Firoze M Zahidur Rahman is the founder and CEO of Loosely Coupled Technologies(LCT), the Kuala Lumpur-based technology company that uses Artificial Intelligence, NLP and Data Analytics in business applications.
Prior to LCT, Mr. Firoze founded SSD-Tech and built it into one of the largest technology companies in Bangladesh valued at US$63 million and a regional player in the Asia Pacific having operations in multiple markets.
The birth of Loosely Coupled is a fascinating story that informs the central theme that ideas often follow a serendipitous route. Those ideas often come from the most unexpected place. That we should be flexible and open to accept new ideas and ways of thinking.
In an interview with Future Startup, published in August 2019, Mr. Firoze M Zahidur Rahman explained how Loosely Coupled Technologies was founded. The following section explains the journey.
I’m known for having strong opinions and have been quite assertive throughout my life. My close friends used to say that I could never survive a proper job. On the other hand, I come from a service holder family. We have doctors, engineers, academicians, bankers in the family. After graduating from BUET, when I decided to start my own business, it was a bold decision. More so because I didn’t have any funds to start my business. Moreover, the social acceptance of entrepreneurship was painfully low in those days.
In those days, the general perception was – “if you cannot get a good job, you start a business”. I was in a relationship and I had to get married soon after graduating from BUET. The social pressure was huge. But my family was supportive throughout the way. So you may say I was in quite a precarious situation when I decided to pursue entrepreneurship as a career.
I started my first venture SSD-TECH (Systems Solutions & Development Technologies) when I was a student of 3rd Year in BUET. Over the years, SSD-TECH has grown into a regional player serving clients across the Asia Pacific region and having a presence in more than 4 countries.
Our initial focus was in the Financial Sector. We gradually expanded to customized development for large multinationals. Initially, I played the role of CTO, and then I led the organization as CEO till September 2016. During my tenure as CEO, SSD-TECH heavily focused on building telecom VAS platforms and expanded in High-Speed Optical Fiber-Based Internet Service – many of you probably know and use DOZE which is now rebranded as Carnival. Afterward, we hired a non-owner, professional CEO and I limited my role as a director of the board and 50% shareholder only.
From SSD-TECH’s investment arm Mind Initiatives, we have invested in a few companies in Bangladesh including E-Courier and Codero.
In 2017, I started Loosely Coupled Technologies in Malaysia, focusing on Artificial Intelligence, NLP and Data Analytics. We are heavily focused on identifying consumer insights and enabling data-driven sales. We have a presence in 3 countries and are serving clients across 5 countries now.
This is an interesting story. After I got my new CEO joining SSD-TECH, the organization I built in 13 years, I had time to look back at my life. I was not planning to retire at the age of 37 in 2016. But I was looking for time off from the technology business. It is stressful. You need to continuously learn, experiment, unlearn – it is too much. I started exploring T-Shirt business and other trading business options. But I was not enjoying any of those. It felt exceptionally dry. Meanwhile, I got myself enrolled in the Disruptive Business Strategy course in Harvard Business School Online program. It was a life-changing education.
It was Chinese New Year, 2017 – we went for a family dinner. My friend and mentor, Zarif, who was a partner in one of the largest consulting companies across the world, showed me some articles on Cambridge Analytica and told me that he wants to have a responsible public sentiment analysis and if I can do it or not.
I found it very interesting. I got super excited and eventually started building something as more of an exploration. At the time, one of my colleagues Promee, who built many-core technology components with me at SSD-TECH, was planning a change. I asked her to join me. First few months, she worked from home in Bangladesh. In June 2017, we set up our development center in Bangladesh and this is where we are today.
Today, LCT works with over 20 enterprise customers and process around 6 GB consumer conversation data a month. The company is currently a 15 person team and serves customers in 5 countries. LCT customers are mostly large multinationals and institutional startups and its project value range from 50K USD to 100K USD. And project duration ranges between 6 to 20 weeks. In a year it serves around 3 to 6 clients.
Reflect: We live in an age when we are always connected. Always on to something. There is little time to think. Spend in solitude. With ourselves and our ideas. However, to come up with ideas, make the intelligent connections between things, produce meaningful solutions to pressing problems one needs to have quiet moments. Moments that are disturbed by externalities.
Meet interesting people: People change our life. People bring luck. Bring opportunities. Bring challenges. Bing ideas. Build relationships with people doing interesting things. People who have a broad range of interests. Often a good conversation leads to meaningful exploration. Cross-pollination of ideas happens when you are having a chat with interesting people.
Take time off: Go travel somewhere. Do something else. Try some new ideas. Take a break from your routine and try some new things and see what new comes out of it.
This is an excerpt from our interview with Loosely Coupled Technologies Founder and CEO, Firoze M Zahidur Rahman. To know the rest of Loosely Coupled Technologies story and how it has come to where it is today, you could read our in-depth interview with Loosely Coupled Technologies Founder and CEO, Firoze M Zahidur Rahman here.