Innovation Xtreme makes its mark on the startup scene
Let me paint you a picture from the recent past, at best ten years back. A young graduate after finishing his or her studies would aspire to work for a local corporation or a MNC. Why? Because it gave him or her stability, a steady paycheck at the end of the month, and the laud of the society. And mostly it would inflate the individual's value in the matrimony market.
Now, the scene has changed drastically. In the last two years the word 'Startup' is, simply put, all over the place. Everyone with a brilliant idea has a startup, irrespective of their educational or social background. This radical shift from the mentality of being an employee to being an entrepreneur has been one of the positive things that delight many. And to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and educate the youngsters with the basics of running a business, several small events were held throughout the year. But Innovation Xtreme, held last week and organized by Startup Dhaka, was probably the grand daddy of them all.
Innovation Xtreme, coolly dubbed as IX, took place on November 22nd at Radisson Hotel Dhaka and hosted more than 350 attendees. The entire crowd was a cocktail of prospective investors, experienced entrepreneurs, corporate professionals, young and student entrepreneurs, local and international media, etc. But the rock stars of the event were probably the international and local startup veterans with vibrant backgrounds, including Nepal's billionaire businessman Nirvana Chaudhary, Zarif Munir of Boston Consulting Group, former Grameenphone CEO Vivek Sood, founding partner of Golden Gate Ventures Jeffery Paine, Kyle Kling and Abul Nuruzzaman from Fenox Venture Capital, and the list goes on.
Mustafizur R Khan, founder of Startup Dhaka, described Innovation Xtreme as a “never-seen-before event for the startups of Bangladesh that validated our vision of technology-enabled businesses in Bangladesh.” When asked about the motivation behind holding such an event, Fayaz Taher, co-founder of Startup Dhaka and host of the event, exclaimed “We are here to disrupt the way business is done in Bangladesh. At IX we have showcased the brightest, inspired the early starters, and connected everyone together.”
The event started with an inspiring session by Zarif Munir explaining why it is the perfect time to be in Bangladesh and invest in the startups. Next on line was the fireside chat with former CEO of Grameenphone Vivek Sood about 'Telecommunications Impact on Startups and Businesses'. The next session was probably one of the highlights of the event: the keynote speech by Nirvana Chaudhary, MD of Chaudhary Group. FYI, Chaudhary Group (CG) is Nepal's largest business house that has now expanded globally, operating in over 32 countries around the world and has offices in over 18 countries.
Other highlights of the event included panel discussions about mobile money and online payments, common problems of start-ups, the startup showcasing featuring Augmedix, Jaago Online School, and Solaric, etc.
The last, and the key attraction of the event, was the 'Lighting Round Pitch Session and Investor Activity'. Let me explain how it works: you get to pitch your idea in 60 seconds. After that you haggle with the investors to raise funds for your startup. The top three companies that raised the highest money have to do a two-minute lighting round pitch with only three slides. Amused? So was I. Bongo, ZuumZuum and Dam Com were the three to secure their places in the final round.
At the end of the event, people got to network, chat with fellow entrepreneurs, find partners, talk to potential investors, enjoy good food and receive cool gifts. Except for me – The Daily Star being a media partner, I was not entitled to the cool gifts that everyone was showing around after the post-event networking sessions. Everything else - spectacular!