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The 2021 Future Startup Year in Review

This year Future Startup published 250+ articles including 50+ interviews. Our weekly newsletter has grown significantly to over 20,000+ subscribers. And we started to run ads in the newsletter for the first time. Our branded content service has seen meaningful growth.

Today, as per our annual tradition, I put together the most popular and most important posts of the year on Future Startup.

The Most-Viewed and Most Important Articles

Some of the most popular and important articles on Future Startup according to pageviews:

  1. How Chaldal Works: Unpacking Chaldal’s Scope, Operation, and Strategy: Waseem AlimZia Ashraf, and Tejas Viswanath founded Chaldal in 2013 in an attempt to gain share in online grocery shopping, a then-nascent market with seemingly boundless growth opportunities. Specifically, the Chaldal founders aimed to make grocery shopping seamless. The company has since evolved. Today, it has not only built a successful online grocery business, but it has also built an end-to-end grocery supply chain creating a direct backward linkage with farmers as well as a forward linkage with smallholder retailers allowing it greater leverage in the grocery supply chain. Chaldal is building a suite of businesses that allows customers to avail groceries at a better price and improve the overall grocery supply chain in Bangladesh. These businesses handle everything from working directly with farmers to working with smallholder retailers to micro-warehousing and logistics. Over the years, Chaldal has expanded its platform beyond the marketplace and micro-warehouse model and embedded itself firmly into the grocery supply chain with initiatives like Chaldal Vegetable Network and logistics operations Go Go Bangla.
  2. With Sofol App, iFarmer Aims to Digitize Agriculture and Empower Farmers: Sofol was launched as an MVP on 15 September 2020, with 5 facilitators from Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, and Nilphamari. The company says it has since onboarded over 18000 farmers through Sofol. The app is part of iFarmer’s strategy to use human agents, mobile technology, and remote sensing to reduce the cost and complexity of working with smallholder farmers. Pay closer attention, Sofol is an important piece of iFarmer’s ecosystem strategy and connects various parts of iFarmer operation on a strong data and monitoring infrastructure. If it works, the strategy can help iFarmer to sort of "uberize" its model in the future and make scaling straightforward.
  3. The State of Startup Funding In Bangladesh till September 2021: To date, 37+ Bangladeshi startups raised more than $120Mn in disclosed investments. Many startups raised seed and pre-seed money that has not been disclosed. The increase is significant compared to previous years. In 2020, the total funding was around $40Mn. We still have a quarter to go, so it is logical to anticipate that the final quarter of the year will be eventful.
  4. Inside Go Zayaan’s Ambition to Dominate Local Travel in Bangladesh: Over the last two years, the global tourism ecology has shifted to local travel under the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic. In response to the change, Go Zayaan, the Dhaka-based fast-growing travel-tech company, has doubled down on domestic tourism. It launched several products that address the need for inspiration and logistics for traveling Bangladesh. As the local future of travel manifests more clearly across markets, the company aligns its strategic ambition and plots big to dominate the domestic travel market in Bangladesh. In this article, we go deeper into Go Zayaan’s domestic travel ambition and strategy.
  5. Growth Hacking 101: How to Apply Growth Hacking Strategies to Your Business: Contrary to traditional marketing, growth hacking takes an interdisciplinary approach to growth and marketing. It is a rigorous method of rapid and cross-functional experimentation. A growth hacker needs to be creative to come up with the right and effective growth strategies. Growth hacking is a continuous cycle where a growth hacker tries out different ideas, analyzes them, and generates new ideas based on the analysis.
  6. With Pandamart, Foodpanda Aims to Become Everything Delivery Service: Multinational food delivery company Foodpanda recently introduced a new service named Pandamart, a platform where customers can order and get groceries and other essentials delivered at their doorstep. This is a natural extension of Foodpanda’s already fast-growing food delivery service, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Pandamart follows Foodpanda’s aggregation model where it aggregates grocery and other essential products shops under Pandamart, aggregates demands, and enables these shops to deliver online orders to customers. Business model and strategy-wise, Pandamart is to grocery and electronic stores what Foodpanda is to restaurants.
  7. A Bangladeshi Young Person’s Guide To Investing and Wealth Creation: Bangladesh has made great economic progress over the past few decades. People have been lifted out of poverty. Per capita income has risen to a new level. Despite these favorable macroeconomic variables, individuals in this country are intrinsically wary of investing. Culturally, investment and building wealth are not something that comes naturally to most Bangladeshis.
  8. The Future Startup Dossier of bKash: There are not many companies like bKash in Bangladesh. The fin-tech leader is a master of execution. It has effectively scaled a product in a sector which is highly sensitive and strictly regulated and that too ahead of any of the incumbents of the sector. In the process, it has effectively commoditized the idea of trust in banking products and made it easier for other fin-tech products to access the market. In this dossier, we compile all of our coverage on bKash encompassing bKash’s product journey, strategies, operation, and growth, as well as interesting and in-depth coverages on the company from across the internet.
  9. DataBird's Ambition to Transform Dhaka's Internet Ecosystem: DataBird, a Dhaka-based technology holding company, sees this as its opportunity to build dominant tech enterprises and serve the market. The company currently has bets in four verticals: communication, online travel, online advertisement, and payments and describes itself as “the leading Internet group with products across online travel, news, keyboard, eReader, and lifestyle mobile applications.” A team of 160 people across its different verticals, DataBird claims its services “reach more than half of all smartphone Internet users today in Bangladesh.” DataBird looks to build platforms at the intersection of two verticals: transactional platforms and user traffic.

Interviews

Some of the most read interviews on Future Startup throughout the year. We published a separate list of popular founder interviews of the year here.

  • On IDLC Venture Capital Fund, Investing in Startups with Syed Javed Noor; Syed Javed Noor is the Deputy Managing Director of IDLC Finance Limited, the largest NBFI in Bangladesh. As part of his job at IDLC, Mr. Noor looks after an expansive portfolio and teams comprising Wealth Management, Treasury, Strategy, Change Management, Corporate Advisory, and Venture Capital Initiative of IDLC. He is also a Director of two subsidiaries of IDLC Group: IDLC Securities Limited and IDLC Investments Limited. Mr. Noor has over 20 years of stellar experience in the Banking Sector and worked for some of the most prominent brands in the industry across operations. In this interview, Mr. Noor talks about his banking career and his work at IDLC, how IDLC’s venture capital initiative came into being, how the fund operates and the ambition of the fund going forward, discusses the state of venture capital and tech startup ecosystem in Bangladesh and much more.
  • Anayet Rashid Reflects on the Evolution and Ambition of Truck Lagbe: In this excellent conversation with Future Startup, Truck Lagbe co-founder and CEO, Anayet Rashid, shares about the latest developments at the fast-growing digital trucking startup, the impact of the pandemic on the trucking industry, and lessons he has learned in entrepreneurship over the past years.
  • Life’s Work: Rashed Mujib Noman: Rashed Mujib Noman is the Country Director of Augmedix BangladeshAugmedix, a US-based provider of remote medical documentation and live clinical support, is “on a mission to rehumanize the clinician-patient relationship and address the largest pain point in the US healthcare system – the burden of documentation.”In this interview, Mr. Rashed, reflects on his early life and his journey to becoming who he is today, talks about Augmedix Bangladesh, how Augmedix operates as an organization, its ambition for the Bangladesh market going forward, and shares how much Augmedix has evolved over the years, and much more.
  • The Art of Entrepreneurship: Naim Ahamed: Zingo is a Dhaka-based re-commerce company that has successfully built a second-hand smartphone marketplace and runs several relevant services around smartphones such as repairing, refurbishing smartphones, smartphone exchange programs, etc. Founded in 2017 as Humpty Dumpty, later rebranded to Zingo, and run by a small team of tenacious people, the company has not only experienced excellent growth, it has also built a strong business that makes money.
  • On Building a Tech-first Home Improvement Platform with Sarjeena Maodud: Sarjeena Maodud is the co-founder and CEO of Sheraspace, a tech-first home improvement services company based in Dhaka. Founded in 2019, Sheraspace offers a number of services related to interior design, including online interior design consultation, complete end-to-end interior design solutions, and custom furniture design for full interior design projects. In this fascinating interview with Future Startup, Ms. Sarjeena walks us through her early life in Moscow, growing up in Dhaka, education in UCL, moving back to Dhaka, founding and building a tech-first interior design company in Bangladesh, and much more.
  • How We Built SWAP With Parvez Hossain: Parvez Hossain is the Co-founder and CEO of SWAP, a Dhaka-based fast-growing reCommerce company. Launched in 2020, within just two years, SWAP has become an important player in Dhaka's recommerce space and has experienced excellent growth helping take the nascent industry to the consciousness of the mainstream. It is one of the four Bangladeshi startups that have been selected in the latest cohort of Accelerating Asia.
  • Building A Global SaaS Business From Bangladesh with Sheikh Shourav: In this wide-ranging interview, we sit down with Sheikh Shourav, Founder and President of Apploye, to learn more about his journey to what he is doing, and the inner workings of Apploye, the global SaaS company he is building out of Bangladesh.
  • The Art of Entrepreneurship with Kowser Ahmed: Kowser Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of The KOW Company, a Dhaka-based fast-growing content post-production management company serving global clients. In this wide-ranging interview, Mr. Ahmed talks about his path to what he is doing today, how he has grown The Kow Company from a small team of 3 people to a leader in image post-production vertical across markets, on company culture, growth, decision making, sales and marketing, jobs of a founder, the state of The KOW Company today and ambition going forward, and much, much more.
  • DataBird’s Communication Philosophy and ShareTrip’s Digital Transformation with Sadia Haque: Sadia Haque is the CCO of DataBird and co-founder of ShareTrip. In this interview, Ms. Sadia talks about DataBird’s communication philosophy across its portfolio companies, ShareTrip’s digital transformation, and how the travel tech company has built a strong community around travel, dynamics of community building, the interdisciplinary nature of marketing communication, and much more.
  • Chaldal is On a Roll. CEO Waseem Alim on Multi-city Expansion, Growth, Competition, and Plans for 2021: In a brief conversation with Future Startup, Chaldal co-founder and CEO, Waseem Alim, offers us a glimpse into what’s happening at the leading grocery commerce company of the country. We cover Chaldal’s state of operation after a period of steep growth, evolving operation, expansion, and growth plans and priorities for 2021.
  • On Building Amarlab, Digital Healthcare In Bangladesh, and Entrepreneurship With Tazin Shadid: Amarlab, a digital healthcare startup that provides at-home diagnostic test services, online doctor consultation, a platform for doctors to run their practices digitally among several other solutions, is among the most prominent players in the vertical. The company started with on-demand at-home diagnostics services and has since expanded to several verticals, as we mentioned above, taking the advantage of the integrated nature of the healthcare service. We recently sat down with Amarlab Co-founder and CEO Tazin Shadid to get an insider view of Amarlab: how the company came into being, what is Amarlab, services, and products it offers, how the company operates, the state of its business today, and ambition going forward, the healthcare sector in Bangladesh, challenges early-stage founders face, and much more.
  • Started as a Small Operation, Bohubrihi Sees Excellent Growth and Matures Operation. CEO Yanur Islam Piash Shares What’s Next for the EdTech Startup: In this excellent conversation with Future Startup’s Ruhul Kader, Bohubrihi co-founder and CEO, Yanur Islam Piash, shares about the latest developments at the fast-growing ed-tech company post our conversation about a year ago and lessons he has learned in entrepreneurship.
  • On Building Popular Consumer Tech Products for Bangladesh with Shamim Hasnath: Shamim Hasnath is the founder and CEO of Ridmik Labs and CTO of DataBird. Shamim created the Ridmik Keyboard in 2012 when he was a second-year student of Computer Science at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Today, Ridmik Keyboard is one of the top communications apps in Bangladesh with over 50 million cumulative downloads and 25 million monthly active users. In this interview, we talk about how Shamim made his way into building popular tech products and entrepreneurship, the state of Ridmik Labs and its many products and services, how different products of Ridmik connect with each other, Ridmik’s ambition going forward, and much more.

Lists

We published a number of lists of startups to watch throughout the year.


Other Notable Posts on Consumer tech, Technology policy and Regulations in Bangladesh

Thank you for reading and supporting our work. I wish you all a happy new year and I'm looking forward to an excellent 2022.

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Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based writer, researcher, and entrepreneur. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and the author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about entrepreneurship, business, strategy, technology, and culture. He can be reached at [email protected]

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