I can still remember very clearly. It was a foggy day of February when Rifat first told me about this competition. I asked him in a moody way, “so what can I do for you?” Rifat scolded at me, “what I say, just listen, patiently.” Then he told me the ins and outs of the competition. I was very nervous as I never did any business competition before. I didn’t know anything about how it designs, what type of knowledge I should gather, and everything just engulfed me. But of course, then it seemed very easy to me as I had my two-brilliant companion, Rifatul Islam, my big fatty friend and Shanjida Shahid, my dearest repository. Before this competition, they participated in many business competitions, so they were experienced, and for them, I was a newcomer. So, it was a challenge for them. They helped me to understand new topics, a new term, etc.
So, we decided to make an agriculture-based idea. So, we googled for some information. The next day, Shanji enlightened us with a different thing that she told, “Why do we think only agriculture? We can work with the veterinary side”. Then she talked about pet sitting. In our country, it is rare. We thought, yes, if we target the Dhaka city, many affluent families own pets, and sometimes they feel insecure when they are in their workplaces. So, we thought, pet sitting could be worked.
We asked for help from our vet friends and teachers. Then we heard about Robiul vai, a vet doctor by profession, and a student of our campus. Robiul vai is an excellent friendly, and helpful man. We disturbed him for three months. Rabiul bhai accepted us warmly, and of course, we used to hang out a lot together. So many memories there are!
One day, in the middle of the chat, Robiul bhai asked if we can work with organic pet feed? In our country, no platform is working regarding this, though most of the feed is exported. So, it’s a great opportunity if we work with this.
So, we replaced the pet sitting idea with organic pet feed. We didn’t rotate it; we added this as a uniqueness. Then next few weeks before the campus competition, we googled about the feed ration, nutrition, asked our vet friend, asked for help from our respected teacher Mahfuzullah Patwary sir. He helped us understand the feed ration. Then, after all, calculations, we were ready to make feed as a prototype. Then we did it.
Then we went to Robiul Bhai’s office to test the feed. And the result was quite good; the beloved cat ate that. Before the pitching day, there was a workshop from the ICT division about the competition. I was an anchor in that workshop. I felt a little bit nervous. But our convenor from the SAUEDC, Anaeth Rafi vai, helped me and encouraged me. It was an informative workshop.
Then that day came, the competition day. So, I and shanji were very tensed, especially me, as I had to pitch our million dollars idea. I murmured the pitch 100 times with shaking voice. Then, one hour before the competition, our beloved leader called us, telling us that he couldn’t come because he was very sick. shanji was getting very angry, and we decided we wouldn’t do this without him. We called him again and again, and then we realized he was just joking with us. At that time, we felt relax like heaven. It was amusing.
At around 12.30, they called upon our team. We entered the room, stood in front of the judges, and started delivering a one-minute pitch with a shaky voice. They asked us several questions about the feed, we answered them frequently. The next day the result was published. And unfortunately, we were not selected. We felt so broken. The following day, Halimi vai called us, saying we were selected from the wild card entry. We were amused to get such an opportunity.
It was 13th May 2019; we went to the boot camp in Sheikh Hasina National Youth Development Centre, Savar. We were a little bit nervous. We didn’t know anyone. Then the volunteer helped to take us to the hall. Shanji and I were in the same room. We had a new roomie also, Sadia Haque Tonni, she was from Bangladesh Agricultural University. She was very friendly.
The next morning after breakfast, we attended a seminar about how to pitch your business idea, to me, it was very dull but instructive. It lasted around 4.30-5 PM. Then we had our Iftar as it was Ramadan month. There was a high ground in the camp. We sat in the field and were discussing the next day’s pitch.
So, the next day, we entered into the pitching room after so many troubling. We did quite well. Then during the Iftar, there was an announcement that that was our final pitch, and we didn’t have to do it the next day, and the top 30 would be announced based on today’s pitch. So we felt relax,” okay, cool.” We started eating Iftar, very silent. After a few minutes later, there was another announcement that no, the next day again, the pitching happened but in front of everyone, and there would be the minister of Post and Telecommunication and state minister of Information and Communication Technology Division. It was quite disturbing news for us. We didn’t even know what would be happening the next day.
The next morning was the fateful morning for us. We entered the seminar room; everybody had already arrived. The volunteers were waiting for the minister. The seminar room was decorated nicely. After arriving the minister, the pitch had been started. One by one team was called to the stage, and they did extraordinarily. Halimi vai and Plabon vai came to visit us and encouraged us.
Suddenly, We heard our team name, “Rio Pet Care.” I was shaking all the way. We stood up in the big stage—so many people in front of us. I was nervous, then started pitching, finished it quite well, I don’t know actually.
Then the final countdown began. They were announcing the champion and runners up team from the top 70 ideas. We have zero expectations. We were like, “It’s okay; we did very well, next time In sha Allah.”
First, they announced the top ten champion’s names. We were not on that list. Next, they started calling runners up names, and suddenly, we heard our team name. I didn’t even express now what I feel at that time!! So, this is it. We were the runners up team in the student to startup chapter 1.
It was fascinating, struggling, and of course, instructive journey. We learned and experienced many things. I miss the Bootcamp badly. Cause I am a foody girl, and in four days, I was strangely hungry and ate slowly. It was funny.
Okay, that’s our journey