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Future Startup Weekly No. 26

In this edition, we cover:

  • Progoti Systems to Launch Mobile Wallet NoboPay, Progoti's Bookkeeping App TallyKhata and Leverage
  • SMEVai Raises Funding, Aims to Empower MSMEs Through Cloud-based “Business Back-office” Services Platform
  • Shikho Acquires Online Professional Courses Platform Bohubrihi As It Looks to Expand Product Offering
  • Pulse Tech Raises $120k In Pre-seed Investment
  • Startup in Focus: iFarmer
  • 04 interesting reads and 01 book recommendation

A Message from our Partner: AmarLab

Courtesy: Amarlab
Courtesy: Amarlab

AmarLab provides at-home diagnostic services in a highly safe and secure manner — from sample collection to testing to report delivery — catering to patients who face difficulty in travelling to and from healthcare facilities for various reasons including inaccessible transport, disability, busy schedules, etc. It means, as a client, you don’t need to travel to and wait at diagnostic centers for medical tests.

To put it differently, AmarLab brings the diagnostic lab to the doorsteps of people in urgent need of medical tests. The company has partnered with reputed diagnostic centers with an ambition to make healthcare easily accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Taking AmarLab service is simple. Call their hotline number (09643445566), or give a message on their Facebook Messenger or go to AmarLab website, and book your service. Learn more.

Progoti Systems to Launch Mobile Wallet NoboPay, Progoti's Bookkeeping App TallyKhata and Leverage

Progoti Systems announced that it has obtained the Bangladesh Bank license to work as a payment service provider (PSP) as per the Bangladesh Payment and Settlement Systems Regulations 2014. The company said it will launch a digital payment service in the near future. The product named NoboPay is currently in beta and the company did not announce a date for the commercial launch.

Progoti's previous attempt at payment with SureCash is a mixed bag. SureCash tried and did several things right. But it could not break out in the market for various reasons including strategic missteps, competitive pressures, and lack of resources. This time around, the company has certain advantages. One for the experience. It understands the market and its limitations. Second, it has built a successful bookkeeping product for small businesses called TallyKhata that can offer it significant leverage in the market. More on that in a moment.

Give me some background and context. Progoti Systems earlier had the central bank license to work as a payment system operator (PSO). It had provided technical services for mobile financial services (MFS) of four banks, including Rupali Bank’s SureCash. The company came to consumer consciousness as the owner of the SureCash brand.

The company began a strategic change of direction last year after running into challenges amid the pandemic. To that end, it wanted to change its structure of service from PSO to PSP and applied to the central bank for a license, per a Bangladesh Bank official. The Bangladesh Bank then canceled its PSO license and awarded the PSP license.

What are we missing? Over the past years, Progoti Systems has built a highly successful bookkeeping product for small businesses called TallyKhata. The company claims some 5 million businesses use the TallyKhata app across the country for keeping all kinds of business records. The app is free and runs without the Internet. As Progoti Systems launches NoboPay, it can easily integrate the payment system with TallyKhata fast-tracking its user acquisition. Currently, TallyKhata does not have a payment feature. But a need among businesses for payment solutions within the app is a no-brainer. Read the full story.

SMEVai Raises Funding, Aims to Empower MSMEs Through Cloud-based “Business Back-office” Services Platform

SMEVai, the cloud-based “business back-office” services platform has announced that it has raised an undisclosed sum of cash and in-kind tech investment in the pre-seed stage. Renowned angels M Asif Rahman of ARCom & WPDeveloper and Nazmul Hasan Rupok of WPDeveloper participated in this round. Along with cash investments, SMEVai receives a full-fledged tech development team as part of the fundraising deal.

Shikho Acquires Online Professional Courses Platform Bohubrihi As It Looks to Expand Product Offering

Shikho, the Dhaka-based EdTech startup has confirmed it has acquired Bohubrihi, one of the leading online professional course platforms in the country, per a press release. The move signals an acceleration of Shikho’s broader vision to provide quality education and instruction for learners of all ages in Bangladesh.

Shikho, who already provided students with affordable digital resources and tools to succeed in academic courses, will now be able to do the same for those wanting to gain professional skills.

The deal reportedly involves both cash and stock. As part of the deal, Bohubrihi Co-Founder and CEO, Md. Yanur Islam (Piash) will continue to run the business joining Shikho as the Head of their Professional Learning vertical. Read the full story.

Pulse Tech Raises $120k In Pre-seed Investment

Pulse Tech Ltd. has raised $1,20,000 in a pre-seed investment to develop a new Digital Healthcare Ecosystem to progress the global and local healthcare technology, per a press release.

According to the press release, Pulse Tech Ltd. has been working on a Super Application of Healthcare that will provide all convenient medical services in one platform. This advanced technological company launched “Covid-247” during the Covid-19 pandemic which is providing all covid-19 related emergency medical information and services. Read the full story.

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Interesting ideas

Advice gets good when it gets specific. Link

Book recommendation: Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. Link

Startup in Focus: iFarmer

Courtesy: iFarmer

iFarmer is a Dhaka-based agri-tech platform that connects farmers with access to finance, training, knowledge, and market. Founded in 2018, the company started by addressing the challenge of finance. Over the past three years, iFarmer has worked with over 10,000 farmers. The company works with individual and institutional investors who invest in farms via iFarmer.

iFarmer has been working to build an ecosystem around agriculture that connects everything from access to capital to inputs to information and market. So far the company has managed to achieve excellent outcomes.

The company says a significant percentage of the farmers it works with have seen meaningful growth in their farming capacity and income. As the model matures, the impact is going to scale as well.

The company currently has about 36,000 farmers in its network, facilitated more than BDT 745 million funding support for farmers across Bangladesh, and production of over BDT 100 crore worth of farm produce.

Today, after working with farmers for three years, iFarmer is expanding its operations. The company wants to provide a better experience for farmers, improve on timing and shorten the investment process and increase the size of the investment. Read our coverage of iFarmer.

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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