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Bangladesh Startup Investment Report 2023

Even in the face of global upheavals and the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangladesh’s economy has shown remarkable resilience. With a total GDP of USD 460 Bn, it stands as the second-largest in South Asia. With a median age of 28 years and an impressive 62% of the population under 35, Bangladesh possesses a young and tech-savvy demographic, driving the momentum of consumption. By 2030, projections suggest that Bangladesh’s consumer market will elevate to the 9th largest globally, marking a remarkable leap.

The digital wave is sweeping across Bangladesh, with 126 Mn mobile internet subscribers and a robust 75% internet penetration rate. The country is primed for digital innovation, as evident from the fact that 69% of previously unbanked adults now possess mobile phones, opening doors for mobile financial services to catalyze financial inclusion. Positive trends in digital finance indicators underscore Bangladesh’s steadfast commitment to fostering a dynamic digital finance ecosystem.

An invigorating startup ecosystem finds its roots in the strong backing of the Government of Bangladesh. Pioneering a multitude of initiatives and upcoming projects, the government is nurturing a vibrant startup landscape. Investments in infrastructure development lay a solid foundation for startups to thrive. Initiatives like the Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) project and Startup Bangladesh Limited offer training, mentorship, and crucial financial support for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Bangladesh Government’s ambition to nurture five unicorns by 2025 symbolizes a trajectory of exceptional growth.

Get ready to explore the latest insights about the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh, curated for you by LightCastle Partners in partnership with Startup Bangladesh Limited. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an investor, or simply curious about the dynamic world of startups, download the Bangladesh Startup Investment Report 2023 to uncover the latest insights.

The 10 Commandments of Networking You Must Know to Build Authentic Connections

They say, "It's all about people," and they are right. Opportunities that can change our lives or at least solve a current burning problem all come thanks to people. Networking is an art that holds immense power in our interconnected world. It is the key to building authentic connections that can lead us to personal and professional fulfillment.

I've been researching the "art of networking" for over a decade, interviewing world-class experts, covering studies, books and, most importantly, listening — listening to the millions of people around the world that I have taught this art to. This has led me to know a thing or two about it and develop a methodology around fulfilling ourselves through the power of relationships, which I have been teaching in six continents.

With that in mind, I'd like to present my "Networking Ten Commandments" to guide professionals and individuals in forging meaningful relationships and succeeding in their boundless careers and business aspirations. Let's delve into these commandments and I encourage you to explore which ones resonate with you the most.

Humanity thrives through collaboration. Most people are happy to help if asked in a way that ignites their willingness to assist. When seeking support, approach others with a genuine request, explaining how their contribution can make a positive impact. By appealing to their altruistic nature and even needs, you are more likely to receive their support.

Networking is a powerful skill for achieving our goals. To make the most of this skill, set clear targets and identify the individuals who can help you reach them. By proactively seeking out those who possess the necessary expertise or resources, you increase your chances of success.

Build relationships before you need help. Get to know a diverse range of individuals long before you require their assistance. Networking is not solely about reaching out when you are in need; it is about fostering genuine connections over time first. Invest in building relationships with others, nurturing them through meaningful interactions and offering support whenever possible.

Be open and approachable to everyone you meet. You never know who you might meet. A simple smile or a friendly greeting can go a long way in creating a positive impression. Treat everyone with respect and openness, as each person has the potential to contribute to your journey, the same as you can contribute to theirs.

Strive to create authentic personal bonds with people. It involves showing a sincere interest in others, giving truthful compliments, finding common ground and fostering a sense of camaraderie. By making people feel like you care about them and genuinely investing in authentic relationships, you establish a foundation of trust and support that can greatly enhance your networking endeavors, and vice versa.

Be "out there" and engage in diverse networking opportunities. The more you engage with different communities and circles, attend events and participate in professional gatherings to meet a variety of different people, the greater the likelihood of encountering potential opportunities. Embrace new experiences, step out of your comfort zone and seize every opportunity to expand your network.
Design your authentic brand and how others perceive you by consistently conveying your strengths and characteristic messages. Define what sets you apart and communicate it effectively. Craft a compelling narrative that showcases your skills, expertise, and unique value proposition. Align your personal brand with your networking goals to attract like-minded individuals.

"Follow up" is the golden rule in networking. Actively manage and maintain relationships with the relevant people for you. Engage in long-term communication and stay connected. Remember, networking is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and nurturing. There are many techniques to follow up, I talk about some of them on my social media channels.

Always give without expecting immediate returns. Giving is the "currency" of relationships. There is so much to offer others; from sharing your experiences and giving compliments to dedicating time to help and sharing connections and resources. When you assist others in achieving their desires, it creates reciprocity, paving the way for support when you need it most.

The best way to connect with a stranger is by seeking their advice. Most people are flattered when asked for advice, as it demonstrates respect for their expertise and positions you as an eager learner. This approach often leads to meaningful conversations, establishing a foundation for building and strengthening relationships.


What to Consider Before Investing in a Startup or Company?

Investing in a startup or company can be an exciting opportunity, but it can also be a risky one. Before deciding to invest, several key factors should be carefully considered to help minimize the risks and increase the chances of a successful investment. By taking the time to thoroughly evaluate all the necessary factors, investors can make informed decisions. This article will explore these considerations in more detail and discuss how to evaluate potential investment opportunities.

11 Factors to Consider Before Investing in a Startup or Company
There are numerous reasons why a startup can fail – ranging from unfortunate circumstances to an inadequate business plan or poor timing. According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, approximately 20% of newly established businesses do not survive beyond their first year of operation. The following factors need to be considered before making an investment decision.

Analyze the Domain
We all have experience working within certain industries or possess a personal interest in particular sectors. To increase the likelihood of successful investment, it is advisable to seek out startups that align with one's area of expertise or interest. This enables one to better comprehend the business and its potential, thereby allowing one to invest with confidence.
Conversely, investing in startups from unfamiliar sectors may make it difficult to accurately evaluate the business and make informed investment decisions.

Business Plan
When listening to startup founders pitch their ideas, it is important that their plans appear well-thought-out and not untested ideas with uncertain profitability. For early-stage investments, it is advisable to prioritize startups with practical and scalable concepts.

Before investing, it is essential to gain a thorough understanding of the company's framework and processes. Additionally, the business idea should be innovative and fresh and offer solutions to existing problems.

Read More: What to Consider Before Buying Land: A Step-by-Step Guide

Check the Confidence in Founders
A truly innovative idea can be captivating, especially when presented by a passionate founder. While venture investors primarily assess the team, the capability to execute the plan should be given priority. It is not uncommon for startups to be founded by individuals without prior experience in launching new ventures.

However, they must demonstrate their ability to transform an idea into a reality through past experience or accomplishments.

Competitive Analysis
Prior to investing in a startup, it is necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of the competition within the market. The startup founders may not provide insight into every aspect of their competitors and could potentially withhold crucial information.

It is important to assess the performance and scalability of the competition to determine if they could potentially replace the startup in which someone plans to invest his or her capital. This step is crucial to ensure that one's hard-earned money is invested wisely.

Skills and Passion of the Management Team
Undoubtedly, the most crucial factor to consider before investing in a startup is the management team. While the assessment of risk versus reward is crucial, investing in a startup is not limited to the product or service alone but also relies heavily on the competence and capability of the leadership team to execute the business plan.

It is imperative to invest in a startup with an experienced, qualified, and passionate management team to ensure the success of the venture.

The Potential Market
When assessing an investment opportunity as an investor or venture capitalist, the primary focus should be on the potential market for the business. It is crucial to ask relevant questions to ensure that the company has a clear understanding of its market share.

The startup founder must be able to provide specific details regarding the percentage of the market they plan to capture over a defined time period and their growth projections for the future.

10 Year Plan
It's important to note that founders have different goals and strengths. While some founders excel in working in small teams, they may struggle when it comes to larger teams. Moreover, some founders envision scaling their company for the long term, whereas others may get bored and decide to move on to new ventures. As an investor, it's crucial to know the future plan of the company.


How to Gain Funding for Startup: Best Practices to Attract Investors

Startups are picking up pace across the globe. According to Statista, the number of early-stage venture funds for startups is growing year on year after a dip during the Covid-19 Pandemic peak stage. While a success rate of 10% is projected for all startups in 2023, there is still a silver lining in the form of increased funding. But the key challenge is to secure funding for the startup venture. Let’s explore the different factors that aid in attracting investors for startups.

13 Ways to Attract Investors for Startups
Strong Value Proposition
The main idea behind a startup is to create a solution for an existing problem. A track record of successful startups shows that they took an existing problem and created a solution for it. Then the solution was channelled as a product through the startups.

At the core of this process is a strong value proposition. Successful startups were able to secure early funds from investors because of the strong value of their product or service. Investors look for value in a project. As long as one can show the value and prospects, securing funds becomes much easier.

Detailed Business Plan
Startups aren’t just about ideas. Sure enough, it starts with an idea, but implementing the idea requires a strong business plan. There are a lot of factors in a market that a startup needs to consider before scaling up its product or services. Factors like target market, competitive analysis, marketing strategy, financial projections, and growth plans should be at the centre of a solid business plan. Sharing a strong vision for the startup will help convince the investors to understand the return on investment. And that in turn will help attract investors.

Traction Generation and Milestones
For an investor, numbers are the ultimate deciding factor. An investor will only invest where strong numbers support the claims of the startup. It can include factors like user adoption, revenue generation, or partnerships with key players in the industry.

Try to build up a rapport with incubators and accelerators before approaching potential high-value investors. The more positive the numbers are, the better the chances of attracting investors.

Having a Strong and Experienced Team
Another key factor that drives investment decisions is the market understanding and experience of the team members. Investors often look for people with a proven track record of managing and executing similar products or services in the market. Sometimes, the lack of early milestones like a marketable product, grants, and incubation can be offset by a strong and motivated team that shares the vision of marketing and scaling a startup.

Networking and Referrals
Beyond experience and numbers, a good way to attract potential investors is through networking and referrals. Networking and referrals help build a personal connection with the investors. A positive word-of-mouth impression or a recommendation from a trusted source helps to highlight and convince investors about the potentiality of a startup. The best way to network and gain referrals is by attending industry events, networking meetups, and startup conferences.

Pitch Competitions
Venture capital firms and investors often organise pitch competitions and demo days. These are events where a potential startup can highlight their venture or even showcase a demo of how their product works.

Pitch competitions are all about convincing the host of investors to attend the event. Be crisp and precise on the pitch, and as always, put a strong emphasis on value propositions to easily attract investors.

Look for Early-Stage Support
Many startups make the mistake of going for high-profile investors or venture capital at the early stage. Rather than going for potential investors initially, startups should focus on incubators, accelerators, or government grants that can help them gain recognition and credibility. It can also help to build a marketable product that can be easily showcased to investors at a later stage. Some investors even specifically invest in the later stages. So it's better to develop a product or service with early-stage support and then make a move for large-scale funding.

Read more: The Emerging Logistics Tech Startups, Courier, Delivery Services in Bangladesh

Emphasise on Scalability
Most investors aim for scalability, which is the rapid growth of the startup they are investing in. The more the startup grows, the higher the return on investment (ROI) for the investors. As a result, startups should try to achieve a balance between sustained operations in terms of fund management and future growth opportunities. It is important to show potential investors that they can gain a lot from their investment once the startup takes off, from the early stages to the mass expansion of the business.

Focus on Market Research
Scalability is important for a startup, but that too needs to be sustained. An unrealistic scaling plan will eventually deter potential investors. So what’s the solution? Focus on market research. Understand market dimensions like competitors, trends, niches, and TG. Research everything that relates to the market and the startup's offering. Based on that, quote a realistic, scalable plan and cost. That way, it will be possible to generate trust with potential investors.

Target Market-Specific Investors
There are two things to understand before approaching a potential investor: one is the market in which the startup is operating, and the other is the market expertise of the potential investor in the relevant market.

Read more: Digital Healthcare Startups in Bangladesh: An Overview

Patents and IP
If the startup in question holds a patent or Intellectual Property, it should be properly highlighted to potential investors. Patents and IPs hold a strong ROI proposition based on product demand and marketing opportunities.

For example, consider the case of the British startup Excivion. The company recently filed for a patent regarding its flavivirus vaccine. After a successful trial, the company will be able to market the vaccine as its exclusive medication globally. Any organisation or biopharma that would want to market the vaccine will require prior agreement and permission from Excivion.

Investors often invest heavily in IP-based startups simply because of the potential monopoly they could create in the future.

Clear Financial Management
A potential investor would be interested in the finances of any startup. As a result, it is important to have a transparent financial record. Many startups underreport or overestimate the valuation of their venture. These practices can easily deter potential investors.

A clear financial statement would help convey the actual reality of the venture. And in practice, honesty goes a long way towards establishing potential investment opportunities.

Read more: Truck Lagbe: Story of a Successful Digital Trucking Startup in Bangladesh

Testimonials and Case Studies
Try to focus on highlighting the changes brought on by the startup in its target market. Share positive testimonials from the customers with potential investors. Make provisions for case studies that quantify the impact of the startup in its market and the overall positive implications. These will go a long way towards convincing a potential investor to invest.

Final Words
The startup boom is taking the world by storm. An astounding 305 million startups are created each year. The industry has a very high failure rate, and most of these startups may fail in the short run. But some will go on to become unicorns—billion-dollar startups.

The success story behind these ventures is more or less the same: a strong investment portfolio at every stage of the journey. Make sure to adhere to the best practices and follow the above to attract investors and ensure funds for a great idea.

Entrepreneurship: The Engine Of Growth Driving Our Economy

Entrepreneurship, the art of starting and managing a business venture to make a profit, is the driving force behind our economy's growth.

As a serial entrepreneur, I've witnessed how entrepreneurship is foundational for innovation, job creation and wealth generation. Based on my experiences, here are some ways that entrepreneurship drives the growth of our economy and how individual leaders can become strong contributors to this growth:

Four Ways Entrepreneurship Acts As An Engine Of Growth
Entrepreneurship stimulates competition in the marketplace. When new businesses enter an industry, they often introduce new products or services that can challenge established firms. This competition can lead to lower prices, improved quality and increased innovation as businesses strive to differentiate themselves and meet consumer demand. This healthy competition can ultimately benefit consumers who are able to access a wider range of products and services at more affordable prices.

There are four main ways I see entrepreneurship working to drive our economy; these are areas I think you should keep in mind when starting an enterprise.

Successful entrepreneurs are always looking for new and innovative ways to solve problems and meet the needs of consumers. They are willing to take risks and invest in new ideas that others may not have considered. Through their innovative ideas, entrepreneurs create new products and services, improve existing ones and find better ways to do things.

Job Creation
Entrepreneurship is a significant contributor to job creation. As new businesses are created, they need people to work for them. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in economies and are a significant source of employment with "two out of every three jobs added to the economy" being from SMEs.

Wealth Creation
Successful entrepreneurs not only create jobs but also generate wealth for themselves and their employees. As their businesses grow and become more successful, they generate profits that can be reinvested to fuel further growth.

Economic Growth
As hinted at with innovation, entrepreneurship ultimately leads to the creation of new industries, products and services that increase economic activity. Entrepreneurs greatly contribute to economic development through their fresh innovations.

Contributing To This Engine Of Growth
Here are some ways that entrepreneurs can help drive this growth.

1. Social entrepreneurship. This blends business goals with social or environmental objectives. I encourage you to create ventures that address pressing issues such as poverty, education, healthcare or climate change. By aligning your business with a social mission, you can create positive change while still pursuing profitability.

2. Ethical practices. I believe that you should also prioritize ethical considerations in your business operations. This includes fair labor practices, responsible sourcing, environmental sustainability and giving back to the community.

By demonstrating a commitment to ethical behavior, you can both build trust with consumers and contribute to a more sustainable future. For example, while I do have a team outsourced in India, I make sure there is a benchmark pay for team members and the agency managing them gets a percentage above it.

3. Collaboration and partnerships. Seek opportunities for collaboration with other businesses, nonprofits or government organizations. By joining forces, you can leverage collective resources, expertise and networks to amplify your impact and address complex challenges.

As a start-up, it is all about capitalizing on the partner ecosystem. You may be surprised at the amount of support that is available: Cloud credits from AWS, a business account with Apple, numerous entrepreneur clubs—just to list a few of the ways that organizations give support and invest in the future.

4. Customer-centric approach. Look to truly understand the needs and desires of your target market. Conduct market research, engage in active listening and seek feedback to ensure that your products or services genuinely meet the needs of your customers.

5. Mentorship and support. Pay it forward by offering mentorship and support to aspiring entrepreneurs or disadvantaged individuals.

I find that mentorship is imperative and a non-negotiable, for it is a very different game when you reach your first thousand compared to when you reach your first million. You need somebody experienced who has been a part of a larger organization and is a subject matter expert. My own mentor has been critical in supporting me when it comes to strategy, helping me outline my vision and craft a road map.

Overcoming Challenges
Of course, entrepreneurship is not without its challenges. Starting a new business requires significant resources, including capital, expertise and time. Many entrepreneurs face significant barriers to entry, such as a lack of funding, regulatory obstacles and market saturation.

The main challenges that I believe we can most immediately solve include a lack of access to resources, education and training. To help solve access to resources, we should advocate for policies and initiatives that provide entrepreneurs with access to funding, business support services and mentorship programs.

As far as education and training, we can prioritize equipping aspiring entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and mindset necessary to navigate the challenges of starting and managing a business. This includes utilizing the earlier-mentioned mentorship and partnership programs.

Starting a business can be a challenging and rewarding journey, requiring a combination of hard work, dedication and a willingness to take calculated risks. However, the potential rewards can be immense, not just for the entrepreneurs themselves but for the entire community.

I believe that entrepreneurship is not just about creating wealth; it's about creating value and making a positive impact on society. Entrepreneurs are the ones who identify unmet needs and develop solutions that improve people's lives.

How to raise funds for your startup: A guide

Launching a startup is an exhilarating journey, but one of the greatest challenges lies in securing the necessary funding to turn your vision into a reality. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the strategies and steps that aspiring entrepreneurs can undertake to raise funding for their startups. From crafting a compelling business plan to attracting investors, this article serves as your roadmap to financial success.

Crafting a compelling business plan
The first step in raising funds for your startup is to create a compelling business plan that outlines your company's vision, mission, and value proposition. This document acts as a roadmap, helping potential investors understand your business model and growth potential.

Executive summary: Begin with a concise overview that highlights your startup's unique selling points, market analysis, and competitive advantage. Keep it succinct, yet compelling, to grab the attention of investors.

Market analysis: Thoroughly research your target market, identifying its size, growth potential, and key trends. Highlight your understanding of market dynamics and how your startup will address unmet needs or gaps.

Unique value proposition: Clearly articulate the problem your startup solves and the value it brings to customers. Emphasise how your product or service is different from existing offerings and the potential for disruption.

Financial projections: Develop realistic financial projections, including revenue forecasts, expenses, and cash flow analysis. Back your projections with solid research and assumptions, demonstrating your startup's growth potential and profitability.

Seeking funding sources
Now that you have a compelling business plan in hand, it's time to explore different funding sources that can help turn your vision into reality.

Bootstrapping: Many entrepreneurs start by self-funding their startups through personal savings, credit cards, or loans. While bootstrapping may require personal sacrifices, it allows you to maintain control and attract investors with a proof-of-concept.

Friends and family: Approach close contacts who believe in your idea and may be willing to invest in your venture. Clearly outline the risks involved and provide a formal agreement to protect relationships and interests.

Angel investors: Seek out angel investors, high-net-worth individuals or groups who provide early-stage funding in exchange for equity. Tap into angel networks, pitch events, or online platforms to connect with potential investors aligned with your industry.

Venture capital: Venture capital firms specialise in providing funding to high-growth startups. Develop a targeted list of venture capital firms that have a track record in your industry and reach out to them with a well-crafted pitch deck and business plan.

Crowdfunding: Leverage crowdfunding platforms to raise capital from a large pool of individuals who believe in your idea. Create a compelling campaign, highlighting the value proposition and rewards for supporters.

Grants and competitions: Research government grants, non-profit organisations, and startup competitions that offer financial support to innovative ventures. Be prepared to demonstrate the societal impact and scalability of your startup.

Attracting investors
Once you have identified potential funding sources, it's essential to present your startup in a compelling manner that resonates with investors.

Pitch deck: Develop a concise and visually appealing pitch deck that effectively communicates your startup's value proposition, market potential, competitive advantage, and financial projections. Keep it focused, engaging, and tailored to the investor's preferences.

Networking: Build a strong network within your industry by attending conferences, events, and startup communities. Actively seek opportunities to connect with potential investors and industry influencers who can provide guidance and introductions.

Demonstrating traction: Show investors that your startup has achieved significant milestones or customer traction, such as revenue growth, user acquisition, or strategic partnerships. Highlighting proof-of-concept instils confidence in potential investors.

Due diligence: Be prepared for the investor's due diligence process. Anticipate and address questions about your business model, competition, intellectual property, team composition, and legal and financial aspects of your startup.

The Keys to Successful Entrepreneurship - Part 2: Business Structure and Business Management

(NEW YORK, NY) -- The Ford Foundation has awarded The Confined Arts in partnership with Another Choice Youth and Family Outreach Inc with a grant to launch the Strategic Arts & Education (SAE) initiative to provide free artistic literacy, professional development, and capacity-building to new/existing community-based artists, students, and advocates including justice-impacted people.

The mission of the SAE initiative is to provide free artistic literacy, professional development, and capacity building trainings and workshops to new and existing community-based artists (specifically those that have justice-involvement), young adults, students, advocates, teaching artists, practitioners, legal advocates, and organizations who want to learn more about entrepreneurship, community enhancement and/or how they can use the arts to mitigate the imprint of the criminal legal system.

To view videos from their previous workshops or to register for upcoming workshops, click here.

Friday, July 28, 10:00am-12:00pm (Virtual Participation) - The Keys to Successful Entrepreneurship: Part 2. This 4-part workshop series is designed to help you as business leaders and entrepreneurs, acquire the insight and tools you’ll need to enhance your small businesses, intrapreneurship ventures, or social entrepreneurship initiatives. You can register for the event here.

THE CONFINED ARTS (TCA) is a program that cultivates and showcases the talents and creative voices of artists directly impacted by mass incarceration and intersecting social justice issues. TCA enables artists to express their voices through the visual and performing arts, poetry, and music as a means to abolish inhumane narratives and socially degrading stigmas that are used to describe the past experiences and limit the futures of individuals impacted by incarceration. Through artistry, collaborative activism, research, education and training, TCA equips artists to influence policy change, and use their artistry and knowledge to advocate for a world anchored on empathy and saturated with healing and prevention-based policies.

How To Write A Business Plan To Start Your Own Business

Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship can be both exciting and challenging. One of the crucial first steps in this voyage is creating a detailed blueprint that maps out your vision, goals, and strategies. This comprehensive document, often called a ‘business plan,’ can help transform your ideas into a viable venture. This article will help you navigate this process, offering insights on everything from initial research to creating financial projections to give your business a firm foundation for success. Let’s delve into the steps in crafting this vital document, which could be the key to unlocking your entrepreneurial dreams.

Understanding The Purpose Of A Business Plan
Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, it’s essential to understand the true purpose of a business plan. A business plan is a written document describing how a business will achieve its goals. It serves as a roadmap, guiding the direction of your start-up and letting potential investors know exactly what they’re investing in.

Initial Research For Your Business Plan
Before you start writing, it’s essential to conduct thorough research. This includes researching your industry, potential market, and competitors. Look at trends and projections in your chosen industry and understand who your potential customers are and what they want.

Executive Summary: The Introduction Of Your Business Plan
The executive summary is the first part of your business plan, but it’s usually written last. It provides a snapshot of your company, explaining the nature of your business, the problem it solves, and why it’s unique. This section should capture the reader’s attention and compel them to learn more about your business.

Company Description: Detailing Your Business Concept
This section should provide a detailed explanation of your business. This includes the problems your product or service solves, the target demographic, and how your business fits into the market. Detailing your business concept allows investors to understand your vision and the value proposition that you offer.

Market Analysis: Evaluating Your Competitive Landscape
Understanding your competition is crucial. In the market analysis, you’ll identify your competition, where you stand, and how you plan to differentiate your business. This will involve a detailed analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, and how you can capitalize on opportunities in the market.

Organization And Management Structure: Defining Your Team
Investors not only invest in ideas, but they also invest in people. In this section, you should lay out your business’s organizational structure and highlight the team behind your startup. Detail their experience, role in the company, and how they will contribute to your business’s success.

Service Or Product Line: Outlining What You’re Selling
This section focuses on the product or services your business will offer. Here, you can detail the benefits of your product or service, its life cycle, and any intellectual property rights. The key is to explain how your offering meets customers’ needs and stands out in the marketplace.

Marketing And Sales Strategy: Building Your Customer Base
In the marketing and sales strategy section, you’ll outline your plan for attracting and retaining customers. You should detail your marketing strategy, including branding, pricing, and advertising. Additionally, describe your sales strategy and how you intend to grow your customer base over time.

Funding Request: Identifying Your Financial Needs
If you’re seeking investment, this section is crucial. You’ll need to specify how much funding you want and how it will be used. This could range from operational costs to marketing expenses. Remember, transparency and detailed projections are key in this section.

Financial Projections: Making The Case For Your Business
Your financial projections should align with your funding request. You must give investors a clear picture of your business’s financial future. This includes sales and income projections, balance sheets, and potential cash flow projections for the next five years.

Appendix: Supporting Documents And Materials
The appendix is a repository for additional documents or materials supporting your business plan. This might include market studies, detailed surveys, photos of your products, or other documents that could provide more insight into your business.

Key Considerations For A Strong Business Plan
While writing your business plan, it’s essential to be clear, concise, and detailed. Be sure to highlight your unique selling proposition and provide a realistic view of the market opportunity. Also, your plan should demonstrate your understanding of your customers and their needs.

The Importance Of Regularly Updating Your Business Plan
A business plan should not be a static document. As your business grows and evolves, so should your plan. Regular updates can help you adapt to changes in your business environment and keep your business on track for growth.

Taking The Next Steps With Your Business Plan
Once your business plan is complete, it’s time to implement it. But remember, writing your plan is just the beginning. Your plan must adapt to new challenges and opportunities as your business grows. Keep your plan flexible and be ready to make changes when necessary. Your business plan is the key to successfully starting, managing and growing your business.

Key Takeaways
Grasping the fundamental purpose of a business plan, which serves as a strategic blueprint for your start-up and a pitch for potential investors.
Executing comprehensive preparatory research to understand the market and your competition.
Crafting a captivating executive summary that encapsulates the essence of your business.
Clearly articulating your business concept within the company description.
Conducting a thorough market analysis to comprehend your competitive environment.
Showcasing your team and its organizational structure to exhibit the strength behind your business.
Detailing the products or services you offer and their distinctive benefits.
Devising a robust marketing and sales strategy to attract and sustain your customer base.
Outlining your financial requirements clearly in the funding request section.
Presenting realistic financial projections to demonstrate the economic viability of your business.
Utilizing the appendix for additional supporting documents.
Remaining aware of key elements that form a robust business plan.
Recognizing the need to regularly update your business plan as your venture grows and evolves.

An effective business plan is an exercise in strategic clarity, meticulous analysis, and creative storytelling. It’s a document that sets your entrepreneurial journey on a defined path, establishes your unique market space, and communicates the strength of your team and offering. Furthermore, it’s your tool to entice potential investors with a compelling financial prospect. It’s crucial, however, to remember that a business plan isn’t a static document but a dynamic one that evolves with your enterprise. Thus, continuous updates and revisions will ensure your plan accurately reflects your growing venture, steering it toward success.

From Idea to Successful Exit — 8 Lessons Learned From Building and Selling a Startup

In entrepreneurship, success often lies in challenging the status quo and embracing risks that others shy away from. It begins with a spark — a bold idea that sets the foundation for a groundbreaking startup. Think about Steve Jobs and his audacious vision of bringing a computer to every individual's home or Elon Musk's relentless pursuit of revolutionizing space travel. These pioneers disrupted industries and left an indelible mark on the world.

As an entrepreneur, your journey from idea to successful exit will require audacity, resilience and an unwavering commitment to your vision.


Running a successful business requires more than just hard work and determination. It also involves effective time management and achieving a healthy work-life balance. Entrepreneurs often find themselves juggling numerous responsibilities, which can be overwhelming if not properly managed. YourStory explores five proven ways followed by successful entrepreneurs to manage their time and achieve a harmonious work-life balance.

1. Prioritising and goal setting
2. Delegating and outsourcing
3. Time management techniques
4. Avoiding procrastination and distractions
5. Effective communication and collaboration
6. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance

Read more at:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

As far as I’m concerned, that describes entrepreneurs perfectly. After all, there are countless ways in which entrepreneurs make a difference in the world.

To begin with, they create new businesses. In turn, this creates jobs and stimulates the economy.

Moreover, they create new products that can improve people’s lives. Additionally, entrepreneurs are often involved in philanthropy and volunteering within their communities.

Still not convinced? Here are 11 specific examples of how entrepreneurs make a difference.

1. Creating jobs.
2. Generating economic growth.
3. Developing new products and services.
4. Creativity and market intelligence.
5. Giving back to their communities.
6. Increasing access to education and healthcare.
7. Making the world a more connected place.
8. Solving social problems.
9. Improving the environment.
10. Promoting peace and understanding.
11. Empowering women and minorities.


Summary: A new study found increased neuronal connectivity in the brains of serial entrepreneurs.

Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI), the researchers discovered that entrepreneurs have higher connectivity between key brain regions associated with cognitive flexibility and exploratory choices. This may explain why they can effectively balance between exploration and exploitation, a vital trait for their success.

The study offers an innovative approach to understanding the entrepreneurial mindset and highlights the need for fostering cognitive flexibility in organizations.

Key Facts:

The study showed that serial entrepreneurs have higher neuronal connectivity between the right insula and the anterior prefrontal cortex compared to managers.
The research utilized resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) to observe the brain at rest, offering a novel approach to understanding the entrepreneurial mindset.
The increased connectivity suggests that serial entrepreneurs possess greater cognitive flexibility, enabling effective alternation between exploration and exploitation.
Source: University of Liege

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ChatGPT’s 10-Year Millionaire Formula — An Entrepreneurship Blueprint

In the US, the median income in 2021 was $5,809 per month. Yet, only 8.8% of people were millionaires, and 95% of all millionaires in America have a net worth between $1 and $10 million. While a higher net worth usually correlates with a higher income, it’s not always the case, and a lot of people have most of their paper wealth tied to their home and/or other illiquid assets.

With the recent surge in popularity around using AI to do just about anything, I thought of asking ChatGPT to come up with a plan for a 28-year-old person to become a millionaire within 10 years, making $5,000 per month, and looking to create his/her own business. I went with 28 years old because that’s only slightly older than when I started my business, and a 10-year deadline because I wanted to see how creative the AI could be with a short timeline. Here is the exact prompt I used:

Achieving a liquid net worth of $1,000,000 with those metrics is very hard. When you make $5,000 per month you will “only” have made $600,000 liquid after 10 years, so unless you invest money and get a bit lucky, you can’t get the cash out of your own pocket.

But if you’re looking at a paper net worth (including assets that you can’t liquidate right away), things become more realistic. If you had invested $500 in the S&P 500 every month 10 years back, you would now be sitting on $116,000. If you had invested $2,000 in Tesla in 2011, you would now be sitting on $231,742. But the best way to increase your net worth without relying too much on luck is often to create your own business, so let’s see how to do just that.

Note: The “entrepreneurship plan” part is based on 6 different parts generated by ChatGPT. Each part starts with the AI tips (in quotes), and I then add my own insights based on my experience as an entrepreneur and business owner.

The ChatGPT plan
1. Identify your strengths and passion
“Start by figuring out what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. This will help you identify potential business ideas that you’re truly passionate about.”

It took me years to start working on my blog and committing to it, because I couldn’t pick one thing out of all my interests. Before starting to write online, I tried dozens of other things:

Creating a T-shirt business — Failed
Selling art on Instagram — Failed
Selling trading algorithms — Failed
Selling hand-painted skateboards — Failed
Website coding/flipping — Failed
At least I was trying, which was a great start. But I never committed for more than 6 months to any of the ideas mentioned above. I needed to change my approach

2. Research the market
“Once you’ve identified potential business ideas, research the market to determine if there’s a demand for your product or service. Look at your competitors and see what they’re doing well, and where there may be gaps in the market.”

Around 3 years ago, I decided I needed to try my hand at something for longer than 6 months before calling it quits. In order to identify the area where I was the most likely to succeed, I looked at everything I had tried up until now and realized that a lot of these markets were saturated and/or requested a big upfront investment to get going.

A real t-shirt business required an inventory, which I didn’t have money for (Dropshipping doesn’t require inventory but needs a lot of money for ads)
An Instagram business required a ton of time to build a social media following, and I’ve never been into social media. I couldn’t bring myself to text 100 people a day to promote my art.
There were a lot of people out there much better than me at website coding, so my market was limited.
Eventually, I realized I had been writing my whole life, I loved it, and it was a great business because although I was not a gifted writer, not a lot of people were willing to put in the work. Writing one article per day every day is hard, especially when you have to do it at 6 am before leaving for work. I learned early on that hard work without talent beats talent without hard work, and so I chose writing as my next business idea.

3. Start small
“Consider starting your business as a side hustle while you’re still working your full-time job. This will allow you to test the market and refine your business model without taking on too much risk.”

Within 1 year of having started my business, I was making more money quicker than I ever thought I would, but not enough to quit my job for sure. In my situation, it wasn’t an issue because I loved my job, and as the AI recommends, it’s always better to feel things out first before going all in with a huge risk.

“Starting small” is often one of the biggest hurdles people have to overcome, specifically because they don’t see the bigger picture. They either want to be successful and make a ton of money right away, or they’re willing to try to put in the work, but the distance between where they are and where they want to be seems impossible to travel.

As cliché as it sounds, Apple started out in a garage before becoming the most valuable company in the world, and Warren Buffet started investing at age 14. Ben & Jerry’s was started out of the back of an ice cream truck, and now it’s worth $100 billion. Steady wins the race, so don’t be afraid to start small.

4. Develop a business plan
“Once you have a solid business idea, develop a business plan that outlines your target audience, products or services, and revenue model.”

I didn’t develop a business plan until over a year after I started. That’s when I started making real money, and so I looked at my options to maximize my chances of success. I decided to create a one-man company, set up a bank account for it, and never pay myself until I started making serious money. Everything I spent from this account had to be an investment in growth, and the rest would just sit there while figuring out what to do with it.

I also came up with hard targets to hit within 1 year and with a check-in after 6 months. I got this idea from the company I was working for, and it’s based on the OKR (Objective Key Results) strategy, which is made of 2 main components:

Objective: it explains where you want to go, and what the desired end result is. Once an objective is reached, another objective will replace the current one. Objectives in the OKR strategy are not technical, not measured, and usually don’t contain numbers. They should be as easy to understand as possible.
Key Result: unlike the Objective, the Key Result should be as precise, technical, and measured as possible. It is used as an indicator of whether or not the Objective is being worked on. Key results should be time-bound, often quarterly or yearly.
The key of the strategy is that it focuses on the actions needed to reach big overarching goals rather than short-term goals, minute details, and daily tasks that can seem boring, unmotivating, and sometimes unrealistic. Here are a few target examples I set for my blog.

Objective A
Optimize my marketing funnel to increase my conversion rate from people reading my article to becoming newsletter subscribers.

Key Results A
Revamp the sign up landing page to make it more appealing, and write clearer bottom article CTAs.

Objective B
Release a 50-interview productivity guide by the end of the year

Key Results B
Reach out to 100 people, select the best 50 interviews, and put together the guide

Objective C
Make money from my own digital products

Key Results C
Release a premium version of my interview guide (with 75 interviews instead of 50) and promote it on my website, right after people download the free version

5. Leverage technology
“Use online platforms to market your business and engage with potential customers. Set up social media accounts, create a website, and consider investing in search engine optimization (SEO) to help your business show up in search results.”

Especially as an online writer, investing in technology that can help me increase my reach has always been paramount. I’m not big on social media so I tend to stay away from it, and I’ve used paid Google ads before without too much success. In general, I find that the tools I get the most value out of are either cheap or free, and the highest returns on investment I get are almost always from hard work. For instance, I wrote a google top-ranking article on Ticktick that gets me thousands of visits to my website every month. Of those visits, a few convert into sales.

Here is a quick overview of some of my favorite tools I use and how much they cost me per year:

Mailchimp — $2,000 (email marketing)
Zapier — $712 (automation tool)
Revolut — $330 (bank account)
Sendowl — $230 (digital product sales)
Elementor — $100 (website building platform)
6. Reinvest profits
“Instead of taking all of your profits out of the business, consider reinvesting them back into the business to fuel growth. This could include investing in marketing, hiring employees, or developing new products or services.”

2 years after having created my business, I still haven’t paid myself a dime in salary or even a bonus. Sure I’ve spent on gear, stuff I enjoy using, and that’s rewarding too, but I never took cash out of the account.

That’s another upside of keeping your job for the first few years: all the money you make from your business is a bonus, and so even a few hundred dollars per month can stack up very quickly. Even though I sometimes spend a lot of money on new gear and/or equipment, I rarely spend more than what I make every month:

My business’ cashflow in 2022
Become a millionaire with EBIDTA
At the end of the day, even if you can build a business that consistently generates $100K per year for 10 years, you won’t get to $1 million in cash after taxes and expenses. Why then include the $5,000 salary metric? Because again, keeping a job on the side will let you keep the business money in the business account, and reinvest it into growth.

The truth is, a business is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and lucky for us entrepreneurs, investors invented an indicator to estimate how much they would want to pay for any business in any industry. It’s called EBITDA, and it’s pretty awesome.

“EBITDA is an acronym that stands for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization. EBITDA is an indicator that is often used by investors or prospective buyers to measure a business’ financial performance.” — Source

When looking to put a price on a business, potential buyers look at the EBIDTA and multiply it by a number based on which industry your company fits in. Here are a few examples:

A few examples of industry multipliers — Source
A blog/writing business would fit in the “Online Services” category, which has a multiplier of 15.88. Based on that number, here is the business value based on how much it makes:

This means that if your business can make $8,333 per month ($100K per year), if you find the right person to sell, and you’re good at showing value, you can technically sell for $1 million+.

What to remember from all this
“By following this plan, a 28-year-old person making $5,000 per month could potentially reach the goal of becoming a millionaire within 10 years. However, it’s important to note that entrepreneurship is inherently risky and success is not guaranteed. It will require hard work, dedication, and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.”

If all it took to become a millionaire was to create your own business and work hard, a lot more people would be rich. If you factor in the 10-year horizon, more than half the people would drop out within the first year, and then a little bit more each year after that. I’ve been growing my business for 3 years myself, and I’m not a millionaire yet. The most important thing to remember is that money should never be an end goal, it’s just a side effect of success. Work hard because you love what you do, not because you want to make a ton of money.

I didn’t expect ChatGPT to come up with a revolutionary approach to business/entrepreneurship that would completely change my vision on the topic. Nevertheless, I like how the AI structured its answers, and I believe that’s where it will help people the most. Those who have trouble coming up with an actionable plan and targets for themselves can now use the help of AI to get ideas, build momentum, and eventually find the motivation to get going in the long term.

Thanks a lot for reading, and enjoy the journey you’re on.


The 7 Most Successful Business Models Of The Digital Era

The first two decades of this century are characterized by digital entrepreneurs upending traditional business models in search of new ways of creating revenue and serving customers.

This has been made possible by the emergence of several new waves of technology – from desktop computers to the internet, mobile devices, and the cloud. Going forward, these waves of disruption seem certain to continue as new breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence (AI) continue to redefine the way we shop, work, play, and live our lives.

Often these business models are used in combination – for example, a software provider might make a “freemium” version available, supported by advertising revenue, while also offering a premium, ad-free service to those that are willing to pay. Or e-tailers like Amazon may make revenue from e-commerce while also acting as a marketplace where other sellers can offer their goods in exchange for a cut of the profits.

Anyone wanting to do business today – or understand how money is going to be made tomorrow – needs to understand the fundamental models underpinning the digital economy. So here’s my overview of some of the most successful and important and an explanation of how technology has made each of them possible.

The ad-supported business model is among the most successful of the digital era. It is behind the rise of companies like Google and Facebook, which match users to products and services using AI and analytics. This has become possible due to the sheer amount of user data that can be captured from online users. The success of these businesses is due to the concept that “if you’re not paying, you’re the product.” In the days of newspaper, radio, and television advertising, the data that could be collected was limited to information gleaned from audience and market research surveys. Today, every click, follow, like, and share – as well as the information we directly give to sites and services – can be used to learn about us. This data is collected from audiences and users and sold to advertisers who use it to predict what products and services we might want to buy.


As it’s simplest, this simply refers to companies that offer products and services online directly to the customer. This can describe the giants such as Amazon and Alibaba that sell products directly to consumers themselves but also operate as marketplaces. It also describes thousands of smaller and niche businesses that exist today, generally operating via platforms and marketplaces such as Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, or Alibaba. E-commerce offers a super-convenient and affordable way for just about anyone to start selling their products globally without having to worry about the logistics and expense of setting up bricks ‘n’ mortar stores. Platforms and marketplaces make the job of setting up a storefront and listing products a one-person job, and e-commerce operators will often leverage the power of advertising platforms such as Google or Facebook to reach customers in their niche. The value of global e-commerce was estimated to be around $10 trillion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $27 trillion by 2027.


The freemium business model generally involves offering a basic, no-frills version of a product or service for free but charging users if they want to access premium features. Examples include Spotify, which puts limits on how users can listen to music unless they are subscribers, Dropbox, which offers limited storage and transfer speeds to free users, LinkedIn, which lets anyone browse job adverts and list vacancies, but enables advanced analytics functions to subscribers to help with job searches and hiring, and Zoom, which limits the length of meetings and the number of participants for free users.

Productivity and workplace software-as-a-service providers also frequently use the freemium model, then offer individual or corporate licenses to users who want to access the full feature set without limitations. It’s also popular with games publishers, who use a free version to get players hooked before enticing them to either take out a subscription or buy individual features or benefits on a “pay-to-play” basis.

Marketplace/ Platform

This model covers both the e-commerce providers like Amazon and Alibaba, which have grown into marketplaces where anyone can set up their own business. It also covers more specialized platforms like eBay, Uber, or AirB’n’B. Users benefit from the prominence and financial clout of these platform providers, which will often use analytics and advertising campaigns to drive traffic to their customers’ stores or listings. For the marketplace or platform owner, the benefit is that they do not even have to provide a product or service themselves, and they can simply take a cut from every business that sells through them. We can also include “gig economy” sites like Fiverr, Freelancer, and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in this category, as they offer platforms for individuals to offer their own one-to-one services to businesses.


This refers to any business which charges customers a regular payment. Initially, it would generally refer to service providers – such as Netflix offering movies on demand, or Microsoft and Adobe offering software-as-a-service subscription packages such as Microsoft 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud. Increasingly, however, product retailers and manufacturers are offering goods and consumables through subscriptions as well. This includes home fresh food delivery businesses such as Hello Fresh and Gousto. Amazon is an example of a business that covers the whole spectrum – offering digital services like video, music, and cloud computing infrastructure, and also product subscriptions that deliver physical goods directly to customers’ doors. This business model enables organizations to generate a regular income while also developing ongoing relationships with customers, meaning they are able to offer different products and services as their customers’ requirements change. Niche and independent businesses might also choose to generate revenues through subscriptions by taking advantage of a platform such as Substack, which allows audiences to connect with individual creators.

Aggregator Sites

This business model involves scraping the web for companies offering products and services, then aggregating them into a handy portal where shoppers can compare prices, features, and benefits. Some well-known examples include PriceRunner, PriceGrabber, and Other aggregators specialize in particular markets such as comparethemarket and moneysupermarket (insurance and financial services) and Expedia (holidays and travel). Rather than charging a fee to businesses that advertise their products on their sites, these businesses generate revenue from referrals they are paid when we buy products through them.


The final digital era business model we can’t ignore is crowdfunding. The big crowdfunding sites – such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Gofundme, are also platforms offering other businesses the opportunity to raise funding via small donations from a large number of individuals. Crowdfunded businesses themselves are those that use money generated through these platforms as a source of revenue, often to launch niche or prototype products. Other sites like Patreon allow creators to build personal relationships with their audience, often allowing them to create ongoing products or services such as music, videos, or writing.

To stay on top of the latest on new and emerging business and tech trends, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and check out my books ‘Future Skills: The 20 Skills And Competencies Everyone Needs To Succeed In A Digital World’ and ‘Business Trends in Practice, which won the 2022 Business Book of the Year award.

The US has a variety of programs and resources to support international entrepreneurs who want to establish their businesses in the country.

One of the most popular programs for international entrepreneurs in the US is the Startup Visa, which allows foreign entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in the US.

There are also several startup accelerators and incubators in the US that provide resources, mentorship, and funding to international entrepreneurs.

Other resources for international entrepreneurs in the US include business plan competitions, networking events, and online resources such as websites, blogs, and forums.

To get started, international entrepreneurs should research and identify the resources and programs that best meet their needs, and then connect with the relevant organizations and individuals.

Here are some helpful resources and links for international entrepreneurs in the US:

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website provides information on the Startup Visa program and other visa options for entrepreneurs.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) website has information on resources and programs for entrepreneurs, including financing options, mentoring, and training.

The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is a membership-based organization that provides support and resources to incubators, accelerators, and other organizations that support entrepreneurs.

The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) is an international organization that promotes entrepreneurship and connects entrepreneurs with resources and support. I am the Managing Director of GEN Bangladesh.

The Kauffman Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurship and education, and provides resources and funding to entrepreneurs.

International entrepreneurs should also consider connecting with local chambers of commerce, industry associations, and business organizations in their area for additional support and resources.

The Startup Visa program in the United States allows foreign entrepreneurs to enter the country to start or develop their businesses. This program is designed to encourage innovation and economic growth by attracting talented entrepreneurs from around the world. Here are some details and resources related to the Startup Visa program:

1. Eligibility requirements: To be eligible for the Startup Visa program, foreign entrepreneurs must have a significant ownership stake in a U.S.-based startup, which must be less than five years old and have the potential for rapid growth and job creation.
2. Application process: The application process for the Startup Visa program involves several steps, including submitting a business plan, providing evidence of funding, and demonstrating that the startup will create jobs for U.S. workers.
3. Resources: There are several resources available to international entrepreneurs who are interested in the Startup Visa program, including:
    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS provides detailed information on the Startup Visa program, including eligibility requirements and application procedures.
    • Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers a range of services and resources for entrepreneurs, including guidance on starting a business and access to financing.
    • International Business Association (IBA): The IBA is a nonprofit organization that provides support and networking opportunities for international entrepreneurs in the U.S.
    • National Venture Capital Association (NVCA): The NVCA is a trade association that represents venture capital firms and provides resources for startups, including funding and mentorship.
    • AngelList: AngelList is an online platform that connects startups with investors and provides resources for entrepreneurs, including job postings and legal services.

Overall, the Startup Visa program offers a valuable opportunity for international entrepreneurs to start or expand their businesses in the United States. By leveraging the resources available and following the application procedures, entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success and contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy.

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