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Analyzen, Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship: An Interview With Ridwan Hafiz, Co-founder, Analyzen

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Ridwan Hafiz, the Co-founder of Dhaka-based digital marketing agency Analyzen, has an interesting entrepreneurial story. The kind we don’t come across often in our context. He studied engineering which he found too much for him to take and then went on to start a digital marketing agency instead with his friend Sumit Saha. That too in 2008 when there was very little understanding of digital marketing in the market. It was a tall order to make it happen. As expected, things did not go that well initially. But the two endured. After graduating from BUET, he had to take up a sales job at Banglalion while working part-time on Analyzen to make the company stable enough so that it could afford him. After a few years of struggle, from 2010-11, things started to get better and since then Analyzen never had to look back. “Things often change. Good days come. It takes time but it certainly comes. Your job is to endure and stick to it”, says Hafiz. Today, after nine years, Analyzen has a thriving business spanning multiple countries including Singapore and Myanmar, a brilliant team of almost 100 people whom Mr. Hafiz gives all the credit for what Analyzen is today and an ambition to become a truly global digital marketing agency from Bangladesh.

In this interview, Mr. Hafiz speaks with Future Startup about his journey to what he is doing today, initial challenges Analyzen had to face, talks about Analyzen’s international expansion plans and independent product strategy to how horizontal structure defines its internal culture. He discusses challenges in the digital marketing industry in Dhaka and major trends in the space and shares his ambition for Analyzen over the next few years, and how he deals with stress and self-doubt. He reflects on his management style and on why finding joy in our work makes us more effective as professionals and why enduring difficulties is an elemental feature of entrepreneurship. - Ruhul

Future Startup

Where did you grow up? Please tell us about your journey to what you are doing today.

Ridwan Hafiz

I was born and raised in Dhaka. My schooling started at Udayan Higher Secondary School from where I passed my SSC. I did my HSC from Notre Dame College.

Many people do not know this but I am a graduate from BUET where I studied Computer Science and Engineering. I was not good at programming. In my first year, I did a terrible performance. I got a C grade in my ‘C Programming’ course, C+ grade in my ‘C++’ course and I managed to fail successfully in my ‘Java’ Course.

By the time I made it to 2nd year at BUET, I realized that engineering is not my thing. I started looking for other opportunities. At the time, my friend Sumit Saha and I used to work part-time. In 2008, we thought that whatever we're doing at the part-time jobs we could do it ourselves and make a business out of it which led to the idea of starting our own venture.

To be honest, we did not have any grand vision when we started. We knew that Sumit could make websites and I could sell them. That’s how Analyzen came into being in 2008, which happens to be the first digital marketing agency in Bangladesh and the largest to date in terms of portfolio.

Initially, we mostly offered technical services like web-based solutions. This was, to some extent, early days of digital marketing. We could see that the internet would be the thing and every business would have to digitize themselves. Our first service was website building. The early days were very tough. We had to endure a lot of trials and tribulations. We were young for doing business. The industry was different for us. We did not know much about how to run a business and the things.

In 2009 - the year I graduated from BUET - our business was not that stable yet. Naturally, I had to find something to do. So I took a job. For the next three years, I worked at Banglalion, which was a startup back then, for one year and at Qubee for 2 years. Although I had an engineering degree, I worked, in both the companies, mostly in sales. It usually raised a lot of eyebrows. People used to ask me why, after having an engineering degree, I work in sales. But my plan was very simple - I needed to learn sales.

While working at Banglalion and Qubee, I was working on the side at Analyzen. I knew that eventually I would return to Analyzen and work full-time. And I needed to learn sales not only the technical know-how but also the practical experience of selling things and creating a brand out of nothing. By 2012, I realized that I have learned things that I can use to help my business to grow. Analyzen was also in better shape. So I decided to leave the job. In 2012, I left my job at Qubee and joined Analyzen full-time. In 2010 - 2011, we made a video series called ‘REXposed’ in collaboration with Samsung which became a huge hit, it was, in fact, one of the earliest video series made for any Bangladeshi client for online marketing.

When we started, I and Sumit Saha, we had two other people from BUET with us. We did not have an office. We used a shared office space. We also used my father's office after they closed it or even we worked from BUET dormitory many nights.

Today, we have a 3-floor office in Dhaka. We have operations in Singapore and Myanmar. We have partner offices in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

From 4 people, we are now a team of almost 100 people. Our ambition is to become the best in the world. This is something that we love. Analyzen is not a job for us. We are not a typical startup. We are not here to make money or exit when we find a buyer. We are here for the long-run.

Apart from Analyzen, I have started a sports cafe called Velocity, which is just below our office in Banani. Now I am working on a travel-tech startup, Go Zayaan, with an ambition to transform the travel industry. From Go Zayaan, we are currently offering online flight booking and hotel booking through the local payment gateway at a competitive price. Our ambition is that within the next one year, with the power of ‘Go Zayaan’ people will be able to buy tickets and book hotels from the corner shops of the streets who do flexiload and bKash.

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When we started, I and Sumit Saha, we had two other people from BUET with us. We did not have an office. We used a shared office space. We also used my father's office after they closed it or even we worked from BUET dormitory many nights. Today, we have a 3-floor office in Dhaka. We have operations in Singapore and Myanmar. We have partner offices in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Future Startup

Building a business from scratch is a difficult feat to achieve. Can you please tell us about the trials and tribulations that you went through in the early days of Analyzen?

Ridwan Hafiz

When we started in 2008, startup culture was very different. Today it is relatively friendly and cool. A lot of things are happening around startups ad all. Our society now, more or less, has started to appreciate the fact that entrepreneurship is something important for society.

But it was very different before. People used to think when a graduate could not find a job only then they start a business. It was seen as a sign of lack of ability rather than an inspiring endeavor.

Finance was a huge problem. Bank loan was not a feasible option. Banks usually don’t give loans to startups. Then VC funding was not a thing yet in 2008. So we had to find a way to earn and then invest.

The biggest challenge we faced, however, was convincing our families that doing business is a good thing. For me, it was relatively easier because my father is a businessman and he supported me a lot but other members of my family did not take it as something positive. Many wanted me to go abroad for higher studies where others to pursue a better and safer career path. It was challenging mentally but we endured it.

To be honest, when I was in BUET, our tuition fee was about BDT 21. We enjoyed some of the best facilities in the world including laboratory, teachers, and classrooms. But someone had to pay for our education. Bangladesh Government allocates generous subsidy for universities like BUET and the money comes from the public. It’s taxpayers' money that subsidized my degree. We studied with the money of general people and many of us prefer to go abroad after graduation. I’m not saying it is particularly bad, in fact, it is better if you go for gathering knowledge and skills and come back and serve the country. My philosophy has always been that the general people of this country paid for my education and I will do something to give that back. This mentality has helped me to develop perspective and endure both the pressure and temptation of life abroad.

When we started, digital marketing was not a thing yet. Many people could not understand our work. It was hard to convince people about the importance of digital marketing.

Another even bigger challenge we faced was convincing our clients that we are capable of doing the work and that we have expertise. Being young was a disadvantage for us. Many of the companies have told us that they could not give us work because we’re too young. Others objected that we’re a local company. Many people used to take my managing partner title, which was written on the back of my card, lightly. In fact, many found it funny. Our age was a huge disadvantage for us.

As a defense mechanism, we came up with a strategy. We decided that we would have a flat management hierarchy without any formal title for people. To date, none of us at Analyzen has any formal title. We have some cool nicknames but no managing partner type titles.

I dropped my managing partner title and instead took the title The People's Champ and my friend, Sumit took up The Rainmaker. Eventually, we have got titles like a Man of Steel, a Jedi Master, a Rapunzel, and many more fictional characters. This has turned out to be a good thing for us because it piques curiosity in people. People often ask questions about our nicknames which led to interesting conversations with many clients. Our small initiative turned us from a rookie in the industry into an interesting startup with cool nicknames that people could talk about.

There are two ways to look at challenges. One is they are brick walls and they are there to keep us out and another is they are brick walls but they are there to bring best in us. The only way to overcome any challenge is through.

When we started working in the digital marketing industry, it was only us in the country. We went to almost every agency and tried to convince them that digital marketing is the next big thing in marketing. We tried to convince people about the changing content consumption pattern of young people that they are not interested in TV and newspapers, they are into Facebook and digital platforms. So Facebook and online platforms have to be the destination for your marketing where people from all backgrounds are.

I must say that we were not taken seriously. The reason was simple, it was hard to see the future. It always is unless it happens. Educating the market was a huge challenge for us.

But we persisted. And as we have gained more and more clients and could show some success stories, many other clients got interested. Success is the best form of advertisement. The clients saw that digital marketing works and it allows them to target people they want to reach in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Gradually, we started to receive more queries from interested clients. After the initial one and a half years, we started to receive queries from interested clients which were completely different before. In fact, many times we could not serve inclined partners due to our limited capacity.

Things often change. Good days come. But it takes time. Your job is to stick to the game, endure and do your job with love regardless of the outcome. If you do good work, you will get noticed.

Another even bigger challenge we faced was convincing our clients that we are capable of doing the work and that we have expertise. Being young was a disadvantage for us. Many of the companies have told us that they could not give us work because we’re too young. Others objected that we’re a local company. Many people used to take my managing partner title, which was written on the back of my card, lightly. In fact, many found it funny. Our age was a huge disadvantage for us.

Future Startup

You have been working in the digital marketing space for years now, what are the biggest lessons for you from all these years?

Ridwan Hafiz

I am not a regular marketing guy with a marketing degree. I graduated with an engineering degree and then started a marketing company, which is a bit odd.

After working for a while, I thought that I need to learn more about business and marketing and eventually decided to get a marketing education. I applied to and got into the Dhaka University evening MBA program. I went there to learn something but after working hard for two and a half years I found it a little less effective an education. While it offers important education on theories and helps to develop an overall understanding of marketing, our marketing and communication education is still very old school. The examples, tools, and activities that are taught in the classrooms are mostly outdated and have very little relevance to the new world that we are living in today.

The digital marketing industry is an entirely different world. This has changed the entire paradigm of brand marketing and communication. The way communications work is very different today. In the past it was one-way communication, brands used to talk to customers through TVC, press ad and other mediums and customers had very little opportunity to talk back. But now things are different. Customers have platforms where they can talk back and they are in fact talking back. This has created a whole new dynamics for brands.

In the digital world, you are directly interacting with your customers, competitors and other stakeholders, in a personalized manner. In today’s world, customers have the power to push your brand to a different height and also pull it down to the lowest as well. This is a whole new world. That’s one of the key lessons.

Another critical aspect is that it is always changing. It is a very fast-paced world and new things are happening all the time. This demands a new kind of skill from the brands.

In the past, you usually planned things for months or weeks before acting but now you have to do both at once. You have to think and plan and act simultaneously. For example, there was a huge trend of photo uploading contest on social media in the early days. People used to participate like crazy in those contests. But no more and if you try it today you are likely to fail miserably. Because new things have come and people are busy with that. Moreover, people used to play a lot of games like Mafia, Candy crush, Sims, Clash of Clans, etc. But now people do not spend much time in playing games. Over the past years, the video has become a thing in digital. Video viewership increased by 6 times.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from the digital marketing industry is that you have to know your brand well and understand the trends to utilize it in building your brand. You have to have a keen eye to observe the changes in the market and respond accordingly.

Another key lesson is that complacency has no place in the digital world. If you think you know enough then you are about to fail. The market and the industry is changing every day and new trends are replacing old ones daily. You have to be open-minded and be vigilant so that you can change yourself with the changes in the market. Even though I have been working in the industry for a very long time, I don’t think I understand digital that well. I’m learning every day and I intend to do so in the foreseeable future.

Complacency has no place in the digital world. If you think you know enough then you are about to fail.

Ridwan Hafiz, Sumit Saha & Risalat Siddique Alvee (from left to right)
Ridwan Hafiz, Sumit Saha & Risalat Siddique Alvee (from left to right)

Future Startup

Please give us an overview of Analyzen in terms of the size of your operation, management team, business, and strategic ambition as well as major things that are currently going on at Analyzen.

Ridwan Hafiz

We have now local operations in three markets namely Bangladesh, Singapore, and Myanmar. We have a presence in Sri Lanka and the Philippine through partnerships. Over the next few years, our plan is to expand to more South Asian countries and eventually to the world.

In terms of the management team, I and Sumit started it. In 2014, our partner, Risalat Siddique joined us. Before joining us, he was at Unilever Bangladesh for 8 years. Our international operations are looked after by Delwar Hossain, who joined us in 2015. At the end of 2015, he left his job as a Regional Finance Director at Unilever and started with Analyzen. This is basically our core management team.

As a team, we are almost 100 people and growing.

Business-wise, we have been growing exponentially over the past years. Every year we are seeing double or two and half times growth from the previous year.

Organizationally, we have different divisions for different work. We currently have around seven divisions including Enterprise system, Query Management, Digital Strategy, Analytics, Apps and Games development, and Digital and Web content development. We have worked with a good number of leading brands in the country including Grameen phone, Samsung, Reckitt-Benckiser, all brands of Unilever, Aarong and British American Tobacco among others. Internationally, we have served brands like Unilever, the Himalayas among others. We have also worked with the Government on a limited scale.

On the software end, we have done some really fascinating works over the past years. A few of our works in the field include a sales automation system for British American tobacco called Prism, a marketing activation software for Unilever Bangladesh, a field force management system and a visual merchandising solution for Samsung. Many of these solutions are new to our market and have changed the entire market landscape in many instances.

We have a great team, which we believe is more important than anything else in this business. Our team does not hurry when it comes to development, we don’t take on many projects at once. We produce less but whatever we make has to be something really useful and distinct.

Future Startup

How is your international operation doing?

Ridwan Hafiz

Our operation in Myanmar is not that old yet. We just started there. However, within a very short time, we have managed to receive a good response from the market. We have already started working with Unilever, Rohto and a few other companies.

In Singapore and the Philippines, we are working with Himalayas, Unilever, and a few eCommerce companies and startups.

So far we are happy with our growth in the international markets but there is always room for doing better.

Future Startup

Can you please tell us about the organizational culture at Analyzen?

Ridwan Hafiz

We are now a team of almost 100 people and growing.

For our clients as well as vendors, we prefer to use the word partner rather than the client or vendor. We understand and believe in the interdependent nature of these relationships and we take that very seriously.

When we partner with a brand, we try to live by that rule of interdependence. For instance, when we’re working with Samsung, all the Analyzers (we call our people analyzers) had to use Samsung mobile. Even the closest friends and families of the Analyzers were requested to do so. If we ourselves do not believe in the product that we are selling then we will not be able to market that product properly. We market the products that we believe in.

We ensure the best possible service for our clients. Our dedicated team (s) works round the clock to make sure that queries are answered and problems are solved immediately. We can afford to promise the best service in the market because of our excellent and hardworking team which is comprised of talented students from the best universities in Bangladesh.

We maintain exclusivity. When we work with our partners, we never work with two competing brands from the same industry at once. If we are working with Samsung mobile then we will not work with any other mobile brand until and unless the contract with Samsung is over.

Whenever we work with a partner, we consider their brands like ours. We work hard to give them supreme attention and nurture them to be healthy and prosperous in the future.

We maintain an open door policy and empower everyone to speak up and come up with ideas. We believe that everyone is equal and ideas can actually come from anyone and anywhere.

As an organization, we are horizontal in nature. We are more like a family. We work together, hang out together, and celebrate together. From the very beginning, we have tried to build a festive and colorful culture at the company that cheers you up and boosts your mood. The celebration is a core part of how we operate. We celebrate whenever we get a new partner and we also celebrate whenever we lose a partner. All of our members work very hard for their brands and work with a sense of ownership and dedication.

Over the past years, we have actively resisted the idea of office politics that often embroils growing startups causing unnecessary problems. We maintain an open-door policy and empower everyone to speak up and come up with ideas. We believe that everyone is equal and ideas can actually come from anyone and anywhere.

team Analyzen
Team Analyzen

Future Startup

When you started there was not much competition in the market and the digital marketing budget was also relatively small. Over the years, things have changed. Brands are now increasing their digital budget and at the same time, we are seeing growing competition from both new and incumbent players. How do you think about the competition in the industry?

Ridwan Hafiz

We don’t think much about competition, rather we believe in doing our best and every time when we do something we try to outperform our own standard. Our competition is with ourselves.

The digital marketing industry is quite large and the possibilities are endless. There are so many things to do. We still scratching the surface and there are many interesting areas that we are yet to explore.

Our goal is very simple: instead of competing with other companies and agencies, we want to compete with ourselves and grow into a more skilled and more resourceful agency. Our relentless focus is on developing ourselves and our capabilities so that we can serve our clients better.

That said, we maintain a good relationship with other agencies in the industry. We believe that being a relatively new industry, which digital marketing is, competition is good. It pushes you further and to do more. We have high regard for other players in the space. In fact, I see realistic potentials of collaboration between/among agencies in the industry.

When we started in 2008, digital marketing was not a thing yet in Bangladesh. Today, so far our count, we have over 114 agencies serving in this space. That said, I don’t think our competition is with other agencies, rather I think the only competition for us and for other agencies in the space as well as is lack of awareness in the market about the importance of digital marketing.

Our market is quite big, but in order to realize the full potential, our brands need to understand the value of digital marketing and the changing landscape in the market. I think that’s a more worthy challenge to tackle than worrying about the competition.

Future Startup

Your help other companies with marketing, but how do your marketing and sales work? Your space, B2B, is also quite tricky when it comes to marketing.

Ridwan Hafiz

This is one area where we are not that good at. We seldom do our branding or marketing. Many people don't even know that Analyzen is the first-ever and the largest digital marketing agency in the country.

Our marketing is more about our work. Instead of investing in marketing and promotion, we invest in our people and in building our team. We probably pay the highest salary in the digital marketing and creative industry. People are what make or break a company and we want to have the best people in our team and nurture them and help them to grow.

We are a little public relation shy. As I said, our work is our promotion. Our clients know who we are. Instead of spending time in the promotion, we prefer to spend it in making our clients happy. That’s, in fact, our marketing strategy and I think in B2B it works better than any other form of marketing. Good works speak louder than an ad.

Our market is quite big, but in order to realize the full potential, our brands need to understand the value of digital marketing and the changing landscape in the market. I think that’s a more worthy a challenge to tackle than worrying about the competition.

Future Startup

How big is the digital advertising industry in Dhaka? How much has the market for digital advertising grown over the past years?

Ridwan Hafiz

There is no official data about the market size and all. But in order to develop an idea, you can take into account data from different sources. In 2014, the big MNCs who were our clients had less than 5% of the total marketing budget allocated for digital marketing. Today, there are brands who actually spend 60% to 70% of their marketing budget in digital. There are also brands that have stopped using ATL marketing tools and focused solely on digital marketing.

Our internal research suggests that the yearly market size is somewhere around $50 million and it is growing. That said, a lot of things are happening in the name of digital marketing. I would say that there is an overall lack of understanding about the strategy and reality of the digital space in Dhaka. Social media boosting has become the key act of digital marketing. Many people started to think that digital marketing is only about boosting posts.

Digital marketing offers an incredible new world to the brands and marketers to reach out to your audience in a more precise and personalized way. The possibilities are endless starting from precision targeting to personalization to engagement to building community. I think many of us are missing opportunities that digital media has to offer.

We reached the first one billion Youtube viewership in Bangladesh in the latter part of 2016. Surprisingly, it took us just a few months of 2017 to cross the next one billion viewership. This is how fast the industry is growing.

With 28 million people using Facebook, Bangladesh is one of the largest markets for Facebook. In fact, many Facebook users in the rural areas are not aware of the fact that they are using the internet. They deem Facebook is the internet. Which means, although we have a huge population using the internet, we are at the very early stage of the digital era. The market has not reached the mature state yet which means the scope for growth is huge.

Future Startup

What are the major challenges in the industry and where do you see the industry in 5 to 6 years? What current trends do you see that will be a big thing in digital marketing over the next few years?

Ridwan Hafiz

Starting a digital marketing agency is a relatively easy job. The entry barrier is almost non-existent. As a result, we have seen an influx in the number of digital marketing agencies in recent years. The problem, however, is that many people are coming into this industry without having sufficient knowledge about the industry. They come with superficial understanding and eventually cannot survive for long.

The best thing about digital market Industries is that you can actually measure your return on investment. If you are just spending money without any planning, justification, and strategy then you are doing it wrong. The problem is when you do things based on gut feelings and do guesswork, you don’t get results accordingly. This individual failure has greater repercussions. When a brand has a bad experience working with a small agency, they tend to view the entire industry with a sense of skepticism. This hinders the overall growth of the industry.

Another problem arises with these small agencies is that they create unrealistic price competition. For example, when we charge BDT 3,000 for a static banner, some agency charges BDT 500 or less for the same thing which makes our partners question our prices and whether we are charging them unnecessarily higher. But if you are to do quality works, works that bring results, you have to invest accordingly.

We are seeing competition for numbers. The quantity has become a key metric over quality. This is one of the major challenges in the industry and I think all the stakeholders need to work together in order to ensure healthy growth of the sector.

As far as the trend is concerned, a few things, I think, will go big in the next few years. We are currently working on augmented reality and virtual reality. These technologies, I think, will define our social experience over the next few years.

We are seeing a growing use of artificial intelligence in marketing and branding. In the near future, this will only become more mainstream. I think brands and agencies should start investing in these areas and in more innovations.

We are at early stage of digital marketing in Bangladesh. Our internet penetration is growing rapidly. Maturity in the market has also been growing rapidly. Our prediction is that this industry will see huge growth over the next 10 years.

We are seeing a growing use of artificial intelligence in marketing and branding. In the near future, this will only become more mainstream. I think brands and agencies should start investing in these areas and in more innovations.

Future Startup

There is an overall lack of innovation in the digital marketing space. Digital marketing has become synonymous to Facebook boosting and people have already started to talk about it. What is your take on this?

Ridwan Hafiz

You are absolutely right. There is an overall lack of creativity and innovation in the space. This is largely because of the lack of proper understanding, knowledge and as well as the maturity of the market. All the stakeholders are contributing to this, but I would particularly say that agencies are more responsible for this. To some agencies, digital marketing means only Facebook post and boost.

I think people are not interested in research and experiment and mostly try to stick to the proven and easy recipes. For instance, when we get a brief from a client, before going to execution we invest time and effort into research running both offline and online survey, focus group discussion to understand the challenge and come up with an idea that will deliver the result. This helps.

One of the reasons is research. Without proper research and experiment, it is hard to come up with ideas that are innovative and creative. The partners and clients both need to understand what they want and what is happening in the digital marketing around the world. There is a lack of openness towards experiment and risk-taking. But if you don’t take the risk, you can’t innovate.

Future Startup

What are the challenges for Analyzen now? What challenges do you anticipate in the future?

Ridwan Hafiz

We take challenges very positively. Challenges are a good thing. They push you and help you to grow. Whenever we get a new brief or some difficult problem, we enjoy solving that problem.

That said, I have already mentioned some of the challenges in the industry that also affect us. One is, of course, growing competition which is not healthy in many ways because it is about price and quantity instead of quality.

We have come up with strategies to deal with these challenges based on the result. We show our clients result that we drive in terms of lead generation, return on investment, sales growth and increase in brand equity. This is not a challenge for us alone this is a growing challenge for everyone in the industry.

Apart from showing result, another antidote to this challenge is awareness and education. We need to create an overall better understanding of the digital marketing in the market so that partners and brands can understand what is what.

We are also constantly investing in learning. Learning is the most sustainable competitive advantage. We arrange monthly learning session for both our partners and ourselves. We discuss new trends and innovations in the digital marketing. While this is helping us to build lasting connections with our partners, it also helps to build awareness and learn new things every time.

We have a great research team constantly working to unearth new trends, new innovations, ideas to give us a better understanding of the market as well as to empower our brands. For instance, we constantly track handset related trends in the market such as how many times the word ‘handset’ has been mentioned, positive reviews of different brands, negative reviews, how many people are asking questions about it etc despite the fact that we are not currently working with any handset brand. This intelligence about the changes in the market enables us to see deeper trends in the market, serve our customers better and deliver better result. This analysis of market continues regardless of any client paying us for that.

There is a lack of openness towards experiment and risk taking. But if you don’t take the risk, you can’t innovate.

Future Startup

What are the future plans for Analyzen?

Ridwan Hafiz

One of the key priorities for us is to maintain growth across markets. Our ambition is to become the top agency in the digital marketing industry in the region first and then the world.

Our expansion effort is going in full swing. We plan to expand our footprints in more South Asian and Southeast Asian markets. In the next 3 to 5 years expansion is one of the key priorities.

Another major strategic focus area for us is launching our own products. Over the past years, we have done some good works in the software and IT solution sector for brands like BAT, Microsoft, Rohto and Dell among others. These are mostly custom solutions and none are branded as Analyzen product. In the next few years, we plan to launch few of our own products in the market. We have an extremely talented team working in our IT section which is a strategic advantage for us. With our global presence, we will be able to distribute it globally.

Team Analyzen
Team Analyzen

Future Startup

What is your management philosophy?

Ridwan Hafiz

I believe in taking ownership of your work. At Analyzen, no one works for Analyzen, rather everyone works with Analyzen. That is how I feel about management.

When you are asking people to take ownership, you also need to give them some authority so that they can make decisions and take initiatives. I tend to allow people to do their work. I empower people which is the central trait of my management style that informs how I manage things and people.

We have one of the lowest people turnover rates in the industry. Over the past years, only a handful of people left Analyzen for working in another company. People have left us for specific purposes like pursuing higher education, starting their own business or exploring a different area of expertise.

We believe in finding joy at work. We try to encourage people to love their work and help in the process because if you don’t enjoy your work it becomes difficult to carry it out for a long time. Contrary to that, when you love your work it does not feel like work.

One of the key priorities for us is to maintain the growth across markets. Our ambition is to become the top agency in the digital marketing industry in the region first and then the world.

Future Startup

How do you pull yourself up when you feel really down or come across a really big challenge?

Ridwan Hafiz

Personally, on the outside, I maintain and tell everyone that I do not feel down ever. I do not have any regrets and I can overcome any challenge. A sort of superhuman outlook. While it is true to a certain degree, I have my share of hard times. Being an entrepreneur has its cost.

One particular instance stands out. There was a time when I literally had a panic attack in the office when we lost one of our major partners. When I saw my people, I saw that they were scared because I was scared. They were not scared because we lost a client. Rather they were scared because I was scared. That’s when I realized that a lot of them look up to me and believe in me and if they believe in me I could not let them down. I must not dare to let them down. That realization helped me to gather my composure.

The next day, we all came together and decided that it is just a minor speed bump and we are Analyzen, the best in the world. We will overcome this momentary setback. My people worked very hard than any previous years and eventually we could manage to overcome the loss of that client. They did that out of love for Analyzen as they did not want to leave this place and certainly not for their own benefit. From that day I have always been aware that I have my people with me all the time.

Nowadays, whenever I feel down, I look up to my people and the daily grind they put in to make sure that we win every day. It offers me the strength to work even harder

Analyzen is a family to me and even after a rough day when you see your family happy, you forget all your hardships and troubles. Whenever I see that my people are working so hard to move the company forward, I feel inspired and it pushes me up no matter how difficult the going gets.

Be an ultimate customer obsessed company. It always helps to be a customer first company. In every business helping your customer means helping yourself.

Future Startup

What would be your advice for the people who are just starting out?

Ridwan Hafiz

Do your homework before starting out. This is not only about starting in this industry, but about any industry for that matter. You have to learn about the industry before investing or operating in it.

Be vigilant, always. Be aware of the changes in the market, new trends and forces this will help you to stay ahead in the game.

Copycats die hard. Instead of copying mindlessly, work a little hard, research, talk to your clients, understand their problems and needs. This will give you a much better result than mere copying from others. Copying is easy but often we should avoid the things that are easy to get. Instead, we should seek difficulties. Digital marketing is a huge space, you can do so many things. Try new things and experiment.

Invest in your technology. Digital is all about better technology. Unfortunately, we seldom take technology with the seriousness that we should take it. The dominating trend is that we create a post and boost them as if there is no tomorrow. I think the time for mere boosting is gone and now in order to break the clutter in the digital space, you have to invest in technology and do things that are of substance.

Be an ultimate customer-obsessed company. It always helps to be a customer-first company. In every business helping your customer means helping yourself.

We sit with our clients and discuss their budget for digital marketing. If they are spending too much we tell them not to. We show them with numbers and data how much money they need to invest in order to have a certain result. This sounds a counterproductive strategy in the short run, but in the long run, this is the most sustainable strategy. This openness helps us to build a lasting relationship with our clients. I think helping your client to grow so that you also can grow with him is the best strategy to pursue in this age.

(Interview by Mohammad Tashnim, Edited by Ruhul Kader, Image courtesy, Analyzen)

Tashnim is a Final year-Finance major of BBA department at Bangladesh University of Professionals. His interest revolves around entrepreneurs, their stories and taking an initiative to change society. Tashnim likes to think about technology with its impact on our business and lives. Say 'hi' to him at tasnimdrmc14@yahoo.com

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