The beginning of a new era for entrepreneurship in Bangladesh
Tasnuva Amin Nova

Through GEW, the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators, startups are launched during one week each November

  • A moment of the 'Global Entrepreneurship Week' 
    Photo- Dhaka Tribune

With a robust youth population having access to quality education and expertise in the Information Technology sector, Bangladesh has the tool to fight poverty and unemployment through self-employment. Entrepreneurship not only helps gain independence but also enables self-starters to create opportunities for others.

Through “Global Entrepreneurship Week” (GEW), the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators, startups are launched during one week each November that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. As Bangladesh continues to progress, amidst the current political unrest and instability, StartupBashBD decided to highlight our potential in generating innovative business ideas and implementing them in front of the whole world. The six-day-long event was hosted from November 18 till 23, honouring the spirit of startups throughout the world.

The tagline of StartupBash reads “Connect. Share. Do.” The motive of the campaign was to “connect” the would-be entrepreneurs to potential investors and mentors for them to “share” and give life to their ideas.

To most of us the idea of developing a flourishing startup ecosystem in Bangladesh still seems quite farfetched because of our historical shyness towards investing in new ventures and inadequate attention.However, those who attended at least a few of the more than twenty sessions at StartupBashbd during the last six days would think somewhat positively about kick starting their startups.

The programme included sessions such as creating the bridge between entrepreneurs and investors, startup pitches, using technology to solve social problems, showcasing the stories of successful entrepreneurs, startup toolbox and must have skills.

Day 1: Create investment opportunities

StartupBash officially welcomed its guests and participants to celebrate the spirit of GEW on November 18, at the NewsCred office in Banani. During a fireside chat with organiser of StartupBash and founder of Empty Ventures Samad Miraly, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry Md Sabur Khan recommended “policies to encourage new entrepreneurs by creating more investment opportunities.”

Day 2: Do it yourself

CEO of G&R Ad Network Nash Islam demonstrated the simplicity and effectiveness of using web tools in doing business while CEO of Magnito Digital Riyad Husain showed how startups can use social media for business marketing. CEO & co-founder of Akhoni.com Shameem Ahsan pointed out the most common mistake young entrepreneurs make: when they forecast revenue they often overestimate and when they forecast operational cost they underestimate.

Day 3: Startup pitch

On the third day of the programme, aspiring entrepreneurs had just 15 seconds to pitch their business ideas to angel investors and venture capitalists present during the event. What followed was a dream come true for CEO of Fortuna Fayaz Taher; the NewsCred office was transformed into a scene resembling the startup communities in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs and investors interacted to raise funds for new businesses through a fun activity. LightCastle Partners, Bongo, BucketsEngineer, Adseee.com and StarHost mobile application were chosen as the most innovative business ideas by investors.

After the interesting pitching session, founder and CTO of NewsCred Iraj Islam presented the audience with knowledge about the right time to ask for funds. According to the organiser, entrepreneurs should “focus on growth, obsessively” to attract investors.

Day 4: An evening with His Excellency

It was the big day when the entrepreneurs to-be got an opportunity to spend an evening with His Excellency Robert Gibson, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, at his residence. Mentors accompanied the participants where they focused on development through entrepreneurship including Founder of Jaago Korvi Rakshand and CEO and Founder of Team Engine Samira Zuberi Himika among others. Dhaka Tribune’s Head of Marketing and Communication Saif Kamal concluded the session with his closing remark.

His Excellency, Robert Gibson later tweeted “Energy filled evening at #startupBashBD. Great to meet the entrepreneurs of the future. So impressive” through his official Twitter account. To follow him on Twitter, type @HCRobertGibson.

Day 5: Skills of an entrepreneur

Held at the EMK Center in Dhanmondi, professionals and entrepreneurs mentored startup aspirants about the essential qualities of an entrepreneur including communication, collaboration, leadership, personal branding among many others.

At the end of the event, the teaser of Startup Dhaka documentary was screened which will be launched within the next few days. Founder of Startup Dhaka Mustafizur Rahman Khan has filmed the documentary to raise awareness of crowd funding opportunities in Bangladesh.

Day 6: Building startup communities

After holding further sessions on entrepreneurial skill development at EMK during the morning, the gala was held at the American Club. In his speech, Fayaz said: “We organised this event with a collective vision to help foster young entrepreneurs by building a community for them. The more people we have, the stronger we will grow. It is the spirit of ‘WE’ that will lead us, our country to a better future.”

Country Manager of Dell Bangladesh Sonia Kabir spoke at the event about Women and Entrepreneurship. US Ambassador Dan Mozena closed with an inspiring speech challenging everyone to uplift the nation to build a brighter “shonar” Bangladesh.

To summarise the weeklong event, Founder & CEO of Shetu Sajid Islam shed light on the memories created during the event. He reflected on what is coming next for the startup community of Bangladesh. In answer to Dhaka Tribune’s queries on whether they had any plans to spread the community outside the capital, Sajid replied: “Yes, definitely. We have plans of opening startup communities in other districts of Bangladesh where entrepreneurship can thrive.”

The missed videos and materials of StartupBash can be accessed from facebook.com/startupbashbd. StartupbashBD was supported by organisers Tahmina, Fazle, Sajid, Nash, Iraj, Mustafiz, Riyad, Samad, Korvi, Fayaz and multiple sponsors, partners, volunteers and brand ambassadors but most importantly by the energetic participants who brought enthusiasm and hunger to lead the nation forward through entrepreneurship.  

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