Bangladesh has shown great potential in developing entrepreneurs and businesses in recent years. The country now has around 1,200 active startups, with over 200 new ones forming every year.
These tech startups in Bangladesh raised a total of USD 166 million in investment in 2021, which is about more than four times than the previous year. And more than 98% of it was foreign investment. Over the last five years, the Bangladesh Startup Ecosystem has seen a surge in foreign investment from large corporate investors and venture capitalists.
Tech Startups in Bangladesh: Current State and Future Prospects
In 2021, nine Bangladeshi startups received $32 million in foreign funding. Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem is thriving, as the big-name corporate investors and venture capital companies are putting their money in industries such as healthcare, finance, logistics, services, and EdTech.
Not to mention the Covid epidemic has expedited the adoption of information and communication technologies, such as digital commerce, education, and healthcare, resulting in an increase in demand for tech firms. Bangladesh’s government has taken a number of steps to improve the local startup ecosystem with the establishment of the first government-owned venture capital fund, Startup Bangladesh Limited. Their goal is to stimulate foreign direct investment in Bangladesh by turning creative ideas from Bangladeshi entrepreneurs into businesses. In 2021, the Startup Bangladesh Limited invested BDT 100 crores in startups. In Q1 2022, 12+ Bangladeshi startups raised more than $57 million in disclosed funding.
Although Bangladesh is producing high-quality startups each year, we’re still lagging behind in terms of raising startup capital. The government and appropriate authorities should support the research and development of startup companies. And undoubtedly, the VC fund’s creation has boosted the momentum of local startups seeking funding in local markets before expanding to global ones. As we look ahead, global venture capital firms are taking Bangladeshi startups more seriously than ever before.
Top 10 Tech Startups in Bangladesh
Being one of Asia’s largest marketplace, Bangladesh has created mass opportunities for entrepreneurs. However, not all of them are successful or live up to the mark. Today, we bring to you the 11 best tech Bangladeshi startups that are showing the most promise.
Founded in 2016, ShopUp is the country’s largest full-stack B2B commerce platform for small and local businesses. It simplifies the lengthy logistic process by developing a B2B (business to business) platform that connects producers to wholesalers, wholesalers to retailers, and retailers to consumers. Bangladesh’s e-commerce platforms received the most funding due to ShopUp’s massive success.
ShopUp has a total of 12 investors, of which Sequoia Capital India and Prosus Ventures are the most recent ones to fund ShopUp. Last year, ShopUp received a $75 million Series B investment, the largest in South Asia for a B2B commerce platform. The total funding amount of ShopUp up to this date has reached $137 million. Their latest investment rounds raised $34 million, which was led by Tiger Global Management. Not to mention ShopUp’s logistic company REDX is showing tremendous growth as well. Till now, REDX claims to have 250+ delivery sites spanning 493 upazilas in 64 districts, making it one of the country’s largest logistics companies.
ChalDal is an online grocery shopping platform that offers a wide range of home commodities and necessities. As the name suggests, people can buy rice and lentils from this online shop along with meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, snacks, etc.
Users can buy groceries through the website or the mobile application, which is available for both Android and iOS. They’re also quite well-known for their one-hour delivery service. In seven funding rounds, Chaldal has raised a total of $24.8 million in funding. In total, Chaldal has 15 investors, of which Xploration Capital and Shamin Walsh are their most recent investors.
Pathao is one of the most prominent digital platforms for delivery and ride-sharing that significantly changed the landscape of Bangladesh’s tech industry. Pathao was established back in the year 2015. Initially, Pathao was known for its ride-sharing service. Later on, it started providing food, courier, and parcel delivery services as well. Due to their amazing services, their logistics service was able to develop enormous popularity in a short period.
Pathao operates in three popular cities: Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet. However, it expanded its service to Nepal as well. Pathao has received $35 million in venture funding till 2021 for its ride-sharing, meal delivery, and e-commerce logistics services. The company has raised over $12.8 million in four funding rounds, and its estimated net value is above $100 million.
4. Praava Health
Praava is a company that serves its patients by giving them access to quick, easy, and affordable healthcare. Through Praava Health people can make appointments, check their healthcare history, and get other health care benefits as well.
Fulfilling the demand for providing quality health care in Bangladesh has been a constant challenge. Praava Health follows a “brick and clicks” approach that incorporates both real and virtual health care services. Besides, Praava’s SuperApp serves as a hub for the company’s digital services, which include telemedicine, e-pharmacy, remote chronic care management, and home sample collection. Since its launch in 2018, Praava claims to have tripled its annual growth and now serves more than 150,000 patients. To make sure the patients can get proper consultants, Praava Health fixed a 15-minute time slot for each and every appointment. The total funding of Praava Health is estimated to be $10.6 million. According to Axios, Praava Health is seeking $15 million in Series B investment in order to expand its physical clinic and pharmacy reach.
5. Truck Lagbe
Truck Lagbe is a digital marketplace that links shippers and partner truck operators across Bangladesh for truck hiring services. Founded in 2017, the company now has over 80,000 truck owners and drivers registered, providing services to thousands of consumers every day.
There are a total of 12 investors and the total fund that Truck Lagbe received is estimated to be around $10.3 million. Last year they received $4 million in Series A funding round led by International Finance Corporation, an investment arm of World Bank Group, and co-led by IDLC Venture Capital Fund. In 2022, Truck Lagbe received investment from Startup Bangladesh Limited from an undisclosed round. The company will use this capital to train drivers, develop technology, and expand its service across the country.
Sindabad.com is Bangladesh’s largest B2B e-commerce enterprise that was launched in 2016. Sindabad has developed a platform for office supplies, production, consumption, operational, and consumable products.
This platform provides its services to over 500 corporate organizations and over 2,000 small organizations. To boost logistical efficiency, the firm runs three warehouses and has been investing in establishing a hyper-local logistics model. Sindabad has received $8.3 million in funding over 2 rounds. One of their recent investors is Aavishkaar, who gave them $4.15 million in funding.
The success of any startup company vastly depends on its creative idea, initiative, effort, and willingness to take on significant risks and challenges. These companies are some prominent examples of successful startups that’ll give guidance to people who want to work with technology-based innovations. New and young entrepreneurs can take notes and inspiration from these successful startups. We hope Bangladesh will create more favorable conditions for the next generation of entrepreneurs so the startup industry of our country can flourish.
Shikho is a newly launched tech company that aims to raise the country’s education standard to match the international standard. Through their mobile app video lessons, people can access their video lectures, notes, and solutions to previous years’ questions and answers, and many more.
Shikho has made sure that students can learn at their own pace with content accessible from anywhere and at any time through their app. Till now Shikho has received a total of $5.6 million in funding which is the highest investment in Bangladesh’s Edtech industry. They are funded by a total of 10 investors among which Wavemaker is one of the recent investors that gave them funding of $4 million.
Bangladesh is a country that’s heavily reliant on agriculture, and Agritech businesses are starting to gain traction in Bangladesh. However, finding financing, high-quality agricultural supplies like seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, etc., as well as customers to buy their goods are the major obstacles for farmers in Bangladesh. iFarmer is the largest agri-tech business in the nation delivering solutions to these issues at scale, which started its operation in 2019.
iFarmer, a full-stack agricultural platform that offers services to farmers, merchants of agri-inputs, and consumers of Agri produce, has secured a total of $2.8 million in funding. The round was headed by IDLC Venture Capital Fund, the venture capital division of IDLC Finance, with participation from Startup Bangladesh Limited, a venture capital firm sponsored by the Bangladeshi government, and Millville Opportunities,a New York-based hedge fund.
Maya is a digital healthcare service that uses AI and NLP to provide professional advice on physical and mental health. It can be accessed via any smartphone and offers healthcare assistance via electronic messaging.
Financial and geographical restrictions make it difficult for people, especially women from unprivileged families in Bangladesh, to access physicians, attorneys, and therapists. Maya Apa and BRAC had teamed up to deliver services to 50,000 garment workers as part of a pilot initiative, with the goal of reaching 4 million garment workers. They have over over 10,000 users of which 60% of them are women. They started in Bangladesh and are now expanding to India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and a number of Middle Eastern countries. In 2021, Maya received $2.7 million in seed investment from Anchorless Bangladesh, an early-stage venture capital firm, and, a Hong Kong-based private equity business called The Osiris Group.
10. Ten Minutes School
Ten Minutes School is the largest digital educational platform that changed education perception and landscape in Bangladesh. Founded in 2014, the purpose of Ten Minute School was to address some of the major challenges like accessing quality education while breaking the geological barrier. Even though Bangladesh’s school curriculum is nearly the same across the country, students in rural and urban locations have a difficult time getting a quality education. They also focus on passing on knowledge free of cost.
Ten Minutes School partnered with one of the largest telecommunication providers in Bangladesh, Robi, to improve their content with the necessary funding. This platform proved that Edtech has the potential to be the future of education. Due to the pandemic, Ten Minute School’s revenue grew 12% in 2021. This year, Surge, Sequoia Capital India’s quick scale-up program, has given 10 Minute School $2 million in early finance to expand its product and technology.