If you are a budding entrepreneur or are looking to become one, you are perhaps aware that there are several startup events that take place in Dhaka. One of the most popular and effective of these events is perhaps Startup Weekend Dhaka. This is a 54 hour event that aims to build businesses within this time frame, with the guidance of motivated speakers, inspirational mentors, and expert judges.
This year, the Startup Weekend kicked off on 19th November at the NewsCred office in Banani. The event was inaugurated at 5:45pm by Anurag Maloo, Regional Manager of Techstars. The participants, who comprised of developers, designers, and business developers, began interacting with each other and sharing their ideas with one another. Sajid Islam, the Lead Organizer of Startup Weekend Dhaka 2015 was later introduced with the teams and it all officially began.
Next up, Md. Sabur Khan, Chairman of Daffodil Group took the stage and shared his entrepreneurial experiences with the crowd. Soon the teams were asked to pitch their ideas. There were 33 enthused participants and they pitched 25 great ideas. A small voting round was held out of which the 8 best ideas were selected. These included ideas from carpooling services, magazine applications to roof top gardening. Needless to say, the ideas were all unique and super intriguing! That was the end of the first day.
The second day started early. Teams had breakfast and began working on their projects. Mentors came along to guide them through the process and they included IT specialist Sajid Islam, Growth hacker Anna Rehermann, Sales Genius Lutfi Chowdhury, Curious Creator Iraj Islam, Developer Jafree, Product Manager Zayeema Sarwar and Designer Debashis Howlader Dev.
The teams were mentored to ensure that their business models would work, be feasible, and eventually scalable.
Day three and the final day of the Startup Weekend Dhaka 2015 commenced in the early evening and it will filled with excitement and some nervousness amongst the teams. The 8 teams that were to present the final pitch were:
Bhai Thamen! – an initiative to help people report incidents of corruption and crime.
GameXot – will empower game development.
Aayojon – A portal for small business owners to display their products.
Shohoranno – to ensure greenery through roof gardening.
GoFarmers – will enable farmers to sell crops at a fair price.
FunkyRide – Carpooling service for university students
U-Ride – Automating bicycles into smart e-bikes
MagZ – Gesture based lock screen magazine app
The final pitching began at 5:45pm and ended by 7pm. The teams were given 5 minutes to pitch their ideas in front of the judges and another 5 minutes were allocated for judges’ questions. The judging panel included Md. Sabur Khan, Chairman of Daffodil International University & Daffodil Group, Tanveer Ali, Partner, Inflection Venture and Sajid Rahman, CEO, Telenor Health at Telenor Group.
Nerves were high after the pitching as teams waited in anticipation for the results. The judges finally decided on the winning teams and remarked that it was indeed a difficult task to pick amongst all the great ideas.
The winning teams were soon announced with Funky Ride securing the 1st position. Magz was the 1st runners up and Shohoranno came out as the 2nd runners up. Spirits were high as everyone agreed that it wasn’t simply about winning but the experience and networking that came about in these 54 hours, will remain unparalleled.
After the event Sabur Khan said to HiFi Public, “Such initiatives should be taken from the state and it is wonderful how these events are empowering the youth. These competitive programs will facilitate future entrepreneurs and bring about a prospective future for them.”
“We didn’t sleep for 4 nights and we actually went to the market and conducted first hand research.” said Eshan from the winning team Funky Ride “It was a great experience and winning certainly feels exhilarating!”
Mehad from Magz has big plans with his idea. “I already got a partner and we will work together to ensure that Magz becomes mainstream. This is palpably an experience I will cherish.”
“I always had stage fright but being here and learning from the mentors helped me to get over that and actually taught me how to present in public” said Omid from Shohoranno, “This is just a stepping stone towards what we want to eventually achieve.”
Later, the participants all gathered around and cut a cake to celebrate. Startup Weekend provided a platform for these individuals to come together and create a community that will eventually help each other in the process of becoming successful entrepreneurs.
Startup Weekend has become a global organization and as of July 2015, it reached 135 countries and involved over 210,000 entrepreneurs; it is run by a global ecosystem called Techstars.
So, will you be taking part in the next Startup Weekend Dhaka?