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Nirjhor Rahman: What Does COVID-19 Mean For Bangladesh Angel Investing

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May 1, 2020

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote my last article. Like so many in the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh and beyond, we at Bangladesh Angels Network (BAN) have not been immune to the present crisis with the lockdown in the country and the uncertain state of the economy. We’ve had to put pending deals on hold and postpone our upcoming showcase and are looking to hold one virtually instead. But I’ve been heartened by the resilience and ingenuity displayed by founders in our portfolio and pipeline, as well as the camaraderie among ecosystem builders, including board members of Bangladesh Angels, to work together to conceptualize and advocate for potential rescue packages for the sector. These are truly extraordinary times, and there will be pain to bear in the short term, but I truly believe that long term foundations are also being built right now, both within companies and the ecosystem.

I’ve been asked, and have been asking around, about what start-up founders can do to pitch investors in times like this. To be very frank, for most angel investors, especially those who run their own companies, priority #1 is and will be their own businesses and their employees. I suspect that it will take at least three to six months before investors will be actively looking to do deals again, but it does not mean that they are not open to hearing pitches and ideas right now, especially from companies and founders who’ve taken advantage of this downtime, as best as they can, to both position their business for survival in the near term and success in the medium and long term. In fact, those are the exact kinds of conversations that I’ve been having with members and prospective members of Bangladesh Angels over the last two weeks.

So what can founders be doing right now, and what actions and qualities should angel investors look for?

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Nirjhor Rahman is the CEO of Bangladesh Angels, the country's first angel investment network that connects startups with capital via individual and institutional investors. Previously, he was Country Director for ygap, a social enterprise accelerator where he helped build a national venture network. He can be reached at nirjhor.rahman@bdangels.co.

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