'Scarcity of time’ is what defines our modern life. And Dhaka is no different. People have very trifling amount of free time today that they don’t want to spend on shopping. Chaldal.com-a Bangladeshi e-commerce startup offers a real solution to this pain point of customers (one of 5 Bangladeshi startups we listed to watch in 2014). We recently spoke to Waseem, co-founder and CEO of Chaldal about what Chaldal is, how it works and many other issues.
Chaldal is an online grocery store. We have a wide range of grocery products that customers can select from. They place an order, and we deliver their orders to their home. They pay cash on delivery. People are increasingly getting busy, and sometimes they simply don't have the time to shop for groceries. That combined with increasing traffic congestion in Dhaka makes our service a no-brainer for the new generation of Bangladeshis.
Starting of Chaldal is yet another interesting story. Back in 2013 the founders of Chaldal were looking for an idea that has a commensurable balance between innovation and reality. Having studied various business models, they decided that groceries were the best place to make a dent in e-commerce and started Chaldal.
Zia and I were trying to start a business in Bangladesh. Last year (around March/April, 2013) we started looking into ecommerce. We studied the various business models in play across the region and decided that grocery was the best place to make a dent in e-commerce. In general, we wanted to start something innovative in Bangladesh and this idea had the right balance between innovation and reality.
Now a well funded startup having investment from VC firm from Valley Chaldal was no different than any other startup with regards of funding at the beginning. Founders paid from their pocket and savings.
We funded it out of pocket for a while. From our several years of work, we had decent amount of savings. We decided to put it all behind Chaldal. Thankfully, we now have some outside investors as well.
Today Chaldal is a family of 12 members but starting of Chaldal was not something straightforward job. Building delivery network was a huge challenge from the very beginning and they had to find an alternative solution to online payment as well.
We had to build our own delivery network because there wasn’t one that would be able to provide a good enough customer service. There is not much of a culture of using credit cards online, so we had to introduce cash on delivery. There is no mechanism to let the customers know we exist, so we have been fighting an uphill battle for customers attention.
With every passing day Chaldal is growing but they want to power this growth with community feedback.
If there was a community that would be patient with us, try our service and give us honest feedback on improvement -- it would go a long way. Often times the biggest hurdle for a startup is to find the initial base of loyal customers -- as the tech community is growing in the country, it would surely help a lot if people used our service more frequently. Beyond that, I think we need more publications that highlight what is happening with the local tech scene. Anything that spreads the word about our service helps us a lot.
We think with rapidly growing netizens and millennials there is huge opportunity for Chaldal in forthcoming days. Given that Chaldal offers its best efforts in business operations & customer satisfaction, they will get a huge base of loyal customers!