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Startup / Startup Of The Week: Youplus
« on: March 02, 2019, 01:42:32 PM »
Startup Of The Week: Youplus
Go to the profile of Jennifer L. Schenker
Jennifer L. Schenker
Feb 22

Youplus has developed a search engine and neural network machine-learning tool that interprets and delivers consumer insights from videos on the Internet for marketers, researchers, and brand managers. It claims to be the first company to index « the world’s opinion » via video, with the aim of transforming the way consumer market research is conducted. Clients include Lenovo, Unilever, Pepsi , Samsung, BMW, Coca Cola and Volvo.

Today some 74% of traffic on the Internet is video. In video, people share information differently. This valuable but unstructured data appears in spurts. With machine cognition, important moments are separated and indexed for AI-powered processing, says the company. This allows Youplus to isolate, for example, millions of people’s opinion of a particular brand of mobile phone and to understand why people have a certain opinion : why they buy, how they feel and why they have a certain opinion.

« Human conversation is the best tool that anyone has to understand consumers, » says Shaukat Shamim, founder & CEO of Youplus. Until now companies have been using focus groups, polls and surveys to ask consumers what they think and rely on humans to interpret the results. « All of the techniques are the same, simulating human conversations. It usually takes one to three months or even longer and costs a lot of money, » he says. « We have changed that world forever. »

Shamim says Youplus can deliver the results in about 48 hours. « Today’s businesses don’t have the luxury of waiting for three months to know what consumers are thinking, » he says. « We are bringing the new world of AI and speed to offline businesses so that they know what their customers are buying in real-time, just like Amazon does.”

Youplus, which has offices in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Bangalore and Singapore, is working with big brands across a variety of industries, says Shamim, a serial entrepreneur. Prior to Youplus, Shaukat was the founder and CEO of Buysight, a performance marketing company that was acquired by AOL. He also founded Rhythm Newmedia, one of the first mobile advertising companies that merged with Blinx and subsequently went public as RhythmOne. And , he was an early member of the Yahoo! , where he led the creation of one of the first messaging platforms, Yahoo Messenger.

Finance & Accounts / Bproperty gets $10m from parent company for expansion
« on: February 22, 2019, 02:15:37 PM »
Bproperty gets $10m from parent company for expansion
Muhammad Zahidul Islam
Real estate marketplace has received $10 million in investment from its parent company, Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), in order to expand its foothold in Bangladesh.

This is one of the highest investments to be made in a single online platform in the history of Bangladesh, industry people said.

“We are very excited to have secured this investment,” said Mark Nosworthy, CEO of, which allows people to sell, buy or rent properties online and offline.

“We have the intention to build a world-class real estate solution for Bangladesh, ensuring that all Bangladeshis have access to the information and advice they require in order to make the right property decision.”

The new investment will help upgrade the quality of services, expand its reach throughout the country and provide clients with innovative services, Nosworthy said.

The investment will also help the entire sector face future challenges with ease, said the top official of the portal, which currently lists 25,000 properties to choose from.

The company has recently bought, a similar portal.

Officials of the company said bproperty is leading the development of the industry with a strong focus on ensuring transparency and building trust in real estate dealings.

This is a new kind of business that provides all legal and banking supports to buyers and marketing support to real estate and land developers from a single platform, they said.

Its parent EMPG owns top UAE property portal and Pakistan's largest property portal

Officials said every property that is transacted through bproperty goes through the company's legal verification process to ensure that sellers and buyers have absolute peace of mind when executing a deal.

Launched in Bangladesh in 2016, bproperty has thoroughly surveyed and validated more than 120,000 buildings in Dhaka and has already expanded its business to Chattogram, Sylhet and Cumilla.

It currently has offices in Gulshan, Banani, Mirpur and Uttara.


Two of the top five most active corporate VCs last year were Chinese

Two of last year's top five most active corporate venture capital groups, in terms of number of companies in which they invested, were Chinese, according to a new report from CB Insights.
The report said corporate venture units participated in $52.95 billion worth of funding across 2,740 deals last year.
Baidu Ventures and Legend Capital, which is a subsidiary of Chinese investment holding firm Legend Holdings, ranked in the top five behind Google Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Intel Capital. Last year was the first time Baidu Ventures ranked in the top five most active, according to the report.
Saheli Roy Choudhury
Published 1:07 AM ET Tue, 19 Feb 2019
A woman walks past the Baidu booth at the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai.
STR | AFP | Getty Images
A woman walks past the Baidu booth at the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai.
Two Chinese firms ranked in the top five corporate venture capital groups last year, in terms of number of companies in which they invested, according to a new report from CB Insights.

That was despite the ongoing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing as well as worries over an economic slowdown in China.

Corporate venture capital refers to a type of funding where corporations use investment arms to buy into start-ups. For example, Microsoft invests into enterprise software start-ups through M12, its corporate venture capital subsidiary.

CB Insights' "2018 Global CVC Report" said such firms participated in $52.95 billion worth of funding across 2,740 deals last year. To be clear, those numbers do not include strategic investments that companies made directly into start-ups.


Chinese internet giant Baidu's investment unit, Baidu Ventures, and Legend Capital, a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Legend Holdings, ranked in the top five behind Google Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Intel Capital.

For its part, Baidu Ventures was the most active firm in the artificial intelligence space last year with 13 unique investments, according to the report. That appeared to be in line with the goals of its parent company Baidu, a leading Chinese search engine that has evolved in recent years to become a technology conglomerate with ventures in AI platforms.

Last year was the first time Baidu Ventures ranked in the top five most active, according to CB Insights.

Internet start-ups still attractive
The report found that corporate venture capital firms invested heavily into internet start-ups. Such deals backed by corporate VCs grew by 36 percent on-year and funding jumped by 80 percent to $21.2 billion in 2018, including an increase in larger deal sizes, according to CB Insights.

For example, India's OYO, an online hotel booking start-up, raised $1 billion in new funds last September to grow its business internationally.

Other sectors that attracted corporate funds last year include mobile, where Southeast Asian ride-hailing giants Grab and Gojek have raised billions, and health care.

Asia accounted for 38 percent of all corporate venture capital-backed deals last year. Chinese start-ups attracted more corporate interest than before, according to the report, with funding up 51 percent to $10.8 billion and the number of corporate venture capital-backed deals growing 54 percent to 351.

লাইসেন্স ছাড়া আর্থিক ব্যবসা নিষিদ্ধ

আইন অমান্য করলে ৩ বছর জেল * জাতীয় পরিশোধ কাউন্সিল গঠনের প্রস্তাব
মিজান চৌধুরী:

বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের লাইসেন্স ছাড়া আর্থিক লেনদেনের ব্যবসা (পরিশোধ ও সেবা) করা যাবে না। এর ব্যত্যয় হলে অনধিক তিন বছরের জেল ও আর্থিক জরিমানা হবে। এমন বিধান রেখে ‘পেমেন্ট ও সেটেলমেন্ট সিস্টেম আইন-২০১৯’-এর খসড়া চূড়ান্ত করেছে কেন্দ্রীয় এই ব্যাংকটি। খসড়ায় ডিজিটাল লেনদেনের ঝুঁকি কমাতে একটি ‘জাতীয় পরিশোধ কাউন্সিল’ গঠনের প্রস্তাব করা হয়েছে; যার প্রধান হবে গভর্নর। নতুন আইনে আর্থিক লেনদেনের তথ্য দেয়ার ব্যাপারে কঠোর শর্ত আরোপ করা হয়েছে। মতামত নিতে খসড়াটি অর্থ মন্ত্রণালয়ে পাঠানো হয়েছে। মতামত পাওয়ার পর আইনটি নির্ধারিত প্রক্রিয়ার মাধ্যমে অনুমোদন করা হবে। সংশ্লিষ্ট সূত্রে পাওয়া গেছে এসব তথ্য।

জানতে চাইলে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের সাবেক প্রধান অর্থনীতিবিদ ও বিআইডিএসের সাবেক মহাপরিচালক এমকে মুজেরি বুধবার যুগান্তরকে বলেন, ‘এখন ডিজিটাল ফাইন্যান্সিংয়ের যুগ। পুরনো আইনের অনেক ধারা বর্তমানে কার্যকর হচ্ছে না। পেমেন্ট পদ্ধতিতেও ডিজিটালাইজেশন হচ্ছে। ফলে প্রযুক্তির অপব্যবহারের পরিধিও বাড়ছে। এসব বিষয় মাথায় রেখেই পেমেন্ট ও সেটেলমেন্ট আইনটি করতে যাচ্ছে কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংক। তিনি উদাহরণ দিয়ে বলেন, ‘প্রযুক্তির অপব্যবহার করে কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংকের রিজার্ভ চুরি করেছে হ্যাকাররা। ফলে এসব মোকাবেলায় নতুন আইনের প্রয়োজন রয়েছে। যেখানে বাস্তবতার আলোকে আইনের ধারায় পরিবর্তন আনা হবে।’

প্রতিটি ক্ষেত্রে এখন ডিজিটাল রূপান্তরের পথে যাত্রা শুরু হয়েছে। বাণিজ্যিক বড় লেনদেন, ব্যাংক ট্রান্সফার মাধ্যমে ই-মানি, অনলাইন, ইন্টারনেট ব্যাংকিংয়ের ব্যবহার বেশ আগে থেকে হচ্ছে। পাশাপাশি অর্থনীতি, ব্যবসা-বাণিজ্য, প্রবাসী আয় ও বিনিয়োগের সঙ্গে বাড়ছে মুদ্রার চাহিদা ও পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থায় জটিলতা। এসব কথা চিন্তা করেই কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংক এ আইনটি করতে যাচ্ছে। পেমেন্ট ও সেটেলমেন্ট আইনে উল্লিখিত কয়েকটি বিধান তুলে ধরা হল।

আইনের আওতায় থাকবে যেসব সেবা : নগদ অর্থ জমা ও উত্তোলন, লেনদেন সম্পাদন, পরিশোধ দলিল ইস্যু, রেমিটেন্স সেবা, অর্থ স্থানান্তর, ইলেক্ট্রিক মুদ্রা বা অনুরূপ মুদ্রা বিষয়ক দলিল ইস্যু উল্লিখিত আইনের অন্তর্ভুক্ত হবে। তবে অনলাইন বা টেলিযোগাযোগ সেবা অথবা নেটওয়ার্ক ব্যবহারের অন্তর্ভুক্ত হবে না।

কার্যকর এরিয়া : নতুন আইনটি কার্যকর হলে এর আওতায় থাকবে এমটিএম বুথ, আর্থিক প্রতিষ্ঠান, আইন স্বীকৃতি মুদ্রা, ইলেক্ট্রনিক চেক ও মুদ্রা, ইলেক্ট্রনিক ট্রান্সফার, এজেন্ট, গ্রহণকারী, ক্রেডিট ও ডেবিট কার্ড, চেক, চেকের ইলেক্ট্রক্যাল উপস্থাপনা, জাতীয় পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থা, ট্রানজেকশন, ক্যাশ সেটেলমেন্ট অ্যাকাউন্ট, মোবাইল ব্যাংকিং, ‘নগদ অর্থ’ নিকাশ, নিকাশ ঘর, নিকাশ পদ্ধতি, নেট সম্পত্তি, নেট সমাপ্তি মূল্য, পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থা পরিচালনাকারী ও সেবাপ্রদানকারী, পেমেন্ট কার্ড ও পরিশোধ দলিল।

মানিলন্ডারিং প্রতিরোধ আইন বহাল : এ আইনে বলা হয়েছে, অর্থ লেনদেনের ক্ষেত্রে সকল সেবাপ্রদানকারী ও গ্রহণকারীকে মানিলন্ডারিং প্রতিরোধ আইন-২০১২, সন্ত্রাসবিরোধী আইন-২০০৯, বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের আর্থিক গোয়েন্দা ইউনিটের (বিএফইইউ) বিধান মেনে চলত হবে। পাশাপাশি আর্থিক সেবা ও পরিচালকারীর নিযুক্ত এজেন্টদের উল্লিখিত আইন ও বিধান মানতে হবে।

দণ্ড ও অপরাধ : অর্থের পেমেন্ট ও সেটেলমেন্ট ব্যবসার লাইসেন্স ছাড়া ব্যবসা করলে সর্বনিু ১০ হাজার টাকা এবং সর্বোচ্চ ৫০ হাজার টাকা আর্থিক জরিমানা বা অনধিক ৩ বছরের জেলের বিধান রাখা হয়েছে। একই দণ্ড হবে যদি বাতিল হওয়া লাইসেন্স দিয়ে এ ব্যবসা করা হয়। এছাড়া অর্থ সেটেলমেন্ট ও পেমেন্ট পরিচালনাকারী প্রতিষ্ঠানের পরিচালক বা নির্বাহী কোনো নিরীক্ষকের কাজে বাধা দিলে তাকে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক ৩ লাখ টাকা থেকে ১০ লাখ টাকা পর্যন্ত জরিমানা করতে পারবে। একই পরিমাণ জরিমানা করতে পারবে কোন পরিচালনাকারী প্রতিষ্ঠান- তাদের আর্থিক হিসাব, বহি বা নথিপত্র বিনিষ্ট করলে। আইনে আরও বলা হয়, কোনো ব্যক্তি এ আইনের বিধান বা আইনটি বাস্তবায়নকালে জারিকৃত বিধান বা নির্দেশ লঙ্ঘন বা বাধাগ্রস্ত করলে বা এক্ষেত্রে সহায়তা করলে তাকে ১০ লাখ টাকা আর্থিক জরিমানা বা অনধিক ৩ বছরের কারাদণ্ড দেয়া হবে। আইনে বলা হয়, বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের পূর্বানুমোদন ছাড়া কোনো প্রতিষ্ঠান, ব্যাংক এ আইনের পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থার পরিবর্তন আনতে পারবে না।

জাতীয় পরিশোধ কাউন্সিল গঠন : আন্তর্জাতিক মানের সঙ্গে বজায় রেখে দেশের পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থার উন্নয়নের পাশাপাশি এর ঝুঁকি কমাতে একটি জাতীয় পরিশোধ কাউন্সিল গঠন করা হবে। এর প্রধান হবেন বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের গভর্নর বা তার প্রতিনিধিত্বকারী পেমেন্ট সিস্টেম সংশ্লিষ্ট ডেপুটি গভর্নর। পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থার নিরাপত্তা বিধান, নতুনত্ব আনয়ন, পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থা পরিচালনাকারী ও সেবাকারীর মধ্যে সেতুবন্ধন তৈরি করবে জাতীয় পরিশোধ কাউন্সিল। এছাড়া অর্থনৈতিক ও জাতীয় উদ্যোগের সঙ্গে সমন্বয় রেখে পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থায় কৌশলগত পরিবর্তন ও পরিচালনার সুপারিশ করবে। এ কাউন্সিল গঠনে নীতিমালা তৈরি করবে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক।

ফি ও চার্জ আরোপ : নগদ অর্থ পরিশোধ বা সেবা পরিচালনাকারী প্রতিষ্ঠান সেবা দেয়ার জন্য মাসুল বা ফি আরোপ করতে পারবে। বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক প্রয়োজনে এসব মাসুল ও ফির সীমানা নির্ধারণের জন্য নির্দেশ দেবে। আরোপিত মাসুল বা ফি গ্রাহকদের অবহিত করতে দৃশ্যমান স্থানে টাঙ্গিয়ে রাখতে হবে। এদিকে এসব প্রতিষ্ঠানকে তদারকি করতে ব্যয়ের অর্থ আদায়ের জন্য বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক মাসুল আরোপ করতে পারবে। এছাড়া প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলোর অবকাঠামো সেবার জন্যও কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংক ফি আরোপ করতে পারবে।

লাইসেন্স নীতিমালা : ব্যাংক কোম্পানি ছাড়া কোনো ব্যক্তি, প্রতিষ্ঠান বা কোম্পানি এ আইনে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের যথাযথ লাইসেন্স ছাড়া নগদ অর্থ পরিশোধ সেবা দেয়া বা পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থার ব্যবসা করতে পারবে না। তবে কোনো ব্যাংক কোম্পানি ইলেক্ট্রিক মুদ্রায় পরিশোধ সেবা দেয়ার আগেই বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের অনুমোদন গ্রহণ করতে হবে। বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক জনস্বার্থে লাইসেন্স বাতিল বা স্থগিত রাখার ক্ষমতা রাখবে। লাইসেন্স পাওয়ার জন্য কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংক কর্তৃক নির্ধারিত মূলধন সংরক্ষণ করতে হবে প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলোকে। নির্ধারিত ফি পরিশোধ করে লাইসেন্স পাওয়ার জন্য আবেদন করা যাবে। তবে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের অনুমোদন ছাড়া এ লাইসেন্স আংশিক বা এর স্বত্ব হস্তান্তর করতে পারবে না। এ বিধান লঙ্ঘন হলে যে কোনো স্থানান্তর বাতিল হবে।

পরিদর্শন ও বিশেষ নিরীক্ষা : অর্থ সেবা ও পরিশোধ প্রতিষ্ঠানের ক্ষেত্রে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক আইন অনুসারে কোম্পানির অডিট হওয়ার যোগ্য ব্যক্তি বা প্রতিষ্ঠানকে নিরীক্ষক হিসেবে নিয়োগ দিতে পারে। এ নিরীক্ষা কার্যক্রম চালানোর জন্য বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক সহায়তা করবে। এছাড়া কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংক মনে করলে এ আইনের অধীনে পরিচালনাকারী, সেবাপ্রদানকারী দলিল ইস্যু অফিস সরঞ্জাম যন্ত্রপাতি হিসাব, বহি লেনদেন দেশ ও বিদেশের যে কোনো কার্যক্রম নিরীক্ষা করতে পারবে।

লেনদেনের তথ্য না দেয়া : লেনদেন পরিশোধ ও সেবার তথ্য যে কোনো ব্যক্তি বা প্রতিষ্ঠানকে দেয়া যাবে না। তবে আদালতের আদেশ থাকলে লেনদেন সংক্রান্ত তথ্য দিতে হবে। পাশাপাশি কোনো ব্যক্তি আইনগতভাবে তথ্য পাওয়ার অধিকার রাখলে এবং আন্তর্জাতিক চুক্তির অধীনে বাংলাদেশের দায়-দায়িত্ব পালনের প্রয়োজনে তথ্য দিতে হবে। এছাড়া এ আইনের অধীনে কোনো কার‌্যাবলি সম্পাদন করার জন্য বা পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থায় আর্থিক ভুলভ্রান্তি ও নিরাপত্তা নিশ্চিত করার জন্য তথ্য দেয়া যাবে।

এজেন্ট নিয়োগ ও ব্যবহার : গ্রাহকদের নগদ পরিশোধ ও সেবা দিতে এ ধরনের প্রতিষ্ঠান এজেন্ট নিয়োগ দিতে পারবে। তবে এজেন্টদের নাম ও ঠিকানাসহ সব তথ্য বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের নিকট পাঠাতে হবে। বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক পরীক্ষা-নিরীক্ষা করে কোনো ত্রুটি-বিচ্যুতি পেলে প্রস্তাবিত এজেন্ট নিয়োগ বাতিলের জন্য সংশ্লিষ্ট প্রতিষ্ঠানকে নির্দেশ প্রদান করবে।

নথিপত্র সংরক্ষণ : এ ব্যবসার সঙ্গে জড়িতদের নথিপত্র ১২ বছর পর্যন্ত সংরক্ষণ করতে হবে। তবে তথ্য ও যোগাযোগ প্রযুক্তি আইন-২০০৬ অনুযায়ী ইলেক্ট্রনিক যন্ত্র বা কৌশলে সংরক্ষণ করবে। কোনো পরিচালনাকারী প্রতিষ্ঠান তাদের আর্থিক হিসাব, বহি বা নথিপত্র বিনিষ্ট করলে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক ৩ লাখ টাকা থেকে ১০ লাখ টাকা পর্যন্ত জরিমানা করতে পারবে।

আউট সোর্সিং : নগদ অর্থ লেনদেনকারী প্রতিষ্ঠান আউট সোর্সিংয়ের মাধ্যমে জনবল নিয়োগ করতে পারবেন বর্তমান আউট সোর্সিং সেবা আইনের আলোকে। এক্ষেত্রে কোনো প্রতিষ্ঠান নগদ সেবা ও পরিচালনায় তৃতীয় পক্ষের মাধ্যমে আউট সোর্সিং করতে চাইলে আগেই বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের অনুমোদন নিতে হবে। আউট সোর্সিংয়ের ফলে কোনো প্রতিষ্ঠানের ঊর্ধ্বতন ব্যবস্থাপনার দায়িত্ব ভিন্ন কারও নিকট অর্পণ করা যাবে না।

ঝুঁকিহ্রাসে কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংকের ভূমিকা : পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থার উন্নয়ন ও ঝুঁকি কমাতে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক এসব ব্যাংক ও আর্থিক প্রতিষ্ঠানকে তদারকি ও নিয়ন্ত্রণ করবে। প্রয়োজনে আধুনিক পরিশোধ ব্যবস্থার জন্য নীতিমালা প্রণয়ন করবে।

Venture Capital / Venture Capital can spur foreign investment in many folds
« on: February 08, 2019, 07:53:26 PM »

Venture Capital can spur foreign investment in many folds
 FE Online Desk | Published:  February 07, 2019 13:18:38 | Updated:  February 08, 2019 15:18:15

A five-member delegation from Venture Capital and Private Equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB), led by its chairman Shameem Ahsan, also General Partner of Fenox Venture Capital met Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, chairman of National Board of Revenue on Wednesday.
Venture capital companies on Wednesday urged the NBR to make few policy amendments to support the growth of venture capital and private equity industry in the country.

They said such companies can directly contribute in encouraging local innovation and help solving unemployment in the country.

Venture capital companies made the plea when a five-member delegation from Venture Capital and Private Equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB), led by its chairman Shameem Ahsan, also General Partner of Fenox Venture Capital met  Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, chairman of National Board of Revenue on the day.

The delegation thanked the NBR for their support in VCPEAB’s mission to create a supportive ecosystem to flourish startups and companies at different stages with the support of venture capital and private equity firms.

During the meeting they discussed on different issues relating to fostering foreign investment in information technology and other sectors through venture capital. Shawkat Hossain, Secretary General, VCPEAB and Managing Director, BD Venture Ltd.; Waliul Maroof Matin, Director, VCPEAB and Managing Director, Maslin Capital; Dr. Arastoo Khan, Chairman, Build Bangladesh and Meer Sajed-Ul-Basher, Member, VCPEAB and Managing Director and CEO, Impress Capital Limited were also present in the meeting.

Shawkat Hossain, Secretary General, VCPEAB said, We highly appreciate the role of Ministry of Finance and NBR being considerate of the venture capital and private equity industry in the national budget in recent years. We hope NBR relooks at the tax provisions and let go of hurdles in the growth of this very promising sector.

Mr Shameem Ahsan said : We see young entrepreneurs coming up with brilliant business ideas every day; with no access to fund in traditional financial institutions. Venture capital and private equity brings new economic opportunity in this landscape and potentially greater returns for innovative entrepreneurs. Given the adequate policy support, venture capital can multiply foreign investments in many folds in the next 10 years as evidenced in the India, Japan, Indonesia and USA.

The NBR chairman said, taking up investment-friendly measures is one of highest priority areas in government’s policy and vision. We will look into these proposals and do the needful for the development of venture capital and private equity firms and greater benefit for the economy.

VCPEAB works to strengthen the Venture Capital and Private Equity sector and help the sector players to become much more visible and dominant enough to compete in this era of global challenges and competition.Other than the local members, VCPEAB is in touch with many other local and foreign venture capital companies and foreign associations working in this sector.

Ascent to Development: Can Private Equity and Venture Capital Bring Bangladesh Out of Its FDI Slump?


The Asian Tiger. The Dazzling Delta. The Rise and Rise of Bangladesh
A simple google search today will return a trove of articles singing praises of the economic marvel that is Bangladesh. It was not more than some decades ago that the same country was referred to as a basket case. Long gone are the days of plaguing illiteracy and debilitating poverty, the days of a country crippled by natural disasters. Boosted by its population of 170 million strong and a growing industrial base led by the Ready-made Garments industry, Bangladesh has stunned economists with its achievements in poverty reduction and a host of human development indices. The economy has grown at a rate of over 6% for well over a decade, and has even crossed 7% in recent years. The growth engine shows no sign of slowing down, instead projected to grow even faster over the coming years.

A stroll through the capital city of Dhaka reveals the intricate clockwork of a growing economy. Cars and motorcycles zoom by the hundreds of construction projects littered throughout the city, while 20 million city dwellers go about their daily lives – spending their ever-increasing income on goods and services. The country’s GDP per capita has increased more than three-fold from USD 514 to USD 1,675 in the last 12 years . The outside world is also taking notice – HSBC has projected the country’s USD 300 billion economy today to grow to USD 700 billion by 2030, becoming the 26th largest economy in the world.

A closer look into this seemingly unstoppable rise, however, and challenges begin to surface. The bustling capital often comes to a standstill due to excess traffic, and travelling to the outskirts of Dhaka reveals an as yet underdeveloped countryside – a far cry from the meteoric rise witnessed by the capital. As the lens zoom in, the infrastructure requirements of a rapidly developing economy become more apparent – road transportation, economic zones, power generation – are few of the wide ranging areas where the country needs investments. The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh will require about USD 100 billion in infrastructure investments over the next 10 years, while International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates a requirement of USD 320 billion in infrastructure investments to sustain the country’s growth rate. All across the board, the message is the same: There is a gap in infrastructure funding in Bangladesh, and the country needs to come up with ways of bridging this gap if it is to achieve its ambitious goals.

Historically, Bangladesh has relied on government funding and multi-lateral agencies to fuel its infrastructure projects. Even today, the mega-projects throughout the country – the Padma Bridge – linking the western part of the country to its capital, the Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant – aimed at solving the country’s growing power needs, or the Mongla Port – the country’s gambit to enhance its position in the global supply chain – all are inextricably tied to government funding. Private sector participation in infrastructure is among the lowest in South Asia – USD 1.1 billion only compared to USD 13.3 billion and USD 8.4 billion for India and Pakistan, respectively. Compared to its neighbors, Bangladesh has struggled to bring in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into the country – FDI into Bangladesh was only 0.98% of its GDP in 2017, while it is 6.30% for Vietnam. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) projects that Bangladesh has an annual infrastructure financing gap of USD 9 billion, while the FDI inflow is only around USD 2 billion. As the country seeks more ways to engage the private sector in infrastructure and bring in more FDI, one industry has the potential to lead the way – Private Equity and Venture Capital (PEVC).

A world of its own – How PEVC has shaped nations, and the world
An early morning check-in on Facebook, catching an Uber to work, using Gmail to catch up on e-mails - our lives are being increasingly shaped by the PEVC industry. A world run by Private Equity and Venture Capital backed companies is not some far fetched fantasy, it is the reality we live in today. Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Tencent, Facebook, Alibaba - 7 of the 8 largest publicly listed companies today (by market cap) were backed at their early stages by venture capital. The industry’s reach goes far – according to estimates, Silicon Valley investments accounted for 57% of all investments into the United States, an incredible figure for the world’s largest economy . Many credit USA’s global dominance to the innovations born out of Silicon Valley, and finding anyone willing to take the opposing stance is a difficult task.

Venture capital’s origins can be traced back to the 1960s with the birth of Intel, while late stage Private Equity came on its own in the 1980s. How such a young industry has such far reaching influence in today’s world can perhaps be linked to its modus operandi. PEVC backers bestow a wide range of benefits upon their portfolio companies – active management through board/CXO level participation, network benefits, and access to capital – benefits that have helped these companies outperform their non-PEVC backed counterparts. A McKinsey report showed that PEVC backed companies in India generated 20% higher revenue and 6% higher employment growth compared to their non-PEVC backed counterparts, while the difference in rate of export growth between PEVC backed and non-PEVC backed companies was even greater – a staggering 60% . The picture is the same across borders – increase in PEVC investments leads to greater growth in employment, productivity and profit.

An economy fueled by PEVC backed companies is still a distant reality for a Bangladesh – the vast majority of the country’s enterprises are family-owned businesses. However, a cursory glance towards neighboring India can make the case of why Bangladesh needs to focus on this industry. McKinsey estimates that from 2001 to 2014, approximately USD 103 billion was invested into India in the form of PEVC investments – significantly higher than the funds raised in Indian IPOs over the same period, and more stable than any other form of capital into the country. PEVC contribution to fund-raising in India has increased over the past 15 years: from 20% of total capital raised in 2001–05 to 46% in 2011–14 .

India has also made a successful case of utilizing its PEVC industry to drive infrastructure investments. In 2017, USD 10 billion out of the total USD 63 billion of infrastructure investments in India were made by PEVC funds . Walmart’s massive USD 16 billion investment into FlipKart in 2018 has further solidified that PEVC is helping to bring in FDI into the country. Looking at Bangladesh - an economy that is in dire need of capital – the question then arises – is the country’s Private Equity and Venture Capital industry in a state to attract foreign capital?

Bangladesh – Starting up?
When Pathao, a ride-hailing startup, raised USD 10 million from investors including South-East Asian behemoth Go-Jek, it turned heads worldwide. Soon after, Alipay invested an undisclosed amount into bKash, the country’s most valuable tech-based company. While the larger deals are the ones dominating headlines, smaller startups have begun to emerge across Dhaka, their young founders targeting a growing market and emboldened by stories of global successes. A handful of incubators and accelerators are guiding the hands of these young entrepreneurs. Grameenphone Accelerator – an accelerator program run by Grameenphone, the country’s largest publicly listed company, has been providing support to startups for the last 3 years, and has seen 26 startups come up through its ranks. Others have also been active in developing the ecosystem – BDVenture and Startup Dhaka notable among them. A number of major deals announced in late 2017 and in 2018 potentially signal a turning point for the country – foreign VCs have taken notice of the country, and are on the prowl for investments.

While venture capital in Bangladesh has been making waves recently, late stage private equity has not received as much attention. There is one major private equity fund operational in the country – the USD 100 million Frontier Fund managed by Brummers and Partners, a European Fund Manager (A second fund by Brummers is in the works). Other funds present in the market include Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) which is backed by International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Notably missing is the presence of any local investors in this arena, as late stage private equity still seems to be shunned due to the challenges present in the segment.

The long path ahead
A large, young population with growing income, increasing technology and mobile penetration – these are the indicators of an economy prime for development. However, for the PEVC industry, the path has been fraught with challenges. Early signs of development have been present for some time – specially the presence of international investors in the country. But a major gap still remains in the supply of capital. The small number of international investors present in the market have not been enough to make a sizeable dent, and it is unlikely that there will be significant participation from major global Private Equity and Venture Capital firms until participation from local institutional investors increases. Regulations were formed in 2015 to help create a formal local PEVC Fund Management industry, but there has been little success in attracting local institutions and Fund Managers to come forward and spearhead the industry’s development.

Till date, over a dozen organizations have received licenses to operate as Fund Managers, yet not a single locally domiciled PEVC Fund has seen the light of day. Challenges lie in all directions – from an economy that has been historically reliant on debt-based financing, to an underdeveloped regulatory guideline in need of improvement – there is much to do before Bangladesh can hope to reach the level of its neighbors. Going from a debt-based economy to an equity-based economy is no simple task, and no one expects Bangladesh’s corporate culture to change overnight. The simple course of action would then be a focus on solving the puzzles of the regulatory regime - improvements that have long been requested by the increasingly vocal participants in the industry.

While the Alternative Investment regulations set forth in 2015 provided a structure for management of funds, they did not bring along with them the required changes in the tax regime. Alternative Investment Fund Managers must pay a 35% tax rate on the management fees and carry they receive, which turns away most new fund managers from entering the industry. For comparison, Asset Managers of Mutual Funds pay only 15% tax on their management fee (the tax rate has been 15% from 2013, and previously was 0% for a period of 22 years). Industry participants believe that a tax holiday on management fees (similar to what was provided for Mutual Funds) and allowing for carry to be taxed at capital gains tax rates (in line with global practices) will likely help remove some major roadblocks for the industry.

Participants have also cited the example of Mutual Funds in Bangladesh to champion the cause for similar regulatory exemptions for Alternative Investment Funds – any Trust Fund registered in the country is subject to a 2% Stamp Duty, which industry participants state to be a major impediment for launching any new Alternative Investment fund. (This requirement stems from an 1882 regulation, and has been exempted for Mutual Funds yet remains for Alternative Investment Funds).

The effort to promote the local Fund Management industry has also had, on some occasions, the unfortunate effect of turning away foreign participants. Foreign Alternative Investment funds investing in Bangladesh are subject to a 3 year post-IPO lock in, while local funds only have a post-IPO lock in of 1 year. While arguments can be made for the necessity for preferential treatment of local participants, it does not change the reality that these discrepancies are dissuading foreign participants from exploring the market – and preventing the market from accessing the expertise and global networking benefits brought in by these foreign funds.

Moving away from regulations and towards attracting new participants into the industry, the government can take pages from the Indian playbook. In 1999, regulations enacted by the Indian government allowed banks to invest up to 5% of their surplus funds in Venture Capital Funds. Similar guidelines could be a game-changer for Bangladesh - the country has around 100 banks and financial institutions competing in an increasingly crowded industry.

The immediate benefit of a structured policy approach for the industry will be increased participation from local fund managers, but it is also expected to pave the way for international firms to come forward. The industry in India has gone through many iterations to get to where it is today – a national policy framework for startups, special attention to the Ease of Doing Business Index, improved patent and intellectual property regulations – the list goes on. While all these changes have allowed local fund managers to enter the industry in greater numbers (there over 300 locally-domiciled PEVC funds operating in India), they have also had the important side-effect of ensuring increased participation from foreign fund managers – 80% of the PEVC investments in the country are made by foreign fund managers. The wealth of experience and knowledge brought in by these investors has led to the creation of the Flipkarts and the Olas of India. India’s story is an illustration of what is possible in Bangladesh – with the right environment, the country may very soon have its first billion dollar startup – a “Unicorn”.

Bangladesh’s path towards development will be long and arduous. The country faces formidable challenges –- massive infrastructure funding gaps and inadequate FDI inflow threaten to depress the country’s sustained growth. Pinning the entire country’s hopes and dreams on one sector will always be a fool’s hope. But if how the global economy has been shaped over the last century is taken as any indication, the evidence is overwhelming – a flourishing PEVC industry can help catalyze Bangladesh’s economic development and ignite the spark that the country needs to live up to its promise. The promise of 170 million people. The promise of an increasingly wealthy population whose demands are being unlocked through tech penetration. The promise of a country making its way into the global stage through its manufacturing and tech sectors. The steps taken to develop the country’s PEVC industry today will play a role in how country’s story unfolds over the coming decades. What that story is – the story of a country ascending towards development, or of a country stumbling along the path – that remains to be seen.

Asia Pacific wealth and asset management industry to double to $29.6 trillion by 2025

The Asia Pacific asset and wealth management industry will grow faster than in other regions with assets under management (AUM) expected to almost double to US$29.6trn in 2025 from $15.1trn in 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicts in its latest report.

According to the PwC report ‘Asset and Wealth Management 2025: The Asia Awakening', APAC AUM will grow at a total compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7% to $16.9trn in 2020 from $15.1trn in 2017. The 2025 target would be achieved provided protectionism remains limited and geopolitical activity remains relatively stable.

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The growth will be driven mainly by retail mutual funds and sovereign wealth funds. Assets of retail mutual funds are forecast to more than double to $11.9trn in 2025 from $5.5trn in 2017. Assets of sovereign wealth funds are expected to double to $5.7trn from $2.8trn over the same period.

Passive and alternative investment strategies will likely become more popular and, together, account for more than 40% of assets in Asia Pacific, PwC says. Alternative asset popularity among Asian investors is expected to surge from US$2trn in 2017 to US$6.9trtn by 2025, especially in real estate and infrastructure investments. Alternative assets refer to private equity, real estate, infrastructure, commodities and hedge funds.

"The introduction of robo advisers and more digitalised fund advice will play a large role in paving the way for passive growth in the region, opening up new distribution channels and disintermediating current ones."
The burgeoning wealth of the mass affluent and high net worth individuals in the Asia-Pacific region will also provide opportunities for asset managers to service these growing segments. This will in turn propel huge growth in the region's asset and wealth management industry, allowing it to overtake the more developed regions of Europe and North America, PwC said.

Following the report, active strategies also seem to be losing ground to passive strategies as their lower cost is attractive to many investors.

"Asia-Pacific investors tend to be more active and focused on returns, and are prepared to take risks to reach their targeted returns... However, the introduction of robo advisers and more digitalised fund advice will play a large role in paving the way for passive growth in the region, opening up new distribution channels and disintermediating current ones.

"This new order will further be bolstered as pension reforms in countries such as China continue, allowing pensions to invest in passive assets," said PwC's Asia-Pacific Asset and Wealth Management leader Justin Ong.

Separately, the report noted that venture capital is one of the fastest-growing opportunities in the Asia-Pacific. The region now ranks just below the United States in terms of deals, with China leading the market and accounting for five of the top 10 largest venture capital investments at the end of 2017.

AI / How Retail is Advancing AI, IoT
« on: January 19, 2019, 03:22:19 PM »
How Retail is Advancing AI, IoT

Combining computer vision, IoT, and AI creates a system that delivers more value than those three technologies in isolation, as the retail industry is highlighting.
While enterprise organizations have traditionally tended to stay away from emerging tech, preferring to wait until the major bugs have been worked out before making the leap, the arrival of Agile and DevOps has changed the timelines. Enterprises are moving more quickly these days as digital natives threaten to disrupt markets and industries.

With that in mind, InformationWeek spotted some emerging technology applications at the National Retail Federation Big Show this week for you to watch. Sure, these were geared towards the retail industry vertical, but even if you aren't a retail company, these applications are built on the same technologies that are being customized for a range of industries. It's not a stretch to see how they could be applied to many other sectors beyond retail. Gartner analyst Janelle Hill recently recommended one of the best ways to accelerate your AI maturity level and get ahead of competitors is to find a use case in another industry and apply it to your own business. With that in mind, here's a quick look at some of the interesting technology spotted at NRF.

Image: InformationWeek
Image: InformationWeek
Mood Media and WestRock (partners in the Intel booth) and Smart Shelf (in the Innovation Lab exhibit) are offering systems that include shelf-mounted cameras, shelf-edge context-aware digital signage, and software that collects visual data about customers and analyzes it. For instance, the systems use machine learning to classify customers by age and gender so that the digital signage can then be customized to offer that customer the best offer for their particular demographic segment. The systems are considered a physical store equivalent of collecting such data in the same way that online retailers like Amazon have collected data and then analyzed it to provide customers with the next offer.

The software behind the Mood Media and WestRock system's gender recognition works on a scale, so, for instance, the software may determine that it is 52% confident you are a man. But retailers can set rules for the customized offers so that the segment-specific offer is only served if the software reaches 80% confidence, or some other custom level of confidence, about the customer's gender. Otherwise, the shelf signage will serve up a more generic offer.

Smart Shelf's booth representatives told me that their software-as-a-service also captures data about what the customer looks at on the shelf and what the customer reaches for. Smart Shelf retains ownership of this data but shares it only with the retail customer for whom it was collected.

Other industries may find uses in this kind of facial identification for employee access to facilities to broader security applications in physical bank locations and other public locations.

Perfitly (in the Innovation Lab exhibit area at NRF) creates virtual avatars of customers based on their measurements so that these customers can virtually try on different sizes of clothes from online retailers. Co-founder and CTO Kash Vyas told me that the company is also working to create an even simpler way for end-customers to create their own virtual avatars -- by taking two photos of themselves with their phones and uploading those to the system.

The system will use machine learning to determine the measurements and correct sizes and shapes of the avatars. Customers can then use their personal avatar to shop at online retailers who partner with Perfitly. Customers can view the fit of different sizes on the avatar in a 360 degree view. In a demo, Vyas showed how smaller sizes of a button-down shirt gaped between the buttons when worn by the avatar (which was based on founder Vyas' measurements). Larger sizes didn't have the same issues and Vyas rotated the virtual model on a tablet to show how the shirt fit in front, at the sides, and at the back of the garment as worn by the model.

AiFi created NanoStore: 24/7 AutoCheckout AI, an automated and unattended retail store concept just outside the exhibit hall. The store included technologies that tag shoppers via their mobile devices as they come through a secured entrance, monitor whether items have been removed from shelves, and add the items to the shoppers' virtual carts automatically. When the shopper leaves the store, the items are paid for via their mobile app. This is very much like the Amazon Go stores that the online retail giant has been developing and plans to expand. AiFi wasn’t the only company showing similar technology at NRF. Shanghai Yunna Smart Science and Technology Co. Ltd. also provided an in-booth demo of a similar store that combined computer vision, IoT technologies, and machine learning to operate an unstaffed store.

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Other demonstrations featured robots and drones monitoring and replenishing store inventories, robots providing customer service, and a few companies providing facial recognition software.

Each of these demonstrations showed the power of combining several technologies to create applications of greater value for a particular industry, in this case, retail.

See more of our Retail meets AI coverage here:

Retailers Catch Up with Technology Investments

10 Ways Technology Is Reshaping Retail

On Sale: AI Lessons from the Retail Industry

5G: The Next Retail Disrupter is on the Horizon


Jessica Davis has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology at titles including IDG's Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology's MSPmentor. She's passionate about the practical use of business intelligence, ... View Full Bio

Angel Investment / Angel tax won't haunt startups any longer
« on: January 17, 2019, 12:18:04 PM »
Angel tax won't haunt startups any longer
Latest changes, notified on Wednesday, provide simpler mechanism for startups to claim exemption from this tax even for past investments, including to startups incorporated before April 2016
ETtech  |  January 17, 2019, 08:41 IST
Keen to promote entrepreneurship in the country, the government has liberalised the conditions for startups and investors to shield them from what has been called ‘angel tax’.
Angel tax won't haunt startups any longer
Latest changes, notified on Wednesday, provide simpler mechanism for startups to claim exemption from this tax even for past investments, including to startups incorporated before April 2016, the cut-off date for incentive under the startup policy announced by the government.

“All previous and future investments are covered, startups incorporated before April 2016 also covered,” Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) secretary Ramesh Abhishek told ET.

To claim the exemption startups and investors need to make an application via DIPP in a prescribed format along with necessary documents. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) will then issue certificate of exemption within 45 days of the application.

The application will no longer be required to be cleared by the interministerial committee. Also, fair market valuation certificate from merchant banker is not needed any more. The application only seeks justification for the valuation of shares along with supporting document, if any.

ET had reported on Wednesday that changes are expected to shield startups from the tax.

Startups, whose aggregate amount of paid up share capital and share premium does not exceed ₹10 crore after the proposed issue of shares, are eligible for angel tax exemption. The notification also mandates angel investors to have filed income tax returns of at least ₹50 lakh for the year preceding the investment year, a measure that seeks to ensure there is no money laundering via this route.

Additionally, the investor’s net worth should exceed ₹2 crore or the amount of investment proposed in the startup, whichever is higher, as on the last date of the financial year preceding the investment year. No application for exemption can be made if assessment order has been passed by an assessing officer for the relevant financial year. There is relief for cases that are under process but where assessment order has not yet been passed.

Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) welcomed the notification.

“A simplified form to be filled by startups, which needs only the PAN details from investors, and some other simplified and basic information which can be easily provided to the regulators,” said Rajat Tandon, president of IVCA.


Under Section 56 (2) of the Income Tax Act where a closely held company issues its shares at a price more than its fair market value, the amount received in excess of the fair market value will be taxed as income from other sources.

This section, touted as an antiabuse measure, was introduced by former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2012. As it impacted angel investments in startups, it came to be called angel tax.

Levy of this tax on a number of startups had rattled the sector, creating pressure on the government to announce relief.


Hong Kong, Singapore investors keen on venture capital investment in Bangladesh: BIDA
  Senior Correspondent,

Published: 11 Jan 2019 02:01 BdST Updated: 11 Jan 2019 02:01 BdST

A team of investors from Hong Kong and Singapore has met the chief of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and showed interest in venture capital investment, the state entity says.

They met Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam at his office in Dhaka on Thursday.

Venture capital is the capital invested in a new business or project in which there is a substantial element of risk. Young entrepreneurs who take the risk of starting a new business or startup need that initial funding.

Aminul Islam engages with all venture capital-related organisations to increase investments in Bangladesh.

He encouraged youths on several occasions to be a job-giver instead of a job-seeker to help Bangladesh become a developed country by 2041, which will require “massive transformation” to be a $3 trillion economy.

The government is working on a ‘venture capital’ mechanism to help new entrepreneurs grow.

“We should think out of the box to increase investments,” the BIDA chief said.

AI / Canada’s next breakthrough is AI commercialization
« on: January 09, 2019, 04:22:32 PM »
Canada’s next breakthrough is AI commercialization
Already a global centre for artificial intelligence research, southern Ontario—Canada’s largest AI hub—is now leading an all-out push to accelerate the technology’s commercial impact

By Jason Kirby
While studying computer science at the University of Waterloo in 2015, Ron Glozman grew annoyed by the 1,000-page textbooks he was assigned to read, since only a fraction of the material ever appeared on final exams. Glozman knew he wasn’t alone, so he devised an algorithm to spit out brief summaries of the most important parts. Then, he released it in the form of a free app. Within two weeks it was downloaded thousands of times by students in 33 countries.

Glozman’s algorithm may have been a technological success, but it was a business failure. Students simply didn’t have money to pay for such an app. So, Glozman pivoted and set his sights on the document-intensive— and deeper-pocketed—insurance industry, developing machine learning technology able to read reams of insurance forms, like client records and claims, in milliseconds, and then extract key policy information to make recommendations to insurance brokers.

Today, Glozman is the CEO of Chisel, an artificial intelligence startup in Toronto that’s currently working with one of the largest insurance companies in Canada to reshape the industry. “We’re in talks with six of the 10 biggest insurance companies in Canada, so things are quickly picking up speed,” says Glozman, who expects Chisel to expand from its current 16 employees to 50 in the first quarter of next year.


Ron Glozman, CEO, Chisel

Chisel is just one example of the all-out push to commercialize AI technologies in southern Ontario. For decades a small but dedicated cadre of academics toiled away on theoretical research into deep learning—the idea that artificial neural networks, modeled after the networks of neurons in the human brain, could be taught to recognize and classify complex patterns in massive quantities of data.

And while those academics, such as Geoffrey Hinton at the University of Toronto—now regarded as the “Godfather of deep learning”—quietly enjoyed financial support from the government, their efforts to develop advanced neural networks and machine learning technology were overlooked. But in the past five years computing power has finally caught up to their vision.

Now the students and acolytes of those early researchers are forging the technology into practical uses that promise to transform entire sectors of the economy, with the potential to form a new generation of large, industry-leading Canadian companies.

“In machine learning, people keep making predictions about things that’ll happen in decades to come, but they keep coming true much faster,” says Simon Smith, chief growth officer at Toronto-based BenchSci, which uses AI to help medical researchers find antibodies for their drug-discovery experiments by analyzing millions of candidates in scientific literature in a matter of minutes, rather than weeks or months. “If I play that out in Toronto, I think you’ll see AI companies get bigger and go public faster than people had expected. The next phase of AI will be the acceleration of commercial impact.”

The list of established technology companies already opening labs in the corridor stretching from Greater Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo is long and growing by the month: Google, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Samsung, Uber, Intel, LG, not to mention non-tech companies like General Motors (for self-driving cars) and Thomson Reuters (for cognitive computing).

Meanwhile, there are now roughly 300 AI startups in the region, making it the largest of several Canadian AI hubs, and investor appetite remains strong. For instance, in May BenchSci raised $8 million in Series A financing, which saw the AI venture capital arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, make its first investment in Canada.

Another startup, Toronto-based Rubikloud Technologies, helps retailers with machine learning tools that automate inventories and boost customer loyalty. It raised $37 million in January in a financing round led by Intel Capital. All told, in the second quarter of 2018, investment in Canada’s artificial intelligence sector hit an all-time high of $169 million, up from $83 million in the previous quarter, according to accounting firm PWC. The 13 venture deals in AI accounted for roughly 20 per cent of all venture investments in Canada by dollar value.

That investors are rushing to fund new AI companies in Ontario is a welcome development. If there’s a concern, it is rooted in Canada’s previous struggles to transform innovative startups into big, world-beating technology companies—fostered at least in part by an unwillingness among established Canadian companies to adopt the new technologies on offer from upstarts.

With the AI boom, however, there are signs that things are different, says Jodie Wallis, managing director for artificial intelligence in Canada for Accenture. Companies are more receptive to exploring how AI might help their businesses than with earlier technological advances, for instance, while corporate Canada has enthusiastically gotten behind public-private initiatives like the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which opened last year in the MaRS Centre in Toronto. Half of its initial funding of $125 million came from 33 corporate sponsors, including Canada’s five largest banks, Air Canada, CN, Shopify, Magna International and Loblaw Cos. Ltd. (Hinton, who since 2013 has split his time between Google and the University of Toronto, is Vector’s chief science officer.)

There are other hurdles, of course. All corporations are wary of the unintended consequences that might come with adopting artificial intelligence technologies in their businesses. And the prospect of giving smart machines the responsibility of making decisions raises thorny questions about privacy and consent, accountability and bias.

None of this is lost on entrepreneurs like Maaz Rana, the co-founder and COO of Toronto AI startup Knockri. The company has developed tools to automate the screening of potential job applicants by analyzing video interviews while completely ignoring race, gender and disabilities.

“When you are looking to commercialize, your AI needs to be really cognizant about ethics,” he says. “People go through various stages when thinking about AI—the initial fear, education, then acceptance. We have to keep driving home the education piece.”

Certainly, one of the biggest fears AI companies face in trying to commercialize their technologies is the potential for massive job losses as smart machines take over tasks once done by humans. However, such worries fail to consider the new jobs the AI boom is creating. “For every machine learning engineer at a startup you need 10 people to commercialize what they’re creating, and in Toronto you have the talent pool needed to do that,” says BenchSci’s Smith, pointing to jobs like front-end developers, designers, marketers and sales people.

This is an important moment for Canada’s burgeoning AI industry, says Wallis. As AI entrepreneurs scale up their companies, adding new employees, tapping new markets and developing additional revenue streams, there’s an opportunity for Canada to extend its early academic advantage in artificial intelligence and become a commercial leader in the sector. “In Canada, we tend to be conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies, but because we have such an advantage on the academic side, it’s quadruply important to set our sights on becoming leaders in economic value added,” she says.

For his part, Glozman at Chisel is intent on growing the company and remaining independent, with an eye to eventually taking the company public. “I’ve had people offer to buy me out and I’ve turned them down,” he says. “I want to be the Google or Microsoft of Canada.”


Green Delta Digital Insurance: Insurance Made Simple, Now at Your Fingertips

Future Startup Brand StoryDecember 19, 2018 0 
Insurance is not yet a commonplace thing in Dhaka. There are many challenges impeding the progress of the industry. Some of them are pretty obvious such as lack of awareness and lack of public education and trust. Some are less evident but more critical such as the difficulties that customers face availing an insurance policy due to distribution challenges on the part of insurance providers. The consequence is pretty evident. The sector has suffered a sluggish growth compared to its sibling industry banking.

Take for an example, Green Delta Insurance, the leading non-life insurance company of the country, offers an insurance policy called PPA, People’s Personal Accident Policy, which provides a yearly coverage of up to BDT 1 lakh for a one time premium of only BDT 74 – a minuscule sum for almost anyone.

The benefits compared to the premium is certainly worth it. However, two things have happened: first, most people don’t know about PPA and how it works and second, many assume it takes significant effort to take a PPA policy. You have to go to a Green Delta Insurance office if there is one nearby or an agent to buy one along with lengthy paperwork. Going through this process is a hassle. Finding and buying an insurance policy is not a great experience for most people yet.

That scenario, however, is changing fast.

Companies like Green Delta and a handful of other players are pushing forward and introducing new innovative products, ideas, and experiments.

Green Delta Digital Insurance is one such innovation that can prove to be a game changer for the industry. Think about buying insurance from sitting at your home or anywhere for that matter. Green Delta Digital Insurance enables that. With the product, Green Delta Insurance Company aims to make buying insurance as simple as a few clicks on your mobile phone or computer. In short, this is a cool product. If you consider the existing insurance buying experience, it is a godsend. More on that in a moment. Before that, let’s take a look into the insurance industry in Dhaka.

A huge opportunity
Bangladesh Insurance Industry is a largely untapped market. There are about 66 insurance companies operating in the life and non-life category. The combined market penetration is less than 1%. This is significantly low compared to our neighboring countries. However, this scenario is likely to change in the near future.

Bangladesh has a growing middle-income population. The current per capita income is USD 1751. Just a few years ago, it was a minuscule sum. Various predictions say it could touch USD $2000 by 2020. This year will be the eighth straight year in a row that Bangladesh’s GDP has exceeded 6%+ growth. As the awareness grows and the disposable income of people grows, insurance will be a sought-after product in Bangladesh.

Unsplash photo by Brooke Lark | Here

Green Delta Insurance Company and the quest to simplify insurance

People face two major challenges when it comes to taking insurance – 1) a lack of understanding – people don’t understand what is what, 2) as we discussed earlier, buying insurance is still time-consuming and not a good experience for most people.

Proper digitization would help address these two challenges. And this is where Green Delta Digital Insurance comes in. It effectively makes buying insurance frictionless and an experience that people would find worth enduring.

Green Delta Insurance officially launched Digital Insurance on 13th September 2018. A first of its kind insurance product in Bangladesh, it aims to offer a seamless insurance experience to customers. It has invested heavily in internal infrastructure and technology stake to ensure an excellent user experience.

Green Delta Insurance customers can buy insurance policies, for now, Travel, Motor and Personal Accident Policy, digitally from the comfort of their home or anywhere in the world as well make premium payment digitally.

The way the entire process works is intuitive and simple. You got to Green Delta Insurance website, select an insurance policy, fill-up necessary forms and make the payment in the checkout using your card or any digital payment tool. Once you are done with making the payment, you will immediately receive your insurance via email and as well as in printed copy after a few days.

Bangladesh has seen unprecedented growth in mobile phone and internet penetration. There are more than 80 million internet users and around 10 million smartphone users. These trends will fundamentally shape the future of many industries and insurance is one of them. Digital Insurance from Green Delta is likely to change how we buy and insure in Bangladesh.

How Green Delta Digital Insurance works
Using Digital Insurance anyone can buy an insurance policy from Green Delta directly. Simply go to and follow the instructions.
Green Delta has integrated all the secured payment tools starting from various cards to digital payment services such as iPay, bkash and other payment tools using which you can pay your premium digitally.
The insurance policies that you can buy digitally, for now, are motor insurance, travel insurance, Nibedita, and People’s Personal Accident Policy
Green Delta aims to make other policies available digitally over the time
This is the first time any Bangladeshi Insurance company has taken insurance to the digital horizon. Green Delta has been working on digital insurance initiatives for a while now. The organization sees a huge opportunity in the digital insurance space to serve a growing young consumer base better.

Green Delta Insurance Company Limited’s Additional Managing Director and Company Secretary, Syed Moinuddin Ahmed, said in an interview with Future Startup that Green Delta Insurance Company aims to lead the digital insurance movement in the country. “In my opinion, technology and the young generation are two important forces that will drive insurance businesses in the coming days,” Mr. Ahmed said. “At Green Delta, we are paying a lot of attention to these two factors. In order to address this new reality, we have to upgrade our infrastructure and make our services technologically up-to-date so that it matches the expectations of the future generation.”

Green Delta Digital Insurance – Insurance at your fingertip
Green Delta Digital Insurance makes it easy for anyone to buy insurance from anywhere. It fixes one of the critical barriers to access insurance. Today, if you want to buy your travel insurance in the last minute, you can simply go to Green Delta Insurance website sitting in the airport and buy one and get your insurance documents in your email with a few clicks.

Green Delta continues to work on improving its digital insurance products. Along with a seamless and secure experience, it now offers various cashback deals in partnership with a host of digital payment partners. Green Delta says they want to do more in the horizon of digital insurance, including digitizing claim settlement and are relentlessly working on making lives of their customers easier. With Green Delta Digital Insurance, buying an insurance policy has never been easier.

Green Delta Insurance Company
Green Delta Insurance Company

Buy a policy
Green Delta Digital Insurance: Your insurance for travel, motor, fire, health, all risk, and people’s personal accident insurance, are just one click away. Learn more about Green Delta Digital Insurance here.

(This story was developed by Storylab, Future Startup’s in-house branded content studio, in collaboration with Green Delta Insurance Company marketing team.)

Venture Capital / A VC Reveals the Metrics They Use to Evaluate Startups
« on: December 04, 2018, 06:53:45 PM »
A VC Reveals the Metrics They Use to Evaluate Startups

Startup / 7 Must-Learn Insights About Bangladesh’s Startup Ecosystem 2018
« on: December 01, 2018, 01:09:35 PM »

7 Must-Learn Insights About Bangladesh’s Startup Ecosystem 2018
Ruhul Kader InsightNovember 28, 2018 0 
In 2018, we have covered a great number of entrepreneurs, leaders, and companies doing fantastic works in Bangladesh. It has been an exciting year for us at FS to be able to listen to and tell stories of so many extraordinary people and initiatives. We have learned a tremendous amount.

2018 has been a very different year for the startup community in Bangladesh for many reasons. We have come to see some meaningful events to take place. Relatively big investment rounds have happened. The number of startups has increased. Tech has received a lot of serious attention and much more.

We have a long way to go. There is no doubt about it. The next great thing would be a proper and big exit that would hopefully be a game-changer for the entire ecosystem. But it seems we have to wait a little longer for it to happen.

A lot of things are going for Dhaka’s startup scene. In this piece, however, I would rather like to be critical and find out the disconnects, discontents, and things that are slowing us down and impeding our progress.

Here are 7 lessons I’ve learned about startups and startup ecosystem in Bangladesh in 2018.

1. Not enough people are starting companies. We need to find ways to enable more people to start companies.
Startup is a long tail game. In fact, life is a long tail game. So the number of companies an ecosystem produces has a lot to do with the overall number of successful companies that come out of that ecosystem.

If there are 10 companies, 1 or 2 are going to be really big. If there are 1000 companies, 100 companies are going to do moderately well. That’s the math. Unfortunately, we do not see that many people to start companies. There are solid reasons behind it. The point is we have to find ways to encourage and enable people to start companies otherwise big and small success will always be scarce.

2. Starting a business remains hard and expensive.
Starting companies continues to be expensive in Bangladesh. Getting a trade license is expensive. Incorporation is expensive. Running a business is expensive. Moreover, along with the expenses it takes huge effort to get these things done. I’m not going to list other thousand challenges here. In simple, the regulators should pay attention to how we can improve our standing in the World Bank’s Doing Business report where our performance continues to put us to shame. We should really work on making starting business inexpensive and easy for people.

3. There is a lack of diversity in the types of companies people are starting. The startup scene in Dhaka is full of homogenous companies.
If you look closely at the Dhaka’s startup scene, particularly the most talked part of it, there are a few big buckets and sectors where we see a lot of companies and more people are entering to these sectors.

I would not suggest that it is something new to our market. It happens everywhere. But what happens in Dhaka is that most people tend to follow the exact same route instead of thinking originally and trying to find different ways of doing the same thing. The point is you could build many different types of ecommerce companies but everyone seems to like to build the same types of ecommerce companies with similar model and strategy.

Now take a look at the major buckets. We have a handful of ride-hailing companies trying to do the almost same thing. We have a handful of e-commerce companies. We have a handful of service marketplaces. We have a handful of payment products. We have a few ed-tech companies and some ad-tech companies.

I would not claim that we don’t have existing companies outside of these major verticals. There are some very exciting companies doing brilliant things. And in the above-mentioned verticals, there are companies that are redefining business as we know it. The point I wanted to make is that we could have done better. And we have to.

4. Techies are not paying much attention to established and traditional sectors where technology could make a huge difference.
A majority of young techies are more interested in building things in silos – a mobile app and similar things. But there are better opportunities if you can build things at the intersection of sectors. For example, you could build wonderful companies at the intersection of digital technology and leather or food or jute or garments. We have not seen much of these things. But there is this huge untapped opportunity out there. And I’m quite sure that people are going to explore these areas pretty soon.

5. Local companies have to significantly improve on efficiency and execution muscle.
A majority of our local companies, technology and otherwise, struggle with efficiency and execution. Many of them are unnecessarily overstaffed. These companies need to find ways to improve the productivity of their individual team members. Others are not mindful about processes, systems and of a better way of doing things.

These weaknesses are going to cause disaster as the market matures and more serious players enter the market.

I acknowledge that one of the challenges for our local companies is people. Finding great people is a challenge for which we tend to put all the blames on the higher education system and universities. But I feel that companies also need to invest in their people. And we unjustly blame universities where the industry is doing very little to develop, for example, mid-level managers. Universities don’t produce mid-level managers, companies produce them through training and development programs.

6. In many instances, the startup community has a tendency to treat building startups as some kind of a performance show instead of a serious exercise in building businesses and creating wealth.
I have attended corporate startup events where startup founders are made to play a role of performers. Founders come and present their non-existent and sometimes unprepared companies in front of a group of people who are neither going to use their products nor going to invest in their companies. The outcomes of these events are a net negative for founders.

These practices should be discouraged. Often founders who are building serious business don’t get enough time to do these things. In many markets, such as Y Combinator, a US-based incubator program actively discourages founders not to attend events and give talks. Founders should spend all of their time on building businesses. Our local ecosystem players should be mindful of this and should genuinely try to help founders instead of taking advantage of them.

7. People don’t read.
This has surprised me on so many levels. A majority of founders, not all of them, doesn’t read and take reading books very casually. This reflects in everything that people do in Dhaka. Reading is extremely important, in fact, indispensable, exercise for founders in order to improve their cognitive abilities.

Most great entrepreneurs, starting from Gates to Warren to Patrick Collision of today, are voracious and serious readers. It pains me that people don’t see reading as something critical in Dhaka. I would particularly stress this point that founders should seriously work on developing a habit of reading. This is absolutely essential for building consequential things in today’s world.

A lot has been going for Bangladesh. We have changed in so many ways and at so many levels in the past few years that keeping track of it is a challenge. Today, our per capita income is USD $1516. Just a few years ago, it was a minuscule sum. Over 6% GDP growth has become a norm. The economy grew 7.28% in the last fiscal year and is projected to grow at 7.5% for FY 2018-19. This will be the eighth straight year in a row that Bangladesh’s GDP has exceeded 6% growth. This is has unleashed a lot of other important developments. If you look at the major trends in Dhaka, your mind will simply blow. We are in for an unprecedented run. It is just that we have to apply ourselves.

Policy and acts / BIBM proposes Tk 200cr credit guarantee scheme for SMEs
« on: November 16, 2018, 09:35:23 PM »
BIBM proposes Tk 200cr credit guarantee scheme for SMEs
Star Business Report
The Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) yesterday proposed the government launch a Tk 200 crore credit guarantee scheme to encourage banks to lend more to small and medium enterprises.

The BIBM came up with the idea after studying such schemes in different countries. There are over 2,000 such schemes in over 100 countries around the world aimed at giving a boost to the SME sector, it said.

Md Mosharref Hossain, an assistant professor of the BIBM, disclosed this at a roundtable on “Credit guarantee scheme for promoting access to finance for SMEs” at the institute in Dhaka.

SM Moniruzzaman, deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, also supported the idea.

Credit guarantee schemes will help banks share the risk of loan default for a specific type or market of customers and help enterprises get loans, said Moniruzzaman.

“It is a harsh reality that SMEs face innumerable difficulties in getting finance from formal sources,” he said.

He said most of the financial institutions show little interest in offering credit due to a perception of high risk and lack of sufficient collateral. The credit guarantee scheme will minimise the risks for financial institutions, he said.

He assured that central bank would think about the proposed scheme model.

SMEs in Bangladesh have to pay 14-18 percent as interest, which is much higher than the 10-12 percent interest for other businesses. According to the proposed model, the guarantee will cover 50 percent of the total loan. The loan limit will be Tk 3 lakh to Tk 20 lakh.

In turn, the lender will pay a guarantee fee to the government, which can range from 1.5 percent-2.5 percent of the loan amount based on the risk and maturity of a borrower. The guarantee period will be for three to five years. The guarantee fee has to be paid within 30 days of the first disbursement and special attention would have to be paid to ensure that the lender does not pass on this cost to the borrower.

Borrowers will get loans depending on their credit worthiness and payment behaviour. The rate of interest will not exceed 5 percent of the bank rate at that time.

The government should first formulate a credit guarantee scheme independently or jointly with a significant guarantee fund, according to the proposed model.

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