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These Startups are Building Fascinating Businesses in Education Technology, Home-made Subscription Meal Delivery, and RMG Supply Chain

Welcome to another edition of the FS Startups to Watch list. In this edition of Startups to Watch, we feature three companies: an ed-tech startup, a home cook food delivery platform, and an RMG-focused e-commerce marketplace. You can read previous editions of startups to watch here. 

Edutechs: Digitizing educational institutions 

At a glance 

  • Founding year: 2019
  • Founders: Mohammad Ekram, Farhim Warith Zaman, and Nafis Abrar
  • Vertical: Education technology 
  • Disclosed Investment: $210K
  • Disclosed Investor: Accelerating Asia, Dekko ISHO Venture Capital, Paramount VC, F. K. Md. Emdad Khan, Mohammad Maaz

Background 

Edutechs is a Dhaka-based education technology startup that provides a range of education technology solutions to help schools and educational institutions to automate daily administration tasks. 

The company offers a learning management solution to manage attendance, manage payments, manage parent/student relationships, and send bulk short promotional SMS, enabling educational institutions to connect better with students, parents, and stakeholders and run their operations more efficiently. The company states that it aims to introduce cutting-edge and advanced learning technologies to all classrooms in Bangladesh. 

Products and business model overview 

Edutechs was founded by Mohammad Ekram, Farhim Warith Zaman, and Nafis Abrar in 2019. The thesis of the company is simple: the existing approach to running educational institutions is expensive for most schools and institutions. They run most of their operations manually. It not only challenges their efficiency and financial aspects, but it also affects their ability to serve their students and other stakeholders better. Edutechs aims to help schools and educational institutions digitize their operation and administrative tasks. 

The company has created a subscription product that schools/educational institutions can use by paying a monthly/yearly subscription. Using the platform, educational institutions can manage student/parent relationships, manage attendance, report card, payment, send SMS, and so on. The platform has integration with all the payment solutions that allow schools to avoid additional integration challenges. 

Apart from its SaaS platform, the company has also offered custom solutions to educational institutions based on their needs. Edutechs essentially aims to build more services on top of its SaaS platform based on the needs of its users as it grows. And working with schools directly does allow the company an interesting opportunity to introduce more services as it deepens its partnership with schools. 

While there is a meaningful opportunity in the space, in order to get there, Edutechs has to first make its first product work. Schools are quite conservative when it comes to technology adoption and investing additionally in tech. School management and classroom management software are not new things in Bangladesh. We have previously written about solutions like Classtunes and others. The adoption of these services has been slow. How Edutechs overcome this inertia in the market will be critical for its success. 

Why you should pay attention 

Edutechs has raised over $210K in investment since its founding in 2019. Most recently, the company has raised $100K from Singapore- based Accelerator Program Accelerating Asia. The company says it has been seeing a growing interest from schools and educational institutions. Bangladesh has a large number of private educational institutions. The technology penetration in these institutions is fairly low. However, the world is increasingly moving towards digitization. Edtech has become an important phenomenon in Bangladesh. Naturally, educational institutions will have to adopt technology at scale in the coming days. How this transformation will happen remain a question and this offers an excellent opportunity for players like Edutechs. The company has raised meaningful capital and has an interesting product. We will be following its developments in the coming days.  

Fabric Lagbe: RMG-focused e-commerce marketplace 

At a glance 

  • Founding year: 2021
  • Founders: Nazmul Islam
  • Vertical: RMG, eCommerce Marketplace 
  • Disclosed investment: $95k
  • Disclosed investor names: Startup Bangladesh Limited  

Background 

Fabric Lagbe is a Dhaka-based RMG-focussed marketplace startup that connects national and international buyers with local manufacturers and traders of various RMG products including fabrics, yarns, cotton, readymade garments products, machinery, trims, and accessories. 

The core thesis of the company stands that in the existing market, there is a huge disconnect between buyers and sellers of various RMG products. The supply chain is fragmented. Information asymmetry is a huge challenge for the industry. As a result, buyers, sellers, and factory owners, everyone suffers when it comes to finding out their respective business counterparts. Fabric Lagbe says it plans to address this gap in the market both as a backward linkage and a supplier of textile products, such as fabric, yarn, cotton, readymade garments, textile machine, trims and accessories, and other textile products. The company has introduced an open bidding system for various textile products. 

Products and business model overview 

Fabric Lagbe was founded by Nazmul Islam in 2021. The company operates with the assumption that although the RMG industry has seen a meaningful technology adoption in manufacturing and operation over the past years, procurement, marketing, distribution, and sales mostly remain analog that not only makes these businesses inefficient but also cost them in time, effort, and investment. 

  • Fabric Lagbe aims to address this gap by connecting suppliers and customers over an online marketplace where customers can order products and suppliers can sell with a few clicks. The marketplace model not only makes the entire distribution model efficient and hassle-free, but it also creates greater opportunities by scaling the opportunity to buy and sell to anybody and anywhere. 
  • Fabric Lagbe says it has thousands of suppliers on its platform and customers can buy the right quality products hassle-free at a fair price and get on-time delivery. This makes sense for both the customers and suppliers. For customers, it means they can access many more suppliers in one place, and for suppliers, they can reach a large number of customers with little effort and expenses. The company's entire process is transparent for both the customers and suppliers. 
  • The platform operates using bidding. Suppliers and customers both can participate in the bidding process for a product by registering on the platform. Suppliers can choose the best bidder from the list by reviewing the bidder’s business history and customers can do the same before submitting a bid. Fabric Lagbe's customer service team usually helps both parties to complete a transaction. 
  • On Fabric Lagbe, buyers can buy both regular textile and RMG products and can also request customized products. For regular RMG products, suppliers usually showcase their products on the Fabric Lagbe platform. For customized products, buyers can ask if they can get the products on our platform, and suppliers get back with a bid on the customer’s product request. Fabric Lagbe team further helps with details. 
  • The company currently focused on the local market and deals with local textile and handloom products such as fabrics, sarees, lungis, three pieces, gamchas, rakhain dresses, panjabis, lehengas, bed sheets, handicraft products, etc. 
  • Like many other marketplaces, the company has a commission-based model where it takes a 1% commission per transaction.  

Why you should pay attention 

Although RMG is the largest export-earning sector in Bangladesh, we’re just seeing the beginning of the technology adoption in the sector. Supply chains remain a major complexity in the sector. This offers an excellent opportunity for Fabric Lagbe. The company has shown meaningful processes within a short period of time and has received backing from a number of important stakeholders. 

There are a number of players looking to digitize the RMG supply chain in Bangladesh. Nitex is a clear leader in the space and operates and targets a different market. Merchant Bay is another company operating in the vertical. However, there is no precedence of major success in the space as yet. Given the complexities in the space, it will be interesting to see how Fabric Lagbe moves ahead in the coming days. 

Homefectionery: Home-made subscription meal delivery platform 

At a glance 

  • Founding year: 2021
  • Vertical: Food delivery 
  • Founders: Umayer Islam
  • Disclosed investment: N/A
  • Disclosed investor names: Iterative Accelerator 

Background 

Founded in 2021 by Umayer Islam, Homefectionery is an online subscription food delivery platform that offers affordable and healthy lunches prepared by home chefs targeting office goers. Apart from the subscription food delivery services, the platform features a wide range of baking ingredients, tools, and recipes, as well as a community forum where home bakers can share tips and recommendations.

Products and business model overview 

The company started with a home-cooked food marketplace, providing institutions and office goers to subscribe to affordable and healthy meals. Food delivery is not a new thing in Bangladesh. There are established players in the space such as Foodpanda, and Pathao Food among others. In the homemade food space, there are players like Cookups. However, few players have targeted the office meal market with sufficient strategic focus. Although companies like Foodpanda and others have dedicated B2B services where companies can order lunches and other office meals on the platform, none of the platforms exclusively focus on this segment. Homefectionery started by serving this gap in the market with a dedicated product and strategy. Since the company started exclusively serving these meals, it enjoys the advantage of focus, catering exclusively to the needs of this customer segment. 

The core business model of Homefectionery is a meal subscription. Customers can order from three options the company offers: standard, premium, and diet, and subscribe to a certain number of meals per week. The company has also expanded into bakery items, selling baking ingredients, tools, and recipes. 

Why you should pay attention 

For much of its existence, Homefectionery operated with a dead focus on building and growing the business. Within a short period of time, it experienced meaningful growth. 

In 2023, it joined the summer 2023 cohort of the Iterative Accelerator program as the only company from Bangladesh. Previously, Iterative invested in a number of Bangladeshi startups including GoZayaan, BariKoi, Kludio, Thrive Edtech, Newport, and PriyoShop. With the backing of Iterative, the company is now looking to expand. Home-made food is an interesting market. Homefectionery has built an interesting business on the back of the office meal subscription. We’ll be following the company to see what it does next. 

Startups to Watch is a bi-weekly feature by the Future Research team at Future Startup. Email us at [email protected] for potential collaboration, inquiry, and feedback. 

Ayrin Saleha Ria works at Future Startup as a full-time Research Associate. She has a background in Applied Sociology. Before joining the FS team, she worked and volunteered with a number of social organizations. As someone who comes from a social science background, she takes a deep interest in research around important social-economic challenges in our society. A voracious reader, Ayrin is passionate about working for the betterment of society, takes a deep interest in human society and behavioral science, and loves books.

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