Seventy two hours, starting on 14 February 2019, through the weekend, Techstars Startup Weekend Dhaka saw the rise of startups creating content like never before. Entrepreneurs, innovators, analysts, and even a kid who goes to school made a batch of around 40 individuals for Startup Weekend Dhaka 2019.
Organized by Startup Dhaka, the event would be incomplete without Better Stories as the Co-organizer, Bongo BD as the Premier Partner, SD Asia as the Media Partner, and Upskill as the Content Partner. With the theme of Startup Weekend Dhaka this being “Content”, expectations were blurry and unadjusted at the beginning. As the weekend neared an end though, we saw brilliant content creators and platform emerge.
14 February 2019, Thursday: Valentines Day
40 bright young individuals of Bangladeshi and non-Bangladeshi descent, met each other for the first time. Almost like a blind date, they were tasked to pitch their big ideas so that the best ideas could be voted for pitching by the participants themselves.
An ice breaking session facilitated by Anuragh Maloo, Regional Manager at Techstars, the winners with top ideas then went on to form a team of three to five people. These teams then worked over the rest of the weekend to shape a minimum viable product out of their respective ideas. Thus, some of them having found their cofounders, teams embarked on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Later that day, Anuragh conducted a session on entrepreneurship, building startups, and importance of a strong team. He also shared his experiences of Startup Weekends around this region. He then concluded the day by applauding for the small organizing team of Startup Dhaka for the fun filled experience that the participants got.
15 February 2019, Friday: Hustle
By 9.30 am of Friday, all the teams were present and hard at work at the Grameenphone workstation for startups, called the Whiteboard. Grameenphone’s reservations for events like this makes it the best Innovation Enabler Partner for Startup Weekend Dhaka.
Teams were at work developing their ideas, roadmapping, and designing. Facilitated by the Anuragh, teams were also getting ready for their final pitch on Saturday. The day ahead however, was long and only getting started. The teams were joined by the amazing mentors with various industry expertise. The list of mentors included Joon Park, CMO of Bongo, Ibrahim Mohammad, Senior Manager at Bongo, Inam Uzzaman, project lead of Upskill, Nazmul Ahmed, a renowned Digital Sales Specialist, Bijon Islam the Co-founder and CEO of LightCastle Partners, Muhammad Sohel Rana, Lead Specialist Startup Ecosystem Digital, Tamzid Azad a Senior Executive, and Anup Datta the Product Marketing Specialist at Grameenphone.
For most of the participants, looking at their ideas through industry expert scope was a transforming experience. Teams were seen to be discussing, listening, and even challenging the mentors over their respective ideas. The day then continued with further calibration and recalibration of products, after the teams had incorporated the expert views on them. Exhausted by the end of the day, teams were summoned by Anuragh for a charged up session on teamwork and opened the floor for sharing experiences so far. This made the participants get in touch with their motivations which they had when they joined the Startup Weekend Dhaka. Teams then called it a night, to come back early the next day for their final pitches. By the end of the day, Startup Weekend Dhaka saw brilliant startups emerging.
Super Friends: A cartoon show with a healthy pipeline of ideas for episodes made it a point that Meena cartoon wasn’t enough for the kids of the 21st Century.
Got Photos, the pathao or uber for photo studios aims to make it easy for today’s generation to start making real photo albums again, instead of uploading them on social media.
Shongram 71, an immersive game that would take the player through various experiences of those who fought or survived the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. It is possibly the best history class, keeping the kids continuously engaged and learning in the process.
Arty Match, was a noteworthy mention. The team led by a school goer went on to make an artist collaboration platform for musicians, painters, writers, and so on.
Ishara, on the other hand took on a rather serious and noble challenge. The platform wants to help the deaf and mute community of Bangladesh, by creating a platform for learning the sign language.
Srooti, an audio podcasting platform that wants to get flooded by ideas of any kind, or even thoughts that might shed light upon any worldly matter.
Otata, the odd one but not out, took on the path of fintech. They pitched a common platform to that will enable intra and inter bank transactions in real time.
Law Kindergarten, was an online school and forum to help small businesses and individuals navigate through daily legal hurdles.
16 February 2019, Saturday: Judgement Day
Work schedule on repeat, every participant that day looked sharp and at their best. While their pitch decks were ready, they were still trying different iterations of their products. At around 11:30 am, the teams started ther mock pitches. This session was joined by Mustafizur Rahman, Founder & CEO of Startup Dhaka, Fayaz Taher Co-Founder of Startup Dhaka and Bongo BD, and Anuragh himself. The three of them added immense value with their feedbacks to the teams and helped them go for yet further iterations before the final pitches in the evening.
Finally, the Judges arrived hungry for constructive interactions with the teams. The panel consisted of Ahad Bhai, CEO of Bongo, Samad Miraly, Executive Director of Olympic Industries Limited, Solaiman Alam, Head of Digital at Grameenphone, and Kazi Mahboob Hassan, the Head of Strategy and Transformation at Grameenphone.
After an intense round of pitching, Startup Weekend Dhaka was joined by the CEO of Grameenphone, Michael Foley to inspire and be inspired by the teams. Finally, the teams with the top scores were announced. Here Super Friends won by landslide, followed by a close second, third, and an honorable mention of Shongram 71, Got Photos, and Arty Match.
With that Techstars Weekend Dhaka was a wrap. After three years of the last Techstars Startup Weekend Dhaka looks forward to another startup weekend on its 2019 calendar.