This Week in Future Startup #2

We’ve published 04 essays this week and 02 partner stories. Read them below. 

1. Book: Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard

 This week I finished reading George Leonard’s fantastic book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment. The book is an excellent read if you are trying to get good at your craft – be it business, writing, painting or art. I published a short essay on the introduction of the book titled how progress works. Our understanding of any growth curve, a result of the rise of heedless consumerism, is upward without any lapse. But in reality, growth or progress is rarely a straight line. Often it is a curved line with many ups and downs and plateaus. Now this is no news, we all know progress takes hard work. But what we often miss is that on your path to progress, you spend far more time on plateaus than you usually would normally like to accept. This is where we usually part ways with progress. When we plateau we perceive that we stopped making progress. Whereas in reality, plateau is an essential part of progress. Read the essay here.

2. Pandemic as a setting: More Brands Move Online, Adopt Direct to Consumer Model

A growing number of companies are moving online and adopting a direct to consumer model amid the coronavirus pandemic as companies across verticals increasingly identify with the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is a setting and that we are about to see a sea change in consumer behavior out of this pandemic. This shift is happening in layers and comes with a myriad of second-order consequences. We are gradually waking up to some of these changes. The other important aspect of this shift is that we are just beginning to see the unfolding of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on consumer behavior and commerce. The pandemic is quickly becoming the setting that triggers other major events. I examine the background and ramifications of this shift in commerce, employment, and consumer behavior in this short essay here.

3. bKash Updates: Bird Game, City Bank Digital Loan, Insurance, and bKash Super-app Followup

It appears bKash is becoming a regular in this newsletter. This week I examine a number of features and product updates bKash introduced in recent months. A number of recent updates suggest that bKash has gone past that imaginary ‘all about payment’ line. Of course, payment remains the key piece that holds everything else together but the motion has been set to make bKash more than a payment company. In this essay I followed up on my previous two essays on bKash and its super app ambition. Read the essay here.

4. Alpha Catering Adds Consumer Foods to Its Product Line

We previously published an excellent interview with Alpha Catering founder Muhammed Asif Khan. The company enjoys a positive market image. The company has added consumer foods to its product line amid the coronavirus pandemic. This move has meaning both because catering and events are some of the verticals that have been hit hard by the pandemic and there is a growing demand for healthy and safe food in Dhaka. In the short essay, I try to look at the move using these two lenses. Read the essay here.

5. How Pickaboo Has Put Superior Customer Service at The Heart of Its Operation

We published a 2500 plus words essay illustrating Pickaboo’s customer service strategy. Customer service is not among the high points in Dhaka’s ecommerce scene. Customer complaints regarding subpar customer service is a commonplace thing. The reality is that many customers expect very little when it comes to customer service. Delays are common. Waiting in line when you need call center support is normal. Pickaboo, however, has been trying to set an exception. The company has designed its entire operation around superior customer service. Now as Pickaboo slowly builds an operation at the intersection of offline and online, the reputation around customer service is gradually paying off. In this long-form essay, I examine Pickaboo’s customer service strategy and how the company delivers on it. Read the essay here. 

6. A Chaldal Insider Story

Chaldal is the largest online grocery business in Bangladesh. The company, which started as a small online grocery ecommerce, has since evolved into a food behemoth and today, has many verticals complementing the grocery at the center of it all. In this 3000+ words essay I examine various businesses of Chaldal and how they connect with each other. Chaldal is building a suite of businesses that allows customers to avail groceries at a better price and improve the overall grocery supply chain. These businesses handle everything from working directly with farmers to working with smallholder retailers to micro-warehousing and logistics.  All these parts of Chaldal’s operation appear to be disconnected on the surface. How working in the refugee camp and collaborating with WFP connects with Chaldal’s micro-warehouse business or how CDVN contributes to Chaldal’s online grocery business or how Go Go Bangla helps improve Chaldal’s business? While these businesses appear out of sync on the surface, they have strong underlying connections and complement each other. Read the essay here. 

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