Planting a seed is akin to starting a business. To foster a startup without expecting anything in return, utmost attention, endless labour, and money are required. When the business starts to make money, all of these efforts appear to be fruitful.
However, many of them are unable to sustain themselves, and many of them do not expand at the rate that was anticipated, and the Covid outbreak across the globe has added to the troubles of startups, but this should not deter you from putting in the work. Let's take a look at how a business dream might become a reality.
This writer talked with Ahnaf T Rahman, co-founder and CEO, and Ibrahim Kamrul Shafin, managing director and co-founder of ‘GoodyBro’ to know about their entrepreneurial journey and how they catered to the culture of minimalism through their solid T-shirts and other timeless minimalist fashion pieces.
Beginning of the entrepreneurial journey: Ibrahim and Ahnaf started GoodyBro in July 2019. It was an experimental task for Ahnaf and Ibrahim as they have been best friends since grade eight, and thought of starting a project together.
“I had prior digital marketing experience and Ahnaf had people management skills,” said Ibrahim.
Bangladesh's RMG sector is famous around the world and clothes ‘Made in Bangladesh’ can be found in most big clothing brands. However, there hasn't been any brand from Bangladesh that made a substantial name abroad like H&M or Zara and that is where it struck a chord for the young founders. They partnered with a production facility that maintains international standards. GoodyBro had 50 sales on its very first day. Ibrahim mentioned this primarily happened due to their digital marketing expertise.
Word-of-mouth along with good quality products really hit it off but the co-founders were still unsure of how the business would go. And three months later, Covid-19 pandemic started.
Due to the pandemic, there was a surge in online usage and sales were flaring for GoodyBro, almost five times. Ahnaf and Ibrahim took a leap of faith and took their first small-scale office in Dhanmondi and set up a warehouse in the garage.
Promoting brand: Since they are heavily online based, they greatly emphasise digital marketing. Google Analytics and other marketing tools are used to promote the targeted areas for customer acquisition.
"We focus on market research so that we can connect with our customers even more," said Ibrahim. Ahnaf said, "We are more of an E-tail brand and not a retail brand because customers mostly place their orders through the GoodyBro website". GoodyBro has a shop in Bashundhara city, a flagship outlet in Bashundhara residential area, an operational office in Panthapath and main office in Banani. Additionally, GoodyBro is a sustainable brand, all the products are eco-friendly and safe for the environment. This is another unique selling point of GoodyBro and the customers are highly pleased with the sustainable fashion that GoodyBro delivers.
Focus is on winning customers' minds: Ahnaf mentioned "We started a trend in Bangladesh through our solid clothing and high-quality products, just as our tagline Ekdom Solid." Ibrahim further added, "We wanted to tap into the minimalist culture that is happening all around the world." Since the online tendency is rising, there are new online businesses launching every day and some are even clones of GoodyBro.
"We have a unique selling proposition which is solid tees and hence we want to be at the top of our customer's minds when they want to purchase minimalistic clothing," said Ibrahim. The young founders focus on bringing a huge range of colours for all sizes, including plus sizes, also bulk orders for corporate events. In a nutshell, GoodyBro aims to be a one-stop fashion solution for everyday essentials.
Initial challenges: Ahnaf answers "Initially, we had to do everything by ourselves. Building the brand, and taking it to where it is today has been a long journey. We had delivery issues and whatnot. Right now, we have 360-degree services as we have separate teams for manufacturing, procurements, supply chain, delivery services."
The co-founders partnered up with a lot of external partners and that was the core challenge. "At first, we did not make a lot of investment and we only partnered with a manufacturing company. We overcame the challenges of overhead by taking in external clients as we also have a backend marketing agency. Due to a lack of initial cash, we struggled, however, we have made other departments self-sufficient" adds Ibrahim. Also, there are clothing stores in front of Dhaka college and 'expensive' or 'a little expensive' brands like Ecstasy and La Reve but GoodyBro falls in the middle of this category, Customers with high and low purchasing power would buy from GoodyBro.
Hiring employees: For hiring, GoodyBro has a three-step assessment process. Basically, people apply through different job circulars, and after the screening process, candidates need to qualify in the written assessment and then final interview, explains Ahnaf. Specific head hunting is another process that GoodyBro uses. The parameters for hiring are how enthusiastic, competent, and motivated the candidates are as it's a business where there may be highs and lows.
GoodyBro maintains a very flat and fun-loving office culture. They have their own table tennis, and a garden filled with greeneries in their Banani office in the capital. There is no pressure as long as people get their jobs done.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: Ahnaf said that this part is very tricky and he would never say "pursue your dreams, etc".
He said "Taking calculated risks is very important, see if you have any advantage, analyse your skill set and of course, your business should align with your passion. Secondly, what resources do you have for running the business? Thirdly, market research is very important because you need to find the right product-market fit". Ibrahim's advice would be to be humble and have a tremendous amount of patience because one might face a lot of problems in the venture. He also advises to be a lifelong learner and respect everyone around.
Vision for GoodyBro: Bangladesh is already known for its ready-made garment (RMG) sector. However, our country does not have a global brand yet. "We aim to be a global brand which sells very standardised essential products which will be delivered very quickly," says Ahnaf. The founders jointly quoted, “In a world of chaotic designs and prints, GoodyBro stood out with nothingness, i.e., minimalism.”
The writer is from NSU, a business analyst intern during the weekdays and a startup enthusiast at the weekends.