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Talent Crunch Remains A Key Challenge To Dhaka’s Startup Growth

Talent is the life-blood of any startup. A good team often defines the rise or demise of a company. 23% startups fail due to wrong team, said CB Insights. Regrettably so, it is incredibly hard for startups to put together a great team. It is often because most people prefer security and big corporations and seldom want to take the risk of joining a startup while in many cities.

This is a common complain. A lot of technology startups in different cities or startup hubs cite talent shortage as a key bottleneck that hinders growth. While cities like Singapore and Bangalore have quite good talent pool, technical and others, coming from top-ranked institutes, the scenario is entirely different in Bangladesh. In many other cities where startups have prospered the said talent crunch is of competition but in Dhaka the nature is entirely different. In Dhaka there is a real shortage of technical and good talents.

Bangladesh’s renowned academic institutions such as BUET, CUET, KUET, SUST, DU, NSU, BRACU and other public and private universities attract and produce many qualified engineers, computer scientists and business graduates each year. These skill sets are typical prerequisites for today’s global entrepreneurs.

While globally technical skills, programming and engineering, are increasingly becoming popular and prevalent, in Dhaka the scenario is a little different, we have more business graduates than engineers whereas demand for technical talent is growing rapidly. While existing institutions provide a portion of the required talent, it is largely insufficient and many young graduates are largely unprepared for startup world.

An education of the heart

Startups are hard work. It is not for the wimp and for people who are in it for comfort and security and status and ego. Startups are for the people who want to outgrow themselves, learn real things, work hard, leave their ego behind and collaborate and for people who are not ashamed of accepting that they don’t know and they are ready to start over and learn fast and work harder.

People seldom come to startup for big bucks or security, they do because they love something, they see a vision and they want to change the world by working day and night with less pay. It is true one out of ten startups get rich and outperforms losses of all nine together but it does not happen right away. It happens after a long slog of hard works, sweats, blood, and tears.

Startups need people who are ambitious, can see beyond the line, find joy in work, value journey over result and love to create something extraordinary out of ordinary. These are not qualities that people pick from reading books, studying business or attending prestigious institutions, these are things people learn from culture, pick from people they spend time with and environment they live in.

Unfortunately, many of our graduates don’t fall into this kind of people. They don’t love work but they love designation and a good pay. They don’t love hard work but love success. It is no wonder that finding talent for startups in this environment is going to be extraordinarily hard.

A culture that loves shortcut and security

We have a culture that encourages shortcuts and looks for security. Parents’ want their children to avoid risk and take a job at a prominent company.

However, the hope is that there is a growing awareness about startups and potential of startups and how startups can change lives. Hopefully, with the help of media and other stakeholders startups will be able to overcome this problem in the near future.

[This is first episode of a three parts series we are doing on Dhaka’s talent crunch and startup. Please come back for next two episodes: 2. A case for working for startups: Why you should join a startup 2. The Kind of people startups need: Skills for working at a startup]

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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