Startup Dhaka – what’s in a name

Three years on this day, our crowd funded Startup Dhaka Documentary premiered at EMK center to an audience of 100 which included founders, sponsors and startup community members. This was in the early days when we still had to explain what is a startup.  When we started this journey, we did not have a very good idea about how we will shape the future, but we did have passion to make an impact in the local startup community.

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After the film, we launched our tech news site SD ASIA which pivoted from purely focusing to Bangladesh to regional startup news. As the global online media reshaped in past few years, we focused on developing a tech platform to create content that is scalable. We will continue to experiment as media tries to find a footing in a world where social media is shaping news and content industry. In fact we launched a Facebook Entrepreneur Community called Desperately Seeking Entrepreneurs which has over 25,000+ members and has helped connect entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.

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We have also worked with regional tech news heavy weights like Tech in Asia and e27 to host events like Echelon top 100 qualifiers in Bangladesh. This allowed us to connect the local tech startups and founders with the region that enable them to benchmark their progress in line with other startups in the region. We partnered with 500 Startups for holding special workshop on design thinking.

In  2014 we launched country’s first co-working space called The Wave where we incubated two of our startups. In our current space, we have our portfolio company GObd and SD ASIA team. The proximity and ability to speak to the founders really allowed us to help these companies grow at a faster rate.

We hosted  several large events –Innovation Xtreme 2016 , Innovation Xtreme 2014 , Startupbashbd , GIST Bootcamp Digibuzz etc . Our work has been featured in several international publications, which, at the end of the day, allows us to continue to connect, build and grow the tech industry in Bangladesh.

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In early 2015, we started a 12 Week Bootcamp & Demo Day  to understand the need of local startups in the terms of formal curriculum and lesson plan. The program was designed by founders of SD ASIA and borrowed heavily from their personal investments experience in early stage startups in Bangladesh. The insights we shared with the startups were based on running our own startups and from the first hand experience we gained in helping to pivot our invested companies.  As angels/ venture builders we were some of the early risk takers and some of our investments include the following:

Magnito Digital – Agency that manages Wowbox App for Telenor Digital in BD and GP TV, GP Music, etc

Lightcastle Partners   – digital market research and data platform for Bangladesh

ZuumZuum – Online Fashion E-commerce

GoBD  and GoFetch– Traffic Data in Bangladesh and Delivery Logistics company for Ecommerce

The Wave – Co working space in Bangladesh

IBT – Technology Development company that builds our tech products for some of our startups we have invested in.

The 12 week boot camp was precursor to a full-fledged accelerator that we launched in partnership with Grameenphone in last quarter of 2015.  We on boarded a total of 10 startups through two batches who went through 4 months of intense program. The program provided seed funding of more than BDT 11+ lakh each, in addition to a co-working space, logistical support and mentorship to participating startups. Each batch concluded with a Demo Day where investors and other stakes holder heard the pitches from the  teams.

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For next year we are working on two new projects which will allow us to help larger number of startups in Bangladesh. The journey so far has been very interesting as we were able to put our head down and focus in what we do best – help startups.  We look forward to collaborating and partnering to making more impact in the  ecosystem next year.

Happy New Year, albeit a little early!

Mustafizur Rahman Khan

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