BYLC Ventures holds its largest virtual bootcamp to date for its 3rd cohort

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What is demanded from a founder to truly succeed in the fast-evolving startup ecosystem? Does the responsibility of a founder only constitute effective leadership, or does it demand a deeper blend of other values like perseverance, grit, adaptability, dedication, empathy, a strong value system, credibility, and relevant experience? How important are the characteristics of a founding team to succeed and what are the challenges a founder should acknowledge before scaling their venture?

These, along with important tools and frameworks for constructing a world-class pitch deck and the techniques for delivering a fantastic elevator pitch to attract investment were the major learning objectives for the BYLC Ventures: Cohort 3 Bootcamp. 

BYLC Ventures held a six-day-long virtual bootcamp with more than 200 founders from 105 selected startups from May 4-9, 2021. From 105 startups, the top 30 will be selected to go forward in the final round. From the final group of 30 startups,  the jury will select 5 startups who will receive seed funding of  BDT 800,000 with the option of an additional BDT 1,500,000 as scale-up funding. The start-ups will also gain access to a world-class business accelerator program, in-house mentoring and networking support, legal and virtual CFO support, as well as a co-working space in BYLC’s Mohakhali office. These chosen start-ups will also receive rigorous leadership training.

The intensive and interactive bootcamp sessions covered various aspects of developing a start-up idea – from identifying a real problem in society, refining the start-up’s solution for the problem, to making an understanding of the customer persona and demographics of whom to offer the solution. Sessions also enlightened the diverse audience of Bangladesh-based founders on the art of storytelling for business, developing a go-to-market strategy, preparing and presenting accurate financial data and forecasts, the local legal and regulatory infrastructures to navigate, and effective methods for user research and customer feedback. The sessions were supplemented with workshops where founders worked with the facilitators to iterate their business model and develop their pitch decks. 

The bootcamp was co-facilitated by BYLC Ventures’ success partner, BetterStories Limited, alongside Shadman Rahman, Senior Product Manager – Exploration Portfolio, Innovation, Digital & Strategy, Grameenphone Limited; Ejaj Ahmad, Founder and President, BYLC; and Barisha Rabbe, Manager, BYLC Ventures. 

Boosting emotional well-being in remote work and study set-ups

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It has been over a year since the pandemic took over and disrupted our daily lives. Since then, we have experienced a sharp decline in mental health worldwide, especially among young people. 

The good news is that there are ways to help ourselves feel a little better. Here are some habits for boosting emotional well-being that can help individuals cope with their mental health in better ways.

  1. Maintaining a regular schedule:

Adapting your daily schedule from pre-covid times can create a sense of normalcy. When you outline your tasks, define the goals you want to achieve at the end of the day, and consciously set aside smaller and longer breaks to recuperate during your workday, you will feel less overwhelmed and more in control. 

You willl notice that the daily routines of successful people have ample amounts of time set aside for work and play- and they stick to it. Outside of fixed hours for work and study, you can also set aside some time to spend with people you care about and who in turn give you positive energy. Evenings are the best time to follow your self-care routine, while mornings are great for a quick stretch or run.

  1. Consuming media mindfully:

Continuous exposure to news, social media, and other forms of media exposes you to a plethora of opinions placed between facts and very controlled snippets of the lives of others, all dressed with a generous helping of dopamine when consumed addictively. 

Your media consumption habits are a critical influence on the perceptions you hold of social reality and mental health. It is therefore important to access reliable sources for your information and news. Credible news channels to stay connected include The Daily Star and Dhaka Tribune. 

You can minimize the risk of social media addiction by striking a balance and re-establishing its purpose – to stay connected with the people you care about and engage with the communities you want to be a part of. Social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, messaging apps like WhatsApp, workplace apps like Slack, and video call apps like Zoom and Skype can all be used mindfully to keep in touch with collaborators, colleagues, friends, and family.

  1. Getting some physical activity:

No one is recommending you to run 400 meters every day – unless your body can handle the strain. Instead, you can set aside 30 minutes of your day for a long walk, some aerobic exercise, yoga, and stretches according to your own needs. This does not mean you need to head to the gym right away! Instead, you can access workout routines from fitness experts in bitesize videos on YouTube to develop your home workout routine. As long as you can get your heart beating every day, it will help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. 

  1. Doing a task that you enjoy, for yourself:

Whether it is an art and craft project you’ve laid off for a while, a cake that you never got around to baking, a game you wanted to play with your friends, yoga, community service, journaling, or a children’s book you want to re-read, set aside some time to do what will bring you joy and contribute to your well-being.

Work, studies, and self-development for our careers are only one aspect of our multifaceted lives. To perform well and reap benefits from opportunities, it is important to first focus on how we are doing. 

To learn more about ways to improve your emotional well-being in your everyday life, you can take our certified courses in Emotional Intelligence and Overcoming Procrastination: Tools and Tactics, available online for free. 

Parenting amidst the pandemic

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Before the pandemic, all of us lived our simple lives, hustling through the day while the little ones stayed busy with their fun social activities at school. These social activities such as outdoor games, group art projects, and school dramas played an integral role in developing  children’s social and communication skills. They supported their healthy psychological development by generating positive social experiences and sometimes even useful learnings from the not so positive experiences. They nurtured children’s creative outlook on life.

Unfortunately during the pandemic, this creative environment has suddenly transitioned into an obscure gloom, stripping all the vibrant colors from our lives and throwing us into dark ends. Suddenly, kids exploring the world through rose-tinted glasses have been drenched wet with the dark murky harshness of our current reality.

The lockdown has submerged us into incessant uncertainty and obscurity. It has not only changed our daily routine but has also aggravated mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Just like us, our little ones are going through a difficult time at this moment.

Discussed below are four possible ways we can help our little ones in this difficult time:

Be honest about the pandemic

Make sure your kids clearly understand the situation. Information should not be hidden or distorted while making your kids aware of the situation outside. Educate them about the necessary precautions and the negative consequences if not followed properly.

Acknowledge their feelings

In this difficult time, your child might feel sad and sometimes anxious. In circumstances like these, you can encourage discussions acknowledging their emotions and try redirecting them to more positive or productive directions. You can encourage them to brush up on their creative and social skills, and perhaps acquire new ones in the lockdown.

Follow a routine

A little bit of structure in your little one’s lives can go a long way in terms of ensuring a balance in their lives during lockdown. For example, kids can go to bed and wake up at a fixed time. Again, having meals regularly at specific times or going for pre-planned study sessions in a dedicated set-up can help them cope with this new normal.

Have fun indoors

Arranging family games and movie nights can help to ease the stress of your kids. Also, planning cultural nights and even recalling old memories in a group discussion will improve their mood.

5 tips from experts for Bangladesh-based startups seeking investment

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On April 17, 2021, BYLC Ventures hosted an episode of Startup Talks with Nirjhor Rahman, CEO of Bangladesh Angels, and Rahat Ahmed, CEO & founding partner of Anchorless Bangladesh. The Facebook live session was moderated by our board member, Farzana Kashfi. Outlined below are five takeaways for startup founders.

  1. You need experience, an idea that solves an existing problem, and a team you trust 

“Experience is something we are seeing that is constantly missing and the ability to raise capital is something that can be super important. I think ultimately we can tell when a founder is coming to us because they ‘want to be a founder’ rather than they want to ‘solve a real problem.’ What is important to understand is that at the end of the day, the founding of a company is the easiest as it’s ever going to be and if founders’ heart is not in it, if this is not something they truly want to do, [then] when it gets hard, they’re going to buckle, and that’s going to make their investors, significant others, families, co-founders, and employees unhappy. And the product is not going to be good.” –  Rahat Ahmed

An existing and lucrative problem can depend on demographics, lifestyles, or unprecedented events. Your startup idea should demonstrate the potential for rapid quantifiable growth to attract venture capitalists. A founding team needs domain-specific skills to work cross-functionally with strict deadlines because a dynamic and trustworthy team allows dialogue. 

  1. Your idea must have the scope to raise capital internationally

Presently, local startups can only survive with international investment, and therefore it is important to demonstrate company growth in revenue and traction. According to Nirjhor Rahman, attractive local industries for startups seeking angel investment include healthcare, e-commerce, logistics, education, food, gaming, garments, and fintech among other products underpinned by technology. 

  1. You need to engage with international stakeholders

Farzana Kashfi: “What is it that you look for in an entrepreneur when you are interacting with them and seeing their pitch for the first time?”

Nirjhor Rahman: “I think one of the questions we think about often is can we leave this founder in a room with one of our investors and walk out?”

Founders need to engage with international investors directly and network constructively with active members of the ecosystem. You can seek advice from investors regularly to obtain constructive feedback. If you use feedback to visibly improve your business model, it can help gain investment deals in the future. 

  1. Communicate effectively and tell a convincing story to your audience

“I think every single kind of experience that I’ve seen in terms of angel investments in a company boils down to a group of angel investors falling in love with a founder or a founding team. And particularly, their story and why they’re doing what they’re doing.” – Rahat Ahmed

An idea can be shared when articulated with a captivating story. A meaningful story portrays a succinct message, displays how rapidly the company’s business model can change in the face of new challenges and showcases the potential for exponential growth. Good communication builds meaningful, lasting connections. 

  1. Be resilient and adaptable

Founding a startup is a challenge that requires grit. A founder with a strong personality can adapt to the economic, political, and environmental turbulence in Bangladesh. According to Rahat, a startup can normally grow by 10-20% at least on a monthly basis. Given that startups have the potential to scale exponentially after the initial capital investment, practice overcoming extenuating circumstances by executing novel ideas well. 

For founders who seek support beyond funding, BYLC Ventures is accepting applications for its third cohort. Apart from funding, we provide shared working space, networking opportunities, legal support, a virtual CFO, and mentorship for startups. 

The deadline for applications for the third cohort is April 25, 2021.

Apply today: https://forms.gle/LeER73tNks9UWTyv5

Survival of the fittest: Insights from Abrar Anwar, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank-Malaysia.

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Young people aged 15-24 in Bangladesh were already facing a challenging transition into the labor market when COVID-19 happened. The condition aggravated further as the pandemic brought in the demand for a new set of skills that fresh graduates need currently, in addition to traditional education. Today, the focus of employers has shifted to skills on adaptability, resilience, technology, and remote communication for contributing to organizational growth. In regards to this rising influx of the skills demand, how are these challenges being tackled by Bangladeshi youth? Will the outlook of employers remain the same as before, post-pandemic, or bring in new expectations from young professionals? 

To find key answers on these prevailing questions and to train young people with skills relevant to the job market, BYLC has organized a month-long Career Bootcamp from November 21, 2020 to December 19, 2020. The bootcamp features sessions taken by industry experts of the country who have been sharing their experiences and insights on various aspects of professional development with graduating students and young professionals. Through the bootcamp, BYLC is aiming to prepare the participants for the 21st century job market and meet the existing skills gap.

The opening session of the BYLC Career Bootcamp 2020 was inaugurated by Abrar Anwar, Managing Director & CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, Malaysia, and Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone, and moderated by Ejaj Ahmad, Founder & President, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center.

The main highlight of the session revolved around issues of youth employment in South Asia and the added damage that COVID-19 has brought on from this year. Abrar Anwar shared his insights to questions about where the future demand is headed on the skills set of youth in Bangladesh, the significance of soft skills in the workplace, and being passionate about your job. 


  1. What kind of future skill sets are employers looking for in youth? How is the definition of future resources changing?

The two aspects that youth need to always focus on are soft skills and hard skills; both of them are essential. In today’s job market, being digitally savvy is a huge advantage. Currently, data analysis has huge potential; e-commerce has skyrocketed, artificial intelligence is developing rapidly, and all aspects of cyber-including defense, security and risk are becoming more and more popular. Naturally, all of these aforementioned traits fall under additional skills. At the same time, soft skills have also become very critical. Mental health, resilience, agility, adaptability, and holding a positive attitude have all become significant for the growth of a person and an organization. We are now looking for people who have the winning combination of both hard and soft skills. The foremost concern in every organization with a sustainable approach to its future is focusing on the kind of people they want in that future.

  1. What aspects do you focus on when recruiting youth?

A lot of the weight in the recruitment process depends on the candidate’s attitude. We don’t learn everything from scratch by simply studying the theoretical elements of becoming the ‘ideal candidate’. A crucial life lesson to always remember is that a leader is only as good as his or her team; only inclusive leaders can drive the organization forward, otherwise it can be a disaster. The sooner we understand that we are incomplete leaders without our teams, the better it will be for our progressive growth. Inclusive leadership is critical to an organization’s survival and growth, as each individual brings their unique talents to the table. 

Additionally, we need people who are well-versed in technology. However, one should never forget that there will always be demand for people for all kinds of jobs within the organization. So, when we recruit, the first and foremost basic skill that we try to note is the depth of discipline in an individual, along with their potential to be collaborative and inclusive. The primary question after preliminary assessment usually is: are they positive about self-learning from seniors, juniors, and peers?Therefore, never choose to willingly settle. What is important to remember is that our earlier mistakes are now in the past. The bigger question thus remains: how do I improve myself for the better?

Furthermore, maintaining mental and physical fitness is very critical. If an individual is unfit, he or she cannot think properly. It is difficult and unrealistic to always recruit exactly the right person. There can be a disconnect or even some misunderstandings further down the line. However, individuals willing to learn can go much further than those who are reluctant to venture into new territories. 

  1. What drives youth to switch jobs? 

If anyone feels like their current job no longer serves its purpose, he or she should leave that job right away. You have to feel like, “Yes, it is another day. I can feel the passion to do my work today.” The moment one finds their routine mundane and monotonous, they must simply leave that job, as it will become impossible to prosper there. Standard Chartered Bank focuses on organizational values and internal motivation for our employees. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity. After all, it is the people that make the organization.

  1. In what functions do you see automation turning jobs redundant at Standard Chartered?

A lot of jobs are already becoming redundant due to the pandemic, forcing many services to shift online. It is therefore an evolution. Providing services personally may be omitted altogether in the coming years. Many services are transitioning toward self-servicing. Many companies, therefore, are rescaling where other aspects of their staff’s skills can be used, such as in wealth management advisory, investment banking, etc.

The ones that can be transferred to technology are the jobs that won’t go redundant. Technology will play a major role in the future job market. People will stay but will be reallocated to other roles in their jobs.

  1. If you had to guess five sectors with the highest job growth in Bangladesh post the pandemic, which ones would you choose?

Manufacturing will remain a major sector with the highest job growth, considering the demographics and shifts of supply chain globally. Evolution is happening where the gap portfolio is changing. Therefore, industries which are heavily exports-oriented and involve sectors of import substitution and domestic consumption will entail tremendous opportunities for young graduates.

স্বাধীনতা: দুর্বার তারুণ্যের উচ্ছ্বাস

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শত আশার শততম টেস্ট ম্যাচ। টিভি পর্দার সামনে উদ্বেগ, উৎকন্ঠা আর টানটান উত্তেজনায় কোটি তরুণ। আর ওদিকে লংকান মাটিতে লড়ছে ওরা ক’জন – সাকিব, তামিম আর মুশফিক বাহিনী। অবশেষে এল বহুল প্রত্যাশিত সেই বিজয়। সিংহের ডেরায় গ্ল্যাডিয়েটরদের হারিয়ে লাল-সবুজের পতাকা ওড়ালো বাংলার বাঘ। বিজয় উল্লাস ছড়িয়ে পরলো এ দেশের কোটি তরুণের চোখে-মুখে ফেইসবুকের নীল-সাদা পর্দায়, অলি-গলি পেরিয়ে রাজপথে টিএসসিতে। কে বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের ছাত্র, আর কে রাস্তার পাশে রিকশা থামিয়ে বিজয় মিছিলে সামিল হওয়া ঘর্মাক্ত রিকশাওয়ালা কিংবা টং দোকানের চা বিক্রেতা – সে হিসেব নেবার কেউ নাই, এটাই তারুণ্যের শক্তি, এটাই তারুণ্যের স্বকীয়তা, এটাই তারুণ্যের সৌন্দর্য। read more

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