Student to Startup: A Desirous Story Completes the First Chapter

The world is just at the door steps of mostly anticipated fourth Industrial Revolution. The broaden application of Latest technologies is going to reshape almost every sector by the end of this youth led revolution. The world is hosting a record time high population of about 7.2 Billion where youth population is around 2.4 Billion.

Most of the governments around the world is struggling to provide ready jobs to this huge population of youth specially the Asian countries as the population is maximum in this region. Employment around the world is facing disruption regularly as evolving technology is changing the scenario of ready jobs through seeking out the blue oceans and creating new markets with undefined opportunities.

National Response
Digital Bangladesh is surely one of the boldest dreams by Bangladesh of all time. Powered by the Awami League Government, The aim is to transform Bangladesh into a technologically advanced nation by 2021 and the country is marching unstoppably towards that. Driven by widespread digitization in the public and private sectors, the country has seen exponential growth in its internet connectivity, mobile phone usage, IT export earnings and use of ICT in education and accessibility of public services. ICT training by the Government has opened a new horizon in youth employment through outsourcing. When the Digital Bangladesh efforts got underway seven years ago only 20 million of Bangladeshis were accessing mobile phone. Today that number has grown to more than 150 million and is still climbing. Internet is the thought to be the base of fourth industrial revolution and currently Bangladesh is positioned as 2nd in south Asia and 5th in whole Asia in terms of internet usage. But the main reason the youth hasn’t been able to respond to the disruption in job market is lack of innovation. The brainchild of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed, to utilize the usage of ICT (Information and Communication technology) as a tool for development and sustainability, country’s biggest Innovation Platform ‘Innovation Design & Entrepreneurship Academy(iDEA)’ project bearing the flagship of ‘Startup Bangladesh’ was introduced in 2016 under ICT Division. In 2018, this project joined hands with the country’s largest youth network ‘Young Bangla’ under intense supervision of Center for Research & Information (CRI). The target from the beginning was set to start building the national ecosystem of Bangladesh. Student to Startup program is just one of the initiatives taken to ensure the major components of the ecosystem.

Main Objective
One of the main aspects of Digital Bangladesh was to connect the academia with the corporates & industry professionals. The effective Estuary of these three major parts is the main key behind every successful startup ecosystem that has been built throughout the world. As the government already planned to replicate iDEA project’s systems & opportunities in all the High-Tech parks that are being established throughout the country, this project is destined to be the main framework of the National Ecosystem. The first thing this ecosystem will require is a supply chain of entrepreneurs which’ll mark the collaboration of Academics with the framework where the industry will be included through building the innovation culture. Young Bangla already has a network functioning in more than 100 Universities throughout the country. So the basic target is to connect these 100 dots with the framework of national startup ecosystem and thus build an entrepreneurial supply chain to provide more innovation based self-employment opportunities to the youth. With a previous experience of three years through operating Microsoft- Young Bangla Internship Program successfully, this platform already knew how to give an experience of innovation culture to the youth of Bangladesh which was reflected in the first ever National Startup Camp-2019.

S2S Chapter-1
Usually in our country most of the student’s life consume about 16-20 years of study. After such a long period of academic learning students often falls short of practical learning and gets stuck in a 9 to 5 job with a decent 20 to 30 thousand salary per month. Then one day suddenly they realizes that they’re bored and has no excitement for doing new things any more. They questions themselves about their dreams, their passion as they already had a long time habit of learning more and more. Just in four years of Undergraduate education, a general university student has to prepare & submit around 4-5 projects and none of those have any effect on their career even though these projects could be their dream projects which will enable them to create & provide employment opportunities instead of looking for jobs.

With a motto “My Innovation, My Dream”, Student to Startup Initiative kicked off its first chapter through targeting 40 Universities (functioned as 40 venues) throughout 8 divisions of the country. Connecting students through the Campus Ambassadors of Young Bangla, the first chapter was inaugurated on March 8, 2019 following up with the central coordination meeting. The whole Chapter consists of two major parts. These are,

  • Campus Phase: Each venue will host a single day workshop on ‘How to Pitch your innovation’ and ‘Opportunities provided by iDEA Project’ following up with a basic pitching day where any individual/team from any background and any university can pitch their ideas to earn a place in the first ever ‘National Startup Camp’ of Bangladesh.
  • National Phase: Mostly named as the first ever ‘National Startup Camp’ this phase will host the top 120 Student Startup Projects (considering the wild card entries) for two day training program on special topics of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Startups following up with the Final Pitching part where top 30 teams will be selected to face the official ‘Selection Committee’ of iDEA project. Top 10 startups will receive Pre-seed fund worth 10 Lacs BDT each while other 20 teams will be directed to the mentoring part of the project and recycled for the funding process.
 

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Differences that it made

In spite of being a quick time initiative, the youth grabbed the first chapter enthusiastically. By the end of the campus phase, so far the changes it made are,

  • With the initial plan of organizing university based awareness program, Young Bangla Started to work with iDEA project since July 2017. The simply thought activation program was engineered into a competitive National program that’ll secure the construction of National Entrepreneurial Supply Chain. In 40 different venues more than 6000 youths from more than 65 institutions participated to know how to pitch their innovations and what facilities the government is providing for them. If it makes a single talented youth stop from going abroad the true objectives would be fulfilled. In last two or three years iDEA project managed to get 580 pitching applications while in this two months more than 2200 Startup Ideas has applied to be a part of the government platform. This number ensures the 100%+ Success rate with establishing the entrepreneurial supply chain of the country.
  • The idea of first ever National Startup Camp wasn’t just a filtration step. In fact, the main concept was to give experience of a culture of Innovation & Startups to the participants coming all around the country. England promoted this culture long ago when they launched The 1000 Innovation Program. Before the Camp, our youth rarely had opportunities to experience how a small group of entrepreneurs and innovators builds a community and share knowledge & experience through direct interactions. Just a single day training caused huge positive changes in their plans & strategies which showcased their thirst of learning more and the applications of what they learn. Total 120 teams of student based startups from all around the country participated in the first ever National Startup Camp of Bangladesh where top 30 teams were crowned winners and the official selection committee of iDEA project selected 10 of them to receive total 1 Crore BDT as Pre-seed funding from the project. The plan is set to groom the other 20 winners and take them in front of the selection committee again.
  • Apart from building an innovative community based youth led competitive platform, The Young Bangla team designed the first curriculum of nationally declared ‘Innovation Design & Entrepreneurship Academy’ for basic Ideation Step.

Conclusion
The first chapter opened up the path of the Entrepreneurial Supply chain of the country and the academics has responded equally. The plan is set to host a couple of chapters of this Student to Startup initiative per year to ensure proper equity in providing opportunities to every batch of students. This will also include the more promotion of Innovation Culture through more Startup Camps as well. As we already have the framework working and the largest youth network of the country connected, A National Startup Ecosystem for Bangladesh is just a matter of time with the help from just a little push of knowledge based awareness throughout the country.

To know more visit: https://www.facebook.com/student2startupBD/

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