Nuruddin Ahmed is the founder of Shorob- a popular Bangla Blog aimed at promoting positivism and pluralism in society. He is also the co-founder of Boichoi- a platform for book lovers and readers. We've been following his work for a long time for reasons. Recently, we spoke to him to understand his underlying motivation behind starting up too young, his way of managing time while working on multiple projects and a full-time job, and to know more about Shorob and Boichoi. His story is just fascinating.
Future StartUp: You've started quite early in your life? What was the motivation behind?
Nuruddin Ahmed: Well, I think I had to start earl! Writing is my passion and I have been writing since class six. Back in 2006 I got introduced with blog and started blogging since then. At the beginning I started with English blogging and then I found Bengali blog-sphere and started blogging in Bengali. At that time the community was very small and it was just at a very nascent stage, but it was growing rapidly. Moreover, the community (bloggers) was trying to contribute in diverse fields, but still there were some problems like politically motivated grouping, intolerance etc. which is, to me, far from something good. Then I thought we can do much better in this area if we work positively. That time I wanted to focus on two things, one is pluralism, and another is positivism. During that period, it seemed to me that most of Bengali blogs were missing those two points. So, I thought this is quite a problem and I can do something to fix this. And that’s how the idea of Shorob came to my mind as a platform that will promote pluralism and positivism. Another important goal of Shorob is to turn slacktivism into activism, as the target audience of shorob is youth, if we can use some of their online activism into real activism that would be a great contribution to our society.
Don’t you think it’s a bit difficult to start at a young age here in Bangladesh? How did you get started?
Well, it was difficult to start and it’ll always be. Because many people would not take you seriously, you would not have enough funds, and sufficient help from people. So, things were quite complex for me too. I had to hustle a lot, had to convince people, and had to do many things I had never done before. For me things were much more intricate as I was junior than many popular bloggers. And fund and other technical problems were always there.
So, I started to connect with some like minded people with a vision to make things better, with positive mentality, and with a pluralistic ideology. And I approached them and convinced some of them to join me. Long story short, at First, I convinced some people then I arranged a workshop and invited 30 people to join with me and many of them showed positive responses. Then we started writing individually, and after a certain time we launched the site. That’s how we made it possible in brief.
Briefly tell us about Shorob and BoiChoi?
Shorob is a youth centric platform and the main objective is to spread the positivism and plurality among young generation. Online activism is just half of it, we do offline works regularly. Within a very short period of time we got huge attention. Several of our posts have crossed 10000 readership!
BoiChoi is another platform. It’s a lot like Bangla version of “goodreads”. It’s a platform for book lovers. You can also call it social network of book lovers, book readers can connect with each other and so. BoiChoi is the first of its kind in our country. We have several book clubs in different universities in all over Bangladesh. We have a plan to promote new writers with our platforms.
How did you manage everything, specially, fund and people at the beginning?
At the beginning I tried to find people with appropriate skills and by Allah’s grace I have got some too. At primary stage, it just required a few technical persons and a marketing guy who I managed to collect from my own network and through the network of my friends. All of Shorob team members are volunteers and they are very much passionate about writing. So things did not go very tough. And in case of fund, we started with a very small amount of fund and fund requirement was not that much important. That was sort of self funded activities. 7-8 people contributed to the fund and we were pretty good with that.
Tell us something that makes Shorob different from others?
Well, in Shorob, people write only on the issues they are passionate about, as we motivate people not to write aimlessly. We have a quite active moderation policy, so every posts must pass a certain quality mark. We also give referencing a lot importance. I mean you need to do research before writing on something, and you must back up your hypotheses with some data/ reference books or notes. Shorob published first ever ebook on mathematics in Bengali, translated charter of compassion in Bengali for the first time, with its innovative header (which we call banner) we promote positivism and other ideas. Many of our writers are also active volunteers, so we promote volunteerism too. Shorob posted video blog about the philanthropist rickshaw puller before even CNN, later on he was featured into CNN HEROES.
How many people working at Shorob now, how do you manage people here?
We have a moderation panel of 7 people. And have a developer team of 5 people and we have more than 150 contributors. We work here as a family, I do the coordination things.
Would you please share your mistakes and learning from your journey to date?
First one was about finding right people. If you do not place right people in right place there will be some very intricate problems. Since I was new and naïve in the field, it was difficult for me to choose right person for my job. I learned from my mistakes. Later on, however, I learned how to motivate people and find those people who are passionate about what we do.
Please tell us about few of the obstacles you’ve faced throughout your journey.
Finance, skilled people, enough money for investment, online credit cards for books and domain/hosting etc are the common issues to be especially taken care of. As you need help from people around, you have to have a good network of people in need to get rid of those problems.
Please, tell something for Future Starters!
Start early. Work on something you love or love your work!