There is an imminent need for entrepreneurs who are willing to change Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, for the better . Professionals are being encouraged to defy convention and pursue entrepreneurship over traditional career paths like doctors and engineers, now more than ever. However, entrepreneurs need the know-hows and the resources which are hard to get, especially at the beginning. With a growing local start-up ecosystem, we can only hope that more industry experts will pave the way for young bloods to build sustainable businesses.
A number of Bangladeshi startup incubators have been working closely with local talents to scale up businesses, especially tech ventures.
The GP Accelerator is an incubator that accelerates 5 startups every year.
35 teams are called in to participate in a two-day long boot camp, from which 15 startups were selected for further rounds of assessment, face-to-face interviews and pitch presentations. Finally, after fierce competition, five companies are selected. This way, from over a thousand applications, 5 standout companies are selected on the basis of the team’s ability to execute and the strength of the business.
GPA provides a 4-month bootcamp at GPhouse. Office space, structured curricula, investor access and mentorship are offered to the top 5 teams in this program.
Teams get the opportunity to learn from local and foreign mentors, industry experts and professionals on critical development elements like term sheet, valuation, financial modeling, branding, etc. Starting from 2014, 5 batches of startups have graduated from this program. Winners receive seed funding of 12+ lakh taka and Grameenphone may take up to 8-10% equity. Some of the notable alumni include Sheba, CMED, Doctorkoi etc.
The Toru Institute of Inclusive Innovation has launched the ‘Impactor’ program for early stage startups. Saif Kamal, founder of Toru said in an interview, “We have always had accelerator programs or competitions, but ideas need extensive and long-term support in order to become impactful enterprises.” Impactor program is a 8-month long business incubation program for entrepreneurs who want to transform their idea, early form of a product or an early stage business into a successful business enterprise with a social impact.
30 Impactors learn through a series of workshops. From that cohort, 15 Impactors are selected to continue their engagement, building a business model canvas and growth strategy. The top 10 Impactors embark on a 6-month long journey of business incubation, taking their venture to grow and be investment ready. These Impactors are matched with experts from their respective sectors, receiving individually tailored support. The final 3 Impactors receive up to 10 lakh taka seed funding, and workspace from Startup Bangladesh.
Urban Innovation Challenge
“Our cities, our solutions”- with this motto, UIC embarked on the journey to find urban entrepreneurs to reshape our cities with a smart solution. UIC throws 5 challenges which are healthcare, wash, renewable energy, climate change and low-cost urban housing. 5 teams are selected for incubation and each of them receive 5+ lakh taka seed funding. Hands-on training, access to partnerships. further funding opportunities- UIC has it all. The best thing about UIC is that it empowers startups to make our urban lives better. Besides commercial success, startups should also demonstrate societal impact, which UIC strives to achieve. UIC is powered by BRAC.
Are you one of those people who binge ‘Shark Tank’ and wishfully think of a Bangladeshi reality show about seed funding? If yes, you’ve got it. ‘Tiger Cage’-an incubator in the form of a reality show where real investors meet real entrepreneurs. Startups with demonstrable prototypes pitch their idea to angel investors. The judges of this show are the ‘Tigers’; when they are convinced, they can choose to invest in the businesses. Participants can get funding of as much as 2 crore taka.
Intelligence Machines Limited, the first startup featured on the pilot episode, have raised 2 crore taka of funding in exchange for 45% of ownership. Sounds cool, huh? Tiger Cage is an initiative of Startup Dhaka.
iDEA Accelerator was founded by ICT ministry of Bangladesh to foster the culture of entrepreneurship among innovators. Startups that are in both ideation or seed stage are eligible to apply for enlistment. A big cohort of early tech companies have received funding from this platform. It is commendable to see that our govt. is taking part in the revolution of the startup era.
The startup culture may have been romanticized by movies and tv shows, but it’s quite challenging in real life, to say the least. It takes a lot of dedication, failure and passion to see a dream flourish. Do check out these prominent platforms to get that leg up. Who knows, you may be building the next Pathao or 10 Minute School.