“I am surprised at the quality of startups in Bangladesh. Their ideas are very promising and have the potential to compete at a global level,” commented Hideki Fujita, CEO and Co-founder, COENT Venture Partners and one of the judges at Echelon’s Top100 Qualifier in Bangladesh, as we continued our hunt for Echelon Asia Summit’s Top100 Startups in Dhaka on April 18.
Bikroy, the largest online marketplace in Bangladesh, walked away with the Judges’ Choice award and Track My Vehicle, which allows users to trace their vehicle, took home the People’s Choice Award at the Qualifier.
There were eight startups pitching in total – Kaaktaruaa (Live TV World), Audacity IT Solution (How I Work), GObd (GO), TapStar Interactive Software Limited (Ludo Friends), Bongo (Bongo), StellarDimensions (BookMark), Track My Vehicle (Track My Vehicle) and Bikroy (Bikroy).
Keynote speaker Bijon Islam, Co-founder and CEO of LightCastle Partners kick-started the event with a presentation on ‘Wheel of Disruption’ followed by the second keynote speaker Minhaz Anwar, Co-Director, The Founder Institute, who stressed on the importance of building a base of loyal customers first without worrying about investments.
The winner Bikroy helps in buying and selling everything from used cars to mobile phones and computers, or search for property, jobs and more in Bangladesh. Its vision is to create a transparent marketplace, bring up the socio-economic class of Bangladesh, and promote recycling through the selling of second hand products.
On winning the Judges’ Choice award, Misha Ali, Marketing Director at Bikroy said, “It was a big surprise to win this award. We thought it will be very difficult for us after looking at the stellar line-up. I sincerely thank e27 for giving us a golden opportunity to represent Bikroy and Bangladesh in Singapore.”
As a kind gesture, Bikroy has decided to give away its travel and accommodation package worth SG$500 (US$370) to another Bangladeshi qualifying team, which will be decided as per scores by the judges.
“It wasn’t easy for us to decide as all the startups had unique ideas, but we had to pick the best representation from Bangladesh at Echelon Asia Summit,” said Mustafizur Khan, Founder and CEO of SD Asia, and one of the judges at the Qualifiers.
“We have a lot of startups doing great work but nobody knows that there is a startup party happening in Bangladesh too. We would like to thank e27 for helping these startups get a global platform to showcase their ideas and let Asia know more about Bangladesh,” he added.
According to M Fayaz Taher, CEO, Fortuna and Co-founder, SDAsia, the quality of startups from Bangladesh is improving. “We are encouraged with their revenue model and pitching capabilities. Bikroy has sent a strong signal that every startup can win in this market. It has demonstrated that execution is the key to succeed. If it can get access to customers, raise funding, get the best marketing techniques, so can others,” he said.
Importance of talent
The startup ecosystem is nascent in the country, but with growing penetration of Internet and rapid adoption of smartphones, there will be increasing disruption in the market. Fujita feels that successful companies can be role models for the emerging startups and they can help and develop the entrepreneurial culture through mentorship and funding opportunities.
Samad Miraly, Executive Director, Olympic Industries said, “The quality is definitely improving and the market is getting ready to see startups solving local problems. I think the major issue with startups in Bangladesh is focus and team members. It is important for them to attract good talent and have a clear focus.”
Khan strongly believes that in order to improve and grow the startup culture in Bangladesh, there is need for startups to attend more local competitions, face the judges and get constructive feedback. Regional competitions such as Echelon can help them expand their horizon and know about more the scalability of their idea.
Echelon Asia Summit will be held in Singapore on June 23-24, 2015.
Photo Credits: Studio WASH