Startup Weekend Dhaka 2013

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.

On January 10, 2013, the opening ceremony of Startup Weekend Dhaka was held at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB). It comprised of speakers including Kamal Quadir (Keynote Speaker and CEO at bKash), Mr. Towhid Samad (Chief Guest and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at IUB), Dr Omar Rahman (Special Guest and Vice Chancellor at IUB) and Ejaj Ahmad (Founder at Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre). After inspiring conversations on hurdles to success and stories of conflict and persistence, the participants began pitching ideas – in 60 seconds.

The top 21 ideas were selected by popular vote, and teams were formed. The Startup Weekend Dhaka team introduced coaches from diverse backgrounds to help with the creation of business models, technology based products and ideas on customer validation. The teams were prepped, and opened floor to the following two days that would determine whose idea stands, and whose model combines business effectively with technology.

While planning, the participants were also listening to stories of entrepreneurship from Asif Saleh (Senior Director, BRAC) and Fayaz Taher (CEO, Fortuna Group), thinking it big from Iraj Islam (Co-founder, NewsCred) and Shammi Quddus (Head of Business Development, A K Khan WaterHealth Development) and potential of mobile markets from Nash Islam (CEO, Mangoes Mobile). Coaches like Sufi Faruq Ibn Abubakr (Founder, Projuktite Bangladesh), Samira Zuberi Himika (CEO, Team Engine), Razin Mustafiz (Product Manager, NewsCred), Shumon Jahan (CTO, Techmania) and Zubuyer Kaolin (CEO, Ogniroth Studios).

On January 12, 2013, the judges, Kazi Monirul Kabir (Country Consultant, Google in Bangladesh), Tanveer Ali (Executive Director, Avarice Investments), Mridul Chowdhury (CEO, mPower), Dr. Ananya Raihan (Executive Director, DNet) and Pallab Mohaimen (Deputy Feature Editor, The Daily Prothom Alo) listened to each presentation and followed them up with drilling Q&A sessions.

The final round introduced startups ranging from online sales of art pieces, web-based doctor appointment system and portals connecting musicians through a virtual record label to systems helping mothers to find babysitters and twitter revisited to share cab or CNG space for commuting. Finally, Bhago Bangali Bhago (BBB) were selected as the winners with a text messaging powered system that uses web and mobile outlets to mobilise young people away from unsafe locations and redirect them towards more happening activities in the city.