Future Startup’s Top 10 Social Media Hits of 2019

Future Startup’s top social media hit stories of the year include profiles of people doing meaningful work, features on some of the most interesting tech companies in Dhaka, critical looks into some of the tech startups and strategies. These stories did extremely well across social media platforms: 

10. How To Build A Profitable Tech Product Business In Bangladesh: An Interview With Abul Bashar Md Sharif, Director and COO, Easytrax

Abul Bashar Md Sharif is the Director and COO of Easytrax, a Dhaka-based company that offers GPS tracking and fleet management solutions. Mr. Sharif co-founded the company along with his friend as a side project while working full-time at Grameenphone. After a few months into the business, he left his job at GP and became a full-time entrepreneur. The first year was tough. The growth was slow. There were too many challenges to address with limited resources. Mr. Sharif and his partner did not give up. Slowly and steadily the business grew.

Today, Easytrax is one of the leading players in the GPS tracking and fleet management solutions space in Bangladesh. The company has built a profitable subscription business, expanded into new areas and is now looking to explore new growth opportunities.

In this excellent interview with FS, Mr. Abul Bashar Md Sharif shared his journey to entrepreneurship and his thoughts and lessons on building a profitable bootstrapped tech company in Bangladesh.

Read the full story here. 


9. Troubles at Pickaboo, Late Stage Funding In Bangladesh, and Pickaboo Lessons

Once a leading ecommerce player in Dhaka, Picakboo has been going through a tough time from the beginning of 2019. Early this year, the company went through several major layoffs and management challenges such as product theft, Pickaboo’s once operator and CEO Shahrear Sattar left and the company significantly scaled back its operation. 

The most recently Tech Shohor reports that the company is considering a shutdown or a further scaling back of its operation from December this year unless it could raise investment in the next two months. Pickaboo has been trying to raise money from both local and international investors with limited success. The company has already been operating on a limited scale for the last several months.

In this insight piece, Future Startup’s Ruhul Kader goes deep into Pickaboo and the state of ecommerce in Dhaka. 

Read the full story here. 


8. Life’s Work: An Interview With Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) (Part 01)

Dr. Fahmida Khatun is a prominent Economist in Bangladesh and the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a leading think tank in South Asia. 

In intellectually empowering interview, Dr. Khatun reflects on her journey to becoming who she is today, talks about Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and its work, the state and future of CPD, how CPD operates as a think tank, how CPD uses research and dialogue as a tool for policy influencing, challenges for CPD, shares how much CPD has evolved over the past decade, CPD’s global ambition, and her thoughts on the future of think tanks and explores why life is a nonlinear journey, and hard work and hardships that we desperately want to avoid are universal and are part of our becoming and why we should forget the supremacy of idle talent, actively resist the idea of overnight success and diligently work hard on our goal if we want to make a difference.

Read the full interview here. 


7. What’s Next For Shwapno: An Interview With Sabbir Hasan Nasir, Executive Director, ACI Logistics Limited

Shwapno is on a roll. In last one year, it has expanded its reach – today Shwapno has over 72 outlets across the country, launched a safe food brand called Shuddho that aims to implement the concept of field to shelf, invested heavily in private label brands, made data-driven decision making a strategic imperative, launched a hyperlocal ecommerce operation and built an organization that can meet the demands of a fast-changing industry. These are just a few. There is more to it.

In this wide-ranging interview with ACI Logistics Executive Director, Sabbir Hasan Nasir, we cover everything Shwapno, starting from major changes at Shwapno over the past one year to how its growing focus on safe food, incorporating technology into operation and investment in private label brands means for its long-term growth and strategy, how Shwapno plans to grow its safe food business, how it is using machine learning and analytics to make better decisions across the organization, how it collaborates with farmers, its ambition to build a complete value chain for grocery and fresh produce, its ecommerce ambition, the story behind Shwapno’s growth, how high cost of funding has become a challenge for its growth and how it plans to address it, Shwapno’s goals for 2019, we discuss the job of a CEO at an early stage company, interesting concepts like strategic intelligence and much more.

Read the full interview here. 


6. Building A Fantasy Sports Platform In Bangladesh: An Interview With Sanzar Adnan Alam, Founder, Team Plan

Founder of fantasy sports platform Team Plan, Sanzar Adnan Alam, reflects on his entrepreneurial journey, talks about Team Plan, how Team Plan came into being, how Team Plan operates, its business model and product details, the state of Team Plan’s business today, its ambition going forward, shares his thoughts on the challenges of being a founder, the importance of patience in overcoming challenges and struggles of entrepreneurship and life and much more.

Read the full story here. 


5. What Went Wrong At Cookups: 4 Practical Lessons In Building Startups In Bangladesh

“After more than three years of operations, the Dhaka-based on-demand home-made food delivery company Cookups is shutting down its app and food delivery business today. The company announced in a Facebook post that it would be ceasing all operations for the Cookups app and food delivery service on Sunday, August 18, 2019. The company is ending operations immediately after it failed to raise sufficient funding to continue its operation.” 

However, Cookups Rannagor will continue to operate and users could order through using other food delivery apps such as Uber Eats.

Cookups was founded in 2016 as a Facebook group for homemade food. The aim was to connect diners with the home cooks and create economic opportunities for women and supply homemade healthy food to diners. The company started off well. The Facebook group grew quickly. It launched a monthly subscription plan for sellers where they pay a monthly fee to Cookups to be on the marketplace and sell their food.

This story takes a deeper look into what went wrong at Cookups and the story behind it. 

Read the full story here. 


4. On The Inner Workings Of Venture Capital And Startup Funding With Ravid Chowdhury, Partner, RC Ventures

Ravid Chowdhury is a Partner at RC Ventures, one of the active venture firms in Dhaka investing in technology companies with a portfolio including Pathao, Truck Lagbe, KajKey, EndingScene, and Jitun. As for Ravid, he has led and sits on the board of multiple startups in Bangladesh. Prior to venture capital, he worked in Private Equity for a few years in New York and Hong Kong. He was the first CFO of Pathao and led the company through several funding rounds including the GO-JEK investment.

In this excellent interview, Mr. Ravid talks with Future Startup about his journey to venture capital, his thoughts on investing in early-stage companies, how RC Ventures came into being, the state of RC Ventures operations today, what he looks for in founders and teams before making an investment, the sectors he is bullish about how RC Ventures works with investee companies, tips for founders raising investment, his experience of investing in startups in Bangladesh, his lessons from working with early-stage founders over the years and much more.

Read the full interview here. 


3. The Story Of Udvash: 6000 Taka And An Ambition To Provide Life-Changing Education

Udvash was born out of a passion. A passion for making a difference. Creating a movement of onnoRokom manush (different humans) and bringing about a change. When it started in the latter part of 2000, its founders had no idea that it would take on a life of its own. After about 18 years it has albeit taken a life of its own and turned into an educational institution like no other, pretty much uncomfortably without a definition for itself. A category of its own.

The beginning was no extravagant affair. Udvash started with an investment of BDT 6,000. “We started Udvash with a mere 6,000 taka investment. We rented a small room at 800 taka rent per month. That’s how our journey began. It was quite difficult in the early days since we didn’t have adequate resources at our disposal. But we were passionate about teaching that helped us survive the trials and tribulations of those difficult days.” That’s Mahmudul Hasan Sohag, Co-founder of Udvash and Co-founder and Chairman of OnnoRokom Group.

In the first eight years of its journey, Udvash did not turn a profit. It took Udvash eight long years to reach break-even. In those days, Udvash founders and team worked hard day and night and in most months did not get paid in full. What kept Udvash alive was love. Love for teaching. Love for students. And a strong sense of purpose.

It took Udvash 18 years to come where it is today. The journey was not smooth. Every node of those 18 years has crucial information and moving stories of struggles, sacrifices, trials, and triumphs. This is a story about that journey, what inspired it and much more. 

Read the full story here. 


3. The Evolution of Shohoz With Maliha M Quadir, Founder and Managing Director, Shohoz

Shohoz Founder and Managing Director Maliha M Quadir talks with Ruhul Kader about the evolution of Shohoz,  dynamics of ride-hailing business, the meteoric rise of Shohoz and its fast-expanding universe, the theory of growth, critical qualities for founders, and lays out Shohoz’s game plan for becoming the super-app of Bangladesh.

Read the full interview here. 


2. The Rise Of Evaly: An Interview with Mohammad Rassel, CEO, Evaly

Evaly Founder and CEO Mohammad Rassel talks with Ruhul Kader about the meteoric rise of Evaly and its fast-expanding universe, the state of Evaly’s business today and its ambition going forward, the evolution of Evaly over the past months, cracking the ecommerce growth code, why price remains the key factor in retail, lays out Evaly’s game plan for becoming the largest digital commerce company in Bangladesh, why patience is the most important skill founders should develop and much more.

Read the full interview here. 


1. Intelligence Brief: The Ride-hailing Market Updates

Ride-hailing continues to be one of the most happening markets in Bangladesh. 2018 was a big year for the industry. Pathao raised a US$10 million in funding led by Go-Jek and participated by existing investors Openspace Ventures, Osiris Group and Battery Road Digital Holdings. Shohoz raised US$15 million led by Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures and participated by Linear VC of China, 500 Startups and Singaporean-based angel investor Koh Boon Hwee. Uber has also increased its focus on the bike-sharing market while it continues to dominate the car market.

The competition has intensified. The growth pressure has increased on both Pathao and Shohoz. Both companies are expanding beyond transportation. It indicates both an opportunity for ride-hailing companies to explore other opportunities using transportation as the first pillar of its platform as well as an attempt to find other verticals to keep growing.

Read the full story here. 

Cover Artwork by Jasper Shaw

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