Nazmul Hassan is the Founder & CEO of Watermelon Communication, one of the most reliable and creative Event Management & Marketing Communication agencies in Bangladesh. He started his career as a Software Engineer after completing his graduation in Computer Science & Engineering. Later, in 2006 he founded his first venture BNH Production, which develops cartoons and animations for international market. Since then rather than rest on his laurels, Nazmul branched out into an array of businesses. His unique way of entrepreneurship and dynamic leadership established Watermelon Communication to deliver incredibly successful live events for corporate and private clients throughout Bangladesh and beyond the border.
In a conversation with Future StartUp he discussed about Watermelon Communication and shared his views and experiences.
Future StartUp: Tell us about yourself and your passion in life?
Nazmul Hassan: In very short, I am a Continuous Learner, Serial Entrepreneur and Family Man who just Love to work hard and to have lots of fun.
I believe in using and harnessing other people’s knowledge and experience, which is why I like to work holistically, within a team. I also believe that, if you want to transform your life, you need the help of others – powerful relationships with people who give you support and access, and push you to exceed your potential.
I trust my own instinct and ability to do almost anything I set my mind to. If an idea or project is good and worthwhile, I’ll always consider it seriously, even if I have never done it, or thought about it before. Looking, Listing, Learning – these are the things we should do all our lives, not just at school.
Future StartUp: Tell us about Watermelon Communication, about its past accomplishment & Future plan.
Nazmul Hassan: Watermelon Communication is one of the most reliable and creative Event Management & Market Communication agency in Bangladesh.
It delivers incredibly successful live events for corporate and private clients throughout Bangladesh and beyond the border. The diverse skills and considerable experience within the personnel at Watermelon Communication is what really gives us the ability to stand out from the crowd, and we can ensure our clients’ events do the same.
We thrive on solid relationships with like-minded people who are looking to create unique and ground-breaking experiences that exceed expectations without compromising the budget.
Future StartUp: What inspires you to become an Entrepreneur instead of taking any other easy way?
Nazmul Hassan: Well, to be very honest, I don’t believe there is any easy or shortcut recipe for success. You need to invest a significant amount of time, energy and effort to achieve success in life. It might become actually a rather simple thing to do if you follow your passion instead.
When I first discovered that my nickname among some of my colleagues at TechnoVista Limited was “Mr. Positive”, I was amused. Obviously, it had come about because of my automatic response to any problem, a request or a question is more likely to be positive. I have always tried to find reasons to do something if it seems like a good idea, than not to do it.
To me, Entrepreneurship is a liberal art - “liberal” because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom and leadership; and “art” because it is also concerned with practice and application.
I believe that business can create a better world by building entrepreneurial companies that help rather than damage the planet. No matter what you want to achieve, no matter what you want to do, you can make it happen. You just have to take the first step. And, I think that feelings of freedom inspired me a lot to become an Entrepreneur back in 2006.
Future StartUp: How did you come up with the idea of Watermelon Communication?
Nazmul Hassan: When I was working for People Group, which is one of the largest advertising agency groups in Europe, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, I got the opportunity to develop the MOM Solution (Market Operation Management Solution) for some of the world’s renowned brands like Microsoft, Dell, Toyota, Carlsberg Beer etc. During that time, I started learning about Advertising, Marketing and Branding.
Later, when I started my first business BNH Production which is a Cartoon and Animation production firm in 2006, I came in touch with lots of creative people around me. That actually drew my interest on creative ways of Market Communication. And that’s how Watermelon Communication came into light.
Future StartUp: After you came up with the idea, how did you get started? Please walk us through what the first few months of your journey were like.
Nazmul Hassan: Starting a new business is not always easy, and most start-ups fail in the first few years -- usually for poorly executed plan, a lack of public awareness or a shortage of money. So a key ingredient of success is the ability to pick yourself up and try again. At the beginning when I started Watermelon Communication, I always tried to address the first two problems by ensuring that we had a great service and that everyone knew about our businesses because of our great publicity.
I believed that if we address those two critical issues, it would be easier to tackle the third challenge: generating enough cash to keep the business going. And that method worked for me.
Another thing was my employees. I believe, employees are the life blood of any business. A successful business isn't the product or service it sells: It is a group of people bound together by a common purpose and vision. In our case, we do the same events as our competitors offer. What separates us from the competition is Our Employees. The best designed business plan will come to nothing if it is not carried out by an enthusiastic and passionate staff. This is especially true when things go slightly wrong; a friendly and proactive team can often win people round, averting a potential disaster or even turning it to your benefit.
Future StartUp: What were the biggest obstacles you faced in your journey to date? And how did you overcome them?
Nazmul Hassan: For me, the biggest obstacles were and still are finding the Right leader or people for my business. The people factor appears over and over on my top priority list. The successes of my businesses such as Nexus Securities Limited, BNH Production or Watermelon Communication were all based on our assembling a great management team that had a vision, passion and a real sense of ownership. We look for leaders with the ability to listen to feedback from employees and customers -- this is crucial to keeping a service or product fresh and innovative.
And to attack the problem, I mostly depend on my connections. As I mentioned earlier, I always try to maintain a powerful relationships with people. And never hesitate to ask for help when I’m in need.
Future StartUp: What would you say are the biggest drivers of your success today?
Nazmul Hassan: I didn’t follow any rules. I just work hard and, as I always have done, I believe I can do it.
The ultimate objective of my business is to satisfy customer needs at a sustainable profit. Whatever strategy we employ to gain competitive advantage must ultimately be based upon our customers’ need.
Another very important factor, I guess, is to have fun. We at Watermelon Communication pride ourselves on finding the fun in our businesses. We try to ensure our staff and customers feel a sense of warmth and affection. To foster a personal interest in clients' needs, it's crucial to ensure employees enjoy what they're doing. Everyone must be proud of the company. This is vital to building lasting success and ensuring an edge over the competition. To find employees who will take such an interest in our customers, we look for people who show genuine enthusiasm and character.
Future StartUp: You are the Founder of Watermelon Communication, certainly there were lots of ups & downs before you come in today’s position. Did you feel frustration or fear of failure any time during your journey? If yes, then how did you outperform them?
Nazmul Hassan: In assessing where we have not got it right, a clear pattern emerges: Our businesses didn't succeed when the difference of Watermelon’s service was much harder for customers to grasp. We had limited marketing budgets compared to our well-established rivals and, because of the differentiation problem, found it difficult to create lasting awareness of and interest in our services.
By nature, I am not a numbers man, so I did not measure the success of a new venture by the amount of money we made. In Watermelon's early days, we wanted to create great number of satisfied customers who are happy and comfortable working with us.
Future StartUp: Tell us briefly about your biggest experiences and learning.
Nazmul Hassan: Regarding my biggest experience and learning, I would like to share one thing.
I’m a Cancer survivor. I went through Chemo Therapy twice with 6 cycles of Chemo each time. Then I had my Bone Marrow Transplantation. On this tough time and being so close to death, I realized one thing; that is, life is very short and we should live our life at its fullest. Have lots of fun, work hard and money will follow. Don’t waste time – grab your opportunity. Have a positive outlook on life, when it’s not fun, move on. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
And above all, never forget to thank Allah for such a wonderful life.
Future StartUp: Let’s say if you can start all over again what are the three mistakes you avoid and what are the three positive things you would do first?
Nazmul Hassan: Thomas Alva Edison quoted it right “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
I would like to take my mistakes the same way. I think if I didn’t have the mistakes earlier I couldn’t get the opportunity to learn from them and move ahead.
And about the positive things, I would start my business earlier, would start connecting more people and would emphasize more on learning at the earlier stage of my life.
Future StartUp: What are the biggest obstacles for young Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh in your eyes?
Nazmul Hassan: I always believe learning is a very important ingredient to succeed in life. Our life grows richer in two ways – by the People we meet and by the Books we read.
If anyone in Bangladesh wants to read a good business book, it’s really hard to find one of his interests. We don’t have many options for that actually. And the same thing goes for finding the right Mentor.
Another obstacle for young Entrepreneurs is the funding issue. I think our Government is not paying a significant amount of attention on the SME sector. And that’s why, the start-ups need to depend more on the private commercial Banks and face the high interest rate on Credit Facility at their early stage, which is not good for the start-ups at all.
Even though, I appreciate the young Entrepreneurs who have started or thinking to start business overcoming all the obstacles.
Future StartUp: Advice our “Young Startup Entrepreneurs” who are just going to start their Initiatives and want to bring them to success.
Nazmul Hassan: I would say, Just make a decision! Just Do It!
Decide at the core of your heart that you will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to reach your dream. Decide that there is no end and no failures – just work and success!
Mistakes will be part of the process but never a dead end, just a curve in the road! Put your heart on your business, make the work part of your life and believe that you will benefit from the rewards to the proportion that you invest in your success.
If you want it all then you need to give it all! Simple!
Future StartUp: From your perspective what are the 5 mandatory traits/capabilities for an entrepreneur to become successful?
Nazmul Hassan: Having faith in yourself is critical. Believe that you can do it. If you recognize something is a good idea or if there is something in you personal life that you want to do, just go for it! Look for the way to do that. There is always a solution to the most complex problem.
Work hard: Set your goal higher. And work hard to achieve that. Ambition is just a word, unless you work for it. So, prepare yourself well to achieve your goal.
Try and try again: It’s not always easy to reach your goals but there is no reason to stop. Instead, say to yourself “I can do it. I’ll keep on trying until I win”. Never give up!
Help each other: You can’t succeed alone. You need the help of other people who could support you to achieve your goal. Your goal should be to build relationships by helping others generously and to build it before you need it.
Have fun: Knowing how to laugh, love and appreciate each other is what life is about. Money is to making things happen. It doesn’t make any sense of spending every moment of your life working! The proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is very true. So, live your life to the full. Put your family first
Future StartUp: Thanks for giving us your valuable time.
Nazmul Hassan: Thank you too.