Thousands of years before the fancy term surfaced, startups have been agents of social and economic progress. A unique trait of human beings is that they never settle, and thus constantly look for ways to upgrade their lifestyle. Often, either out of personal need, passion, a sense of responsibility, or as a means to get rich, some entrepreneurial individuals attempt to address prevailing problems in the daily lives of people and find means to solve them – opening doors to better off societies. These initiatives to meet peoples' needs, when taken on an institutional scale in the modern world, are termed as startups.
Grameenphone launched 'GP Accelerator' last year, partnering with SD Asia as the programme operator, with the intent to use the capacity of a collection of startups that can bring positive changes. The organisations recently announced the names of five startups – selected from a pool of contenders – for an intensive four-month long business boot camp. At the camp, these emerging startups will be given a seed fund of over BDT 10 lakh each, a workspace at GP House, and continuous mentorship from experts at Grameenphone and SD Asia in order to help them grow into effective problem solvers and significant contributors to the economy.
The aspiring entrepreneurs will also be guided by top notch curricula and a management team, Grameenphone's in-house developers, tools and instruments. The involvement of Grameenphone and SD Asia will allow the startups to build credibility in the market. At the end of the boot camp, the startups will be given an opportunity to showcase their products or services on a demo day in front of potential high profile investors. The demo day is slated to take place in May this year.
The five startups that have been selected for the boot camp are:
It is an intelligent personalisation mobile advertising app that puts delightful content on users' lock screens and time-saving tools, giving a useful lock-screen experience.
A web design company, Ennovision serves as a one-stop solution for businesses looking to create a solid online presence through their websites. Ennovision aims to help Bangladeshi businesses with beautiful and user-friendly templates, allowing them to showcase their products or services globally.
It is an online course marketplace, where you can create courses with state-of-the-art web tools and sell your courses online. Since it is an open platform, REPTO has a huge collection of paid and free courses. By using REPTO's platform, you can learn whatever you like and boost your career.
Sheba is a platform for providing services from skilled professionals to address day-to-day household issues like electrical repair, home appliance repair, plumbing, security solutions and more.
It is a carpooling application, looking to change the way people commute in Dhaka. The mobile app allows users to carpool in a safe, social networking setup while saving time and money.
ICT-based startups, which are the main targets of GP Accelerator, are being considered a major driving force towards Bangladesh's transformation into 'Digital Bangladesh'.
“Bangladesh has a massive potential to become one of the most prosperous economies in the world in coming times. A major driving force that could take Bangladesh towards that direction is innovative businesses that will not only make the lives of millions of Bangladeshis more convenient but will also significantly enrich the economy. This country desperately needs entrepreneurs who are willing to change Bangladesh for the better,” says Erlend Prestgard, Head of Strategy and PMO, Grameenphone.
As the world moves forward with new issues evolving, the need for sophisticated, innovative solutions for both new and old problems have become a necessity. Moreover, people often do not understand the existence of a need before it is presented to them, as put down by the legendary Steve Jobs. Game changing companies like Ford, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon became the mammoths that they are now precisely because of their ability to solve specific
needs. The number of startups around the world is soaring at a pace unimaginable even a decade back, and the bandwagon has reached Bangladesh.
This year's GP Accelerator was the first of its kind. The programme is poised to end in May. However, it is going to be a continuing endeavour by the organisers. Grameenphone and SD Asia will start accepting applications for the second batch from May-June of 2016.