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FS Weekly Digest: The Insights You Missed This Week

Enjoy the ultimate collection of stories from this week. 03 brilliant interviews. 01 big news. 02 announcements and opportunities. Happy weekend.

EMK Center, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, Technology, Culture, and The Future: An interview With M.K. Aaref, CEO, EMK Center

Since his appointment as CEO of Edward M Kennedy Center for Public Service and the Arts in 2012, M.K. Aaref has positioned EMK Center as the epicenter of activities, events and initiatives around arts, culture, education and entrepreneurship, has established a small grants program that has supported a host of change makers in Dhaka and beyond working in diverse fields starting from startup to arts to music and more, and has significantly grown EMK and its international education related initiatives and most importantly, has successfully established EMK as a brand that stands for community, youth, social change, and “open dialogue, informed action, individual and artistic expression, and personal and professional development.”

We first interviewed Mr. Aaref, as the CEO of EMK, in 2014 (it is a brilliant read, you may find it here) and recently, Future Startup’s Ruhul Kader sits down with, Mr. Aaref, one of the most influential figures in the field of society, arts, culture, and entrepreneurship in Dhaka to pick his brain about the state and future of EMK Center, the state and future of startup ecosystem in the country, the future of arts and cultural movement in Bangladesh, the future of technology and how it is going to change our reality in the context of Bangladesh and the future of our young people in a changing world, and his lessons from 2017 and contemplate what 2018 may bring for our youth and startup ecosystem in Bangladesh.

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Zero Gravity Ventures, That Runs Sindabad.com and Kiksha.com, Raises Series A Funding, Aims To Push Growth

Zero Gravity Ventures Limited – an e-commerce incubator from one of the country’s leading conglomerates, Ananta Group – has secured Series A funding from Frontier Fund, a Bangladesh-focused private equity fund, said a press release sent to FS. Zero Gravity Ventures currently operates two e-commerce sites – sindabad.com and kiksha.com.

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The State and Future of Digital Marketing In Bangladesh With S. M. Didarul Hasan, Senior Manager Marketing, M. M. Ispahani Limited

The advertising industry is going through a major shift globally. We are seeing, for the first time in decades, the great unbundling of TV, thanks to Netflix and relentless pursuit of TV ad dollars by major social media networks, slow death of advertising as we knew it, a handful of alternatives to banner ads and more.

The Bangladesh market is no different. Over the past several years, from almost oblivion, digital has gained significant prominence and become a mainstream phenomenon. An increasing number of brands are now investing in digital platforms ranging from Facebook, local ad networks to YouTube to other platforms.

The internet offers new opportunities and challenges for consumers as well as for marketers. To users, it offers the freedom to choose which content they want to attend to, from an abundance of content, unlike TV world.

The central difference between internet and conventional media is in the mindset. The internet represents an abundance mentality and freedom whereas traditional media is about scarcity. This is the central reality of this new world that changes many rules. For instance, in digital audience decides what ads they want to attend to and when.

The way people consume entertainment and news has fundamentally changed. This calls for a deeper understanding of the medium not only to do well in digital but also to succeed in the conventional medium. Because the consumption habit of digital does influence the expectation from and consumption habit of traditional mediums.

We recently sat down with always thoughtful and wonderful Shah Mohammad Didarul Hasan, Senior Manager Marketing, M. M. Ispahani Limited to know more about his take on digital marketing in the context of Bangladesh. You may read our long-form interview with Mr. Hasan from past year here.

We discussed a wide range of topics ranging from how he thinks about digital marketing to how he and his team at M.M. Ispahani approach digital marketing, Ispahani’s investment in digital in 2017, his prediction for the industry in 2018 and how to master the medium to get the better result.

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Applications Are Open For 5th Cohort Of Spark* Bangladesh Accelerator

Spark* Bangladesh is running its fifth Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program, in partnership with Build Bangladesh and YGAP, Australia in Dhaka in April 2018. Applications are open now and will close on 10th of March 2018.

Spark* Bangladesh exists to improve the lives of people living in poverty by accelerating start-up social enterprises and supporting them as they grow their businesses and make greater positive changes in their communities. We operate in 4 countries and have supported 356 entrepreneurs who have significantly changed over 4,72,637 lives to date.

The Spark* Bangladesh Accelerator will bring together 8-10 emerging social entrepreneurs for five intensive days of entrepreneurship training from 15th April 2018 to 20th April 2018, led by world-class facilitators.

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Shadmart, Entrepreneurship, And eCommerce: An Interview With Shadman Sakib, Co-Founder and CEO, Shadmart

Since launching Shadmart 3 years ago, Shadman Sakib and the team have successfully positioned the company as a leading cross-border e-commerce company in the country, from what began as a modest operation of a few people. Shadmart is now a team of over 32 people, it has a widespread brand awareness in the market as a reliable e-commerce company that delivers high-quality products.

The most interesting and important thing about Shadmart is that it is a technology company at its core. It is true that almost all the e-commerce companies in Dhaka have a tech stack, but the tech is a priority for a very few companies. Having a tech stack is critical for several reasons: 1) it allows you to scale fast and efficiently and 2) at the same, it allows you to control cost. Shadmart, among all the e-commerce companies in Dhaka, has been doing this right. As Shadman says, “our aim is to make our process 90% automated first” and “hopefully, we will be done with it in the next few months.”

Over the past months, Shadman has assembled a complementary team which has meaningfully helped Shadmart position itself as a destination for high-quality products, ensure superior customer service and makes it a shopping destination for a growing number of people.

Future Startup’s Ruhul Kader speaks with Shadman Sakib, co-founder and CEO of Shadmart, one of the youngest and dynamic tech CEOs in the country, to find out more about and understand Shadmart, its business and secret and to pick his brain about Shadmart journey, the state of its business today, long-term strategy and ambition and future plans, future of e-commerce and digital payment in Bangladesh and his lessons from his journey as a young entrepreneur and CEO and contemplates what future may bring for the e-commerce industry in Bangladesh.

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From Stones to Castles: The Inspiring Stories Of 16 Bangladeshi Personalities Who Chose The Rough Road Of Making A Difference

The book shares the story of Dr. Ananya Raihan who wanted to be a socialist politician in his youth and is now the founder of ‘Dnet’, a social enterprise, the story of Anita Ghazi Rahman who founded ‘Think Legal Bangladesh’, the first free non-chamber related legal website and the story of Mr. Iftekhar Enayetullah and Maqsood Sinha who implemented their thesis and research findings to discover a composting process of recycling organic waste which is now patented by them and is being used in 6 different countries.

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