Bangladeshis are accepting new technology into their lives faster than ever before. This is opening up new opportunities for companies to connect and leverage a new wave of digital consumerism. The GP Accelerator, powered by SD Asia, is an initiative to help build the country’s ICT sector by providing a platform for local tech startups to meet this new market demand.
The GP Accelerator is a four-month business boot camp that will provide extensive training and resources to grow a business quicker than it would otherwise in the same amount of time. Through seed funding, workspace in GP House, expert mentors and a weighty set of contacts, the GP Accelerator aims to help entrepreneurs succeed and scale up. It has the entrepreneur’s interests at its heart.
The four-month boot camp will take place mainly at GP House and is only for early-stage Bangladeshi tech startups. The accelerator will select five tech startups best suited to take advantage of the program resources. When the startups enter the program, they will get workspace at GP House and BDT 11.7 lakh in seed funding. At the end of the program, a Demo Day will be organized where the teams will have the opportunity to present their product/businesses models to potential investors, customers and partners.
So, what are the selection criteria?
The eligibility criteria for applying to this program are:
– The project should be a tech startup:
(It can be a tech-agri startup, or an e-healthcare startup, or a Fin-tech startup, but most importantly the startup has to have some link to both technology and the internet.)
– The startup has to be in its early-stage:
(An early-stage startup is a startup which already has a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), or some existing client/customer group (traction), or a prototype, or any of these in development).
– The startup has to be incorporated in Bangladesh, and must possess a Bangladeshi bank account.
– The startup has to have a minimum of two co-founders, and at least one of the co-founders working full-time on the project.
– The co-founders must be 18-years or older.
Applications are currently open, and interested candidates can go to the following website to register their startup: www.grameenphoneaccelerator.com/apply
The basic layout of the registration process is simple, candidates have to answer 30-35 questions about their startup as an introduction to their project. Candidates can register with their Facebook, LinkedIn or email account. The registration deadline is Dec-31st, 2015. The application process is being managed by the F6S platform, which has become the global standard for accelerators.
There is also an FAQ section on the website if interested candidates want to learn more about the GP Accelerator program.
So, how will the selection process work?
Round 1 – Accelerator Resources and Team
Grameenphone and SD Asia will be the involved in the selection process to assess the best tech startups in the country. At stage 1, the GP Accelerator team will look into the applicants’ teams, their areas of expertise, and their business models. At the end of this stage, selectors will select 50 startups for Round 2.
Erlend Prestgard, Chief Strategy Officer at Grameenphone Ltd, said ‘Getting the right companies, spreading the word wide enough, and getting the right companies interested and selected are going to be the more important things to focus on to make this program successful.’
Round 2 & 3 – Communication, Storytelling, and Business Model
At the 2nd stage, the startup will be tested on their communication skills, uniqueness, and scalability. Towards Round 3, GP Accelerator selectors will have in-person interviews with startups. The startups will be judged on their confidence and storytelling abilities. During this stage, GP will bring in investors to gain more insight into the startups’ business models. At the end of Round 3, the selectors will select 15 startups for round 4.
Round 4: Overall Impressiveness
‘We believe everyone has a talent and every mind has an idea, and the most challenging task for GP Accelerator team would be to choose the final five, the best of the best’, said Faisal Kabir, Strategy Specialist (Managing Director Division, at GP).
At this stage, the selectors will take a look into everything from the last three rounds and crosscheck all the information to select the Final Five. These five startups will have to sign a ‘Participation Agreement’ and go through the program to showcase their startups on the Demo Day, where the top five startups will be able to pitch to potential investors, partners and customers.
Samad Miraly, Co-founder of SD Asia, said ‘We have a big responsibility to startups, and we have to live up to that commitment. This is our biggest challenge, both for GP and SD Asia. But, we genuinely want to help the tech startups in Bangladesh and we are confident that this program will be a help.’