Sidra Qasim and Waqas Ali, founded Markhor a premium handcrafted leather shoes online retailer. However due to multiple national bank regulations accepting online payments had been very difficult for the startup at the time.
But ever since, those two have certainly gone a long way from winning $10000 at the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund, a Google-backed grant program for Pakistani entrepreneurs, running a successful Kickstarter campaign of $107,000 to reaching the Silicon Valley and being incubated at Y Combinator accelerator, which gave them additional access to mentorship and potential investors.
They have certainly come far, and in 2017 they started a new brand called Atoms. The decision to start a new brand came when Sidra and Waqas found that scaling the production of a handcrafted product that Markhor is, was very difficult. Therefore, they made the decision to outsource the production of Atoms to South Korea, where factories had more experience producing high-end sneakers at scale and could ramp up production without skimping on quality.
However, Markhor is still in business, with a team in Lahore running operations. But Waqas and Sidra are mostly focused on Atoms now. Speaking to the local news, they said that for them, the problem that they are trying to solve was never been about footwear but rather about paving the way for future Pakistani entrepreneurs.