Nine young Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have made it to the "Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021" list under three categories - Enterprise Technology, Retail & E-Commerce and Social Impact.
Forbes announced its sixth annual "30 Under 30 Asia" list on Monday (19 April), featuring 300 young entrepreneurs, leaders and trailblazers across Asia, all under the age of 30, who are braving the challenging environment brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and finding new opportunities amidst the new normal.
Serial entrepreneurs and inventors Shehzad Noor Taus Priyo, 24, and Motasim Bir Rahman, 26, were honoured for their AI startup Gaze.
Gaze, a Singapore and Bangladesh-based AI startup, offers visual recognition technologies for online transactions.
Launched in 2018, Gaze claims to build frictionless online checkout. According to Gaze Facebook page, they build Gazepass—a passwordless sign-in API for developers that is compatible with any device with a webcam or biometric sensor. The company has raised about $1 million in funding, and its customers include Dhaka Metropolitan Police. It won the Startup World Cup Bangladesh in 2020 and Bangladesh Business Innovation Award for Best Startup in 2019.
Gaze Co-founder and CEO Shehzad Noor Taus Priyo filed his first patent with IBM Research at age 21, while Co-founder and COO Motasim Bir Rahman built Bangladesh's second-most popular social networking platform called NogorBalok at age 14.
Mir Sakib was honored for Cramstack, a startup that uses AI to automate the extraction of information from unstructured data to provide insights for businesses.
The idea behind Cramstack is to build a search platform that would allow users to search enterprise data sources as easily as a Google search. It also offers tools to extract and process data from PDFs and images.
Cramstack has clients in the power, finance, manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors including the government of Bangladesh, BCG, UNDP and National Bank. During the pandemic, it provided government data from healthcare workers and immigration officials to help track, and curb, the spread of the coronavirus. It has raised over $1 million from Rockstart (Netherlands), Grameenphone (unit of Telenor) and angel investors.
Five of the Bangladeshi honourees were named under the Social Impact category. They are Co-founders of AWARENESS 360 Rijve Arefin (26) and Shomy Chowdhury (26), Co-founders of HYDROQUO+ Rizvana Hredita and Zahin Rohan Razeen, and the Founder of the OBHIZATRIK Foundation Ahmed Imtiaz Jami (27).
Rijve Arefin and Shomy Chowdhury cofounded Awareness 360, a Kuala Lumpur-based NGO, to bring together young people wanting to improve the lives of others. It has now 1,500 volunteers in 23 countries who hold talks and workshops on handwashing, water-filtration methods and personal hygiene, among other environmental initiatives. So far, their campaigns have involved over 150,000 people. The duo's work has been recognized by the UN Development Programme, among other international groups.
Rizvana Hredita (28) and Zahin Rohan Razeen (22) co-founded HYDROQUO+, a Dhaka-based startup that uses AI to improve water management, in 2018. It has developed systems and technology to detect anomalies in water and analyze water quality. The company also consults for government agencies and NGOs on water-quality modeling. In September, Razeen, CEO of Hydroquo+, was named one of the United Nations' 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals who are leading efforts to combat the world's most pressing issues.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Imtiaz Jami founded the Bangladesh-based Obhizatrik Foundation in 2010 to work on poverty elimination, education, health and nutrition, human rights and the environment. In the past decade, it has supported more than 1 million people and provided free education to 500 underprivileged children in three schools, empowered 550 families in seven districts, and provided free treatment for 10,000 patients. It runs a free school and also has a grants program to help poor families set up a business that can be their source of income for the long term. During the pandemic, it donated free vegetables to 200,000 individuals, as well as free groceries to 65,000 families and free meals to 90,000 families. Meanwhile, it raised $235,000 from government ministries as well as corporate donors such as Standard Chartered Bank.
Finally, Morin Talukder, co-founder of Pickaboo, has been named under the Retail & E-Commerce category of the list.
Morin co-founded, one of the first Dhaka-based online stores, Pickaboo five years ago that has introduced a monthly installment payment plan, same-day delivery and a customer membership program. Pickaboo now plans to open 150 physical stores across the country by the end of 2021 after it has raised over $6 million from investors in Bangladesh and India. Previously Morin set up the e-commerce site ehaatbazaar.com, which he sold to his cofounder in 2016.
The Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia Class of 2021 features bright and innovative millennial and Gen Z leaders who have persevered and thrived despite global uncertainty, with 30 honorees selected for each of the 10 categories. The categories are The Arts; Entertainment & Sports; Finance & Venture Capital; Media, Marketing & Advertising; Retail & E-Commerce; Enterprise Technology; Industry, Manufacturing & Energy; Healthcare & Science; Social Impact and Consumer Technology.