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Singapore-based accelerator Accelerating Asia announced it has selected 11 companies as part of the fourth cohort of its flagship 100-day program for pre-series A startups.

The selected startups are headquartered in Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and they offer solutions for industry verticals including property, online dating and, marketing and advertising.

Companies from the fourth cohort have raised over S$6 million (US$4.5 million) after coming into the program. Startups incubated at Accelerating Asia’s past cohorts have collectively raised S$30 million (US$22.4 million) to date.

Here are the startups in the fourth cohort:

  • Amar Lab partners with local and international diagnostic labs to provide end-to-end diagnostics test services including sample collection, testing, and delivery. It also offers Covid-19 tests for individuals and corporate clients.
  • Casa Mia is a co-living operator that offers private bedrooms in shared homes. The company currently operates in Singapore and is looking to expand its team across markets in the Asia-Pacific region this year.
  • DoctorKoi has developed a software that allows physicians to write prescriptions from a database of 27,000 medications. The healthtech company said that it has processed over 2.6 million digital prescriptions and works with over 1,300 doctors.
  • Drive Lah is a mobility company that gives users flexible and affordable access to nearby cars for personal or commercial use.
  • HandyMama is a Bangladesh-based cleaning and handyman services platform that connects customers with verified service providers through its mobile and web apps as well as a call center. It aims to serve 1 million households by 2025.
  • Independents is an AI-powered marketplace that matches individual or team talent to requirements of marketing projects. The company’s clients include brands such as DBS and Mullen Lowe.
  • KopiDate is a social platform that curates conversation-centered dating experiences for millennials.
  • Mobiliti provides bionic lower-limb prosthetics at affordable prices. The company said it served over 1,000 patients and has also established a partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • Swap allows users to sell or exchange their old phone, laptop, car, motorcycle, or furniture in 24 hours. The cross-category platform has established buyback partnerships with Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, Apple, and Suzuki.
  • is a fleet telematics system integrator that provides data collection from fleet, driver, and the asset for transport operations.
  • Waitrr offers a QR ordering and payments platform for restaurants, cafes, hotels, and bars, without the need to download an app. The hospitality tech firm’s partners include brands like Paul, Da Paolo Gastronomia, and Changi Airport Group.

Currency converted from Singapore dollar to US dollar: US$1 = 1.34 dollars.


A New Model to Spark Innovation Inside Big Companies by Nitin Nohria and Hemant Taneja

It’s always been challenging to launch new ventures inside an existing business. One way internal startups can overcome some of the disadvantages they face is by seeking out external funding from venture capital firms — a model we call a venture buyout, or VBO.

Impressed by the breakneck growth of digitally-native companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, and Alibaba, established companies are spending enormous energy and money on digital transformation efforts. Many of these projects are led by scrappy “intrapreneurs” who launch a new digital venture inside an existing firm. They have the vision and persuasive powers to convince their company to provide early funding — driven, in part, by the desire of the company’s leadership to pursue a compelling digital initiative.

But the “intrapreneur” model presents obstacles, many of them unacknowledged or underappreciated. Unlike an external start-up whose plan and prowess are being evaluated by experienced venture capitalists — and compared against hundreds of competing investment opportunities — internal ventures do not have to meet a stringent market test. If the internal venture achieves initial funding, it may yet face a constant uphill battle to secure additional resources (including capital and talent), competing against other units that may have better short-term upside and more internal legitimacy. Existing business units may chafe at the notion of their hard-won cash flows being allocated to fanciful ventures with uncertain prospects. And even if the new venture begins making real money, it may not get much respect within a large company. Consider this: an internal start-up that reaches $100 million in annual revenue (a remarkable feat for a start-up that can earn it a stratospheric valuation) will have delivered just one percent in incremental growth for a $10 billion company.

Intrapreneurs and the companies that back them would benefit if there were a different funding mechanism available to support their efforts — what we have termed a venture buyout, or VBO.  The VBO structure allows existing companies to tap into the powerful company-building ecosystem of the VC world — and give these companies the same access to the innovation at scale and financial returns that have fueled the rapid ascent of their disruptive competitors.

The VBO idea emerged from a joint field trip to India we took a few years ago when we met with several accelerating start-ups, as well as several large businesses that were trying to launch their own internal digital ventures. The contrast between their cultures, growth orientation, leadership focus, and rates of progress was stark. Since then, the venture capital firm General Catalyst, where one of us (Hemant) is the managing partner, decided to launch this new VBO structure, and is currently partnering with a handful of established companies to spin-out and rapidly scale digital ventures they have hatched internally.

Conceptually, VBOs have parallels with the leveraged buyouts (or LBOs) that rose to prominence in the 1980s. As dramatized in the 1987 film Wall Street, LBOs used newly-available, high-yield bonds to allow financiers to buy all the outstanding equity of a publicly-traded company. Many of the early LBOs were “hostile” deals, in which a would-be buyer (often disparaged as a “corporate raider”) launched the acquisition bid without the consent of existing management. LBOs were celebrated for their ability to increase efficiencies, cash flows, and earnings inside companies that had become bloated and bureaucratic. LBOs then fell from favor, after several high-profile bankruptcy filings (including that of Drexel Burnham Lambert, the firm which, ironically, helped spawn the movement). But the general concept of using leverage to take companies private, remains sound — and became the basis for the private equity industry structure that has since become a vital part of the global economy.

At its core, a VBO involves an established company partnering with a venture capital firm to spin out an internal venture. A VBO brings high-risk growth capital to drive accelerated revenue growth and superior unit economics, much as an LBO deploys high-yield levered capital to drive increased cash flows and earnings. It also enables a growth-centric transformation versus an LBO’s profit-centric transformation, and it benefits from the expertise and experience of venture capital firms to make stage-gated investments based on growth milestones, much as LBOs bring the fiscal and capital allocation discipline of private equity firms. VBOs can identify and provide the right incentives to attract the entrepreneurial talent needed to grow the new venture, much as LBOs get seasoned management talent to help their companies identify and capture operating efficiencies and incremental revenue growth. VBOs create a strong incentive, pathway, and time-frame for the venture to go public or to be acquired, just as LBOs do. And importantly, unlike the unwelcome “corporate raiders” of the LBO era, we believe the VBO will usher in a new era of partnership with “venture builders.”

Another less obvious advantage of the VBO structure is the broader market perspective it affords. Internal ventures often tackle problems and opportunities seen from their own firm’s vantage point, trapping themselves within an inside-out framing of the market opportunity versus outside-in. Because the start-up was built to solve its parent company’s problem, its solution may not fit or scale to external customers. In contrast, with help from its VC advisors, a VBO may build out a more extensible technology — and because its external funding creates a more independent identity, a VBO might help attract new customers who may otherwise have been wary buyers.

Another issue: when an internal start-up succeeds, it’s often absorbed back into the mainline business. Though celebrated as a victory, this is often the death knell for the new venture. Established leaders who lack the vision, energy, or skill to continue to grow the venture supplant the mavericks driving it, sapping the venture’s energy and vitality.

Although a VBO is conceptually straightforward, companies that hope to create one will need to navigate through some practical obstacles. Valuing a business while negotiating its funding may be difficult, as a traditional company may overvalue what it has built while simultaneously underestimating a VC firm’s value-add. Incumbent leadership may believe that it’s best-suited to continue to grow the business after the VBO; in practice, VC firms consider the right to replace existing managers a threshold issue to making an investment, which might make incumbent leadership wary of the very idea of a VBO. And what if a VBO fails? VCs, accustomed to betting on a portfolio of highly-risky investments, are comfortable with the prospect of any one failing. The parent company of a VBO may have a lower risk tolerance.

Although these challenges are real, the rewards outweigh the risks.

Why is this the right time for VCs and large-company executives to bet on VBOs? Part of the answer lies in the pace and disruptiveness of digital transformation. Large companies need to innovate now, and the traditional methods they use to create new ventures tend to be fraught with difficulty. In contrast, VC-funded new ventures not only work quickly — they also think more imaginatively about new kinds of business models, new customer experiences, new ecosystems, and new ways of leveraging data through artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Are the seeds of the next Stripe already sitting within JP Morgan Chase or American Express? Is the next Airbnb being hatched somewhere deep inside Marriott or Hilton? Is the next Lemonade lurking somewhere within Allstate or Geico? If so, this new kind of financial structure could give legacy companies a new tool and mechanism to nurture innovation without stifling it, absorbing it, or abandoning it, prematurely — one that allows them to tap into the unique VC skill set to help grow and sustain enduring, innovative companies.

In the 1980s, one of us (Nitin) wrote a doctoral thesis at MIT that examined why Eastman Kodak had such a difficult time enabling intrapreneurs to succeed, despite having very promising internal start-ups. Even then, years before Clayton Christensen began writing about disruptive innovation, it was clear that established companies tend to cast a shadow that stifles innovation, the same way shade from established plants can limit the growth of seedlings underneath. One popular solution to this problem has been to advise intrapreneurs to create “skunkworks” located within, yet physically apart from, the established organization — but despite the appeal of this concept, it has shown limited success. We hope VBOs come to be seen as a different approach to the same problem. Perhaps, the type of funding and governance, which only a different kind of owner/partner such as a VC firm can provide, is more important than all the other protections a company can try to give a new venture.

Just as LBOs came of age in the 1980s, VBOs present a similar opportunity to drive innovation that lasts. If VC firms can bring their access to growth capital and their scaling playbook to start-ups that come to life inside established companies, they can help these legacy organizations unlock the full potential of their digital ventures. To be sure, this can produce a win-win opportunity for everyone involved.


Entrepreneurial passion is often viewed as both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, it is beneficial, even vital, for an entrepreneur to be able to fearlessly champion his or her cause, converting skeptics into believers and passive observers into impassioned proponents. On the other hand, it is less clear that the ability to champion an idea brings with it the steadiness of hand and mind needed to successfully launch a new venture.

New research appearing in the journal Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice attempts to reconcile these competing views. Specifically, a team of researchers led by Sylvia Hubner of the National University of Singapore designed a series of experiments to test the idea that entrepreneurial passion is predictive of organizational success.

They found that it was. The researchers write, “We conceptualize entrepreneurial passion as an intense positive emotional experience felt by individuals engaging in entrepreneurial activities. [...] Building on emotional contagion theory, we explain the contagion mechanism that determines how entrepreneurs’ entrepreneurial passion stimulates an entrepreneurial passion response in employees, which in turn affects employee outcomes such as their commitment and work performance.”

To arrive at this conclusion, Hubner and her team contacted 800 German firms. They asked founders and employees of these firms if they would be willing to take a short survey. Of the 800 companies contacted, 163 employees and 73 entrepreneurs completed the survey.

In the survey, the researchers asked company founders to rate their entrepreneurial passion by indicating their level of agreement with statements such as, “Owning my own company energizes me.” They also asked employees to rate the passion they felt for being involved in a new company. For example, employees indicated their agreement with statements such as, “Participating in the process of building a new venture excites me.” The researchers also measured employees’ emotional commitment to the company.

They found that employees working for entrepreneurs who expressed a high degree of entrepreneurial passion were more likely to express passion themselves. This, they suggest, supports the notion that entrepreneurial passion can serve as a social contagion. Furthermore, employees reported a deeper level of commitment to companies led by highly passionate founders.

Next, the researchers attempted to understand the factors that contributed to employees’ judgments of entrepreneurial passion. They designed an experiment in which participants were asked to imagine they were an employee of a given firm. They were shown a short video of the firm’s founder and were asked to rate the founder on a number of attributes, including entrepreneurial passion. The researchers altered the video in two important ways. First, some participants were shown a video in which in which the founder expressed a high degree of passion (for instance, using statements such as “It's great fun,” “It’s what drives us every day,” and “I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world”). Another version of the video showed a more subdued founder revealing aspects of his identity, but without the impassioned rallying cry expressed in the first video (for example, using language such as “It’s part of who I am” and “I'll continue doing this for the rest of my life”).

Interestingly, Hubner and her team found that both passion and identity displays influenced employee perceptions of entrepreneurs’ passion. They write, “The contagion of entrepreneurial passion is not only possible when entrepreneurs show their strong positive emotions toward entrepreneurial activities but also when they display their entrepreneurial identity. This is a welcome finding for entrepreneurs who feel uncomfortable when showing emotions, for example, because they are shy or introverted.”


I took the unconventional route after graduating from university. I have always had an interest in travel but when I graduated in Hospitality and Tourism Management, the industry wasn’t offering any careers that resonated with what I wanted.  I packed a bag and set off to explore the world.

I needed to learn more about myself and what I wanted out of life and career. I fell in love with traveling and spent over a decade going to over 80 countries. 

Not only was traveling transforming myself and my life but I was meeting other travelers and hearing the impact that travel was making on their lives.  I was experiencing all that the travel industry entailed from the rise in travel technology, the surge in digital nomads, the shifts in company culture, to realizing the voids and problems that existed within the industry.  Alongside noticing the existing voids, I also loved helping others achieve their travel dreams.
I decided to turn my passion for travel and all that I learned and wanted from the industry into a business.  I used everything that was authentic to myself and my journey throughout the world to pave a new path within the travel and coaching industries as a travel coach.  I did not follow the path or mimic the business models of others. I didn’t do what others were doing because it didn’t fit what I wanted in a career. I created a career that rang true to the problems that I noticed and the solutions that I and other travelers wanted.

Leading with passion
Building a business that stemmed from my passion has helped me in many ways.  Despite paving a path in a new niche, leading with my passion has enabled me to establish my vision, mission, messaging, content, mindset, and energy which has attracted clients and partners that best relate to me.  Passion allows me to confidently explain what I do and why it is needed and it helps me in the times when I am feeling the most stuck. 

Life as an entrepreneur, especially in the first couple of years, is extremely difficult.  There are high highs and low lows. There are times when you will question why you are taking this route and if it’s ever going to become what you want it to. That’s where passion comes into play.  You can always tune into your passion to help you with your branding, storytelling, copywriting, and everything else that represents you and your business. Passion is what draws the right people to want to learn from or work with you. It is what makes you likeable, relatable, and interesting.

Growing a business that's true to you
There are a myriad of ways to start a business both on and offline in this day and age. From drop-shipping, using social media platforms to generate income and grow a brand, having an online coaching business, selling online courses or physical products, joining a multi-level marketing company, or creating apps or software platforms, the options are limitless. 

The problem for many people who choose to start a business because it seems like an easy and more convenient way to make money; or because everyone else is doing it; or because the income potential can be lucrative; is that without innate passion their business lacks longevity, clarity, and perseverance.

Without passion for why you do what you do, it’s easier to give up when times get difficult, which will happen.  Without passion, you’re more likely to struggle when it comes to clarifying your messaging, vision, and brand. Without passion, it’s difficult to attract your ideal consumers and network with the right people.  Passion is key when building and growing a business that is true to you.

10 reasons why passion is key to thriving as an entrepreneur
Here are 10 reasons why passion is key to thriving as an entrepreneur:

  • Passion inspires the vision for your business even if it’s in a niche that no one has done before.
    Passion attracts the right consumers to your business.
    Passion helps you build an authentic brand and brand story.
    Passion helps bring you clarity in times when you feel stuck or uncertain.
    Passion helps you set a solid foundation for your business and establish core values.
    Passion gives you the motivation and confidence that you need to deliver your mission and purpose for what you do and why you do it.
    Passion helps you network with the right people who share similar perspectives.
    Passion helps you own your space and become an expert in what you do.
    Passion helps you create authentic content that resonates with the right audience.
    Passion sets you apart from competitors.
Don’t overlook building a business that stems from your passion. Do the inner work that is necessary and figure out your real purpose for your entrepreneur journey and the business that you want to be successful.  Hone into your experiences, your struggles, your moments of realization, the voids and problems that inspired the solution that you provide, who you want to help most, and where your passion comes from. 

Remember, a successful entrepreneur is a passionate entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship Development / The Importance of Passion in Business
« on: July 04, 2021, 10:19:46 AM »
Individuals who have worked for the same company for many years tend to get in a rut. You wake up, take a shower, dress, send the kids to school, and head off to work. The same routine happens every single day and you begin to lose passion for what you do. If you are someone who switches onto auto pilot, you are doing yourself a disservice. Lack of passion and motivation can have a severe impact on your work. However, there are ways you can overcome them

Why Passion is so important

Passion is essential when it comes creating a successful workplace. There are innovative ways that you can create a passionate environment.

Create an exciting new project. There are many aspects to a business that can be boring, mundane, and simply uninspiring. When you are not able to get out of doing those mundane tasks, create a side project that involves multiple co-workers. This will help inspire others and turn a mundane task into something exciting.

Connect with your coworkers. The old 9-5 can get anybody down. Connect with our coworkers and take them out after work. Pick a day out of the week where you meet somewhere and chat over dinner. This will help motivate them to perform better at work.

Remind others of why there is still passion in business. Oprah Winfrey once said that, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Passion is contagious. Remembering why you hold this passion for what you do will help you be passionate in everything that you do.
Ways to Keep the Passion at Work

Ref: Angel Investors Network

For many venture capitalists, the due diligence process is an unglamorous and mundane “check the box” inevitability of their job. It is mired in grunt work and lacks the excitement and thrill of other parts of the gig. Conducting due diligence on early-stage companies can be particularly challenging as these companies typically have less tangible evidence to demonstrate their worth. Fortunately, the startup due diligence process need not be daunting. By following a few simple survival tips, you can ensure that you’re investing in reputable businesses that are positioned to thrive.

1. Conduct a holistic analysis
Startup due diligence must be comprehensive. To avoid overlooking any critical details, venture capitalists must evaluate potential startups from multiple vantage points. According to the Angel Investment Network, there are six principal elements that should be evaluated as part of a comprehensive and effective due diligence process:

Team and Management: Involves evaluating the current ownership of the business, the funding strategy, the share price, the valuation, and the potential exit value and strategy.
The Business: Involves evaluating the potential of the business idea, business model, and underlying assumptions.
The Market: Involves evaluating sales volume, pricing, and market assumptions.
The Technology/Product: Involves evaluating the promise of the technology and product that the business runs on.
Finance and Tax: Involves evaluating cash flow, financial projections, and profitability assumptions.
Legal: Involves evaluating incorporation documents, arrangements with directors, assets, intellectual properties, compliance with laws and regulations, debt securities, contracts, trading arrangements.

2. Prioritize conversations with customers
Oftentimes, the most telling indication of a promising startup is customer traction. Sonja Perkins, the founder of Broadway Angels, an all-women angel/VC group, explains, “The number-one indication of the company being successful or not is its customers. That’s where I start with due diligence”.

Talking with customers is a telling and informative way to conduct due diligence. As part of her tried-and-true due diligence process, Perkins interviews several existing and prospective customers and asks three questions:

What is your problem?
How are you solving this problem today?
How would this new solution solve this problem for you?
If customers are “dying to have the solution”, Perkins is confident she’s stumbled on a promising opportunity worth investing in.

3. Recruit experts
It’s easy to become sidetracked by a hot trend and swayed by a cogent sales pitch. It’s alright not to be 100% versed in a specific technology or industry. But if you’re not an expert in the field, you need to recruit experts who you can trust to help you evaluate the prospects of the business. These experts should be able to evaluate the product and, if applicable, the intricacies of the technology. They should be able to assess whether there are any red flags in terms of how the product has been built or manufactured. And they should be able to gauge how the product compares to current offerings on the market and whether it has the potential to disrupt the market and offer a significant improvement.

4. Evaluate trustworthiness
The most successful entrepreneurs and business prioritize trust and honesty above all else. We’ve seen the startup darlings of yesterday cripple amidst revelations that the founders haven’t been trustworthy. Companies such as Facebook and Theranos have recently been mired in controversy due to their lack of trust.

When conducting due diligence, it’s critical to perform an interpersonal analysis of the co-founders to determine whether they are trustworthy. Have they been 100% honest about everything they’ve said? Are they reliable? Are they open about challenges and obstacles? Do they tend to meet their targets? Talk to customers, former employees, and partners. Are there any red flags? Jennifer Carolan, a partner at Reach Capital, explains, “As an institutional investor, I expect to be working closely with the founding team for years. It’s critical that we can trust one another and that the founder can be open about the problems so we can tackle them together.”

5. Research past employees
Resources like Glassdoor can be goldmines for venture capital due diligence. These platforms always tend to attract the forever grumpy individuals, so don't be surprised at a negative review or two. But if you are looking to invest in a company and there seems to be a lack of trust in leadership, then reading these reviews could save you.

The best CEOs are aware of any negative comments or reviews and usually have thoughtful answers to the situation. The founders to be weary of are the ones that become hyperdefensive and refuse to take any responsibility.  Founders don't have to be right all the time and mistakes will happen. In the end, it is about how they react to them.

6. Aim for at least 20 hours of due diligence
Too many investors try to race through the due diligence process, only doing the bare minimum. Relying on shortcuts such as word-of-mouth, superficial metrics, error-prone projections, and biased testimonials can be a recipe for disaster. According to research by UKBAA, investors who devote at least 20 hours to the due diligence process see a positive impact on the likelihood of a multiple investment return.

7. Be on the lookout for reverse due diligence
A sign of an astute entrepreneur is whether or not they do their own reverse due diligence on you. You know they’re sharp when they vet you and put you through the wringer. They should be looking for red flags too. They should be contacting your current and former portfolio companies. They should be asking you tough questions about failed investments. They should be more interested in what value-added resources you bring to the table than how much cash you can offer.

It’s tempting to speed through the due diligence process. But it pays to cross all of your “t’s” and dot all of your “i’s”. By doing your homework early, casting a wide net, and following the advice described here, you’ll set yourself up for success.


When I was considering opening a venture capital firm, one of my friends in the industry told me something very important. He said that he started a venture capital firm because he was already financially prosperous and had never heard of anyone who became very successful because they started a venture capital firm. This idea is supported by a statement from a well-known startup investor in a 2017 TechCrunch analysis on venture capital firms: He estimated that 95% are not profitable. Therefore, as I started my journey and designed my firm’s business model, I focused on how I could build a sustainable — and most importantly, profitable — business.

First, as I was based in Silicon Valley, I quickly realized that the top deals were largely limited to a few of the established firms in Menlo Park. This inner circle of Silicon Valley is well documented in a popular 2019 book, Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It. Remembering what my friend told me and what else I had learned from others in the valley, I quickly realized that there is a good chance that it would be extremely difficult to build a profitable business if I just focused on Silicon Valley. Thus, I needed to come up with alternative strategies.


I started by listening to the needs of investors, also called limited partners (LPs), in the marketplace and quickly identified how many multinational corporations were interested in venture capital but did not have the expertise to successfully execute on this need. Therefore, we created custom single-LP funds where we could have a strong relationship with the corporation investing in our funds and focus on finding top startups in their strategic interest areas. Focusing on this strategy not only enabled us to continuously scale new funds every year over the past decade but also helped us build a large network of technical expertise across our 35-plus corporations. This model of venture-fund management is known as the “VC-as-a-Service” model or the CVC 4.0 model in the VC industry today.

I’ve learned what practices make the VC-as-a-Service model successful. One is to identify like-minded corporate partners and learn their businesses well. This will help you understand which startup technologies will make the corporation more innovative and successful. It is also important to hire an experienced team with strong venture capital knowledge since the corporation is outsourcing this expertise to you. Finally, get to know the startups that you are investigating well so that you can select those with the teams, business models and technologies to maximize business and financial return to your corporate partners.

Another strategy we also took early on was to look for top investment opportunities abroad. Given our large network, we started by looking at the Japanese market and quickly learned that there were many great late-stage opportunities there. We received many opportunities to participate in top deals.

Next, I also looked for another source of diversification and opportunity. Throughout my career, I theorized that countries with large populations and stable governments would provide a lot of good investment opportunities. One country, in particular, that had been staying relatively under the radar but with a large population, Indonesia, looked to be having an early-stage startup market boom. It seemed that the time was right for me to take action. I have been able to exit many of these early-stage Indonesian startups via mergers and acquisitions (M&As) or secondary sales as they matured.

It is important to understand that investing internationally comes with unique challenges and considerations. Corporate partners in international markets might have different levels of risk tolerance and expectations when it comes to financial return; be sure to discuss these preferences upfront. Also, remember that intellectual property may not be as protected in some foreign countries as it is in the U.S. This may lead to more competition for the startup and put the corporate partner’s investment at risk. The geopolitical environment and the country’s stability are other important factors to consider before investing abroad. Do not be afraid to invest internationally, but do so with your eyes open.

Investing In Startups From Well-Known Accelerators

Further, we focused on investing in the top early-stage startups in Silicon Valley from well-known accelerators. This approach has led to many successful outcomes for us.

Startup incubators and accelerators play an important role in nurturing entrepreneurs. Startups can launch their companies and perfect their business model with the help of an incubator. Once a startup has a competitive product or service, accelerators are beneficial for helping the company grow quickly with expert advice and access to resources. I recommend that investors capitalize on incubators and accelerators by understanding their track record of success and what types of startups they typically attract. By visiting their facilities and attending their events, you can gain firsthand knowledge and get to know the startups in residence there. Ultimately, you will be able to build partnerships with the incubators and accelerators that best match your needs and those of your corporate partners.

Diversifying my business model and exploring new geographies were some of the best decisions I made when I was starting my venture capital firm, and they have allowed me to enjoy more than 40 exits so far. These decisions have also helped us become profitable and achieve a high internal rate of return (IRR). We were also able to do quite well and continue to raise new corporate and financial return-focused funds despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which stopped the majority of our international travel. I recommend that firms look for ways they can serve the needs in the marketplace and diversify to balance their risks. I believe that venture capital can in fact scale and achieve profitable growth.

The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.


Venture capital is a term that’s frequently thrown around when the discussion turns to getting startups off the ground. While most know that it’s a source of funding, fewer people are familiar with exactly how venture capital financing works.

Venture capital is a form of funding that pools together cash from investors and lends it to emerging companies and startups that the funds believe have the potential for long-term growth. Venture capital investments typically involve high risk in exchange for potentially high reward.

Because every company is different, the various stages can vary somewhat from financing to financing. Generally speaking, though, there are five typical stages of any venture capital financing.

The Seed Stage
Venture capital financing starts with the seed-stage when the company is often little more than an idea for a product or service that has the potential to develop into a successful business down the road. Entrepreneurs spend most of this stage convincing investors that their ideas represent a viable investment opportunity. Funding amounts in the seed stage are generally small, and are largely used for things like marketing research, product development, and business expansion, with the goal of creating a prototype to attract additional investors in later funding rounds.

The Startup Stage
In the startup stage, companies have typically completed research and development and devised a business plan, and are now ready to begin advertising and marketing their product or service to potential customers. Typically, the company has a prototype to show investors, but has not yet sold any products. At this stage, businesses need a larger infusion of cash to fine tune their products and services, expand their personnel, and conducting any remaining research necessary to support an official business launch.

The First Stage
Sometimes also called the “emerging stage,” first stage financing typically coincides with the company’s market launch, when the company is finally about to start seeing a profit. Funds from this phase of a venture capital financing typically go to actual product manufacturing and sales, as well as increased marketing. To achieve an official launch, businesses usually need a much bigger capital investment, so the funding amounts in this stage tend to be much higher than in previous stages.

The Expansion Stage
Also commonly referred to as the second or third stages, the expansion stage is when the company is seeing exponential growth and needs additional funding to keep up with the demands. Because the business likely already has a commercially viable product and is starting to see some profitability, venture capital funding in the emerging stage is largely used to grow the business even further through market expansion and product diversification.

The Bridge Stage
The final stage of venture capital financing, the bridge stage is when companies have reached maturity. Funding obtained here is typically used to support activities like mergers, acquisitions, or IPOs. The bridge state is essentially a transition to the company being a full-fledged, viable business. At this time, many investors choose to sell their shares and end their relationship with the company, often receiving a significant return on their investments.

An experienced business attorney can guide you through the different stages of venture capital financing and advise you on the best ways to secure funding for your company in its current stage.


The quantity of platform start-ups is rising consistently. Nonetheless, it has been discovered that a large number of the new businesses crash and burn toward the starting stages and the greater part of them fall flat in under five years. The reasons for such failure are still to be uncovered in a systematic way. While there are adequate investigations that have independently propounded different reasons, this study aims to examine these reasons together by proposing a theoretical structure that will recognize the elements impacting the failure of platform start-ups. Methodology: An extensive systematic literature review was led to uncover and examine the different elements answerable for the failure of such platforms. A sum of 113 scholarly and non-scholastic sources were inspected and broke down to distinguish the basic elements. Findings/Contribution: For platform failure, three classes have been revealed including organizational, business model innovation, and environmental. In addition, 29 basic elements have been identified and classified into six categories while concentrating on similar ramifications. Utilizing the recognized components, the authors have proposed a map. This map uncovers that different elements are liable for platform failure. Media platform start-ups can be profited to a great extent from this study.

Find Full Research:

This study provides evidence on how venture capital (VC) investment affects startup firms’ sustainable growth and performance. Despite the rich and abundant research on the relationship between VC investment and startup performance, there is no clear evidence about the contribution of VC investment on the performance and market value of invested firms. In order to accurately measure the impact of VC investment, this study explored how VC investment at each stage of growth affects a startup’s sustainable growth and performance. Based on signaling theory and information asymmetry, this study proposed a positive link between initial-stage VC investment and a startup’s growth and performance. Using a sample of 363 firms listed from 2000 to 2007, this study demonstrated that startups are sustained and perform better as they receive their VC investment at the initial stage. The level of potential absorptive capacity positively moderated this association, unlike realized absorptive capacity, which did not show significant moderating effects.

Find more:'_Sustainable_Growth_and_Performance_Focusing_on_Absorptive_Capacity_and_Venture_Capitalists'_Reputation

Investment / UCB to form Tk 700cr funds
« on: July 03, 2021, 10:47:47 AM »
United Commercial Bank (UCB) has decided to form two funds totaling Tk 700 crore to cater to a growing demand for finance among promising local startups and e-commerce companies.

The UCB will invest Tk 100 crore to set up a Tk 350 crore "UCB Venture Capital Fund-One" following approval from Bangladesh Bank and the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission, reads a Dhaka Stock Exchange website post yesterday.

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A little venture capital fund is available in the country, despite which there has been a proliferation of startups over the past couple of years thanks to increased entrepreneurial enthusiasm among youths.

Bangladesh currently has more than 1,200 active startups with over 200 new companies being born each year, according to a study by business consultancy firm LightCastle Partners.

Besides, prospective startups brought in more than $308 million from international venture capital funds in the last decade.

But still, funding for startups in Bangladesh as a percentage of the country's GDP is significantly low, said LightCastle in a paper released last September.

"We want to quench the thirst for equity for innovative startups. We see many startups have innovative ideas but they are struggling for funding," said ATM Tahmiduzzaman, deputy managing director of the UCB.

"We think there is a vacuum in this regard and financing from large institutions like the UCB will likely have a huge impact in accelerating the growth of startups and IT firms," he added.

The deputy managing director went on to say that there were over 2,000 e-commerce entities active in the country.

The UCB's board also decided to form a Tk 350 crore private equity fund called "UCB Private Equity Fund-One". The private bank plans to invest Tk 100 crore as a sponsor after getting the required approval.

"This alternative investment scheme is a virgin field too," said Tahmiduzzaman.

"So, we should invest here to bring maximum growth for both investors and entrepreneurs and finally contribute to the national economy," he added.

The board also decided to establish UCB Alternative Investments to ensure the smooth and successful management of alternative investment funds such as venture capital, private equity, and impact funds.   


বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক দুটি স্টার্টআপ ফান্ড তৈরির জন্য আর্থিক প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলোকে নির্দেশনা দিয়ে গত ২৯ মার্চ ও ২৬ এপ্রিল পরিপত্র জারি করেছে। এ উদ্দেশ্যে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক ৫০০ কোটি টাকার পুনঃঅর্থায়ন তহবিল গঠন করেছে। এছাড়া ব্যাংকগুলোকে নির্দেশনা দিয়েছে তাদের বার্ষিক নিট মুনাফার ১ শতাংশ দিয়ে স্টার্টআপ তহবিল গঠন করতে। এ উদ্যোগের উদ্দেশ্য হিসেবে পরিপত্রে বলা হয়েছে, ‘সহজলভ্য ব্যাংকঋণ/বিনিয়োগ প্রদানের মাধ্যমে নতুন উদ্যোক্তা তৈরি এবং স্বকর্মসংস্থান আবশ্যক বিবেচনায় দুটি স্টার্ট ফান্ড গঠনের সিদ্ধান্ত গ্রহণ করেছে।’

এ নির্দেশনা অনুসরণ করার পর ৬১টি ব্যাংকে শতাধিক (কিছু ব্যাংক নিট লসে আছে, তারা চাইলে হয়তো একটি ফান্ড করতে পারবে) স্টার্টআপ ফান্ড তৈরি হবে, আশা করা যায়। খুবই ভালো উদ্যোগ। কিন্তু যে পথ বা পদ্ধতি বেছে নেয়া হয়েছে, তাতে কি গন্তব্যে পৌঁছা যাবে? ব্যাপারটা খোলাসা করার জন্য একটা কৌতুক বলি।

এক লোক রাত্রে রাস্তার ধারে কী যেন খুঁজছিল। পাশে ফুটপাতে আরেক লোক অনেকক্ষণ ধরে বাসের জন্য অপেক্ষা করছিল। তার কৌতূহল হলো প্রথম লোকটার ব্যাপারে। জানতে চাইল, কী খুঁজছেন আপনি? প্রথম লোকটা বলল, আমার গুরুত্বপূর্ণ একটা জিনিস পকেট থেকে পড়ে গেছে। এখন পাচ্ছি না।

কী জিনিস, বলা যাবে? তাহলে আমিও একটু খুঁজি। আপনাকে সাহায্য করতে পারি কিনা, দেখি!

আমার আইডি কার্ড।

দ্বিতীয় লোকটাও এসে খুঁজতে লাগল। অনেকক্ষণ খুজল। পেল না। একসময় দ্বিতীয় লোকটা বলল, জিনিসটা ঠিক কোন জায়গায় পড়েছে, একটু নির্দিষ্ট করে দেখান তো, তাহলে খুঁজতে সুবিধা হবে।

প্রথম লোকটা হাত দিয়ে যে জায়গা দেখাল, সেটা প্রায় ১৫-২০ হাত দূরে।

দ্বিতীয় লোক অবাক হয়ে বলল, আপনি হারিয়েছেন ওইখানে আর খুঁজছেন এইখানে। এভাবে খুঁজলে কি কোনো দিন আপনার হারানো জিনিস পাবেন?

প্রথম লোক যা বলল তা শুনে দ্বিতীয় লোক স্তব্ধ। প্রথম লোক বলল, এখানে ল্যাম্পপোস্টের নিচে আলো আছে, খুঁজতে পারছি। ওইখানে তো অন্ধকার। ওইখানে কীভাবে খুঁজব?

স্টার্টআপকে অর্থায়ন করাটা উদ্দেশ্য কিন্তু মাধ্যম হিসেবে বেছে নেয়া হয়েছে ব্যাংককে। স্টার্টআপের প্রয়োজন পুঁজি আর ব্যাংক চরিত্রগতভাবে ডেট বা ঋণদানকারী প্রতিষ্ঠান। দুটি দুই মেরুর। পুঁজি বিতরণের জন্য আলাদা প্রতিষ্ঠান আছে—ফান্ড ম্যানেজার বা তহবিল ব্যবস্থাপক। অল্টারনেটিভ ইনভেস্টমেন্ট রুল ২০১৫-এর অধীনে তারা নিবন্ধিত। তাদের নিয়ন্ত্রক সংস্থা বাংলাদেশ সিকিউরিটিজ অ্যান্ড এক্সচেঞ্জ কমিশন বা বিসেক। বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক তাদের নিয়ন্ত্রিত প্রতিষ্ঠান ব্যতিরেকেও কিন্তু অর্থায়ন করে থাকে, যেমন গৃহ নির্মাণ ঋণ, করোনা প্রণোদনার ঋণ এমএফআইদের মাধ্যমে বিতরণ করছে। এমএফআইরা মাইক্রো ক্রেডিট রেগুলেটরি অথরিটি বা এমআরএ দ্বারা নিয়ন্ত্রিত।

যদিও পরিপত্রে ঋণ সঙ্গে সঙ্গে ‘বিনিয়োগ’ শব্দ যুক্ত করা হয়েছে, কিন্তু গোটা পরিপত্রের যে ভাব বা স্পিরিট, তাতে ঋণের কথাই ফুটে ওঠে। কিছু অনুচ্ছেদ উদাহরণ হিসেবে ধরা যাক:

অনুচ্ছেদ ৬ অনুসারে, ‘গ্রাহক পর্যায়ে ঋণ/বিনিয়োগ পরিশোধের মেয়াদ: গ্রাহক পর্যায়ে ঋণের মেয়াদ হবে ৫ বছর। ব্যাংকার গ্রাহক সম্পর্ক ও স্টার্টআপ উদ্যোগের ধরন বিবেচনায় গ্রেস পিরিয়ড নির্ধারণ করা যাবে, তবে তা ১ বছরের বেশি হবে না। ঋণ/বিনিয়োগ পরিশোধের লক্ষ্যে ত্রৈমাসিক বা ষাণ্মাসিক ভিত্তিতে কিস্তি নির্ধারণ করা যাবে।’ এখানে সাব টাইটেলে ঋণ/বিনিয়োগ উল্লেখ থাকলেও বিষয়বস্তুতে শুধু ঋণ বলা হয়েছে।

বিনিয়োগ যদি পুঁজি হয়, তাহলে কিন্তু পরিশোধযোগ্য নয়। কারণ বিনিয়োগ করা হয় কোম্পানির শেয়ারের বিনিময়ে। কোম্পানি আইন ১৯৯৪ অনুসারে, কোম্পানি তার নিজের শেয়ার কিনতে পারে না। ব্যাংকের বিনিয়োগ পরিশোধ করতে হলে তো স্টার্টআপকে তার শেয়ার ব্যাংক থেকে কিনে নিতে হবে বা টাকা দিয়ে শেয়ার ফেরত নিতে হবে। দ্বিতীয়ত, স্টার্টআপকে তুলনা করা যায় শিশুর সঙ্গে, যার বৃদ্ধির জন্য প্রয়োজন আরো পুষ্টি তথা খাদ্য। সেক্ষেত্রে তার কাছ থেকে টাকা ফেরত নেয়া মানে ওই শিশুর দেহ থেকে রক্ত নেয়া। এমন পরিস্থিতিতে শিশুসম স্টার্টআপ কীভাবে বাঁচবে? সব দেখে মনে হয়, এ অনুচ্ছেদ ঋণের কথা মাথায় রেখেই লেখা হয়েছে। স্টার্টআপের টাকা ফেরত আসে তিনটি পদ্ধতিতে। উদ্যোক্তা (কোম্পানি নয়) নিজে, তার উদ্বৃত্ত টাকা থাকলে অথবা অন্য কোনো উৎস থেকে টাকা এনে বিনিয়োগকারীর শেয়ার কিনে নেন। স্টার্টআপ ভালো করলে আইপিওতে যেতে পারে অথবা অন্য কোনো কোম্পানি স্টার্টআপটি কিনে নিতে পারে। ভেঞ্চার ক্যাপিটালের ভাষায় এটিকে (বিনিয়োগকারীর টাকা ফেরত পাওয়া) বলে এক্সিট। সিলিকন ভ্যালির তথ্য অনুসারে, আইপিও এর চেয়ে মার্জার একুইজিশনের মাধ্যমে (২০১১ থেকে ২০২০ পর্যন্ত আইপিও ৭৭১টি ও মার্জার একুইজিশন ৯০২৩টি) এক্সিট বেশি হয়।

অনুচ্ছেদ ৮ অনুযায়ী ‘গ্রাহক পর্যায়ে ঋণ/বিনিয়োগের বার্ষিক সরল  সুদ/মুনাফার হার হবে  সর্বোচ্চ ৪ শতাংশ।’ এ অনুচ্ছেদে যদিও সুদ ও মুনাফা দুটো শব্দই উল্লেখ করা হয়েছে কিন্তু মুনাফা তো নির্দিষ্ট হারে হয় না। তদুপরি লোকসান হলে কী হবে, তার কোনো নির্দেশনা নেই। স্টার্টআপে ফেল বা ব্যর্থতার হার অনেক বেশি। হার্ভার্ড বিজনেস স্কুলের প্রফেসর শিখর ঘোষ ২০০৪ থেকে ২০১০ সালের ভিসি ফান্ড পাওয়া ২ হাজারটি স্টার্টআপের ওপর গবেষণা করে দেখেছেন, ফেইলিউরের হার ৭৫ শতাংশ। তার মধ্যে প্রায় ৩০ শতাংশ স্টার্টআপে বিনিয়োগকারীর টাকা সম্পূর্ণভাবে মারা গেছে। বাকি ৪৫ শতাংশ তাদের বিনিয়োগকারীর টাকা ফেরত দিতে পেরেছে, কেউ কেউ সামান্য কিছু লাভও দিয়েছে। যাদের সফল বলা হয়েছে, অর্থাৎ ২৫ শতাংশ স্টার্টআপ, তাদের ফরমাল এক্সিট হয়েছে, অর্থাৎ কেউ কিনে নিয়েছে বা আইপিও হয়েছে। এত লোকসানের পরও ফান্ড ম্যানেজাররা আশায় থাকেন (এবং সেজন্য প্রাণপণ খাটেন), একটি ইউনিকর্ন বা বিলিয়ন ডলার কোম্পানির, যা পোর্টফোলিওর অন্য সব ব্যর্থ স্টার্টআপের ক্ষতি পুষিয়ে দেবে। হয়তো ভালো লাভও বয়ে আনবে। অনেক ফান্ড ব্যবস্থাপক এ ইউনিকর্নের দেখা পায়। অনেকে পায় না। যে ফান্ড ব্যবস্থাপক যত ভালোভাবে তার পোর্টফোলিও ব্যবস্থাপনা করতে পারে, সে তত বিনিয়োগ আকর্ষণ করে। এটাই ফান্ড ব্যবস্থাপনার রুল অব দ্য গেম।

অনুচ্ছেদ ৯ অনুযায়ী ‘অনুমোদিত ঋণ এককালীন বিতরণ করা যাবে না। প্রকল্পের অগ্রগতি পর্যালোচনান্তে ঋণ বিনিয়োগের সদ্ব্যবহার নিশ্চিত হয়ে ন্যূনতম তিন কিস্তিতে বিতরণ করতে হবে।’ পুঁজি হিসেবে বিনিয়োগ করতে হলে শেয়ার কল অনুযায়ী টাকা প্রদান করতে হয়, প্রকল্পের অগ্রগতির সঙ্গে সংযুক্তির অবকাশ নেই। শেয়ারহোল্ডাররা রাজি হলে পুরো টাকা একসঙ্গেও দিতে হতে পারে।

অনুচ্ছেদ ১০ অনুসারে ঋণ/বিনিয়োগের ক্ষেত্রে ব্যক্তিগত গ্যারান্টি বা শিক্ষাগত যোগ্যতার সনদ বা কারিগরি প্রশিক্ষণের সনদকে জামানত হিসেবে বিবেচনা করা যাবে। ব্যাংক পুঁজি হিসেবে বিনিয়োগ করলে ওই স্টার্টআপের উদ্যোক্তাদের মতো ব্যাংকও একজন শেয়ারহোল্ডার বৈ কিছু নয়। সুতরাং ব্যাংক অন্যদের কাছ থেকে জামানত চাইতে পারে না। জামানত ঋণের ক্ষেত্রেই প্রযোজ্য, পুঁজির ক্ষেত্রে নয়। স্টার্টআপের ক্ষতি হলে ব্যাংক সেই ক্ষতি তার শেয়ারের আনুপাতিক হারে ভাগ করে নিতে হবে। অবশ্য লিমিটেড কোম্পানি হিসেবে ব্যাংকের দায় তার বিনিয়োজিত শেয়ারের টাকা পর্যন্ত। অর্থাৎ সর্বোচ্চ ক্ষতি, তার বিনিয়োজিত টাকা পুরোটাই জলে যেতে পারে।

অনুচ্ছেদ ১২ অনুযায়ী ঋণ/বিনিয়োগ প্রস্তাব ব্যাংকের নিজস্ব ঋণ নীতিমালা অনুযায়ী অনুমোদিত হবে। ব্যাংকদের ঋণ নীতিমালা আছে। পুঁজি বিনিয়োগ নীতিমালা কি আছে? ঋণ আর পুঁজি বিনিয়োগ নীতিমালা সম্পূর্ণ আলাদা। তাছাড়া শুধু নীতিমালা থাকলেই হবে না, পুঁজি বিনিয়োগের আলাদা দক্ষ লোকবল প্রয়োজন। আলাদা মাইন্ড সেট প্রয়োজন। ঋণের তুলনায় পুঁজি বিনিয়োগে অধিক ঝুঁকি নিতে হয়। স্টার্টআপের ক্ষেত্রে মনিটরিংয়ে অধিক সময় দিতে হয়। পর্ষদের সেই ইচ্ছা ও মনোবৃত্তি থাকতে হয়। স্টার্টআপ থেকে রিটার্ন অনেক দেরিতে আসে। সেই ধৈর্য পর্ষদের না থাকলে এটি একটি পণ্ডশ্রমে পরিণত হবে।

স্টার্টআপে বিনিয়োগের ক্ষেত্রে শুধু ঝুঁকি হ্রাসে মনোযোগ দিলে হয় না। কোনো সুযোগ যেন হাত ফসকে না যায়, তাও বিবেচনা করতে হয়। সেই হাত ফসকানো স্টার্টআপটি হয়তো বিলিয়ন ডলার কোম্পানিতে পরিণত হতে পারে। বিনিয়োগকারীদের তখন আফসোসে মাথা কুটতে হয়।

ঢাকা থেকে চট্টগ্রাম যেতে চাইলে পূর্ব দিকে যেতে হবে। পশ্চিম বা দক্ষিণে নয়। এই পুনঃঅর্থায়ন তহবিল ব্যাংকের মাধ্যমে প্রবাহিত হলে ঋণ হিসেবেই বিতরণ হবে। কারণ তাদের কাজ ঋণ দেয়া। আর ব্যাংক যদি পুঁজি হিসেবে বিনিয়োগ করতে যায়, সেক্ষেত্রে অপচয় হতে পারে। কারণ পুঁজি বিনিয়োগ ব্যাংকের দক্ষতার জায়গা নয়। মেডিসিনের চিকিৎসককে শল্য চিকিৎসা করতে বললে রোগী মারা যেতে পারে। সেক্ষেত্রে কে দায় নেবে?

ভারতে স্মল ইন্ডাস্ট্রিজ ডেভেলপমেন্ট ব্যাংক অব ইন্ডিয়া (সিডবি) ফান্ড অব ফান্ড পদ্ধতিতে বিভিন্ন এসএমই  ডেভেলপমেন্ট ফান্ডে বিনিয়োগ করছে। ২০১৬ সালে ভারত সরকার ১০ হাজার কোটি টাকার একটি ফান্ড অব ফান্ড গঠন করেছে, যা থেকে এ পর্যন্ত ১২০টি ফান্ডে ৫ হাজার ৪০০ কোটি টাকা বিনিয়োগ করা হয়েছে। বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংক ফান্ড অব ফান্ড হিসেবে কাজ করতে পারে। নিবন্ধিত অল্টারনেটিভ ইনভেস্টমেন্ট ফান্ড ম্যানেজারদের ফান্ডে বিনিয়োগ করতে পারে।

শওকত হোসেন: অর্থায়ন বিশেষজ্ঞ; ম্যানেজিং পার্টনার, ভেলোসিটি এশিয়া


Entrepreneurial Leadership / How to be a Zen entrepreneur?
« on: June 27, 2021, 11:02:05 AM »
Generally, when talking about entrepreneurship or business, the technical, the processes, the how to do, the business plan or business model are immediately addressed, also the part of the motivation that without real preparation in the field of entrepreneurship is usually dangerous By offering a biased view of what it is to undertake, the motivator “you can do it all!” Without real training or advice in business, it can lead you to make hasty decisions or unnecessary risks that often end with sleep prematurely. And when we immediately turn to that technical part, we forget the essential, the primordial, the balance of the entrepreneur himself.

The company is a reflection of who is in charge. A mind at peace will have a company at peace.

The entrepreneurship and business process requires balance while there are many interacting variables, each one as important as the others, and a bad decision can seriously affect the entire process, the name of our company, the target market, the location, the model. of business, the costs, the financing, the logo, the colors, the distribution and advertising channels, the legal, the accounting, the idea itself, and of course all this requires the entrepreneur's emotional balance.

Entrepreneurship is a process; a combination of times, people, things and situations that we must experience.

For this reason, it is important to get close to all the intellectual and emotional tools that we can use to be able to face this great challenge that is to start a company. In this sense, this book brings us closer to the teachings that ZEN has to be in inner harmony, a necessary state for the proper development and functioning of an entrepreneur or businessman.

First, we must clarify that ZEN is not a religion, that although it is true that it has its roots in Hindu Buddhism, we must know that Buddha is not a God, but a human being who proposed a way to find enlightenment, which is not it is something other than the natural state of mind, a state of calm and full clarity.

It is also worth mentioning that this ancient knowledge and practice has survived and has spread throughout the world given its great effectiveness in developing resilient capacities in people who practice it, in addition to various benefits on health and daily performance.

Understand that to live better you have to be better.

The practice of ZEN increases creativity, concentration and leadership skills, improves memory and emotional intelligence, reduces negative stress, depression, work exhaustion, anxiety and blood pressure, also strengthens the immune system, can reduce physical pain, eliminate insomnia and reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress when you have gone through severe stages of life. However, ZEN is not magic, it is not a miracle product packaged for easy consumption and it is not a way to avoid problems, all of the above has been studied and proven in various scientific studies.

Practicing ZEN will not make you a monk or you will not have to shave your head, wear robes, put yourself in awkward positions or leave society to seclude yourself in a monastery in the mountains, ZEN is only training that will help you in your busy business life.

In the end, the balance arrives without looking for it, sometimes with an aroma, seeing something, a word or small writing and suddenly you realize that you are at peace, without anything disturbing you.


Currently there is a growing academic offer worldwide of programs oriented to entrepreneurship. There is even a ranking from The Princeton Review that evaluates the main universities to study entrepreneurship at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Curiously, these lists of 50 universities at each level are made up of only North American universities with the exception of Tecnológico de Monterrey, which ranks fifth in the undergraduate category in its 2021 edition.

Multiple scientific studies on entrepreneurship ecosystems have verified the interdependence of actors in them where universities, the government, and entrepreneurs, among others, are the most relevant to promote entrepreneurship activities. In this article I will focus on the specific actions of universities as triggers and drivers of entrepreneurial activity. It is worth mentioning that there is also a lot of research in progress on the development of entrepreneurship in university students and the largest is the Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students' Survey or GUESSS for its acronym. The OECD also conducted a study in Germany on how universities lead the way to entrepreneurship and the World Economic Forum published an article on how to build entrepreneurial universities, both taken into account.

According to the GUESSS 2018 global report , the university context plays a key role where entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial culture are determinants of the entrepreneurial intentions and activities of students. If you analyze the list of universities to study entrepreneurship from The Princeton Review and cross it with the ranking of global ecosystems published byStartup Genome , you will find that they coincide in most cities. It is no coincidence that the presence of highly educated universities coincides with the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As is the notorious case of Silicon Valley where there are more than ten universities, the most important are Stanford and UC Berkeley.

The government on its own also has a key role since it can create programs and public policies that regulate activities, either by encouraging productive sectors and / or improving the conditions to open companies, as well as having conditions of intellectual property rights to exploit opportunities. . However, I am convinced that universities have a much less politicized mission that favors the ecosystem and are already knowledge centers that are barely being recognized as catalysts for entrepreneurship.

An example is a country very far from the United States that has realized this potential, Qatar in the Middle East, the headquarters of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which since 1997 as part of the Qatar 2030 National Vision, initiated the development Education City , a 12-square-kilometer compendium of infrastructure that is home to eight international universities, research institutes, business incubators, technology and cultural parks, and more.

This year I am coordinating the deployment and implementation of the GUESSS project in Qatar for the first time from my trench at HEC Paris University in Qatar as a postdoctoral researcher of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. I have witnessed the joint effort of key players to promote a long-term strategic plan (Qatar National Vision 2030) that includes innovation, science and entrepreneurship as axes for the transformation of the economy and to move from being based on oil and gas, to be based on knowledge. I have written a book about this ecosystem of entrepreneurship and when comparing what is done in other parts of the world with my experience in studying ecosystems of emerging economies I came to the conclusion that there are three ways in which universities are contributing to the development of the ecosystem where they are established.

1. As a hotbed of talent
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are approximately 582 million entrepreneurs in the world, that's 7.7% of the world's population. This means that more than half of the world works or will work for some company or organization. However, most aspire to be an entrepreneur and therefore not all manage to do so. There may be various reasons such as fear of failure, lack of education, lack of capital, ignorance, etc.

Universities, for their part, are already a filter of people who have reached a higher educational level and who aspire to have better working conditions one day. Universities are increasingly competitive among others and seek international accreditations such as QS Ranking, Financial Times, EQUIS , AACSB , EMBA , etc. It depends on the field of study, but something that is common in the rankings is that they are asked to monitor the labor insertion of former students, that is, to know what they work in after graduating, if there were salary increases, if it took them a long time find work, and now also, if they are partners in a business.

This reflects that the university has a critical role not only to prepare the workforce of existing organizations, but also to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is known to be recognized as the main engine of economic development due to its contribution to internal production and job creation. Consequently, today there is an update and expansion of study programs in universities to incorporate the development of skills and acquisition of knowledge aimed at entrepreneurship. Many are taking interdisciplinary approaches and new teaching methods in such a way that before graduation, students have already experienced in a controlled environment how they can start a business idea. In more developed entrepreneurship ecosystems, students are having this type of internship with local companies, so the relationship with the industry is increasingly important for universities.

2. As an incubator for business ideas

Regardless of whether students are pursuing specific programs such as a bachelor's degree in business creation or an MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation, universities make available to all schools (medicine, humanities, architecture, engineering, etc.) and interested collaborators, programs incubation of companies. Some even accelerators and technology transfer offices, but I will discuss the latter in the next section. On the part of the university business incubators, they are working more as headhunters or hunters of internal projects that the students are developing in different programs and courses, to help them not to get lost and to be followed up. To achieve this, they organize entrepreneurship competitions with attractive prizes for the winning projects.

University business incubators are empowered to provide specialized mentoring, training, and normally function as an autonomous institute from the university. Many provide physical space and support with obtaining capital at an early stage for the development of the business model. In most cases, the faculty has an important link with the incubator or entrepreneurship center of their university since they can participate as mentors, but more importantly, they are those who know closely about projects that originate in the classrooms and they can channel them.

3. As a mentor in knowledge transfer
Universities that also do applied research as part of their accreditation activities are growing in number of patents, articles, and registered intellectual property rights. Faculty members and students are collaborating increasingly closely on research projects where experience and creativity converge. Likewise, universities have the possibility of attracting funds for research by having recognized researchers.

The problem is when investigations remain in publications and are not exploited as a business opportunity. Therefore, another way in which universities are contributing to the development of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem is by establishing links with the industry and advising on the transfer of knowledge. Knowledge transfer can take place through licenses, consulting, spin-offs, among others. Thus, recognizing this potential, universities sometimes open technology transfer and / or research offices so that they do not miss out on opportunities that they own.

MIT has been one of the most recognized examples in the creation of a university micro ecosystem that favors the transfer of research and development for innovation. This university has four centers for research support and five more for direct support to students, plus student associations focused on scaling technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation projects.

Somehow the proximity between universities, research centers and universities is giving results in already more mature entrepreneurship ecosystems. The difficult thing is to recreate the conditions in other countries with different economies, different cultures, laws, etc. That is why what he suggests is not to replicate a Silicon Valley , but to understand what works for them and adapt to local conditions while evaluating the development you are having. The evaluation of entrepreneurship ecosystems is normally done by total risk capital raised by companies, number of outlets in public offering or IPOs , and number of startups created. For universities, it is recommended to carry out a very similar follow-up and update evaluation among alumni, for which the GUESSS can serve very well.


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