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Building A Freelance Marketplace In Bangladesh With Sabbir Ahmed, Founder and Managing Director, KajKey

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Jul 9, 2019
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Sabbir Ahmed is the co-founder and Managing Director of KajKey. KajKey is a freelance marketplace based in Dhaka that connects businesses and individuals with freelancers. KajKey claims to be the first Bengali language freelancing platform in Bangladesh.

We recently caught up with Mr. Sabbir, to learn about his path to entrepreneurship, how KajKey came into being, what is KajKey and what it does, how KajKey operates, the state of KajKey’s business today, its ambition going forward, the lessons he has learned from his journey so far and much more.

Future Startup

Could you please briefly tell us about your background and what you are working on now?

Sabbir Ahmed

I am Sabbir Ahmed and I am a digital marketer and an animator. I started my career as a social media executive at BDjobs.com in 2013. After working for 5 years in different positions at companies like Amber IT, REVE Systems, Pathao, I decided to start my first business in late 2017.

My entrepreneurship journey started with EndingScene.com, an animation studio. Currently, I am trying to build a freelancing marketplace which is known as KajKey.com with my business partner Ahsan Ahmed in Bangladesh.

Future Startup

What motivated you to start KajKey? When and how did you start KajKey?

Sabbir Ahmed

Since we started the EndingScene Studio, an animation firm, we started receiving lots of requests for animated video content. But we did not have that many in-house animators and resources who could make videos for our clients. It was a struggle for us to find people to meet the demands that we’re getting. That let us to thinking really hard to find sustainable ways to find more human resources to fulfill the demand side. That’s how our ideas about how we can bring the two parties, clients and animators, on one platform came into being.

We formally launched KajKey.com in October 2018. But we had already been testing our MVP using Google sheet. We used to hire freelance writers using the google form and sheet to write blogs for our animation firm. We worked with multiple freelance writers for our in-house works, which helped us to understand how freelancers work. Through the process, we tried to understand the entire platform ourselves by outsourcing our own work before opening the platform up for others.

Future Startup

What went into building the initial product? How did you put together initial investment and other things to get started? Please walk us through what the first few months of your journey were like and the challenges you faced.

Sabbir Ahmed

When we were working on KajKey.com, we had a natural advantage since EndingScene was doing well and we already had some contacts with foreign investors for our animation firm. By the time, we were already used to with things like company formation, pitching investors and putting together foreign entities, etc.

Once we decided to tinker with KajKey, we shared the pitch with our EndingScene Investors. They suggested us to check the response for the freelancing platform for a few months. We did not have a tech team or a developer at the time. We neither had the investment that we could use to hire a tech team to build the platform. I basically took the responsibility of developing our website and put together the platform. That’s how we started the journey of KajKey.com

Building A Freelance Marketplace In Bangladesh With Sabbir Ahmed, Founder and Managing Director, KajKey
KajKey Team

Future Startup

Could you please give us an overview of KajKey in terms of services/products you offer, number of users, team size, operations, etc?

Sabbir Ahmed

KajKey is a freelancing marketplace that connects individuals and companies who want to outsource their projects with freelancers. We are the first freelancing platform in Bangladesh to launch a platform in Bengali where anyone can easily post their work and hire a freelancer to get it done.

At this moment we have 50,000+ registered users, and more than 1000 jobs are open for bids. Freelancers bid for these works.

KajKey is a team of 30 people consisting of teams across operations, tech, marketing, and customer care. Our customer care team provides dedicated support to our clients and freelancers.

Future Startup

How have you attracted users/customers and grown KajKey? Could tell us about your process and activities that you carried out to achieve the growth?

Sabbir Ahmed

We are doing both online and offline marketing for attracting freelancers and clients. We are collaborating with training institutes to hire skilled freelancers because you can’t deliver great service to clients without skilled freelancers.

Future Startup

What are the lessons you’ve learned in terms of growing a business?

Sabbir Ahmed

In any business, the first priority should be ensuring service quality. There is no other way of building a good business.

Many of us think at the beginning of starting a business that the business will jump to the top right out of the gate. That does not happen. You have to work hard consistently for a period of time before getting to a place. And you should not get frustrated easily when the business is not doing as well as your expectations and you still have to maintain high spirits and ensure quality service.

Experience helps. If you have experience of working at a company and seeing the growth of a company, it helps you to understand the challenges and get around.

Understanding your users is critical. If you do not understand your users, your startup would not survive long. The way to understanding users is talking to them. This is why I still have my own number in helpline to know any issue the users are facing.

Future Startup

What is your business model? How have you grown your revenue?

Sabbir Ahmed

We have a commission-based model. We take a flat 25% commission from the freelancers after the successful completion of the work. But in the upcoming days, this model may change to subscription, the dynamic commission, and some other models.

Future Startup

Have you raised any investment?

Sabbir Ahmed

We have raised a round of seed investment and currently in the processing second round of seed.

Future Startup

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced? What are the challenges now?

Sabbir Ahmed

The main challenge is educating the market. Almost 90% of our target audience still does not know much about freelancing marketplace. Educating them, making them understand the platform is a challenge. For example, I want to create a good e-commerce site, where there will be a variety of features including a payment gateway. Many of the clients do not know how much of a budget should be for such a site. Top-rated freelancers do not want to bid for the projects which are of low budget. It has become a challenge for us to fill these gaps.

Future Startup

What are the goals for the future?

Sabbir Ahmed

Our ambition is to decentralize the professional skill acquisition and the job market. This means an employer can save time and expenses of hiring by simply posting a job on Kajkey.com and hiring a freelancer for the job.

We also plan to work on the skill development side. We plan to launch some features so that an inexperienced person can also establish himself/herself as a skilled freelancer.

We are going to launch our KajKey V2 soon. The new platform has interesting new features. We are going to introduce gig features through which the skilled freelancers will be able to set their rates. This means depending on the budget, clients would be able to reach out to freelancers and freelancers would be able to get work without bidding for it.

Future Startup

What are some lessons you’ve learned?

Sabbir Ahmed

Every day, I am learning new things. To develop KajKey.com, in the early days I had to learn web development. To understand and manage a large user base, I had to learn to structured and unstructured data analysis. I had to learn to manage customer over the phone to offer customer support at night.

In addition, I am learning to maintain relationships with our stakeholders, raising investment and maintain reporting every day.

As a founder, my most important lesson would be that you have to be comfortable with wearing a lot of different hats and you have to be patient.

Future Startup

What advice would you give to founders who are just starting out?

Sabbir Ahmed

I'm still learning. So I do not have much to suggest. What I have learned is that consistency is the key.

There will be challenges and opportunities, in the worst and the best of any situation, it is necessary to focus and solve the core problems.

Be humble and stay focused.

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