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Future Startup Weekly 55: AI can’t kill anything worth preserving, Shombhob founder interview, FS Case library, and more

Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Society | 14 January 2023 | No. 55

Hello there, Welcome to another edition of FS Weekly. I'm Ruhul. I convene Future Startup Weekly to help you understand entrepreneurship and the technology landscape in Bangladesh and beyond.

This edition features:

  • 1 founder interview 
  • 03 Essays and analyses 
  • 01 company deep dive
  • 04 recommended readings 

First, FS Talk Jan 2023 will take place on 28th Jan. The always excellent founder and CEO of Shuttle Reyasat Chowdhury will share his journey and lessons at the event. It is a free event, but you have to register to get an invitation. Details and registration are here. I look forward to seeing you on the 28th! 

Future Startup Interview

Online pharmacy, entrepreneurship, and life lessons with Azra Salim, Founder, Shombhob Health

Azra Salim is the founder and CEO of online pharmacy and healthcare startup Shombhob Health. Prior to starting Shombhob Health, Ms. Azra worked in senior leadership positions in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Bangladesh. Before that, she worked in the US for several years as a consultant to Fortune 500 Companies. Read

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FS Essays

1. The importance of doing things for the right reasons: Often our drive and desire come out of our need for the approval of others. A need most of us developed as a child when we needed support and attention from our parents and adults. When we continue to submit to this need for external support, we give up on our authentic self and we seek things that no longer serve or satisfy us. Read

2. CareCopilot: Taking care of America’s aging population: It may sound surprising that one in every seven Americans is taking care of an adult loved one right now! Taking care of a loved one can be a very rewarding experience but with one’s busy work schedule and high cost involved, it can be very stressful too. CareCoPilot, an NYC-based startup is aiming to save time and money for caregivers so that they can spend more time enjoying their loved ones and less time worrying about needed care. Read

3. Future Startup Case Library: About two years ago we launched a new series titled “how I created that” with an ambition to chronicle the founding stories of some of the interesting startups and organizations in Bangladesh. As we speak, we have published some 30 founding stories of Bangladeshi startups and every one of them is unique and offers useful lessons in finding ideas and launching companies. 

Company deep dive: Shuttle

Shuttle is a B2C and B2B transportation startup that provides safe transport at an affordable price by moving more people with fewer vehicles. Shuttle runs specific routes with dedicated pick-up points and maintains a fixed schedule making it easy for people to plan their transport. Using data, Shuttle predicts demand and designs the most efficient routes possible to ensure a smooth experience. 

Launched in 2018, Shuttle has played a role in popularizing the concept of shared travel on daily commutes. The initial offerings included pick & drop services from Home to University for female students. But, a vertical for men and office-goers was introduced soon after in 2021. The company has since introduced several products targeting business and schools. Read our coverage of Shuttle and multiple interviews with the Shuttle founder here

Outside FS Ideas


2. Repair and Remain: We live in an age of new. Maintenance is gradually becoming a foreign concept to us. We are getting used to replacing things. If something is not working, throw it out and buy a new one. This thinking pervades every aspect of our life from consumption to relationships. This essay is a brilliant take on why it is a shortsighted approach to living.

3. AI can’t kill anything worth preserving: I read a lot of speculations about AI taking over everything. Particularly with the excellent capabilities of ChatGPT, this discussion has reached a new level. Author Austin Kleon argues, worry not. AI can’t kill anything worth preserving. I sympathize with Austin in that while we constantly talk about the incredible knowledge revolution of the past decades owing to the digital technologies and YouTube knowledge revolution, it has not helped create more scientific breakthroughs or literary excellence, and so on. We don’t have more Rabindranaths today because of this open access to knowledge. 

4. Iniesta on life after Barcelona: Because I’m reading a lot of sports journalism lately. Good read. 

P.S. 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. As a small organization, I can’t exaggerate how much it helps us to grow and do more great work. Thank you for reading.

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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