Innovation, Yaruq Nadeem.
Yaruq Nadeem: What were your career goals at the beginning?
Naveera: Well, ending up with a startup never really was on my to-do list. I wanted to have a good job and that was pretty much it, at the beginning.
Wajeeha: Same goes for me. I wanted a corporate job but by the time I actually began one, I realized that it was not for me.
Yaruq Nadeem: How did you guys decide to have your startup and more importantly what made you realize that this is the correct co-founder?
Naveera: I don’t think I had a choice. Was stuck with her and I decided to go with it. With our first IT Company in 2014, we then began Orbit in 2018. Working with Telenor made me realize I could do better and so I decided to explore newer ventures, and that is just how it all ended up happening then.
Wajeeha: It was more of a golden-cage thing. I had all the facilities. But had no idea what to do of them. So I too released that I could do better than that and then beginning with smaller projects, a time came when we knew we needed a team to help us in. That is when our first IT Company came into being.
Yaruq Nadeem: When starting off your own venture, were you guys on the receiving end of any sort of peer pressure or any other sort of hurdles?
Naveera: Leaving Telenor wasn’t easy, and so the family pressure came along as well. Everyone assumed that we’d eventually come back here, which actually was a very scary thought. We didn’t want it to become a comfort zone for ourselves. Hadn’t we left it then, we wouldn’t ever have been able to.
Wajeeha: No one in our family has a business, so the backlash too was accordingly that we’re leaving a good job just for nothing. The uncertainty element kept creeping in, but just luck that it all happened well.
Yaruq Nadeem: Who came up with the name Orbit and what does it signify?
Naveera: Both of us were obsessed with celestial objects and stars and so Signus and Orbit came about this very way. Just because we’re working on 3D projects, so the name Orbit sounded more relevant.
Yaruq Nadeem: What is Orbit currently working on?
Wajeeha: So we’re currently working on K12, which is Kindergarten to grade 12 and then we’re also providing soft skill training for enterprises.
Yaruq Nadeem: How did you guys make the decision that you guys now were in need of funds?
We weren’t really in search of funding but what actually mattered to us was the network and secondly mentorship. We could have made it here by bootstrapping as well but what made us strive for investment was the validation. To prove ourselves to an extent that people choose to invest in us. Also we noticed that there was a gap in the market that we need to fill, before someone else comes in and takes that place before us.
Yaruq Nadeem: What was the first step in approaching the investor?
Wajeeha: The first thing we did was customer validation, so as to see if there was an appetite in the market or not. Discussing our business and financial models, and continuous research, we had a lot to do amidst ourselves before having to face the investor.
Yaruq Nadeem: Did you have a valuation in your mind at that point in time?
Wajeeha: No. We didn’t even negotiate with Boost VC. They sent in the offer and we did not ask for a raise. As it was justified, in my opinion, we don’t need to have it negotiated.
Yaruq Nadeem: What calculations did you do for yourself?
By looking at other companies. Also that what was their bracket of valuation in the similar market and so we measured ours accordingly. There is no other scientific way out.
Yaruq Nadeem: What was the process of filing to Boost VC?
Wajeeha: Even before Boost VC, it was an entire year of talking to so many people and applying here and there. Getting rejected was part of it but we were adamant to learn about the good that was bound to come out. Towards the end of the year, when the applications opened, there was a lot that they asked for and from the previous learnings that we had had, only that was how we managed to get through.
Yaruq Nadeem: How did you make your application stand out?
This was what we learnt over the year and only comes with experience. The one we submitted was no more than 4 pages long. All you need to do is write it out in a way that the investor feels he’s missing out on something big by letting you go. Also make sure your value propositions are always in pointers, quantify them before jotting them down. Write stats, use lesser words. Review it time and again to keep correcting your flaws.
Yaruq Nadeem: How long after submitting the application, did you receive the call?
A week after.
Yaruq Nadeem: During your interview with Adam Draper, what do you think was he gauging?
Naveera: Out of the 20 minute conversation, we got the offer on the 18th minute. And it wasn’t a formal interview, just a conversation wherein we discussed the market. Just no technical questions.
Wajeeha: He was asking very relevant questions about the customers, and that I think alone was what he made his decision upon. We had spoken to a number of VCs throughout the year and then also coming across a podcast of Adam recently, helped us in. Always research about who is going to interview you.
Yaruq Nadeem: What happened after the interview?
He first did a background check on us by talking to our previous investors and after that was done, the offer was made to us by the lawyer.
Yaruq Nadeem: What is the payment plan for Boost VC?
They’re very particular and specific when it comes to payments and the first payment had been made 2 days prior to the beginning of the program.
Yaruq Nadeem: What does Boost VC not expect of you? How often do you have meetings?
Boost VC is very open. Adam is available at any time and you can ask questions whenever you feel like it. We meet quarterly but a monthly report is what we’re supposed to submit, owing to whatever has happened during that particular month.
Yaruq Nadeem: Did you have any mentor or guide throughout?
We don’t think so, we just supported one another. Idealizing someone we believe may end up being dangerous.
Yaruq Nadeem: What were the challenges during COVID?
Throughout the entire journey, COVID was the greatest hurdle we faced on a whole that had us pivoting the entire business model so as to maintain pace in the market. We came to a zero or maybe negative, but yet managed to find space where the opportunities lay in times that were back then. Although a great setback for the world as a whole, Orbit yet managed to thrive to its very best and continue providing services like it formerly did. Challenges I think are good, they help you grow.
Yaruq Nadeem: Where do you see yourselves and Orbit 5 or 10 years from now?
We want to be leading the enterprise market in Pakistan. And as part of our soft skills training program, we want to have an impact on the market. As humans we lack empathy, so developing empathetic attitudes and tolerance amongst people as a whole is what we aim at. But no matter what, we shall be doing something in the field of technology.
Yaruq Nadeem: There yet is a lack of female representation in the market, what would be your message to the aspiring entrepreneurs?
You need to be strong. Challenges come and go but you need to do it. You have substance in you, you’ll just make it through.
Yaruq Nadeem: 3 takeaways for the audience?
- Find the right person to work with
- Understand if it is not marketable
- Learn from your failures.