2015 was a great year for the startup ecosystem of Bangladesh. Startups blossomed, new startups launched, we got the legal framework for alternative investment, new investments happened, new VC Fund launched and much more exciting stuff happened from both public and private sectors. Said that, we have a long way to go.
The number of potential and equally serious startups is slim, investment is not as easy to get as it needs to be, we are yet to have a couple of locally developed incubators and accelerator programs except recently launched GP Accelerator and the overall ecosystem is far from mature.
However, despite all these shortcomings, there are startups that have achieved the incredible feat, grown significantly, built solid businesses, raised money locally and internationally and made us optimistic about a better tomorrow.
In 2014, we made a list of 5 startups to watch [you may see it here] and to our amazement, all of those startups have done exceptionally well except one. In 2015, we published another similar list which largely flopped except a few exceptions.
Breakout startups 2016
This year, when we began our annual search for the breakout startups, we did not have trouble finding nice startups. To make the list, a startup must have local orientation and a business model that is both practical and ambitious, with the proof that it has performed exceptionally well over the past 12 months. We used growth, media attention, and funding as metrics as well. We worked hard to put a proper process in place in order to find out only the deserving ones.
Doctorola: Online Doctor appointment platform
Investor: BD Venture Limited
Investment Amount: BDT 20 million
Why on the list: Officially launched in 2015, the startup has made great progress. It has raised BDT 20 million from BD Venture and grown significantly. Today, Doctorola provides complete appointment management services to four hospitals in Dhaka and working hard to onboard more hospitals. It has more than four thousand doctors on its platform and growing fast.
Styline: Online modest fashion shop in Dhaka.
Why on the list: Started in April 2015, the startup has outgrown many of its contemporaries and shown consistent growth for the past year. Graduated from Founder Institute, Styline crossed monthly 1000 delivery a couple of months ago and remained busy pushing the growth. While pushing its growth online, the startup also organized multiple offline fairs in Dhaka that received quite a good response.
eCourier: Bicycle based eCommerce focused logistic service.
Investor: Mind Initiatives
Investment Amount: Undisclosed
Why on the list: While many new and experienced players failed to continue in the logistic space, particularly for eCommerce, eCourier has managed to grow consistently. The startup has recently expanded in few more cities along with Dhaka and now manages more than 15k delivery per month.
BDcabs: Taxi/vehicle booking platform with mobile and web apps
Investment Amount: Undisclosed. However, the startup was valued at US$ 6.5m
Why on the list: The startup has raised a good amount from an international accelerator program as the first local e-hailing taxi app. It also received quite good attention from local and regional media outlets and was named as a potential startup in Asia.
Planeter: Designs and manufactures robotic stuff and robots for commercial purposes and for researchers, robot hobbyists, and professionals.
Why on the list: Started in 2012, the startup turned itself into a private limited company in 2015 showing a dogged determination on the part of the founders and significant growth in the past few years. It has made multiple robots that are regularly used by companies and industries. It has also trained more than 1600 students on robotics and is one of the most successful companies working in the space [we are not aware of anyone other company operating at the scale of Planeter in Bangladesh]. Manufacturing startups are rare in Bangladesh. There are a few but most of them heavily rely on China and largely do assembling in Bangladesh.