future startup logo

Five Entrepreneurship Lessons from Praava Health Founder Sylvana Quader Sinha

As founder and CEO of Praava Health, Sylvana Quader Sinha has spent over half a decade building one of Bangladesh's highly regarded healthcare enterprises from scratch. Under her leadership, Praava has not only grown as an organization, but it has also built an excellent brand that people love and admire for its high-quality standard and deep sincerity to its promises. 

We have extensively covered Sylvana and Praava’s work over the years and believe her journey offers instructive lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make their own mark, regardless of the industry. Sylvana has a fascinating personal journey, which we wouldn’t delve into today, for that we encourage you to read our interviews with her here, here, and here. In this article, we bring you five key entrepreneurial lessons from two of our most recent conversations with her. Enjoy! 

The most important skill for founders 

"You have to use every resource available to you, whether it's emotional support, or strategic or technical advice or an introduction or otherwise. Don't shy away from reaching out to people." This quote from Sylvana Quader Sinha, Founder and CEO of Praava Health, highlights what she believes is the most important skill for founders—the ability to ask for help. 

She explains that building a company cannot be done alone, "nobody can build a company all alone. It takes a village to build anything." Sylvana acknowledges the isolation and difficulties founders face, “building a company is a lonely journey and in some ways, as a founder you are alone and it can be hard to communicate with others about what you go through as a founder,” but she emphasizes that asking for help is critical, "you have to use every resource available to you, whether it's emotional support, or strategic or technical advice or an introduction or otherwise. Don't shy away from reaching out to people."

She then goes on to explain her approach to seeking help stressing the importance of persistently following up as building a business demands far more resources than one can manage alone. 

"I'm relentless in following up with people who offer introductions or help”, explains Sylvana. “And I think you have to be if you want to build a business. Because this is something that requires so much more of everything you need than what you can imagine."

Following up is such an underrated but critical skill. Many founders in their early days not only struggle with asking for help but also find it extremely difficult to follow up. Many don’t do it out of fear of what the other person would think. Others struggle to entertain the chance of getting rejected after asking for something. Sylvana offers a rather hopeful picture and encourages founders to seek help despite their fears. 

"Many people genuinely want to help someone who is doing something worthwhile,” she emphasizes. “If you reach out to people, most of them would like to support you."

Building a business requires all kinds of resources and the hallmark of an entrepreneur is someone who can pull resources from unexpected sources. This is what YC Founder Paul Graham calls relentlessly resourceful—meaning you can always find support and resources even in most unexpected situations. 

The world is changing all the time, so pay attention

The success of Praava Health partly stems from the fact that the company has shown an excellent ability to spot an unmet need in Bangladesh's evolving healthcare landscape. 

As Sylvana explains: "The challenge changes...we are no longer facing the burden of infectious diseases, which was traditionally the biggest threat to mortality in this country. Now, non-communicable diseases are posing a greater threat."

At the same time, the country's economic growth was fueling a rising middle class that demanded better quality care than the public system alone could provide. By positioning Praava to deliver international-standard services for this burgeoning segment, Sylvana identified an opportunity that arguably could not have existed even a decade prior. 

For entrepreneurs, recognizing when shifting market dynamics create novel gaps is often the spark for a successful new venture.

Build a Sustainable Business 

While Bangladesh's healthcare market holds immense potential, Sylvana was cognizant from the outset of the challenges facing many cash-burning startups. "The concept of growth at any cost may be feasible in a market where there is unlimited access to capital and human capital," she noted, "but it's less feasible in our markets." 

Instead of aiming for growth at a cost "unicorn" trajectory, Praava focused first on developing a profitable unit economics model for its flagship Dhaka facility. And only after cracking that has the company begun carefully expanding its physical and digital footprints. 

For entrepreneurs in emerging markets with more limited funding sources, keeping one eye on building a sustainable operation from the start may be critical to building a successful enterprise.

Move at the pace your business requires 

In many instances, there is a dominant startup wisdom that calls for companies to "move fast and break things." Yet as Sylvana cautions: "If you break things in healthcare, people die." The healthcare industry's high stakes make it unsuitable for a crash-and-burn approach.

Instead, she argues that "earning patient trust happens one patient at a time" through consistent delivery of quality care and service over years. Attempting to massively scale too quickly could easily jeopardize those delicate reputational foundations. 

While moving at a judicious pace may not appeal to growth-at-all-costs investors, it has enabled Praava to become a trusted brand. 

For founders in sectors like healthcare where reputations carry high stakes, patience and methodical expansion could pay dividends. More importantly, each business often comes with its own inherent rhythm and it only makes sense to honor and follow that rhythm in conjunction with the market. 

Obsess over culture and values

In an industry like healthcare where every employee interaction impacts the customer experience, Sylvana has made culture a KEY priority. "One of the books I read when I was founding the company was called Patients Come Second...employees come first, patients come second, and profits come last," she says.

Continuously reinforcing Praava's founding vision of "building patient experience" through intensive training sessions she personally leads, Sylvana aims to empower every employee to take ownership over that ethos. It is an organizational culture obsession rarely seen in growth-at-all-costs startups.

Yet for entrepreneurs looking to cultivate sustainable enterprises in any field, Sylvana's intentional focus on values and culture could prove an enduring competitive advantage. As she concludes: "If you invest in your culture, it comes back to you in spades and is really important for the success of the business."


From identifying market opportunities, asking for help to balancing growth with profitability, to setting an intentional pace, getting creative with funding, and obsessing over culture—the lessons from Sylvana Sinha's entrepreneurial journey extend well beyond Bangladesh's healthcare sector. For startup founders in any industry, her experiences could help pave the way. 

As we have written many times in the past, entrepreneurship is a learning problem. Building successful companies takes a long time because learning important lessons takes a long time. To that end, Sylvana’s ideas and insights offer us a shortcut to building enduring enterprises in challenging verticals. 

At Future Startup, our enduring philosophy has been to offer in-depth, intelligence-grade analysis of important companies, industries, markets, and individuals in the entrepreneurship and tech scene in Bangladesh. With our recent changes, we are working to take that a notch up. If you want to go deep into Bangladesh’s tech and entrepreneurship scene and get our analysis directly into your inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.  

We also provide a narrative strategy and content marketing service to help brands build enduring market positions and a market research and business consulting service to help companies and organizations in their vital work of building a better world. Get in touch if you are interested in exploring a collaboration here

In-depth business & tech coverage from Dhaka

Stories exclusively available at FS

About FS

Contact Us