Bangladesh – DataBird, Bangladesh’s leading Internet group, has recently raised US$3M in funding led by Skycatcher, a global Internet and software investor. Previously, the company raised a seed round of US$4M in 2018, its founding year.
DataBird is the parent firm of Bangladesh’s leading brands in online travel with travel booking platform ShareTrip and in communication with mobile typing app Ridmik Keyboard. According to DataBird, ShareTrip obtains about 50% of the market share in the country’s online travel, while Ridmik Keyboard is said to be Bangladesh’s most used app and adopted by the majority of all smartphone users in the country.
Kashef Rahman, CEO of DataBird, shared that the additional investment will go into expanding its ecosystem footprint with investments into fintech and digital advertising. With this, DataBird will also be continuing to invest and nurture homegrown talent in Bangladesh, with the company now having over 160 employees.
Tanveer Ali, board member of DataBird, said, “We are in this for the marathon ahead so one of the most important objectives for us is to invest into our team members to expand their skillsets. The real opportunity in a nascent market like Bangladesh is the knowledge transfer that can happen by studying Internet business models globally. We are really proud of how well our team has executed in the past few years and our bar is world-class products.”
The company said that building an Internet giant takes time and requires laser focus, and that it is inspired by the cultures of Asia’s leading tech ecosystem giants like Tencent, SEA group, and Kakao who operate with decentralized teams on building a product.
Sadia Haque, CCO of DataBird, said, “We believe we offer a unique culture in the local context of Bangladesh and are always actively recruiting talent locally or diaspora from abroad who want to come to Dhaka and make an impact.”
Aside from its flagship online travel and keyboard platform, DataBird’s product portfolio expands to news, eReader, and lifestyle mobile applications, and that it is aiming to invest to more with the aim of accelerating the development of ‘Digital Bangladesh’, the country’s political vision of the country for the year 2021, the nation’s golden jubilee.
Sia Kamalie, Skycatcher founder, said that together with DataBird, it is playing a different game and that the company’s investment horizon can be ‘forever’ and that plans will be in tandem with where the world is headed by 2030.
“For us, it’s clear that Bangladesh Internet ecosystem will be exponentially bigger than today when you consider that it’s the 8th largest country in world by population, growing GDP at +8% for last decade, and we estimate smartphone penetration is only 40% today. In the next few years, we expect another 50 to 75m smartphone users coming online for the first time and DataBird will be there to serve all their needs,” said Kamalie.