“We try to create a creativity friendly environment here,” said Mofizur Rahman Tipu. A humble young man in manners, Tipu and his core team have shown extraordinary resolve in bringing Ezze Technology Ltd (ETL) to where it is today in 2017. The founder and CEO of the company Tipu says that the journey has not been easy. The difficulties came in many forms, but the most debilitating being the funding. Regardless, Tipu and his team pushed on.
Despite being a software company first, ETL has invested heavily to build two separate specialized products other than software. “We have two main products. One is the itbazaar.com.bd and the other one is Dhakalive.tv. IT Bazaar is completely an e-commerce site, focusing on IT and ITS products,” said Mofizur Rahman Tipu. Electronics, gadget and gears, appliances are the focus commodities at IT Bazaar. Dhakalive.tv, on the other hand, is a fully dedicated video streaming and content development channel.
“We started IT Bazaar in 2013. At the beginning I started out by adding a few products. We attracted clients too. But we were not fully prepared to provide the scale of service that was necessary,” Tipu said. Since after sales service is very important in this field, Tipu was faced with the dilemma of choosing to continuing and not being able to meet customer demands or shutting down.
“We had shut down our operation then and went through a rigorous phase of developing ourselves,” he said. The company developed a strong logistic team, built up online presence from the scratch, and other skills and resources necessary. IT Bazaar now has a logistic team comprising of approximately 32 people, capable of carrying out delivery in Dhaka. IT Bazaar currently has enough customer reach to sell 30 to 50 items daily.
IT Bazaar has a number of unique features, said Tipu. It seeks to provide the user experience, with which the customer base is used to. Other than that it provides complete after sales service, which continues until a product exhausts the warranty period. Ezze Tech claims warranties on behalf of their customers and returns products to their customers after the warranty is executed by the original company. Its own delivery service delivers the products at the doorstep of the customer. “We have a merchant app too, which notifies the merchants about all the purchases on our site immediately. So, they can prepare the orders. When the shipping starts towards the customers, they can start tracking the product,” Tipu informed.
A visit to the website show a neatly designed and well categorised portal with products ranging from everyday computer and mobile phone needs to smart home appliances, all listings showing up to date information about their availability. Features such as filtering searches by price range and ratings are also available.
“We are very confident that sales will continue to grow. We are marketing by using all channels available. We run campaigns and we are signing MoUs with merchants,” Tipu informed. IT Bazaar has already signed MoU with Gigabyte Bangladesh and Star Tech and Engineering, one of the biggest hardware importers in Bangladesh. A total of 16 merchants are connected with IT Bazaar as of now.
With a young team (the average age of the itbazaar.com.bd staffs range from 24-30) who are technically sound, itbazaar.com.bd is trying to create the trust Bangladeshi customer lacks on e-commerce by providing a smooth and hassle free shopping experience. Among its achievements are acquiring and successfully completing a number of government projects such as Digital world and Earning Development.
The future focus for IT Bazaar will be on the smartphone market. Even though the company currently deliver countrywide, Tipu is hoping to soon build up a virtual distributorship across the country. Through the virtual distributorship the company will be able to make use of existing businesses in different localities, who will be able to carry out the delivery for it.
The busy environment seen at the Ezze Tech office that day was due to a shoot for Dhakalive.tv, which works as a platform for creating contents. “Right now we are preparing for a shoot that will be part of the “Meet the Fans” programme. This is aimed at the diehard fans of different celebrities,” said Tipu. Some of the programmes that are currently being made at Dhakalive.tv include programmes with corporates, startups, women and so on. They are also making a web series that will be aimed at the young generation. “Our target market is the young generation. So, the young people who don’t watch television and spend most of their time on social media are our target audience. We are creating the kinds of content they want to watch,” Tipu said.
At the same time Dhakalive.tv provides professional quality live internet streaming service for online seminars and similar events. The platform has thus far provided live streaming for Digital World 2016, IPO Summit, among many other.
Despite the promising performances of IT Bazaar and Dhakalive.tv, Tipu feels that Ezze Tech struggles with what all small sized companies struggle with: adequate investment. The brilliant business plans, the opportunities created after months or years of hard work, all can be diminished because of this one obstacle. “That is the one lacking we have. Otherwise, we have the expertise and the capabilities to generate successful policies and implement them,” Tipu ruefully said. When big foreign corporations come and take over the market, small and promising startups like Ezze Tech take the brunt of the immense power of the capital.
Tipu also feels that more support from the local big businesses and leaving the room for small businesses to grow, what is needed right now. “If a big company comes on board with us, instead of thinking about pushing us out of the market then everyone wins. But they don’t think like that. They opens up their own venture, which is extremely easy for them,” Tipu opined.
However, Ezze Tech has not approached any venture capital (VC) organisation. Tipu said that venture capitalists operating in Bangladesh often take the position that the products and businesses currently in the market are not worth investing in. In many cases, Tipu thinks, the requirements are so stringent that startups lose track of their business trying to meet those requisites.
Tipu believes that Ezze Tech can cross the threshold and move onto the next stage of their business expansion without the help from VCs. Even though, currently pushing these two products, the mother company, Ezze Tech, is mainly a software company with a number of offshore projects going on. “But those offshore products may well become obsolete in the near future,” said Tipu, who is a coder himself.
Ezze Tech takes all of the revenue generated from there and invest in these two brands. However, that might sustain them for a year or two more, but ultimately the company has to reach higher in the market with these two brands and make them self-sufficient. “Well, that’s the plan,” said Tipu.