On Patience And The Long Game Of Success: An Interview With Fahim Mashroor Of BDjobs.com [Updated]

On Patience And The Long Game Of Success: An Interview With Fahim Mashroor Of BDjobs.com [Updated]

On Internet, Entrepreneurship, Taking Risk And Building Business

Fahim Mashroor is the Co-Founder and CEO of BDjobs.com-the largest job portal of the country. Fahim is one of those rare found entrepreneurs who can see far beyond the horizon and also act on their foresight. He started BDjobs in 2000. Back then internet was not a household thing in BD. But he could see the future. His dynamic leadership and courage has made BDjobs.com one of the most successful online ventures of the country to date. In 2008 Fahim was awarded “Best Innovative Entrepreneur” by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also served as President of BASIS in the year of 2012 and 2013.

Mr. Fahim has a decade long experience in IT industry. He is deeply passionate about technology and doing something creative that will contribute to the development of the country. He believes promoting modern skills to the youth should be one of our major development agenda.

Recently we sat with Mr. Fahim at the Headquarter of BDjobs to know more about his journey and lessons from his decade long journey in the IT industry. We believe his story will inspire you, give you guidance in the moment of ambivalence and push you one more time in your moment of despair.

[Update: Recently BDjobs has sold 25 percent stake to the Australian number one job portal SEEK International at Tk 38.5 crore. Read our take on the deal here.]

We started BDJOBS in my house taking a single room only with 2-3 people. Back then I just came out of university and money was not one of our strengths. We started with a very minimum investment by borrowing 3 computers from my family members.

Tell us about yourself and your passion in life.

I studied Economics at Dhaka University and later did my MBA from IBA. In 2000 Internet was a global phenomenon, a lot of exciting things were happening around the world but Bangladesh was out of that movement. I thought why not Bangladesh and decided to do something based on Internet in Bangladesh. That’s where the idea of BDjobs came in. Then along with few friends of my friends I started BDJOBS.com.

I’m passionate about contributing to the greater good of my country. More specifically, I want to create employment opportunities. We are lucky that a large portion of our total population is youth. This is both an opportunity and risk, opportunity in a sense that these people can make huge difference but we have to ensure that they have right kind of skill to do so. A lot of young people who can really make a difference do not have the right skills to do so. This is a big disadvantage for us and detrimental for our growth as a nation. This is where I want to contribute. I want to guide and help people so that they can develop right skills and thrive and contribute.

What was your underlying motivation to become an entrepreneur?

I am a passionate challenge taker. I love walking uncharted path and prefer doing things that most people fear to do. That is kind of something built in and has been a permanent source of motivation to make the leap.

I saw there was an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the society while doing things I love to do. Yes, many people contribute to society in many ways, some bring political changes, some by social work. I thought I need to find my own place and making access to technology easier for the people and using it for the betterment of them seemed a good cause to embark on.

It’s easy to get a job and there is nothing special. It is easy to do things that everyone else is doing but that do not satisfy me. I always felt that I need to do something more meaningful. I need to contribute to society. My realization about entrepreneurship is that, you can add greater value!

BDjobs-screen

BDjobs-screenshot

How did you get the idea and get started? Briefly walk us through first few months.

In 2000, using Internet was a global phenomenon but unfortunately nothing was happening in Bangladesh. We found that very frustrating. We thought about doing something appropriate to our context to fix it. That’s how we came up with the idea of BDjobs. We founded BDjobs.com to provide job information to Bangladeshi youth.

We started BDJOBS in my house taking a single room only with 2-3 people. Back then I just came out of university and money was not one of our strengths. We started with a very minimum investment by borrowing 3 computers from my family members.

If you ask about first few months then it’s not actually that much valid question. We were in crisis at least for 2-3 years. It took us years to make a position. Good thing was: we were convinced from the very first day that it would be a long journey and we were mentally prepared.

We want to be rich overnight which is certainly not a good idea. You may find example of shortcut success which is prevalent in our society but you should also look at the definite peril of this approach.

What do you think, what are the biggest drivers of your success today?

We were extremely passionate about the works we were doing, we still are and we knew it would take time thus we were patient. The problem of our many young entrepreneurs is that they want to be successful overnight. We have a culture that promotes shortcut but it is counterproductive in long run.

At BDJOBS.COM, quality has always been our first priority. We have always been serious about feedback from our customers and adopted and modified ourselves based on what our customers want.

Briefly share with us few lessons you have learned from your journey.

Patience is critical. It is a long and tough journey. Patience and dedication are two elements that seldom fail. As I said earlier, we want to be rich overnight which is certainly not a good idea. You may find example of shortcut success which is prevalent in our society but you should also look at the definite peril of this approach. We have tried to walk the path instead of seeking easy way of making money.

On a similar note, being hones still is an advantage. I disagree with them who say that doing something in honest way is impossible in Bangladesh.

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The problem is cultural. The mindset of our society is leaned against business. 

What are the biggest obstacles for a young person who wants to start in Bangladesh?

The problem is cultural. The mindset of our society is leaned against business. Social acceptance for young entrepreneurs is very poor. Our society doesn’t consider entrepreneurship as something socially valuable. Where families appreciate their sons to take a job even prohibit them to start a business or something new.

If a young person comes to you and ask for advice on starting what would you tell him?

I will tell few things that worked for me:

  • Passion is your biggest capital. Work for passion. Don’t work for some extrinsic motivation that often does not last.
  • Be Patient because everything takes time.
  • Never be dishonest. Honesty is still the best policy,
  • Be dedicated to your work
  • Work harder than the person next to you and there is no other way
  • Focus. Your resource and capacity is limited and it is used best when you focus.
  • And never give up. Giving up is not an entrepreneurial style.

Credits: Interview: Ruhul Kader & Julfikar Islam | Transcription: Julfikar Islam | Image: BDjobs

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