Karachi's NED University Alum Raises $100 Million For Silicon Valley FinTech Startup

Pakistani-American serial entrepreneur and NED alumnus Dr. Safwan Shah has raised $100 million in Series C funding for his financial technology (fintech) startup PayActiv Inc. based in Silicon Valley, California. The round was led by Eldridge Wealth Ltd, a venture capital firm headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. PayActiv currently has a 200 member development team in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Dr. Safwan Shah, CEO PayActiv Inc.
PayActiv allows employees to draw accumulated pay or wages in real-time before the end of the pay period. Funds are moved to the employees bank account or card instantly. Unbanked employee can even get cash through a Walmart partnership. Employees can pay bills, call Uber, start savings, get financial coaching and much more. This fintech startup offers a low-cost alternative to Pay Day lenders and other financial institutions that charge employees exorbitant fees and high interest rates for loans against future paychecks. Safwan Shah's startup is solving a real economic problem faced by millions of poor Americans. PayActiv is serving more over 4 million employees at more than 1,000 businesses across retail, food services, business processing services, and over 400 senior living and healthcare businesses. Its clients include Walmart, Wayfair, Ibex Global and many others. Here's how Dr. Safwan Shah, CEO and Co-Founder of PayActiv, describes his business:

“American families are facing more financial stress than they have in generations. The timing gap between work and wages is the main reason workers get hit with punitive late fees, overdraft fees and other penalties. Cumulatively, these fees reduce wages by seven percent every month. The PayActiv platform is the only system where everyone wins: employers lift worker morale with little to no cost and huge dividends; employees get wages when they actually need them most; and cash re-enters the economy faster, making communities financially healthier.”

Dr. Safwan Shah graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from NED University of Engineering in Karachi, Pakistan in 1985. After coming to the United States in 1989, Safwan received his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from University of Colorado at Boulder in 1990 and 1994 respectively.

Safwan started Infonox, a payment platform company, in 2005 and sold it to TSYS in 2008 for an undisclosed amount. He then started PayActiv in 2012.

NED University alumni Idris Kothari and Saeed Kazmi are among the early pioneering duo in the world of technology startups in Silicon Valley. Since 1980s, they have started, built and sold several technology companies, including VPNet, Silicon Design and VIA Technology. They are currently running Vertical Systems Inc. which has a development center in Pakistan.

Safwan Shah is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of Pakistani origin in Silicon Valley. Safwan Shah's startup is solving a real economic problem faced by millions of poor Americans.  Like another successful NED alum Ashraf Habibullah of Computers and Structures Inc. (CSI), Safwan is also very generous with his time and money for NED University Alumni Association activities in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the United States and the world. Safwan and Ashraf are among a handful of NED alumni in San Francisco Bay Area who have done very well and made fellow NED alumni take pride in their alma mater. Other successful NED alumni in Silicon Valley include Raghib Husain (Cavium/Marvel)Naveed Sherwani (SiFive), Rehan Jalil (Securiti.ai) and Khalid Raza (Viptela). They all serve to inspire NEDians everywhere.

Here's a video of Safwan Shah speaking at a Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit:


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Umar A. said…
You forgot to mention Saeed Kazmi and Idris Kothari who are also serial entrepreneur --- Silicon Design, Via Tech, VSI etc. There may be other NED Alumni who might feel slighted.
Riaz Haq said…
SiFive Lands Another $60 Million in Funding to Challenge Arm
The Silicon Valley startup said its latest round of funding was led by SK Hynix, one of the world's largest manufacturers of memory chips. The investment arms of Intel, Qualcomm, and Western Digital, and other current investors joined the Series E round.


The startup is led by president and chief executive officer Naveed Sherwani, who was hired for the position in 2017.

The startup raised $65 million in Series D funding led by Qualcomm Ventures last year, after it landed $50 million in Series C funding from Spark Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures in 2018.

Silicon Valley startup SiFive raised $61 million in its latest round of funding to continue rolling out its open-source semiconductor technology and challenge its major rival Arm.

The startup said its latest round of funding was led by SK Hynix, one of the world's largest memory chip manufacturers, and was joined by its existing investors, including the venture capital arms of Intel, Qualcomm, and Western Digital. The funding brings the total amount raised by the company to more than $190 million since it was founded in 2015.

The startup has developed a range of processor cores, accelerators, and other IP based on the RISC-V architecture, the popular open-source instruction set used as the starting point for building chips. SiFive said that its product portfolio spans high-performance processors used in data centers to tiny, power-sipping cores ideal for the Internet of Things. SiFive has rolled out products that compete against Arm's Cortex-A, Cortex-M, and other chip designs.

While anyone can access the open instruction set architecture free of charge, building chips based on the technology can be very costly and take years of development time. SiFive has rolled out a set of development tools that can be used to add custom features to its RISC-V cores, giving customers the ability to differentiate their products. It has rolled out another set of tools that customers can use to assemble the IP into systems on a chip, or SoCs.

SiFive, which also offers chip design services to customers, said the use of its intellectual property and cloud-based tools reduces the cost and time-to-market for custom silicon.

SiFive has been gaining ground in the global chip business in recent years. Last year, the company said it counted six of the top 10 semiconductor suppliers in the world, including Qualcomm and SK Hynix, as its customers. "SiFive's winning product portfolio will continue to expand and be adopted for solutions that require domain-specific architectures," the CEO said in a statement Tuesday.

The company was founded in 2015 by Andrew Waterman, Krste Asanovic and Yunsup Lee, who co-developed the free, open-source architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
Riaz Haq said…
SiFive has raised a total of $190.5M in funding over 5 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Aug 11, 2020 from a Series E round.

SiFive is funded by 13 investors. Western Digital Capital and Qualcomm Ventures are the most recent investors.

SiFive has a post-money valuation in the range of $100M to $500M as of Jun 7, 2019, according to PrivCo.


Aug 11, 2020
Series E - SiFive Logo
Series E - SiFive
8 $61M SK Hynix
Jun 6, 2019
Series D - SiFive Logo
Series D - SiFive
6 $65.4M Qualcomm Ventures
Apr 2, 2018
Series C - SiFive Logo
Series C - SiFive
10 $50.6M OUP (Osage University Partners), Spark Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures
May 8, 2017
Series B - SiFive Logo
Series B - SiFive
3 $8.5M Spark Capital
Sep 1, 2015
Series A - SiFive Logo
Series A - SiFive
1 $5M Sutter Hill Ventures
Riaz Haq said…
Two Fintech Deals Add to Startup Funding Rush in Pakistan


by Faseeh Mangi

A flood of overseas capital into Pakistan’s fintech startups that began during the coronavirus pandemic is continuing unabated, with two new fundraising deals announced on Monday.

Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Securities Pvt.’s fintech trading app KTrade as well as former Morgan Stanley fund manager Omair Ansari’s early wage access platform have raised a total of $6.6 million, adding to the $19.3 million funding for the country’s startups in the first quarter of 2021.

Of that, nearly $15 million came from foreign investors, which poured a record $48 million into the sector last year, according to an April tweet by Invest2Innovate that support startups. The decrease in global air travel during Covid-19 has been an unexpected boon for startups in the South Asian nation, which has had travel advisories issued against it by many nations.

“Covid has helped us because previously an investors’ due diligence process would usually involve them coming to the country. It was not that easy for them to visit Pakistan,” Ali Farid Khwaja, chairman at Karachi-based KASB Securities, said in an interview. “Now they can’t go to any country, they became open to speaking with founders over Zoom and other digital means.”

KTrade, which allows investors to buy and sell equities on the Pakistan Stock Exchange, raised $4.5 million in a funding round led by Hong Kong-based TT Bond Partners and HOF Capital from New York, according to a statement by the company. German investor Christian Angermayer also participated in the round.

Ansari raised $2.1 million in seed funding for Abhi, which like Payactiv Inc. and Wagestream Ltd. allows employees to access already earned wages before they’re paid out. Investors included VEF Ltd. and Village Global, Ansari said in an email.

“There are always stages in an ecosystem,” said Talal Gondal, Chief Executive Officer at TAG Innovation Pvt., which recently raised one of the highest pre-seed fundings in the region. “Pakistan’s fintech wave is just starting.”

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