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The Rise Of Women Focused Startups: 9+ Startups Working Across Fashion, Beauty, Commerce, and Content and Community

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Oct 9, 2016
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The number of tech companies addressing pain points of women consumers is growing rapidly across the board in Dhaka. Many of these startups have real traction. Some have already built a solid customer base and making real money.

Women is an interesting market segment. The number of economically independent women in Bangladesh who have the purchasing power is on the rise. In the coming years, with more women joining the workforce, this number will only go up which means this is a largely unexplored market.

According to recent data, the number of women shopping online is on the rise. And there are more things for women to buy than men and by nature, women are compulsive shoppers. To capitalize on these trends, we’ve seen a number of startups centered around bringing digital shopping/services to women.

Although many of these startups have great potentials, almost none of them announced any formal VC deal which indicates that overall VC funding is not growing that much in the country despite all the talk. We have put together a couple of interesting ones here, let’s take a look.

Fashion

Styline Collection, founded in April 2015 by Khobaib Chowdhury, sells modest lifestyle products such as hijab, abayas, shrugs, inner caps and related accessories online. In the past one year, the startup has been able to build a loyal base of young customers and maintain a steady growth. The startup the startup went through a Founder Institute program in Dhaka and grew quickly. It was selected for the 2016 cohort of Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) accelerator program and FounderX program by Founder Institute. There is a handful of other startups operating in the space, but Styline has managed to stand out over the past year.

Underwear and Lingerie

Goponjinish, an online retailer for women undergarments, is founded by the team behind tech firm Nascenia IT. The startup sought to address problems that come with shopping lingerie and undergarments for women. Started 03 years ago, today Goponjinish is among the popular online shopping destinations for women and men for undergarments. It offers privacy and comfort in shopping for discrete items.

Other two significant players in the space are: Manobik and Ontorbash, both based in Dhaka.

Beauty, Lifestyle, Content + Commerce

Started in May 2013, Shajgoj is a beauty and lifestyle startup working at the intersection of content and ecommerce. Its online platform offers beauty tips and advice in Bangla and also sells beauty items online. The startup also owns a physical shop selling beauty products. Its online platform, Shajgoj.com, now attracts more than 235k users a month.

Marketplace

BookmyLook, a marketplace for beauty and other services for women, connects women with skills to the market directly. Its marketplace, still in beta, plans to host services, branded products, and deals all at one place for women.

Content and community

Founded by Ivy Huq Russell, Maya.com.bd is one of earliest startups serving women in the country. Launched in 2011, the startup has evolved a lot over the past years and in the middle of revamping its platform. Maya gives women access to information and a shared community and helps them to learn more about their body, health, law and society. 

Aponjon is a mobile phone based mhealth service for expecting and new mothers in Bangladesh. It takes advantage of new technology and delivers health care services to the new and expectant mother in the form of text and voice messages through mobile phones. Dnet, a social enterprise launched the service in December 2012 after a year-long successful pilot. Until October 2015, Aponjon reported having 13,57,641 subscribers.

Women in Digital, another startup in the space launched recently, empowers women by giving them IT training and access to Digital Platform. The startup was one of the twelve startups selected for Spark Bangladesh second cohort started early this month.

Note: This list is not complete, there are many interesting startups working in the space. If you know one, please add it here.


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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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