How Rocket Internet Group Is Taking Over Bangladesh’s Tech Startup Scene
4 Internet Startups In A Row. An Online Food Delivery Network And Three Online Marketplaces. How Rocket Internet, a German Incubator, Is Silently Taking Over The Tech Startup Scene Of Bangladesh
4 startups in a row: Carmudi-a car market place, Lamudi-a real estate property marketplace, Kaymu-online marketplace, and Foodpanda-an online food delivery network and marketplace. These are the internet startups operating under the umbrella of Rocket Internet Group in Bangladesh.
Rocket Internet Group which states becoming the largest internet platform outside USA and China as their mission is a German based incubator. It uses existing internet business models to explore under served or untapped markets. In recent years the company has extensively increased its focus and operation in Asia. As part of their extensive focus in high growth potential in emerging economies it has launched 4 consecutive startups in Bangladesh taking the lead in the areas of internet marketplace and online food delivery system.
Started in 2007 Rocket Internet today employs more than 20,000 people and its companies operate in more than 100 countries on five continents.
Rocket Internet’s Startups In Bangladesh
Let’s have a brief look at the startups Rocket internet has launched in Bangladesh.
Car classified site. It’s an online marketplace for vehicles. Simply, Carmudi is a vehicle marketplace that offers buyers, sellers and car dealers the ideal platform to find cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles online. Although it deals with a specific niche market but it is somewhat a contrived version of other marketplace sites in Bangladesh.
Real Estate is one of the biggest industries of Bangladesh. With 17 crore population, land is one of the scarcest resource. Hence outgrowth of real estate companies. Lamudi helps people in the property market to find their ideal home, land or commercial property. Developers and real estate companies list their properties online and find potential buyers. Although anyone can list property and sell ,so far the dominant sellers are real estate companies which makes Lamudi a marketing hand for real estate companies.
Online marketplace. It offers deals and also offers a services called trusted sellers where a seller can get trusted seller certificate to get better treatment in the site. Founded in December 2012 as a venture of Rocket Internet AG, Kaymu.com.bd is one of the fastest growing marketplaces of Bangladesh.
Foodpanda is an online food delivery system. It works with a number of restaurants and offers the menu from those restaurants. Once a customer orders a menu it delivers it to their doorstep.
Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing emerging markets with a huge population. Most interestingly, the cultural background is almost the same for the whole population. In recent years mobile and internet penetration has soared inspiring an whole array of internet companies from all over the world to flock. In a recent report by Motorola says, Bangladesh has an excellent mobile penetration rate which is going to be huge in coming days.
Once you look at all this information it becomes clear why companies like Rocket Internet are so interested in Bangladesh.
Monopoly And Redundancy
Rocket Internet has started multiple businesses in Bangladesh. Many of those ventures have a foot in a few other emerging markets, especially in Asia, as well. However, there is a common pattern of its ventures. Many of those are just redundancy. Although a few of these startups like Lamudi or Carmudi focuses on a specific niche, still they are online classifieds or marketplace like that of Bikroy or OLX. On the other hand, there are also startups like foodpanda and Kaymu in Dhaka.
It is not possible to be only startup in a market. As long as there is potential, new competitors will attack. But even then, what sets a winning startup apart is its ability to differentiate meaningfully from the masses. As Peter Thiel writes in his book Zero to One, great businesses are monopolies. If that is how business works, actually that’s how most successful business works; we have to wait to see how these startups of Rocket Internet deal with this issue in Bangladesh.
Although, there is an apparent redundancy of ideas with all four startups, we hope there is more to discover about these startups. Since Bangladesh is becoming increasingly popular to international tech investors it can be safely predicted that sectors where Lamudi and Carmudi and Foodpanda are enjoying a relatively competitive freedom will be crowded soon with new startups with more agility and speed.
In the Future There Will Be No Market To Be Emerged
On my way back from office I often come to encounter a banner ad by HSBC Bangladesh that says: In the future there will be no market left to emerge. In their introduction Rocket Internet says: “We identify and build proven Internet business models and transfer them to new, under served or untapped markets”. But the question is: in this globalized world, is there really any emerging or untapped market exist? If so does exist why is Foodpanda facing serious competition even in the Bangladesh market?
Live in the future, says Paul Graham of Y Combinator, if you want to have startup ideas. This is a more than true proposition. Right now none of these online marketplaces and internet startups are making profits. But the potential for these startups lies in the future. The value of a startup is often calculated based on its future growth potential. Since Bangladesh has a huge population with a very small area with similar ethnic and cultural roots the growth potential for any business with a solid business model is huge. Hence there is a security in the future for these startups. However, to see how these startups do, we have to wait for a few more years.
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