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Ridmik Keyboard’s Path to 50 Million Downloads

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Mar 2, 2021

Ridmik Keyboard is a popular Bangla language keyboard widely used by millions of Bangla-speaking population online. 

Created by Shamim Hasnath, Founder and CEO of Ridmik Labs, Ridmik Keyboard was launched in 2012 as a personal project. Shamim, who was a second-year student of Computer Science at BUET at the time, started working on the keyboard during a Ramadan vacation in 2012 as a practice project. 

“I started working on a keyboard, which is now the Ridmik Keyboard, in 2012 for the first time,” says Mr. Shamim in an interview with Future Startup. “I was in my second year at the time. We had a month-long Ramadan vacation and I worked on the keyboard throughout the month as a practice.” 

Initially, Shamim did not think of launching it in public. He made it as part of his practice and just wanted to share it with his friends and acquaintances. “Once it was ready, I sent it to a few of my friends, seniors, and juniors. I did not think much about it. Since I made it, I wanted to share it with people in my network and wanted them to test it. Just that.”

But his elder brother encouraged him to publish the keyboard, which eventually he did. “After testing it, my elder brother encouraged me to publish it,” says Mr. Shamim. “He helped me to publish. It immediately received some attention.”  

The keyboard quickly gained attention from Bangla language enthusiasts online. Omi Azad, a prominent figure in promoting Bangla on the internet and technology, played a helpful role in shaping the keyboard. “He has done some wonderful work in the sector”, says Mr. Shamim. “He provided me with a ton of suggestions in the early days. He was an avid android user and could see where we could improve. He was using the keyboard a lot. I was new to android at the time. I did not have a phone before launching the keyboard. He gave me a lot of suggestions, mostly best features and practices from different keyboards, and I implemented many of those suggestions on the keyboard.” 

Into the details 

  • Shamim and Ridmik Labs team never thought of monetizing the keyboard. “That was one reason I did not think of building a business out of it because we did not want to make money out of it”, he tells FS.  
  • The company does not have any plan to monetize the keyboard in the future. “When we started as a company, we did not start with thinking about monetization,” says Mr. Shamim. “We have other plans but monetizing Keyboard is not one of them.” Rimik Labs is part of DataBird, a technology holding company based in Dhaka having businesses in communication, travel, eReader, news, and keyboard.  
  • The Ridmik Keyboard has evolved significantly since. And have added a number of features such as themes, new languages, emoji, voice input, etc.
  • The keyboard currently has over 25 million monthly active users with total downloads of over 50 million. 

Growth 

  • Ridmik Keyboard has experienced consistent growth over the years -- 25 million monthly users is a big number -- on the strength of the product. The product is simple, easy, and solves a real user problem. 
  • “We have never marketed the keyboard. It has grown completely organically,” says Mr. Shamim. “However, to me, three things have helped us: 1) it is completely ad-free, 2) easy to switch from English to Bangla, and 3) multiple ways of typing - Ridmik Keyboard has all the typing options including Avro, Jatiyo, Provat, and so on. You can use all the keyboard formats that are available out there.” 
  • Shamim started off by creating a design that is easy to remember. “When I started working on the keyboard, I wanted to make a layout that is easy to remember”, he tells FS. “To be honest, we did very little to push growth with the keyboard. It resonated with people and grew from there.”
  • However, whenever there was a problem, the Ridmik Labs team addressed it quickly. For example, to reassure users regarding privacy and data, Ridmik Keyboard shows a message to users that it does not collect or save any user data. When the company first added the notice, it significantly helped create awareness and attract new users who were skeptical before. 

Key takeaways

  • Solving a problem that you have and people around you have is a far more sure-fire path to product-market fit than otherwise. Be useful. 
  • Don’t build a startup, work on a project that you love working on. It is far easier to stick with a project that you are doing for fun or learning than one that you started for making money. 
  • Morgan Housel has a great thesis about financial and startup success: a lot of what happens in the world is chance. It is not always because of some avoidable fault that companies fail. Similarly, growth is not always a result of deliberate strategies. The reality is much more complex with a greater number of nuances. You have done everything right and still could fail. You made little effort and still could gain a lot. Morgan Housel writes in Financial Advice For My New Daughter: “It is easy to assume that wealth and poverty are caused by the choices we make, but it’s even easier to underestimate the role of chance in life. Everyone’s life is a reflection of the experiences they’ve had and the people they’ve met, a lot of which are out of your control and driven by chance. Being born to different families, with different values, in different countries, in different generations, and the luck of who you happen to meet along the way plays a bigger role in outcomes than most people want to admit. I want you to believe in the values and rewards of hard work. But realize that not all success is due to hard work, and not all poverty is due to laziness. Keep this in mind when judging people, including yourself.” 

Go Deeper: Read our interview with Rimik Labs Founder and CEO Shamim Hasnath to learn more about his journey. 

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