So, what exactly is projekt.co?
Projekt.co is an online crowd-funding website. In the past few years, we've seen sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe take off, but Bangladesh has fallen behind since many of those sites require US residency or international credit cards for the transactions. Projekt.co aims to bring the power of crowd-funding to the local community of artists, social change-makers and entrepreneurs.
Why do you think Bangladesh needs crowd-funding?
I've been conversing with artists, activists and entrepreneurs, and the one thing everyone has in common is the obstacle they face raising funds for their projects. Family members are usually the first to help but most of the time the amounts required are too much for one or two individuals to bear. Corporate sponsors on the other hand are extremely difficult to approach and usually come with a list of restrictions, thus hindering creative freedom. Initiatives such as Jaago required only a small sum of money from friends and family in the beginning but can go on to make huge social impacts in the longer run.
Take us through your startup process. Is there anything you would do differently if given the chance?
I was initially introduced to the world of crowd-funding in the fall of 2013 by my friend Arbab Mazumdar. I worked with him on a Kickstarter campaign in Los Angeles that went on to raise more than USD 250,000 in pre-orders for odorless athletic apparel. Since then, the power of crowd-funding won me over. I've had a deep desire to bring that to Bangladesh to help empower our local community. If I were to do it again, I would have spent more time trying to build a strong team around the startup instead of doing everything myself. It's been a difficult process and I'm still looking for the right minds to bring together on this.
What are the major obstacles you faced in realising the initial idea of projekt.co?
I started working on projekt.co last summer but almost everyone told me that this would never work in Bangladesh. They said the online payments infrastructure is very inconvenient and that we didn't have enough artists and tech savvy people to make use of this platform. I chose to ignore the naysayers and went back into my cave to work on this. At every stage of the process, everyone said this was a waste of time, but there were people in the startup community who were very helpful and gave me hope when things looked bleak.
What are your thoughts on the startup scene in Bangladesh?
I think a lot has changed in the past three years. The documentary made by Startup Dhaka played a huge role in raising awareness of the startup scene that was blooming in Dhaka. Many more people are proactively looking out for opportunities where they can disrupt the traditional ways of doing business by using technology. However, I fear that the word “startup” is becoming more of a buzzword and a “cool thing to be a part of” rather than actually trying to solve real problems and delivering real products and results.
Plans for the future? Where do you see projekt.co in a year and a half?
I want projekt.co to become synonymous with crowd-funding in Bangladesh. I want young professionals and students in schools and colleges to know that if they have an entrepreneurial idea, they can test out the market by launching a crowd-funding campaign and see if it's something people actually want. They can pitch their idea to the mass audience and we can tackle the problems in our society together. One “projekt” at a time.
How It Works:
CREATE A PROJECT
Submit your projekt details and verification documents on the site. Individuals can submit any projekt that falls under the categories of creativity, community and startups. The team will then review your submission and provide feedback to improve your project.
Once approved, shoot out the projekt via facbook, whatsapp, email, etc. and share your story with your friends, family, fans and community.
Anyone who wants to contribute to your projekt can use local payment options such as bKash, credit cards, bank deposits and cheques. Get excited as you watch your funding progress bar get nearer to your goal. Unfortunately if you fail to cross your funding goal, backers will have to be
refunded (unless it's for a social cause).
Now that you've raised the funds that you need, go out and change the world. Make sure to update your contributors at least once every 3 weeks.