From Bangladesh to Texas: Shakib and the Power of Hackathons

31 May 2024

There are plenty of entrepreneurs who can talk about turning adversity into opportunity. Still, they’re usually just talking about “failing up” or rolling a bad investment into a lucky investment later. What they aren’t talking about is paying their way through college while bedridden with illness, unless it’s Mostofa Adib Shakib who’s saying it. If it’s Shakib, that’s precisely what he means. At 15, stuck in bed for months and missing his 11th-grade exams, Shakib invested $5 on his first eCommerce venture, KurT’s Steam Store, selling videogame cosmetics. He made over $30,000 on that, and the scholarships were enough to take him from Bangladesh to the US.

At Texas Tech University, Adib earned two bachelor's degrees and two minors, completed six software engineering internships, taught students programming for more than three years, and created new opportunities for students interested in computer science, which is something Mostofa Adib Shakib specializes in.

Creating Opportunity and Change: University Hackathons

“I started university without any programming experience and quickly learned that companies at our job fair don’t hire international students,” says Shakib, who made it his business to start excelling at Hackathons. He received the Best Web Design Award at a Rice University hackathon and outright won at Princeton University, then started Texas Tech University’s first hackathon-focused student organization. He helped his fellow students gain skills and attend competitions there, which inspired the University to host its own Hackathon in six years. These achievements led RaiderHacks to become the 2nd best new student organization of the year.

By the time he graduated, Shakib’s foreign student status didn’t stop job offers from Snapchat, Twitter, and Amazon. At Snapchat, he joined the Platform and Performance Team, where he could contribute to projects that would impact millions of users. During this time, Shakib also became interested in DeFi tech and co-founded a blockchain startup that participated in the NSF I-Corps program, won a regional nomination, and received invitations to prestigious events like the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference alongside grants from the US Government.

New Educational Solutions: Coding Shikhbe Bangladesh

These experiences positioned Shakib well to begin solving the problems he once overcame as a youth in Bangladesh. During a trip home, he says, “I noticed that many people were complaining about how directionless they were and how the lack of high-quality CS educational resources limited their ability to upskill themselves.”

Not everyone could do what Shakib had once done, earning tens of thousands to travel to a foreign country for education. So, in April 2023, Shakib began Coding Shikhbe Bangladesh “with the vision to provide guidance, insides, and high-quality CS educational resources in Bangla, as well as to create a much-needed hackathon culture in Bangladesh.” A year later, the initiative grew to over 50,000 followers, and the first Bangladesh-wide hackathon was set to be judged by industry experts from major tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, etc.

The Transformational Power of Sharing New Ideas

Aside from having spoken at Bangladeshi universities, Shakib has also been a judge & Mentor at a Stanford University hackathon. He has also been named an AI2030 Global Fellow and has become a venture investor in Gaingels, a major American venture capital firm with over $700 million in assets under management. He is also the founder of Variant Technologies, the holding company behind Coding Shikhbe Bangladesh, an AI MediaTech startup called ViralVisionAI, and has been selected to become a mentor for Techstars Global - the top global startup accelerator in the world. That’s a lot for one person to do, but Shakib is making the most of the opportunities he’s created for himself, using them to create new opportunities and bring new visions to life.

By situating himself at “the intersection of business and technology,” Shakib wants to find solutions and helm a startup that “is making life easier and better for millions of people.” Part of this means helping to transform Bangladesh into a tech hub and creating AI-powered software solutions. There’s a lot of work to be done, but Mostofa Adib Shakib is thriving, and he can’t wait to share his great ideas with the world.