Intelligent Machines Limited (IML), a Dhaka-based technology startup that provides AI and advanced analytics solutions to enterprise clients across multiple verticals, is set to raise BDT 4 crore in new investment from IDLC Venture Capital Fund I, first reported by TBS.
IDLC VC Fund, an initiative of IDLC Finance Limited, is managed by IDLC Asset Management Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IDLC Finance Limited. The fund, which was launched in March 2020, is a BDT 45 crore venture capital fund that aims to invest in tech startups in Bangladesh. IDLC Finance Limited previously invested in local grocery startup Chaldal.
Founded in 2018 by Mohammad Oli Ahad, Intelligence Machines Limited, combines artificial intelligence and analytics and provides these as a service to enterprise clients.
Since its inception, the company has worked with a long list of prominent enterprise clients from across verticals including BRAC, bKash, BAT, Unilever, Arla Foods, Telenor Myanmar, and IDLC Finance.
The company describes that it provides “AI and advanced analytics as-a-service” and defines itself as “a small studio with handpicked AI, blockchain, robotics, advanced analytics, and market insights professionals”.
It has been working on a number of products in the enterprise AI space where it collaborates with companies like bKash and BAT. With new investment, the company aims to expand its business in the enterprise space.
Deep tech, or hard tech, a term brought to greater attention by Swati Chaturvedi, refers to “companies founded on a scientific discovery or meaningful engineering innovation”, companies that are “trying to solve big issues that really affect the world around them. For example, a new medical device or technique fighting cancer, data analytics to help farmers grow more food, or a clean energy solution trying to lessen the human impact on climate change”.
Building a deep tech company is difficult. It requires significant investment in research and development and it often takes a long time to develop and commercialize. As a consequence, it is often a daring ambition to try to build a business in a deep tech space. More so in a market like Bangladesh where access to resources remains a major challenge for startup founders.
The Intelligent Machines team has been trying to break this barrier since 20018. Previously, the company raised small seed rounds from angels and family and friends and went through its share of ups and downs. This is an excellent news that investors like IDLC VC Fund are taking a hard look into these verticals and showing a willingness to invest. It indicates that Bangladesh's startup ecosystem is maturing fast and that we will be seeing more important work in the deep tech space in the coming years in Bangladesh.
Two, despite the coronavirus pandemic, Bangladeshi startups are attracting attention from a diverse set of investors from across markets. In the past three months alone, we have seen a number of Bangladeshi startups from across verticals raising investments from a diverse set of local and international investors. This adds to the previous point that investors are now looking into the Bangladesh market with seriousness which was not present even two years ago. It means more startups will be able to raise investment in the coming years, which is a given in many markets today such as India and Indonesia.