Building a hardware company is hard. It is even harder if you are just about to finish your university. But once you love something and you know it, things fall into place. Bondstein-a hardware manufacturing startup based in Dhaka, reaffirms the same story. Founded by couple of young tech enthusiasts, Bondstein produces vehicle tracking service (VTS) and various security products. The startup has its own manufacturing unit and R&D team that make best products at a competitive price. Whereas majority of the VTS sellers in Bangladesh import their products from china or elsewhere, Bondstein produces their products locally and it has become a competitive advantage for the startup. It enables Bondstein to customize its products according to the needs of customers and also gives it power over manufacturing expenses. Due to high quality products and great customer service, Bondstein has become one of the strong players in VTS market. Today the startup is serving a number of big companies in the market with a consistent growth rate.
One thing leads to another. Shahrukh and his co-founder were originally in digital marketing, software and apps business. However, back in 2013 they made a basic robot with the state of the art finishing that could interact with people, nod its head, talk and blink eyes. It was made for a marketing campaign of Google. It brought in lots of attenti0n for the duo. That’s when they thought of starting a hardware company. “We actually want to make robots” says Shahrukh, once asked about what they want to do down the line ten years, “but you can’t make it to 10th floor without passing 2nd.
Bondstein now makes VTS; they are also testing a home security product that can be used with calling bell and also planning to design around the traffic data they receive from their VTS product. “One thing leads you to other,” says Shahrukh, “we use a personalized security measure in our VTS where owner can control a vehicle remotely, now we are designing a product to use the same technology with slight modification for home security”.
“We did not raise fund, never took any bank loan” says Shahrukh, “we earned money by working hard, spent it strategically on different projects. We actually bootstrapped. At Bondstein we tapped in the client first then jumped into it”.
Money is a common problem for most startups. Many complain of lack of money for not being able to start. But it is all about how we look at things. You can solve a problem in hundred different ways. The question is never about what is the solution but about what is the best solution. This is an optimization problem. You need to optimize your situation and get started.
People living in Dhaka can relate to this. There is no road to take that will give you a ride free of traffic. For a startup, the journey is same. No matter how sm0oth it looks from outside, there are struggles going on inside. “We are the youngest company to compete in the market, it took us a lot of time to understand the market,” says Shahrukh, “at the same time people seldom took us seriously at the start”. It is true that team Bondstein is too young a team to take seriously. But they worked hard to get past those obstacles. They studied their competitors, pitched their customers differently and won the market. “We went to customers, asked them what is their problem, and designed products to solve their particular problem” says Shahrukh, “it gave them confidence and they took our product”
These are common challenges for startups and the way to outperform these challenges is: put in more hours. You work harder, devise better strategy, design better product than your competitors. Furthermore, there are advantages of being a startup, you can change things quickly, do things cheaply, and move fast than many established big companies.
Bondstein has used these advantages wisely.
There are advantages of being a startup, you can change things quickly, do things cheaply, and move fast than many established big companies.
Getting customer is the biggest challenge for most startups. Once asked about how they got access to market, Shahrukh says, “you really need to understand your customer, what they need, what they are getting now from existing suppliers and what else you can give better, and then you approach them with a better offer. And once you win a customer, the hard part is to keep them. “You must ensure excellent service, better than everyone out there,” says Shahrukh, “if you can do that they will bring in more customers and business for you”.
The rule is simple: you get to know people and you have to treat them best.
Bondstein is now a 23 people team having office and manufacturing facilities in Dhaka and Chittagong. The company is also talking with a big telecom brand for a potential partnership. It has a winning product and wants to innovate in the area. If done right and executed well, Bondstein has a long way to go.
Credit: Image by Bondstein