Face To Face With Nazmul Ahmed Najm, Founder & CEO, Ennovision

Face To Face With Nazmul Ahmed Najm, Founder & CEO, Ennovision

Dear readers, we are absolutely honored to feature Nazmul Ahmed Najm, Founder and CEO of Ennovision for our Face to Face first issue of 2014. We bet 2014 is going to be a great year. You are in for a wonderful time. Right now what you need to do is a little favor to yourself. Please do find a quiet place to sit tight for few minutes or get inside your blanket, grab a cup of coffee or tea or anything you prefer and get ready to peek into the mind of Najm.

Najm has been a serial entrepreneur since age 14. He has an astounding body of works that includes establishing Bangladesh Changemakers social network, running operations and branding for Experience Bangladesh, a US based company since his undergrad years at Dhaka University, working with cross disciplinary teams in the US, UK, Italy and Australia; and his eye and passion for design and photography, and now all part of his wide spectrum of business development & “ideation to execution” expertise that he brings to the table to run his cutting edge visual branding company Ennovision Ltd.

It was a true pleasure and inspiration to talk to him about his passion, life, entrepreneurial journey, and how his brain child ‘Ennovision’ has grown over the years.

We have learned that, obstacles will always be there, society will always stand still on our way to move forward, risk will always be present; everything will never be perfect, but we hope Najm’s story will encourage you to take that leap of faith, however big or small, that you always wanted to take, to try something new and think beyond conventional wisdom and limitation and to push yourself just a little further to start and make it happen.~ Ruhul Kader

Ruhul Kader: Please briefly tell us about yourself, your passion, and your current involvement

Namul Ahmed Najm: My name is Nazmul Ahmed Najm. I’m the founder and CEO of Ennovision. My passion has always been design since my high school days. My education in Accounting and Information systems from Dhaka University came in real handy though when I had to set up and run operations in my businesses.

In hindsight, what mattered most was being able to connect the dots to my best advantage, irrespective of what I studied.

Ennovision is a visual branding company. We say visual branding is a life style that expresses our client’s identity. This can be done for a person, a company or a non-profit by designing their logo, paraphernalia, stationery and every visual that communicates their message to the world. This includes their online presence like web design & development, social media and online marketing.

Visual branding is carried through every aspect of our work. For example, in designing websites, “user experience” is our top priority. Then, the user experience is enhanced through the clients’ representation through all their platforms in social media.

Personally, I love design and travel. I collect my design inspiration from the places I visit every year. I try to observe things with intensity and different perspectives so that I can capture the many angles of a design concept in architecture, art, historical antiques, pop art etc. And when I get back to work from my travels, I am often thrilled to see a major change in my design work.

For example, last year, my trip to Santorini, Greece where all the architecture and buildings are white, inspired my conscious effort of more “white spaces” in my design. It was like giving more weight to the design elements by creating more spaces between them.

Ennovision is successful because I have 10 other failures. You fail you learn. And I would not change most of the things because I know I always did my best trying.

How and when did your entrepreneurial journey begin?

Najm: My interest in computers began in Fourth Grade, I was 9 years old. Back then Rokib Hasan-the writer of ‘Three Detectives’- was my neighbor and he had a Macintosh computer that I would play on. That was my first computer experience. I started with a Macintosh!

I became obsessed with gaming-video games. I spent loads of hours playing video games. I was often asked how playing video games this much would help my carrier.

When I bought my first computer in 9th grade, it became clear that my obsession with video games led to my passion for graphic design and that’s when I actually started working on design and animation. I designed animation for clients that I was lucky to land in a year after I started working with Macromedia Flash Five and developing a better sense of what people liked and didn’t like. This was back in the day when Flash was owned by Macromedia and not Adobe. Future Leaders and Mulitplan were among my first clients. I made the shift to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator soon after.

For a student, in a country like Bangladesh it is unusual to start at such an early age. Did you think about it a lot before starting, or was it something that you planned?

Najm: Nope, it wasn’t planned. Ennovision was born in 2007, even before I joined Dhaka University. Attending Dhaka University however was a huge advantage, since people valued me more as an entrepreneur when I told them that I was a student of Dhaka University.

Were there any other entrepreneurs in your family before you?

Najm: No. I’m the first.

Please briefly tell us about Ennovision. How did you get the idea, funding, and connected the dots?

Najm: When I first started, people gave me work because they knew or had heard of Nazmul Ahmed Najm. I later wished to scale a brand and came up with the name Ennovision with one of my mentors. The name Ennovision was inspired by the “e” from “electronic” way of working on other’s visions.

Ennovision logo

Ennovision logo

While studying at the university, I also volunteered for non-profit organizations through which I got to know a few people from the US, who later on started working with me. That’s how our global journey began as a company. From the US, our client base moved into UK, Italy, and then Australia. We are thrilled to have successfully globalized our services with clients around the world.

For 2014, we have decided to focus on Bangladesh as a market to revolutionize this industry because we are a Bangladesh (home) grown company and want to make our mark here.

There were days when I worked in between classes without a laptop with a pen and paper. I would do sketches for clients and if I needed to work on computers, I went to any of the computer labs to finish my drawings. Luckily at Dhaka University, each department had their own computer lab, which was a great thing for me to get my work done. Yes, it was not fancy but I had to get things done!

When you started you were a student but doing business takes dedicated time and a certain level of commitment. How did you manage all those things?

Najm: Just like anyone else would say, you have to work real hard. I used to wake up at 6:30 am in morning and got ready for University by 8:00 am. Most days, I, while waiting for University bus at station, would always think about what I’d be doing the whole day, what I was going to work on. Then I would go to university and attend my class.

There were days when I worked in between classes without a laptop with a pen and paper. I would do sketches for clients and if I needed to work on computers, I went to any of the computer labs to finish my drawings. Luckily at Dhaka University, each department had their own computer lab, which was a great thing for me to get my work done. Yes, it was not fancy but I had to get things done!

From my high school batch, I was the last person to be accepted into a university and first to graduate. Almost every day, after class, I would have to run home or go to someone’s office and work. A home office served me well since I had the freedom to work whenever I wanted and saved on time and money. After a full day of work and school, I would work with my clients in the US and UK from 10 pm (BD time), given the time difference, till 3 am. Thankful that, my 3 hours of sleep days are long gone now.

Snapshot

Snapshot

How many people were working with you back then?

Najm: There were 3 of us and we worked as a team virtually. I designed and then dashed off to the developer’s house to get the rest of the work done. He charged me less for showing up at his doorstep! Every penny counted as a business owner!

What is the work dynamics right now with your team?

Najm: We just moved into our new office space in Baridhara DOHS. Since our business innovator is in the US and our content development manager is in Australia, we use tools like dropbox, Skype and Wunderlist to streamline communications and mange our projects. Our web developer and social media managers reside in Bangladesh. The whole team is in 3 different countries.

Now Ennovision is more formal.

Najm: Yes. We are now registered under RJSC as a private limited company from October, 2013 and we have a physical office here in Dhaka.

How much has Ennovision grown in the meantime? What were the major changes between the beginning and now?

Najm: In the beginning, it was only me, trying to juggle all aspects of the business from lead generation to sales, design and development. Since then, we have transformed into a visual branding firm with 5 people in our team. Even as we expand, I believe in working with the best and hiring only people with high caliber skill sets, rather than hiring a lot of people with mediocre skills. For me it’s all about quality.

Back when I started, the size of the contracts ranged from BDT 5000 to a maximum of BDT 10,000. These days our contracts average at around BDT 100,000 each.

We choose to serve only 4 clients at a time so that we can maintain the quality of service we strive to uphold every day.

Even as we expand, I believe in working with the best and hiring only people with high caliber skill sets, rather than hiring a lot of people with mediocre skills. For me it’s all about quality.

It’s been a long journey- a student of Dhaka University starting a business out of passion and then fast-forwarded to 2013 expanding his mission. That’s brilliant. However, the path was definitely not smooth, there were many challenges, please tell us few of the challenges you faced to date and how you overcame them?

Najm: Well, to begin with, as a student people assumed that I might not have the work ethics to deliver good work or deliver on time. Then, for the period, we ran a virtual office; people in Bangladesh didn’t take us seriously. We still did well by focusing on capturing clients abroad! Moreover, we eventually penetrated the Bangladesh market through word of mouth.

You started when you were a student, right? How can a student start a business right after school?

Najm: I think every student should work. It does not have to be a business, it can be volunteer work at a nonprofit or any place but everyone must work while still at university because a traditional education can’t take you that far. Experience is far more important. For me: I have been working for 10 years. I have never had to drop my CV anywhere. I always found work through referrals because my work ethics spoke for itself. Volunteer work is a great place to start building your portfolio as a student. That’s the only way people can see the quality of work you are capable of and appreciate your enthusiasm. That goes a long way.

And for those who are passionate about starting their own business, there are lots of platforms now in Dhaka to support, so one can easily get help and advice.

Ennovision is going to organize a business challenge at Dhaka University in a few months. So, there are a lot of resources available out there to help students or fresh graduates to spring board into starting their own businesses.

I think every student should work. It does not have to be a business, it can be volunteer work at a nonprofit or any place but everyone must work while still at university because a traditional education can’t take you that far. Experience is far more important.

How do you work now?

Najm: My days are filled with a lot of meetings virtually as well as face-to-face. I usually lock myself up when I am working on designing projects. I try to remember to take breaks and attend events for inspiration and meeting new talent.

So I try to balance my work and meetings. If I’m out, I do my best to maximize my time out by packing in at least 5 to 8 meetings in a day. If I’m in front of my computer, I stay focused and stay in till I finish, so that I don’t get distracted.

What kind of skills and qualities should a startup founder have, in your eyes?

Najm: Confidence is everything one needs. If I’m going to sell something I have to be very confident about my product. I have to believe that this my product is going to sell. As an entrepreneur, faith and conviction in your venture is everything.

The level of confidence needed comes from your depth of knowledge that you have about your industry, your technology, and your product.

Confidence is everything one needs. If I’m going to sell something I have to be very confident about my product. I have to believe that this my product is going to sell. As an entrepreneur, faith and conviction in your venture is everything.

What do you think about design?

Najm: For me design is anything that works. If something looks very good but does not work, then it’s not a good design.

Design is about user experience. When you are holding a cup, are you able to hold it comfortably or does it slip from your hand? If it slips, it’s not a good design. Design is simple when it works.

You don’t need to make it complicated. When you look for inspiration, never try to reinvent the wheel. If something already exists, great! Just embrace it. And move on to design something else.

Please share few of your learnings from your journey as an entrepreneur?

Najm:

  1. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It’s a breed. A path you have the courage to walk alone because you believe in yourself and your idea.
  2. Money is not something you need to worry for. If you have passion, the money will follow. You just need to work at being the best you can be.
  3. As a designer you always have to stay on top of the latest technologies, techniques and trends that come out. So, you have to study design all the time!
  4. Leverage the ease of access to information that is so readily available at your finger tips.
  5. Never give up.

If you were given another chance to start all over again, do you think you would do it differently?

Najm: Definitely, I made a lot of mistakes. Everybody does. However, I like to look at it differently. For example, Ennovision is successful because I have 10 other failures. You fail you learn. And I would not change most of the things because I know I always did my best trying.

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