This post originally appeared on on February 27, 2015 by Charlotte Lamontagne

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Usman Riaz Ahmed Khawaja, Muhammad Ahmed Khalid, Kamran Shahid Butt, Usman Khalid

Last spring, XGear Cofounder Ahmed Khalid traveled to Moscow for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress to mingle with investors, policymakers and fellow entrepreneurs. XGear had been named a top five finalist in Startup Open a few months earlier and Khalid was looking to spread the word on his startup’s unique predictive analysis platform before taking it to the next level.

“Participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week made us realize that no matter where we are in the world, the problems startups face are pretty universal,” said Khalid. “Attending events like the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Moscow gave us an opportunity to learn from our peers about how they were coping with the difficulties they were facing and network with a talented crowd.”

Added Khalid, “The hard part of becoming an entrepreneur was not knowing how extremely difficult it would be. With every challenge we overcame, we learned valuable lessons on how to survive when we are running on fumes. If I could sum up my entrepreneurship experience in one sentence it would be that ‘three years of hard extremely hard work and perseverance makes you look like an overnight success.’”

Much has happened to XGear in the past year so we caught up with Khalid to get the inside scoop on the big data company based in Pakistan that plans to bring cars into the Internet of Things.

XGear started as a passion for cars

Since I’ve always loved cars and computers, I wanted to find a way to quantify my driving experience but there were no tools available to do that. In the final year of university pursuing my undergraduate degree, I started working with one of my friends on getting data out of my car to analyze it. Once the initial data extraction was done, we figured there was a lot we could do with this data and that is where the idea for XGear started!

GEW helped XGear get their first client

GEW is one of the most respected platforms for startups worldwide. We believed that we were on to something big and that GEW would be the right platform to launch it from. Being a finalist for Startup Open helped us gain some traction for XGear when we were starting out. In fact, we were able to secure our first strategic partner, a fleet which agreed to test our solution as they already knew GEW so our association with it increased our credibility.

XGear joined a Pakistani incubator to refine the product

Since participating in Startup Open in 2014, we were part of  Plan9 – an incubator where startups from all over Pakistan apply and they only select a handful to help them build their products. The technological support helped us improve the architecture of the product, making it more scalable.

XGear joined a Silicon Valley accelerator to make the product market-ready

Following our time at Plan9, we started working in close collaboration with Microsoft Innovation Center and joined BlackBox, a Silicon Valley accelerator run by Google for Entrepreneurs. Startups from all over the world apply and BlackBox selects 15 startups to take part in one of a kind acceleration program where a series of rigorous drills are done to make entrepreneurs and their products market ready for the valley. We were the only startup from Lahore in the accelerator’s eighth generation.

We’ve had to say no in order to move in the right direction

A few months ago we were accepted into Startup Chile’s accelerator program which offered us $40,000 and required the whole team to move to Chile for six months. At the same time, Pepsi Pakistan signed up with us and wanted to go live in 450 vehicles. The dates clashed, so we had to choose to either stay in Pakistan and carry on with the Pepsi deployment or leave the country and attend the Startup Chile program. In the end, we chose to stay in Pakistan to monitor the deployment of the Pepsi fleet and turned down Startup Chile.

XGear calls Pakistan home

Pakistan was the best place to launch XGear. The team was originally based here and it was easier to get talented people for much cheaper prices than in more developed markets. XGear is currently being supported by Plan X, a technology accelerator in Pakistan.

XGear has a tweet pitch

Last fall, The Next Web voted XGear as one of 10 exciting early-stage startups to look out for.
Our tweet pitch helped set us apart from strong competition: “XGear lets you access the data your car produces every day to increase efficiency, save money and improve your driving in ways you never knew possible.”