Seedstars: Finding The Best Startup In Bangladesh

Seedstars: Finding The Best Startup In Bangladesh
Safwan Mahfuz

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Seedstars World, the global seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes, is returning to Dhaka on October 19th. In line with its mission to place the spotlight on entrepreneurs from emerging markets, Seedstars World is travelling to more than 65 countries this year to identify the best seed-stage entrepreneurs and provide them with an opportunity to win up to USD 1 million and network with investors and mentors from around the world. Seedstars Dhaka is being organized in conjunction to the Digital World 2016 by BetterStories and ICT Division. Further support is provided by Digital Bangladesh Initiative, Digital World 2016, ICT Division, Bangladesh Computer Council, International Trade Centre, Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, White-board, BD Venture, LICT, CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EMK Center etc. In addition Seedstars World has partnered with TRECC to bring the “Transforming Education Prize”, which will award the best startup in the education space from around the world with a prize of over USD 50,000.

A lively ‘Meet the Press’ session was held to inform the press and media about this year’s Seedstars World 2016 competition at the Janata Tower Software Technology Park. Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Hon’ble State Minister of ICT Division presided over the event as the Chief Guest of the press conference. Mr. Shyam Sunder Sikder, Secretary of ICT division attended the event as a Special Guest. Also present were: Hosne Ara Begum, Managing Director, Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, Faisal Kabir, Manager (Innovation & Ecosystem), White-board; Nick Feneck, Asian Representative of Seedstars World; Minhaz Anwar, Managing Director BetterStories & Shahriar Rahman, Program Lead, Seedstars World.

The press conference kicked off with the presentation from Nick Feneck from Seedstars. Nick in his presentation gave the crowd about what Seedstars did last year, what they are planning for this year and how the competition is going to unfold in Bangladesh.He informed that up to 8 of the best seed stage startups in Bangladesh will be invited to pitch for the opportunity to compete at the Seedstars Summit, that annually takes place in Switzerland. The winning startup from Seedstars Dhaka will also participate and gain from the Regional Summit, due to take place in Bangkok in early December.

The companies selected to pitch at the Seedstars Dhaka event need to be less than 2 years old, have raised less than USD 500,000 in funding and have built a minimum viable product, ideally with existing traction. The Seedstars World team is searching for one additional criterion - the startup’s regional and global scalability. With a strong network of international partners such as Inmarsat, INADEM, Standard Bank and Deloitte, Seedstars World is looking for smart startups that solve regional issues and develop profitable products for the global market, to support their regional businesses and growth.

Ms. Hosne Ara Begum, Managing Director, Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority(BHPA) reiterated her commitment to host more event of these sort since Bangladesh is at a tipping point now. She also said that BHPA is ready to provide any kind of support to smoothen the transition of the startups in Bangladesh. She also announced that BHPA will host a startup in every floor of the Hi-Tech Park.

Shahriar Rahman, Program Lead, Seedstars World in his speech said that Seedstars World is committed to bring the best and the brightest of all the startups in Bangladesh. Through this competition Bangladeshi startups will be getting access to a galaxy of investors; both regionally and globally. He also added, ‘This is the much need platform for Bangladeshi Startups to someday become a true global super brand.’

Minhaz Anwar, Chief Story Teller of BetterStories said that it is our mission now to put Bangladesh on the map of startups. And in order to do that we need purpose driven startups that solves local problems. He also informed the crowd that another Bangladeshi startup called My Cash is taking part as well from Malaysia this year at the global competition of Seedstars World. So instead of one, two Bangladeshis will be present at the global summit of 65 next year in Switzerland.

Mr. Shyam Sunder Sikder, Secretary of ICT Division, in his short speech said that ICT Division, being the apex body of IT & ITES, has always been supportive to startups. He also added that ICT Division will continue to advocate policies and regulations with the assistance of the government to support the startup ecosystem.

Seedstars: Finding The Best Startup In Bangladesh

The Chief Guest of the event and the Hon’ble State Minister of ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said while addressing the guests said,

“As a country we are shifting from hard labor to merit intense IT sector. And to properly implement IT in every steps of life we need innovation. Sadly, the startups and corporations of the West are not familiar with the needs and necessities of this region. Hence it is our job to make sure we are the one in-charge of the innovation. To inspire these innovations we need more startups to come forward and work on local problems. Since we are just at a stage when our local startup systems are growing we need more learning from the top ecosystems. This is why we are here partnering up with Seedstars World. Seedstars World has a wide exposure since they are operating in 65 countries. From them, we want to acquire the technical know-how and embed that experience. We at the same time want the world know that Bangladesh is ready to take on the challenge and move to the next level. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has introduced us with the Vision 2021. Blessed with her support and armed with the rich hi-tech infrastructure that we have to offer, we now want to put Bangladesh in the map of startups. Hence we are sending a delegation team to Thailand this year at regional summit of Seedstars World. I would also like to make an announcement that: If our startups get to secure any funding from abroad then we will be matching the fund from our end to support them.”