500 Startups invests in online grocery site ChalDal, its first investment in Bangladesh

March 14
3:57 PM 2014

Seed fund and accelerator 500 Startups made a bet on Dhaka-based online grocery site ChalDal, TechCrunch reported.

The investment of the California-based firm is its first in Bangladesh, highlighting the increasing investor interest in the South Asian country considered to be one of the most difficult areas for a startup because of its political economic uncertainties, the report said.

The seed funding amount was not disclosed but it would help the startup grow beyond Dhaka, the capital city. It would also be deployed towards creating a more robust back-end infrastructure for the platform, the report said.

In an interview with TechCrunch, 500 Startups Venture Partner Pankaj Jain said, "ChalDal is our first investment in Bangladesh where we believe interesting opportunities will emerge over the next few years in ad tech, e-commerce, and like India, solving local problems. We're seeing talent from the Valley and other parts of the world bringing their experience and expertise to a new local ecosystem in Dhaka and we're thrilled to be a part of the emerging story with our first investment in Bangladesh."

ChalDal was established last year by Waseem Alim, Tejas Viswanath and Zia Ashraf. Alim, who worked with a financial planning firm SigFig before starting ChalDal, told TechCrunch in an interview that the 160 million people in Bangladesh provides a market for those who are looking for a more hassle-free way to shop and do business, the report said.

He said, "Bangladesh shares demographic characteristics of India, has 15% the population of India and is 3- times more dense. The unit economics in Bangladesh is going to be better than in India."

While beginning a startup in Dhaka is difficult, the number of young companies established in Bangladesh is growing. One of the drivers in this phenomenon is the success attained by content syndication firm NewsCred. The startup established by entrepreneurs from the country has already secured $45 million in venture capital funding so far. In addition, the Internet and mobile infrastructure of Bangladesh has also improved, allowing people to do more business online, the report said.

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