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FS Weekly No. 39: Many shades of founder distractions

One of the classic distractions many founders face that often comes in the form of necessary evil is ‘chasing the next big opportunity and premature expansion.” It usually comes in the form of a rescue. You started with a product that is growing but not as fast as you expect it to grow. On the other hand, you have pressure from investors and stakeholders to grow faster or you want to/need to raise money and you need numbers and size to attract interest. 

All of these culminate in you pursuing some other opportunities in related verticals instead of focusing on your existing business and trying to solve your growth problem. Expand to some new product lines or areas of growth. This is often a distraction that comes from a subconscious bias that the other verticals might offer easier and quicker gains. It invariably leads to waste and unnecessary failures. It is costly as well. 

In most instances, startups eventually give up on these pursuits and they seldom generate meaningful results other than costing you both money and time. 

When going gets tough, it is easy to get distracted. But often the solution lies in staying focused and doubling down on doing the right thing. Read more

As usual, today’s edition features 05 stories. On to the updates: 

I. Startup Bangladesh Managing Director Sami Ahmed on the real work of the government-funded VC firm and unicorn ambition

Sami Ahmed, Managing Director country’s government-backed VC fund Startup Bangladesh Limited, suggests that Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem is at an inflection point and that his work is aimed at helping the ecosystem to get to the next level. He suggests one of the goals of Startup Bangladesh Limited is to help produce at least five unicorns in Bangladesh by 2025. Read

II. MJ Ferdous, COO, Brain Station 23:building scalable organizations, the ambition of Brain Station, and management in practice

MJ Ferdous is the Chief Operating Officer of Brain Station 23, a Dhaka-based technology services company serving customers across 25+ markets. Brain Station is one of the largest IT outsourcing companies in Bangladesh. Over the past years, the company has experienced excellent growth and is now eyeing further expansion. Mr. Ferdous is also a director of the company.  

In this fascinating conversation with Future Startup’s Ruhul Kader, Mr. Ferdous talks about his path to what he is doing today, his experience of working in Europe in the early days of his career, and what Bangladeshi tech companies could learn from European markets, the operational dynamics of Brain Station 23, how Brain Station is designing its organizational structure for scale, the dynamics of software outsourcing business, the critical importance of culture, the future of IT services market, Brain Station’s operations today and its ambition going forward, designing scalable organization, the critical importance of patience when you are in a leadership position, lessons from his journey so far and much more. Read

III. GoZayaan expands EMI facility to make travel accessible to more people

GoZayaan, the online travel tech platform has been on an unstoppable journey to shift the country’s travel scene from offline to online. The company has proven its drive for innovation by constantly introducing new and exciting products to the market. 

The Go-Safe program, integrated RT-PCR tests with international flights, travel loan, an ecosystem of travel services, etc. were just the beginning, the company is now looking to go further. In an effort to make travel simpler and accessible to more people, GoZayaan has recently introduced an extensive EMI facility. Read

IV. Three Important Yet Overlooked Success Factors for Early-Stage Companies

Successful companies are the fruit of many things done right. You have to get lucky. The timing has to be right. An idea ahead of its time rarely succeeds no matter how potential it appears. Product has to find a market. The team needs to be excellent to execute the idea. And a long list of other things. 

We don’t have empirical evidence for why some startups succeed while others fail. However, studies suggest several common denominators that separate successful companies from the ones that fail. 

Founded in 2017, Misfit Technologies provides tech solutions to companies across industries including telecom, FMCGs, e-commerce, travel, B2C, etc in the Asia Pacific region. 

Before its incredible success, team Misfit successfully raised investment from angel investors in Bangladesh, India, and Singapore, and put together a structure that eventually helped the company expand to multiple countries within a short period. 

In a recent interview, we asked Munimul Islam, CEO and co-founder of Misfit Technologies Limited, this question: what are some of the things that worked for Misfit in the early days and what can other founders learn from its success? His answers offer useful insights into venture building. Read

V. The Psychology of Startup Growth

In her excellent book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck talks about two mindsets: growth mindset and fixed mindset. People with a growth mindset believe effort can change the outcome. They don’t consider failure as a final outcome. Something that tells about their ability. Instead, they embrace failure and regard every failure as a momentary setback — and an opportunity to learn — that they could overcome through hard work, dedication, and effort. 

According to Dweck, successful people maintain a growth mindset. To my understanding, so do successful organizations. Because mindset ultimately determines your behavior and actions. Read

Future Startup Marketing Solutions. Connect with the most influential audience in business and tech in Bangladesh through content marketing and email newsletter promotion. Learn more here or simply reply to this email. 

Other interesting ideas

Book currently reading: How to stop time by Matt Haig. This is my third book by Haig. I first read his How to stay alive. A beautiful book on dealing with depression and melancholy. Beautifully written with some excellent ideas. I then read his Midnight Library. Another excellent read. All of Haig’s books are written for our time and deal with various maladies that plague modern humans. Link.

The rut principle by David Cain. Link


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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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