Business process outsourcing has a big global market. In 2015, the estimated market size was US$ 416 billion. Bangladesh has started to pay attention to this space recently. As a result, we have seen the launch of BPO Summit and BACCO.
However, there is a big growing BPO market within the Bangladesh. An increasing number of people are starting companies, mostly technology companies, and the number is only going to grow in the coming years. These new startups and other growth stage companies are always in need of business support services but there are not that many companies that offer services that cater to the needs of these companies.
There are big players in BPO space who offer services to big companies locally but the need of small and medium companies does not fit with their cost structure. That’s where Uddom Business Services Limited, a recently launched startup comes in. The startup aims to become the BPO partner of startups and small and medium companies. We recently spoke to co-founder of Uddom, Mohammed Kawsar, about Uddom, its services, plan and more.
Future Startup: Tell us about yourself?
Mohammed Kawsar: I was born and brought up in Dhaka. I completed my graduation from the National University. In 2007, I started working as a medical representative alongside my study. After that, I worked at a Buying House as a production reporter for 4 years. Then, I joined Windmill Infotech Ltd., where I worked as a call center executive. There, I got two consecutive promotions in a year because of my extraordinary performance. I worked at Windmill for 4 years and I was a floor in-charge before leaving Windmill.
Afterward, in 2013, I joined En Route International Limited as an operation manager. After working for 2 years at En Route, I finally decided to start my own business. And that’s how my journey into the world of entrepreneurship began.
Tell us about Uddom. What is the idea behind it? How does it work?
Uddom, at its core, is a business process outsourcing (BPO) company. We help startups and companies to become more efficient, reduce their operational cost and build their businesses. An increasing number of people are starting businesses now, while the cost of starting a business has gone down due to technological innovation, the cost of execution remains high.
We are not offering a new product rather we are offering assistance to those new businesses to launch their own products, promote in the market and help them build a strong brand.
We have a call center, where we provide call center support to startups and businesses. In contrast to the expensive traditional call centers, the Uddom Call Center offers a cloud-based call center service to newly-founded startups and small businesses. These startups can subscribe to us and easily use our call center service at a reasonable cost.
Our service bundle includes IVR (Interactive Voice Response), call reporting, and IP number. With our system, companies will just need a laptop, a headset, and someone to attend to the calls. We will manage the rest.
In the case of traditional call centers, a fairly large amount of cost is involved. You need to set up the infrastructure where you will have to install the equipment like the servers and the switch-bands. The maintenance cost is quite high for a call center which is costly for most early stage companies.
What we are providing is an access to a server where you can do everything--from sending and receiving calls to voice recording and data analysis--less the hassle of maintenance cost.
Just to get a clearer picture, say, for example, I am about to start an ecommerce business and want to take your service: what are the services you offer? And how can I avail your services?
We offer services ranging from handling customer support to making business and partnership acquisitions. Broadly, we provide back office support, trade marketing, brand promotion and activation, direct sales, digital marketing and a couple of other BPO services that a business needs. We have a great team comprising of skilled graphics designers and content developers.
We are particularly good at client acquisition. We can provide great help with acquiring clients to companies that are relatively new. We have, for instance, helped Doctorola in offline marketing. And, now, we are working with Solar Electro Bangladesh Ltd, Chalo, Best Electronics and a couple of other companies. We have officially launched very recently, but the response is great.
Tell us about your growth.
As I said, we have already started working with a handful of brands and market response is quite good. I have been in this industry for several years and know that there is a solid need for these services.
Our call center service is doing quite well and we predict that our offline marketing service would go big soon.
Currently, we are a team of 40 people. 25 of us are working full time and rest of the members work on project basis.
Apart from your personal network, what are the other strategies you apply to reach out to your customers?
Our target customers are basically other businesses. We generally employ direct marketing strategy. We use different directories and platforms to find prospect and then communicate with them. It's not always effective obviously. Often we see that if we send proposals to 10 potential corporate clients, only one reply. But, then and again, business is all about hard work.
What are the key challenges for you now?
One of our key target groups is startups and early stage companies. These companies often don’t have a big budget which is a key challenge.
Because of the type of work we do, we are always in need of more people. It's tough to recruit and manage new employees on a regular basis. Since we are still bootstrapping, it is hard for us to hire enough manpower permanently. We are reinvesting the revenue we earn into the business, so it will take us time to get to a stable position.
What about competition? How do you plan to tackle competition?
We are taking a different strategy. Currently, we are not targeting big companies and real BPO competition is there. And the majority of our big competitors who have enough funding work for big companies. For now, our target is to work with startups and SME companies and then gradually move up over the years. We have chosen some sort of a niche market and the competition is relatively less fierce here.
Our goal is to acquire 70% of the BPO market for small and medium businesses by the next year while building a strong team and company.
Interview by Ruhul, Transcription by Rahatil Ashekan