Our latest collection of founder interviews features Amir Salihefendic, founder and CEO of Doist, Nahita Nishmin, CEO of Cookups Technologies, Abdullah Al-Rezwan, Founder of MBI Deep Dives, Bijon Islam, Co-founder and CEO of LightCatsle Partners (LCP), Shabab Shahriar Khan and Muhammad Saeedul Alam, Founders of biniyog.io, Azra Salim, Founder of Shombhob Health, Faym Bappi, Founder of HypeScout, and Dumebi Egbuna, Co-founder and CMO of Chezie.
Amir Salihefendic is the founder and CEO of Doist — the company behind popular productivity and work apps Todoist, one of the world’s most popular productivity tools used by millions of people, and Twist, an async work communication app that helps remote-friendly teams run an organized, transparent, and balanced workplace.
Amir was born in Bosnia where he spent the early few years of his childhood. His family fled war-torn Bosnia for Denmark. Amir grew up in rural Denmark and studied computer science at Aarhus Univeristet in Aarhus, Denmark. Prior to starting Doist, Amir was part of the founding team of Plurk, a social networking site before Twitter that continues to be one of the popular social networking sites in Asia. Before that, he created, built, and sold a successful spell-checking service, one of his many side projects. A passionate creator, Amir created Todoist in 2007 to manage his own tasks. At the time, he was still a university student juggling multiple programming jobs and side projects on the side. Todoist quickly gained popularity and the rest is history.
Over the years, Amir and his team have built a distinct company that is well-known for its remote-first operation, excellent culture, and great products.
I recently had an opportunity to speak with Amir about his journey, all things Doist, remote work, building products and organizations, personal productivity, company culture, and life. We talk about his early life and the impact of war, the influence of his parents on him, his parenting style as a father of three small children, how living in multiple countries has changed his view about the world and humanity, how technology has changed our world and why our struggle is sometimes useful to make us resilient, ambition as a hedge against complacency and despair, we delve into the origin story of Doist, the upsides of adopting a creation mindset, the secrets behind the growth of Todoist, his views about the changing world of work, the state of Doist today, and ambition going forward, we explore company culture, the idea of mastery and craftsmanship, finding the right people, and reflect on why life so special and much more.
I had an excellent time speaking with Amir. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Nahita Nishmin is the CEO of Cookups Technologies Limited, a Dhaka-based on-demand home-cooked food delivery platform. Prior to running Cookups, Ms. Nahita worked for a brief period with Unilever Bangladesh where she worked on sustainability and purposeful brand-related initiatives. Before that, she spent a long time working in the development sector including eight years at Swiss Contact’s Katalyst project where she managed agricultural portfolios.
In this fascinating conversation with Ms. Nahita, we cover her personal history, how her upbringing and early life experiences have shaped who she is today, the influence of her parents on her, her parenting style, her experience of living and studying in the US, building a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem in Bangladesh, her path to entrepreneurship and running Cookups, upsides of working for large organizations and then coming to entrepreneurship, the state of Cookups’s business and operation today, the evolution of the company over the last few years, rebuilding the operational infrastructure of Cookups from the ground up, designing an organic growth path for Cookups, how Cookups work with its partners, Cookups’s ambition going forward, her work regimen and how she manages the operation and finds time for doing strategy, he realizations about work and life and much more.
Abdullah Al-Rezwan is a Bangladeshi-born US-based business analyst and entrepreneur. He is the founder and author of MBI Deep Dives, a subscription-based newsletter/website that provides in-depth research on publicly-listed companies, primarily those listed in the US. MBI Deep Dives runs on a simple model — one deep dive per month on a company of MBI’s choosing, which contains the full spectrum of both quantitative and qualitative research, including financial modeling to help readers better understand the sensitivity of variables and expectations embedded in the stock price. Rezwan, who goes by the alias "Mostly Borrowed Ideas (MBI)" on Twitter, has gained a broad following among the investment and business community in the US and beyond for his "superb insight".
Before starting MBI Deep Dives, Rezwan worked as a generalist at Madison Investments on their US large-cap team, where he covered a wide range of companies, from UnitedHealth to Amazon and Boeing. Prior to that, he worked for three and a half years in Bangladesh after his graduation from Dhaka University, covering the financial sector in sell-side Equity Research before pursuing his MBA at Cornell in the US.
I recently had an opportunity to speak with Rezwan. We discuss a wide-range of topics including (but not limited to) his personal journey to what he is doing, how his upbringing and early life experiences have shaped him, the creation of MBI Deep Dives, what it means to be internally driven, the critical importance of high pain tolerance for entrepreneurs and creatives, we delve into the power of the internet, the rise of the pseudonymous economy, the impact of the social media platforms, the state of internet culture in Bangladesh, and what it takes to build a vibrant entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, we go deep into his approach to writing and running MBI Deep Dives, the state of the newsletter, and his ambition for its future, the upsides and challenges of working solo, his approach to work and productivity, and the future of the media business and we reflect on the nature of conviction and belongingness, the importance of finding and following your interests, his favorite podcasts, and the importance of finding joy in your work and much more.
Bijon Islam is the co-founder and CEO of LightCatsle Partners (LCP), a Dhaka-based management consulting firm that has experienced a consistent rise over the last several years. Started as a small operation, LCP is now often referred to as McKinsey of Bangladesh, and rightly so.
We covered LCP a fair bit in its early days, including an interview with LCP co-founder and Managing Director Ivdav Ahmed Khan Mojlish in 2018. Between 2018 and 2022, LCP experienced phenomenal growth, going from a small team to an important player in Dhaka’s fast-growing consulting scene. Today, LCP is a completely different company with an expansive ambition to build a global consulting company out of Bangladesh.
I recently had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Bijon. We talk about a wide range of topics including the evolution of LCP, secrets behind LCP’s phenomenal growth, LCP’s business today and ambition going forward, how LCP operates as a company, what are the major challenges for the company, culture at LCP, the business of consulting, consulting and research market in Bangladesh, we discuss his approach to work and productivity, lessons from his journey and much more. This is a brilliant read. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it.
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. The duo comes from interesting backgrounds. A BUET-trained engineer, Shabab worked for five years as a software engineer before starting biniyog.io. Saeed studied finance at IBA, Dhaka University, and then worked in finance in the telecom industry. We talk about how they met and came up with the idea of biniyog.io and got started, their motivation behind starting the company, what biniyog.io does, its business model, challenges, and ambition going forward. We discuss how biniyog.io ensures investment safety, and how it assesses companies and policy status in the space in which it operates, and we reflect on the challenges founders face and their lessons in venture building.
The interview is fascinating in its entirety. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed doing it.
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 where she worked as a consultant to Fortune 500 Companies.
In this fascinating conversation with Ms. Azra, we cover her personal history, her journey to what she is doing today, her path to entrepreneurship and starting Shombhob Health, the state of Shombhob’s business and operation today, online pharmacy thesis, Shombhob’s ambition going forward, her work regimen, her realizations about work and life and much more. This is a brilliant read. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Faym Bappi is the co-founder and CEO of HypeScout, Bangladesh’s first influencer marketing platform that is now plotting to go regional. Before starting HypeScout, Faym worked at Pathao, one of the early Bangladeshi startups to receive global attention, where he worked at the intersection of marketing and technology. Trained in computer science, Faym always wanted to build his own thing, a passion that eventually led him to start HypeScout.
While influencer marketing is relatively new to Bangladesh, it is a fast-growing phenomenon across markets. Many industry insiders predict that influencer marketing is going to be an important part of the future of digital marketing. It makes sense.
I recently had an opportunity to speak with Faym about all things HypeScout, influencer marketing, and startups. We talk about his startup journey, how HypeScout came into being, what the early days of HypeScout were like, and what the first version of HypeScout was like, we discuss the state of HypeScout’s business today, strategic direction, and future plans, we delve into the influencer marketing and the future of influencer marketing, and we reflect on the challenges and rewards of being a founder and his lessons from his journey so far. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation. I had an excellent time speaking with Faym. I hope you enjoy reading the as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Dumebi Egbuna is the Co-founder and CMO of Chezie, an East Coast-based startup that provides an all-in-one solution for building, tracking, and managing employee resource groups (ERGs). Before starting Chezie, Dumebi worked at IBM within their sales organization where she was responsible for driving the company’s strategic initiatives for data and AI brand.
Trained in business administration at Emory University, Dumebi has always wanted to help minorities break barriers and succeed that eventually led to co-foundering Chezie with her brother with an ambition to help companies retain their diverse talent by building impactful employee resource groups.
In this fascinating conversation with Shoaib Ahamed, conducted online, Dumebi Egbuna talks about building Chezie, all things ERGs, the ups and downs of a founder’s journey, entrepreneurship, and much more.