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Future Startup: Yearbook 2016

[blockquote source="Annie Dillard"]How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.[/blockquote]

Looking back over 2016, we had some incredible experience and stories. We also experienced devastation and drawbacks. The overall business scene in Bangladesh experienced a long dull season. We managed, almost, to keep our same, 176, position in doing business rankings.

Banking industry struggled to accommodate too many banks and keep up with a falling interest plus borrowing rate. Real estate industry started a slow recovery. Disgusting working environment and low wage continued in Garments. Remittance took a hit.

On the tech and startup scene, things have slowly started to brighten. We got first alternative investment rules. A decent number of VC funding happened. Uber launched in Dhaka. Finally, net neutrality got attention.

However, progress was not as much as we like to brag. The number of noteworthy breakthrough technologies and tech startups remained slim. The number of ecommerce companies, logistics companies, transportation companies, digital healthcare companies continued to grow. But very few people and companies were doing things beyond common expectation. We saw a couple of data analytics startups, a couple interesting Medtech startups but no AI, no VR or AR or even serious Fintech startup.

That said, for every bleak picture, we saw people fighting for a better tomorrow. We featured some of those people, told some of their stories, and examined some of those companies. We met more than one entrepreneur who are working hard to fix our almost defunct healthcare system, entrepreneurs and companies building ecommerce companies.

We featured people solving logistics problem for small businesses and started data analytics companies. We spoke to angel investors and doctors and marketers. As we prepare to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017, we’re taking a moment to look back at some of our most interesting stories.

Profound reads

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]How Vision – and Persistence – Built GrameenPhone: An Interview With Iqbal Quadir
Iqbal QuadirIqbal Quadir is the founder of GrameenPhone and the founder and director emeritus of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT. He sat down with Karl Ulrich, vice dean of entrepreneurship and innovation at Wharton, to talk about his self-made journey from growing up in one of the poorest countries in the world to building a global business. In many ways the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit, Quadir explains how everything connects.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]PwC’s Carol Sawdye on Leadership and Living with a Sense of Urgency

Carol SawdyeCarol Sawdye, the vice chairman and chief financial officer of PwC, has been on an ascending career track precipitated in part by two major events in her life: the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease when she was 25 and experiencing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York up close. These moments gave her a sense of urgency and fearlessness that has shaped her career choices and life decisions.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]An Interview With G&R CEO Muhammad Nazimuddaula

Muhammad Nazimuddaula 1
Muhammad Nazimuddaula

G&R is one of the most important tech entities for understanding Bangladesh’s tech ecosystem. It is one of the earliest tech startups to get funded and one of the earliest to get acquired.

Muhammad Nazimuddaula, Co-founder and CEO of G&R, spoke to Future Startup’s Ruhul Kader about how G&R came to exist and its journey till date, building and managing a great team, and his serendipitous journey as a designer and entrepreneur.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Meet The Entrepreneur Building Bangladesh’s Largest Online Property Marketplace

Muhammad Shahin
Muhammad Shahin, Founder & CEO, pbazaar.com

Muhammad Shahin, Founder and CEO of the country’s largest online property marketplace pBazaar.com, reflects on his path into business, his serendipitous journey to the tech world, how pBazaar came to exist, struggles of the early days, growth and current state of pBazaar, competition, the greatest challenges and lessons from his journey and his plan to take pbazaar.com to the remotest users of the country.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]An Interview With Shama-e-Zaheer Of Mir Group


Chairman of Mir Group, entrepreneur and angel investor, Shama-e-Zaheer, reflects on the importance of angel investment, what he looks for when he decides to invest in a startup, importance of having a sound operational model, maturity of local startups in Dhaka, what makes a great founder and his advice for early stage entrepreneurs.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]An Interview With Dr. Ananya Raihan of Dnet

Dr. Ananya Raihan
Dr. Ananya Raihan

Social entrepreneur, Economist, and co-founder of Dnet, Dr. Ananya Raihan, reflects on his early life, professional choice of economics and development, serendipitous journey into the world of technology, the birth and early days of Dnet, struggles and pains of working on a new idea, building Dnet as an innovation hub, and Dnet’s approach to innovation, measuring impact, incubating ideas and launching spin-off ventures.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Coursera’s Andrew Ng: How MOOCs Are Taking Local Knowledge Global

Andrew Ng [ Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired]
Andrew Ng [ Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired]

Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng is widely considered a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. Along with Daphne Koller, he is the co-founder of Coursera, the massive open online course (MOOC) platform, in April 2012. In just a little more than three years, Coursera has over 12 million users enrolled in more than 1,000 courses from more than a hundred institutions worldwide.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]An Interview with Khadem Mahmud Yusuf of BPCL

Future Startup: Yearbook 2016
Khadem Mahmud Yusuf | Image by DrinkEntrepreneur Dhaka

BPCL’s Khadem Mahmud Yusuf reflects on his early career in Silicon Valley, his serendipitous path into entrepreneurship, his first venture Alap Communication and subsequent exit, how our experiences shape us, why Bangladesh startup ecosystem has no similarity with Silicon Valley and why we don’t need to build Facebook or Google in Bangladesh, his latest venture BPCL, his plans to make recycling a thing in Bangladesh and the hard work required to build a business. Bonus: his advice for early stage founders.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]The Incredible Story of Nazma Khatun and Her Entrepreneurial Journey

Nazma Khatun
Nazma Khatun

It requires an extraordinary amount of courage, hard work, and tenacity to move forward for a woman in a male-dominated world, which is a more appropriate name for the business world of this country, break the glass ceiling and succeed. Nazma Khatun, an ordinary woman came from a remote village in Rajshahi took on an impossible journey of just doing that 11 years ago in the year 2005. After a decade, she has managed to make it through sheer hard work, passion, and persistence.[/su_note]

Healthcare: A host of companies are working hard to improve healthcare in Bangladesh.

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Face To Face With Rubayat Khan
Rubayat KhanRubayat Khan is a Co-founder of mPower Social Enterprises and currently Chief Dreamer and Teambuilder at mDoc LLC [now called Jeeon.com], a venture of the mPower group. A social entrepreneur, tech and data geek, Rubayat [FS 15 under 35 for 2015] has been striving to bridge the gaps in essential services in remote areas of Bangladesh and other countries using mobile tech and data.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]The Journey of An Idea: Face To Face With Mohammad Abdul Matin Emon, Founder and CEO of Doctorola

Future Startup: Yearbook 2016 1
Mohammad Abdul Matin Emon

Mohammad Abdul Matin Emon is the Founder and CEO of Doctorola, a startup that aims to remove some critical roadblocks in receiving and delivering better healthcare services in Bangladesh. He has an astounding body of work. Previously, he had started successful businesses, worked as senior level managers with C-level suites in a few leading local and international organizations, and also had tasted his share of failure in business.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Bhalo Thakun Plans To Go Big In Healthcare In Bangladesh And Here Is How

Tawhidur Rahman-Bhalo Thakun
Tawhidur Rahman-Bhalo Thakun

Healthcare is among the most potential sectors in Bangladesh. While Bangladesh, a country of 160 million population (according to the latest census), has achieved incredible feat in several areas of healthcare including drastic fall of child mortality rate (0.24%), but the country struggles big time when it comes to innovation in delivering healthcare, tackling nutritional problem, lack of knowledge about health and nutrition, and general health care problems. The country still remains among the 57 countries recognized by WHO in 2006 for having a severe scarcity of trained medical professionals. According to WHO, for every 1000 people in Bangladesh, there are only 0.3 doctors and 0.3 nurses.

These are the problem, among others like buying medicines online when you are busy, having hygiene products and contraceptives with confidentiality that you otherwise feel awkward to buy in person, Bhalo Thakun, a part health-tech and part ecommerce startup, based in Dhaka aims to fix. [/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]A report on overall healthcare industry in Bangladesh: The State of Healthcare Industry in Bangladesh [Part-I][/su_note]

eCommerce: We have covered some of the most interesting ecommerce companies in the country.

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]PRAN’s Ecommerce Pursuit:
Othoba.comPRAN RFL, country’s one of the biggest and fast growing conglomerates, launched its own ecommerce platform later in 2015. The platform, named Othoba.com, initially started with exclusively selling PRAN’s products online but today you can find almost every product on it. The platform also covers whole Bangladesh.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Inside Goponjinish’s Big Mission To Change How Women Buy Lingerie In Bangladesh


Buying bras and lingeries in Bangladesh can be agonizing–more often than not you get to talk to a male salesperson, there are shoppers looking weirdly at you and then you feel an avalanche of embarrassment shrouding your shopping experience.

Shaer Hasan, CEO of Nascenia IT, a Dhaka-based tech company and co-founder of online undergarment retailer Goponjinish.com, sought to address this problem when he and his co-founder, Fuad Bin Omar, at Nascenia decided to start a women-focused online undergarment ecommerce startup three years ago.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]An Interview With Waseem Alim, Co-founder and CEO, Chaldal

Waseem Alim
Waseem Alim

Waseem Alim co-founded Chaldal in 2013 and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Before Chaldal, Waseem worked as Director of Product Strategy at Sigfig, a Silicon Valley-based financial technology startup. At Sigfig, he led the development of its flagship product – a web-based portfolio management software now used by over 500,000 people. Waseem graduated from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]CEO of AjkerDeal, Fahim Mashroor On How AjkerDeal Plans To Become The New-Market Of The Internet In Bangladesh

Fahim Mashroor
Fahim Mashroor, CEO of Ajkerdeal

The leading eCommerce marketplace of the country AjkerDeal has just raised an impressive round of investment recently. The startup has been growing consistently since it launched in 2011. It has also evolved from a deal platform to a marketplace for the masses.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Face To Face With Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq Of Zero Gravity Ventures

Zeeshan Kingshuq Huq
Zeeshan Kingshuq Huq

Co-founder and CEO of Zero Gravity Ventures, Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq, reflects on his early life, diverse career spanning across multiple industries, his path into entrepreneurship, Zero Gravity’s ecommerce ventures i.e. sindabad.com and kiksha.com, his management philosophy and lessons from life.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Inside Storrea’s Big Plan To Change How People Start And Run eCommerce Store In Bangladesh

Storrea team-members
Storrea team-members

What if I told you it is possible to launch an ecommerce store in Bangladesh with less than a day’s work and almost zero cash investment? It may sound ludicrous at first, but there is a startup in Dhaka that helps you exactly to do that. Storrea, a Dhaka-based e-commerce platform provider, the Bangladesh version of Shopify helps entrepreneurs, SMEs, retailers, and anyone interested in selling or showcasing their products online to setup their online store easily.[/su_note]

Logistics and data analytics

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Building A Logistics Startup: Q & A with Biplob G. Rahul, CEO of eCourier

Future Startup: Yearbook 2016 2
eCourier webscreen

Biplop G. Rahul is the co-founder and CEO of eCourier– a next generation ecommerce focused logistics company. He studied Telecom Engineering and worked for a telecommunication company and then BASIS for a couple of years before embarking on his own journey.

Prior to eCourier, he founded Soft Call, a call center primarily helping ecommerce companies to handle their customer services. In this interview, Biplob shares his journey of starting eCourier, reflects on how eCourier came to exist from a failed project, talks about challenges and prospects of the logistics business in Bangladesh and shares his personal and professional challenges as an entrepreneur.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]Inside Pathao’s Big Plan To Take On Logistics And Transportation Industry In Dhaka


Sending things, braving Dhaka’s incredible traffic to courier service office, is a pain in Dhaka. Besides, most of the existing big consumer logistics companies in Dhaka don’t care about customers, as the demand for their service is abundant. Moreover, it is hard to maintain time with existing courier services.

These were the problems Pathao originally wanted to solve. Unlike many of the ecommerce delivery focused new generation logistics startups in Dhaka, Pathao started as an on-demand logistics service that would move anything, from office documents to flowers before getting into ecommerce delivery.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]How Field Buzz Plans To Revolutionize Field Operations Using Smartphones

Habib Ullah Bahar
Habib Ullah Bahar

Field Buzz co-founder, Habib Ullah Bahar, reflects on how he started into entrepreneurship, what initially drew him to mobile and internet focused ventures, how he met his co-founder Alexis and started Field Buzz, a field information management solution provider, early days of Field Buzz, how it works, the biggest challenges and important lessons from his journey and the future plan for Field Buzz.[/su_note]

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="0"]How Meghdut Analytics Plans To Make Data Analysis Simple For Every Company

Meghdut Analytics_website screenshot
Meghdut Analytics_website screenshot

Data analysis is a largely untapped market in Bangladesh. Despite the growing interest in big data and its business potentials globally, Bangladesh remains a laggard not only in data-driven decision making and various other uses of data but also in availability of data itself. However, the good thing is a slow realization of the value of data and its power to shape our business and world is happening.

A new data analytics startup called Meghdut Analytics aims to tap into this opportunity and help companies to put their data into better use with less effort. The startup helps companies to export their existing data to its analytics platform and generate useable insights.[/su_note]

Lead image: Xopher WallaceXopher Wallace

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