This Bangladeshi Startupreneur Thinks VCs are Only Scratching the Surface in a Country Full of Opportunities
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Maliha Quadir, a perfectionist who saw women of her household work, worked at Morgan Stanley in the United States before she decided to come to her motherland Bangladesh to start an ‘uber’ easy app – Shohoz.
Her dream to make the Alibaba of Bangladesh saw wings with ride-hailing app Shohoz, which translates to easy.
What started as a ride-hailing app, Shohoz, serves a country that severely needs the private sector to make up for the inadequate public infrastructure.
In a conversation with Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, Quadir spoke about her dreams with Shohoz and why Bangladesh should be the next stop for venture capitalists.
Shohoz Founder, Maliha Quadir
With Shohoz, Quadir has wanted to be the largest online platform in Bangladesh improving lives of the masses.
“We currently offer the largest services under one roof, across transportation and logistics; our aim is to further deepen our presence in these verticals and potentially venture into another major vertical next year.” - Shohoz founder, Maliha Quadir
She thinks to be the most used online platform, you need a service that users use daily, and ride hailing is one. Plus, it addresses a very significant pain-point a country of 160 million people in such a small landmass face.
“Like any other emerging market, we suffer from inadequate public infrastructure. Existing taxi system is miniscule. Transport is an everyday struggle for people here. Faster movement of people and goods can really increase efficiency and thereby significantly make an impact in people’s lives,” explains Quadir.
She, however, does not want to become Bangladesh’s Uber. Our vision is different, she says.
“We are not focused on one vertical; it’s a much more bold and broader vision. Ride sharing is one of the 5 services we offer today, albeit a critical one.”
Shohoz offers multiple services – from food delivery, long distance transport tickets, cricket/events ticket to a movie ticket – it a ‘super app’ – an app that takes care of one’s daily needs.
Year to date, Shohoz has raised $25 million and is set for expansion into other cities and adjacent service areas. For example - on demand trucking service is planned for this year. Fintech aspirations are there also says Quadir.
The Funding Challenge
Her biggest challenge as an entrepreneur has been funding.
“Bangladesh is gradually getting to be known in the VC seen. When I started 4 years ago, that was not the case. Biggest funding barrier I have been facing is Bangladesh. It is viewed as a poor country and people are skeptical of market size. However, when people see the data of consistent stable GDP growth of 8-9% y-o-y for 20 years, 70 million internet population, that impression changes,” says Quadir.
She, however, does not count her gender as a limitation of any sort with respect to entrepreneurship.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to work credentials, track record and market potential,” believes the mother of two.
Tips For Budding Entrepreneurs
Hire well. Finding good people is really tough for a startup, but invest time in this and do your best in selling your vision to them.
Raise more than you think you need. You always need more money than you think you do, so keep that cushion. Of course, dilution matters, but so does longevity.
Invest in good internal tools and tracking system. I am mentioning this as given all other challenges; people tend to overlook this area. But it is important to do this as early on as it increases efficiency and pays off in the long run.