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Future Startup Weekly #47: Links and Commentary

Entrepreneurship, Technology and Society | 11 November 2022 | No. 47

I took an unannounced break from the newsletter for the last few weeks. While on the break, I decided to make some changes to the format. From now onward, instead of sending only Future Startup links, I’ll incorporate 2-5 outside links focused on the business and tech scene in Bangladesh/world and general personal growth and intellectual exploration essays. I also plan to add my short commentaries for each linked piece where possible. 

Today is the first day of the new format. If you enjoy reading Future Startup, I would be grateful if you share it with other people who might find it inspirational and educational — post it on Facebook/LinkedIn, send it to your friends and Whatsapp group chats, and share it up. I can’t exaggerate how much it helps us to grow and do more great work. Thank you for reading. 

On to the update. 

This last week Future Startup published: 

1. Tacit knowledge and entrepreneurial success

I have come to observe that many important entrepreneurship traits are hard to teach explicitly. You have to learn them intuitively or perceptually. Cedric Chin calls this “knowledge that cannot be captured through words alone.” You can read about them. You can study people who have them. You can design courses, and apply psychological knowledge and techniques in teaching them, but it is hard to teach them merely theoretically. 

While having a theoretical or verbal grasp of these skills is helpful, to truly learn these skills, you have to experience them and learn intuitively. I think that’s one of the reasons it takes multiple failures to get to significant entrepreneurial success or why it takes a long time to build fairly successful ventures. 

2. An interview with Shabab Shahriar Khan and Muhammad Saeedul Alam, Founders, biniyog.io

Shabab Shahriar Khan and Muhammad Saeedul Alam are the founders of biniyog.io, a Dhaka-based halal investment platform that connects regular people to profitable businesses.

Finding meaningful investment opportunities can be a challenge in Bangladesh. It is a complex problem exacerbated by a lack of personal finance education and investment knowledge, a lack of accessible investment opportunities, and a crisis of trust. If you’re looking for reliable halal and Shariah-compliant investment opportunities, it can further limit your options. Shabab and Saeed said it is a challenge they faced themselves — “we could not find any easy and transparent way to make halal and Shariah-compliant investments in Bangladesh.” So they decided to build a solution and biniyog.io was born.

Biniyog.io is still in its early days — the company just turned one last month. The company says it has worked with some hundred retail investors and a handful of businesses. It’s a relatively new vertical. There are various infrastructural and policy challenges. But the problem is real. And it is a fascinating space that offers genuine opportunities. 

I recently had an opportunity to speak with Shabab and Saeed about their venture and a wide range of topics. The conversation came out extremely interesting. 

3. “Ask for help”, says BariKoi CEO Al-Amin Sarker Tayef at the first Future Startup Meetup: We hosted our first Meetup Last Week. This is a sort of recap of the event. 

There are two groups of people. One group is naturally good at asking for help. For instance, many people say Steve Jobs was extremely good at asking for help. He would reach out to anyone and everyone if he needed something from them. So do many renowned founders. So it is not a challenge for these people. They do very well in entrepreneurship and in general, in life. Then there is a second group of people who overthink everything and find asking for help mortally challenging. This is the group where most people fall. They go through hundreds of mental movies before finally mustering the courage to ask for help from someone. 

There is no easy solution for this group of people. They will always struggle when it comes to reaching out for help. However, this mental challenge can be overcome through practice. 

4. Without distribution power, a great product alone rarely guarantees success

Legendary investor and founder of a16z Marc Andreessen explains it best in his interview with Elad Gil for Elad’s excellent book High Growth Handbook: “The general model for successful tech companies, contrary to myth and legend, is that they become distribution-centric rather than product-centric. They become a distribution channel, so they can get to the world. And then they put many new products through that distribution channel.”

5. Founder Stories collection: 05 excellent founder interviews: This is a list of 5 interviews with 5 startup founders we published over the past few weeks. 

Outside FS links

1. A Kushtia man builds a $4b pharma in the US with promises of cheap Covid treatment

"When I came to Yale, I didn't speak English that well; also I didn't understand their English very much. We couldn't communicate with each other. But as you can see I like to talk, and I made many friends over time; many of whom were my teachers and are my board members now. They are the most generous people," he says.

"Don't you think it is unusual that a kid from Kushtia goes to Harvard, Yale and establishes a multibillion biotech? It is an American story; only in America will you experience such a thing. America is designed in a way that tells people just go and give it a try. It is something I experienced with every door that opened. Every person that I needed a favour from never said no."

2. Be more ambitious: a rational case for dreaming big (if you want to do good)

Self-help advice often encourages people to “dream big,” “be more ambitious,” or “shoot for the moon” — is that good advice? Not always. When asked, more than 75% of Division I basketball players thought they would play professionally, but only 2% actually made it. Whether or not the players in the survey were making a good bet, they overestimated their chances of success… by over 37 times.

This level of overconfidence is common, and means that “be more ambitious” may not always be the right advice. Some people even enjoy taking risks, which explains why they buy lottery tickets even though they lose money on average. Whether to be more ambitious depends on the domain and the person in question.

However, if your aim is to have positive impact on the world, we think we can make a rational case for setting ambitious goals — based on the concepts in our key ideas series. In short, our advice is to do as much as you can to set up your life so that you can afford to fail, and then aim as high as you can. As a slogan: limit downsides, target upsides.

3. Why we stopped making Einsteins by excellent Erik Hoel

“I think the most depressing fact about humanity is that during the 2000s most of the world was handed essentially free access to the entirety of knowledge and that didn’t trigger a golden age.

Think about the advent of the internet long enough and it seems impossible to not start throwing away preconceptions about how genius is produced. If genius were just a matter of genetic ability, then in the past century, as the world’s population increased dramatically, and as mass education skyrocketed, and as racial and gender barriers came thundering down across the globe, and particularly in the last few decades as free information saturated our society, we should have seen a genius boom—an efflorescence of the best mathematicians, the greatest scientists, the most awe-inspiring artists.

If a renaissance be too grand for you, will you at least admit we should have expected some sort of a bump?

And yet, this great real-world experiment has seen, not just no effect, but perhaps the exact opposite effect of a decline of genius.” 

4. Interoperable digital transaction platform Binimoy to be launched Sunday

  • “Binimoy, an Interoperable Digital Transaction Platform (IDTP), is all set for launch Sunday (today) which will enable money transactions across mobile financial services (MFSs) and banks.
  • Customers will be able to transact money easily from banks to mobile banking services and vice versa through Binimoy
  • Orion Informatics Limited, Microsoft Bangladesh Limited, Fintech Solutions Limited, and Sain Ventures Limited (JV) contributed to developing the platform.
  • According to Bangladesh Bank sources, it will cost Tk5 to send Tk1,000 from bKash to Rocket. Sending the same amount of money from MFSs to banks will cost Tk10.
  • On the other hand, sending money from MFSs to Payment Service Provider (PSP) accounts will cost Tk5 per thousand taka. Bangladesh Bank issued a notification regarding this on Thursday (10 November).”

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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