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Hard Times #02: Bohubrihi Founder and Managing Director Yanur Islam Piash on the Impact of COVID-19 on Online Education, an Antidote to Difficult Times, and Staying Sane and Productive Amid Pandemic

Welcome to another episode of Hard Times, a new series from Future Startup focusing on dealing with difficult times and challenges in business and life. 

In this episode, Future Startup’s Ruhul Kader and Bohubrihi Founder and Managing Director Yanur Islam Piash, discuss the psychological and emotional impact of COVID-19 and how to deal with it, including how to keep your center solid and stay productive amid a pandemic and talk about dealing with difficult times and why a combination of hope, perseverance, and consistently moving forward is the only effective antidote to surviving any tough time, the impact of Pandemic on the online education sector and Bohubrihi’s business, remote operation, keeping the team motivated, and what the post-pandemic world might look like.

4:51: This is completely new for all of us. Like everyone else I’m struggling. I’m yet to learn a better way to deal with this pandemic and its all encompassing impact on our lives. What I have been trying, however, is to learn to live with it as normally as possible which is of course a difficult task. 

8:16: I’m trying to stay connected with people I love and I need to stay in connection. I’m speaking with my loved ones and team regularly. I’m also trying to stay in touch with my friends. I’m not into meditation or anything else as yet. One of my friends suggested meditation a few days ago and I’m now looking into it. But what I’m mostly trying to do is learning to live with these challenges. I’m trying to internalize the fact that we are in this challenge and it is not going away anytime soon and I have to learn to operate with these challenges and limitations. 

9:47: We have seen some behavioral shift in people regarding online education due to the pandemic. We have been seeing a consistent growth in the number of users in the past two-three months. It has accelerated in the past one month due to the pandemic. We have been pushing growth of late and the current situation has so far been a positive influence on us business wise. 

11:55: We have moved to our first physical office right before the lockdown. We spent quite a bit of money in preparing the office, setting up our studio so that we could expand the team and accelerate the production of courses. Since we are in lockdown, it is no more helping although we are paying the rent. Our course production has slowed. We were preparing to speed up the course production but given the situation the production has taken a hit. We are in a situation where we could not even send equipment to our instructors to make course to their place. We could find the equipment since most shopping malls are now closed. In few places that are open, these equipment are in short supply. Sending bills has also become quite a challenge. 

15:24: (In order to deal with the operations challenges) We are considering paying more attention to producing technical courses. These courses people can take sitting at their home because it is mostly screen sharing and practical lessons instead of pure lectures. We are getting into that big time. 

1:00:16: Companies that are seeing an extreme impact on their business could try to explore opportunities that are relevant now and have demand in the market. Several companies are already trying this. Psychologically we are in a tricky situation. One aspect is dealing with the team and ensuring that your team is motivated. Consistent and regular communication could be a great help here. You should tell your team where you are and where they are and what you need them to do and what you can do for them. Transparent communication is key. 

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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