Grameenphone is one of the pioneering telecommunication companies in Bangladesh. Founded back in 2007, the company has had a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh in addition to the telecommunication sector. The Grameenphone Accelerator (GPA) program is one of those encouraging initiatives taken by the company. The program is tailored for the up-and-coming startups to accelerate their growth in the rapidly changing market. Recently, GP launched an application for the accelerator program 3.0 as part of their continued support for the startup scene in Bangladesh.
GP Accelerator Program
The GP Accelerator Program is a cohort-led, curriculum-driven mentoring program for select up-and-coming startups in Bangladesh. Founded in 2015, the program has led 6 batches which helped to mentor 44 startups till today.
The likes of Sheba.XYZ, Barikoi, Dhakacast, Doctorkoi, and Cramstack have been the direct recipient of the mentorship opportunity which helped them excel in their strategy.
The program is a 4 month long intensive mentorship opportunity that works on several key aspects.
A startup goes through various phases. There are a lot of aspects that need to be properly handled and assessed. In addition to that, most startups require a pre-seed fund to develop an MVP. The GP Accelerator Program is focused on addressing all these issues faced by a startup.
The cohort-led approach and expert mentorship build and set up a startup for success.
The program allows a fund grant of up to 10 Lac BDT in exchange for 10% equity on the startup. The program also focuses on training as well as setting up connections for future investment opportunities.
Role of GPA in Empowering Local Startups
Bangladesh is significantly lagging when it comes to launching startups. Countries like the US and China are leading the world in the number of successful startups with over 64% and 13% share of the billion-dollar startups. Neighboring India is also close by with a 4% share.
While these countries can make their mark as startup hubs, Bangladesh is still significantly lagging.
The main reason behind that is the lack of ecosystem support. A startup is built on ideas that disrupt the existing market process. Bangladeshi entrepreneurs lack the support system surrounding these ideas. There aren’t enough angel investors in the ecosystem. There is also a shortage of mentorship and phase guiding opportunities which hurts the startups in their nascent stage.
The GP Accelerator Program acts as an amalgamation of the ecosystem for these startups. Thanks to GPA, local startups are getting world-class-level mentorship opportunities. The program has module-based training which makes the startups better suited for the market. The end-to-end support mechanism makes the GPA the best program to groom the startups for big leagues.
In the last 6 years, GPA has hosted 44 startups as part of their 6 consecutive batches. The program has worked to grant more than 142 million BDT worth of grants to the startups to make sure they make an easy transition to the market.
The program also reports an average of 10 times growth over the duration. Naturally, the selection process of the program is quite rigorous.
The first stage is the application process. Any startup with a full-time co-founder can apply to be a part of the program. GPA accepts applications from a wide range of industries which will be discussed later. After the application round, candidates go through the selection boot camp. This is where the startups need to show their merit and how they can create a positive disruption and value generation in the market. The final selection is made by the jury board to get accepted into this 4-month long program.
Every accepted startup will get access to the following as part of the program –
- Grant funding of 10 Lac BDT
- Office space at GP House
- Expert mentorship and guidance
- Wide media exposure
- Better Curriculum led learning process
- Access to investor contacts
- Partnership with GP based on performance and relevance.
GP offers much more to the selected startups in addition to the aforementioned ones.
The main industries of interest for the startup ranges from Health Tech, Edu Tech, FinTech, IoT, Entertainment, Gaming, Cloud Service, Hardware, M-commerce, Enterprise, and Mobile Application.
The GPA outlines the pitching deck for the application as well. every startup needs to have –
- Market Viable Product
- Market Opportunity
These core three aspects will act as a determinant to choose the perfect startup for the program. In addition to that, the pitching deck should also include –
- The solution to the Problem
- Value generation in the market
- Acquisition Plan
- Business Model
- Outlining the strength or advantages of the product.
The program has had 44 graduating startups thus far. Most of them have emerged as a leader in their respective industries with significant value generation.
The story of Repto and Alteryouth are notable in the Edutech Industry. Repto has emerged as a leading marketplace for learning content. The platform provides access to a diverse range of tutorials to the learners at an affordable cost.
Alteryouth has had a different approach than Repto. The startup works with the less fortunate students from the marginal areas of Bangladesh. With the help of this platform, a donor can finance the education of a marginalized child. This innovative approach has helped to bring the light of education to economically backward people.
But perhaps the largest industry-wise impact has been through Sheba.XYZ. The platform has provided a solution for every kind of daily need imaginable. It has emerged as a one-stop solution for all types of daily needs. From plumbing to house moving and renovation, Sheba.XYZ has created a common hub for its user base.
The road to becoming a startup hub is still a steep one for Bangladesh. Lack of policy support and bureaucracy has always worked against the ecosystem. As a result, the startup boom is yet to happen in Bangladesh. However, initiatives like the Grameenphone Accelerator (GPA) program are a step toward the right direction. In addition to creating new entrepreneurs, the platform is also having a significant contribution to the overall development of the economy.