Village Girl from Sindh Launches San Francisco Tech Startup
By Riaz Haq
Vida, a San Francisco technology startup co-founded by Umaimah Mendhro from Akri village in Sindh, Pakistan, has received $1.3 million funding from Google Ventures, Universal Music Group and others, according to Tech Crunch .
The startup bills itself as "socially responsible" with the objective of using technology to provide a way for designers, artists and other creatives anywhere in the world to make a viable living through their work.
Vida CEO Umaima Mendhro joins a growing list of successful Pakistani-American women that includes Shama Zehra in finance, Shaan Kandawalla in technology, Shazia Sikandar in the Arts and Fatima Ali in fine cuisine.
“I am from a very small town in Pakistan and was home-schooled much of my life because we didn’t have proper schools around. I taught myself how to cut, sketch, sew, stitch, block print, screen print, oil paint, and more,” she told Tech Crunch. “Yet I couldn’t get myself to pursue art as a profession because I feared I wouldn’t be able to make a living with it,” Mendhro said. “With a love for fashion and design, I was also acutely aware of the hundreds of millions of people employed in textile and garment production, who could never get out of a cycle of poverty.”
Vida brings together painters, photographers, graphic designers, sculptors, 3D artists, architects, and textile and print designers from around the world who participate in the platform at no cost, then receive a 10% revenue share on products sold. Additionally, VIDA often works with its textile mills, printers, and cut and sew factories, removing the middleman costs from the equation. Vida uses "Direct to Fabric Digital Printing Technology" for its offerings.
Currently, VIDA designers include: Elle Magazine's 'Up and Coming Fashion Designer from Sweden, Emma Lundgren,' Vogue.com's top 10 fashion graduates to watch, Cigdem Keskin from Turkey, and Tokyo-based 'Top Hat Designer of the Year,' Honoyo Imai. Manufacturing partners include: Karachi-based fashion label and manufacturing houses, Sania Maskatiya and FNKAsia.
Umaimah has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Here's what she says about herself in her intro on HBS website : "I want to live a life that compels people who do not seem to share a common thread to see if, at a raw human level, we really are that different. A life that gives people reason to reason for themselves... to pause and question the comfortable assumptions. To form and inform beliefs. And never give up common sense for common opinion."