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Rayana Hossain on growing ISHO, designing organizational dynamism, furniture business, and upsides of being yourself  

Rayana Hossain is the founder and CEO of ISHO, a Dhaka-based furniture brand. From a humble beginning, ISHO has grown to become one of the fastest-growing furniture brands in Bangladesh. The company claims to be the number one online furniture brand in the country and is now eyeing expansion beyond Bangladesh. 

ISHO is a fascinating company. Achieving fast growth is not the only thing that separates the company, ISHO has built an equally fascinating organization over the years. And companies and founders would be wise to pay attention to the emerging furniture behemoth in Dhaka.

I recently had an opportunity to speak with Ms. Rayana. We talk about the evolution of ISHO, what separates ISHO from other local and global furniture brands, the dynamics of the furniture business, how ISHO has built a culture of relentless dynamism, secrets behind ISHO's excellent growth, her approach to work and leadership, and how building ISHO from scratch has changed her as a founder, her thoughts on design and organization, the ambition of ISHO going forward, why a constant outward-looking orientation can limit our growth, and much more.

What follows is a lightly edited transcription of the conversation. This is the second appearance of Ms. Rayana on the Founder Stories series, you can read her first interview here. The interview is full of original thinking and unique insights. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed doing it. Build great things! 

Ruhul Kader   

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let's start outside of ISHO. Great entrepreneurs, people say, are obsessive. When people talk about Steve Jobs, people commonly refer to his obsession with design and so on, what's your obsession?

Rayana Hossain  

I believe in a balanced life. I'm not obsessed with anything. I never was. I've never been a fan of anything, never really followed any particular company or person. However, I was always driven by design.

Ruhul Kader   

That's very interesting. How do you then see the work of a founder? Because people say, if you want to build a great company, you have to, at some level, be obsessed with a product or something about the company. 

Rayana Hossain

It depends on what you're trying to do and what you're trying to build. For example, I think every single kind of business can turn into a great business. It depends on your process, your ability to assess data, and your agility to shift and adapt if necessary. That’s how I see it, it's all data-driven.

I think, to begin, the most important thing is understanding, doing research, and coming up with an informed idea that you find that the market needs. And then analyze further to figure out how you will do that penetration through different market strategies.

I feel the way that Bangladesh is growing right now, for any company at this point, if you do your analysis right, and make informed decisions and changes, you can be good at any business that you start. 

Ruhul Kader 

We kind of asked this question in our last interview regarding why did you start ISHO? One of your answers was about the opportunity in the market — there is no global standard furniture brand in Bangladesh and you wanted to create one. That's one of the ways of looking at it. But apart from that, why did you start the company not the market-oriented reason, but your reason? You could have started something else. You started two other companies, so.

Rayana Hossain   

With furniture, the market opportunity is genuinely one of the biggest reasons, as well as creating a design shift.

My background is in architecture and design, it is something that I do. So that plays a role in whatever I choose to do. 

My goal for ISHO is to be an impactful company; not necessarily long-lasting in terms of its current model. The world changes and that's one of the main things I'd like ISHO to do as well; which is to be adaptive. If 20 years down the line, I'm not at the helm of ISHO, that's something I'm okay with. Having said that, my immediate long-term ambition is for it to be a global brand. I want a global brand out of Bangladesh.

Ruhul Kader 

I have a few questions related to design, I'll come to that later. What is your ambition with ISHO? I was reading one of the interviews you gave to DT. You talked about the plan for the company to go global in the next couple of years.

Rayana Hossain  

The plan is very well underway for that. We are planning on showcasing in various locations. We have a pop-up coming up in India very soon. And we're gearing up to launch in India.

Ruhul Kader 

That's excellent. But what is the kind of long-term ambition? Say, for example, your grandfather's company, which has been around for many, many years,

Rayana Hossain

70 years, Roxy Paints has been around for 70 years. 

Ruhul Kader  

That’s a long time. I was asking the CEO of a tech company in Dhaka what he wanted to ultimately build with his venture and his take was, we want to build a company that will survive for 100 years. So different people have different kinds of ambition. One of your plans is going global, which I think is about building a global company out of Bangladesh. But what do you want to build in the long run — the ultimate ambition for ISHO?

Rayana Hossain

My goal for ISHO is to be an impactful company; not necessarily long-lasting in terms of its current model. The world changes and that's one of the main things I'd like ISHO to do as well; which is to be adaptive. If 20 years down the line, I'm not at the helm of ISHO, that's something I'm okay with. Having said that, my immediate long-term ambition is for it to be a global brand. I want a global brand out of Bangladesh.

For years, Bangladesh has been focused on manufacturing other countries' brands. With garments particularly, there is a huge opportunity for a homegrown global brand. From designing to sourcing and producing, our Bangladeshi teams do it all. Everything is being done here, in Bangladesh. There are a few hurdles that are stopping us from fully taking the next step to create our own clothing brand, but with ISHO, that is in my way contributing whatever little I know about design.

ISHO factory workforce on their office retreat to Cox's Bazar | Photo by ISHO
ISHO factory workforce on their office retreat to Cox's Bazar | Photo by ISHO

Ruhul Kader 

If we go into that tangent of garments, Bangladesh not producing its own brands, do you have any thesis of your own about it, why did it not happen?

Rayana Hossain

It's going to take time. One of the things, unfortunately, is a lack of exposure and understanding of various nuances and facets when it comes to marketing and branding. We're not that good at storytelling yet. That's something that will, I think, take another generation for us to fully understand and get brands out that are actually global marketing, storytelling, and branding worthy. 

There needs to be a collective effort where we see multiple Bangladeshi companies coming out and doing that; it's going to take a while. 

If we look at China as an example, how over the last couple of decades, they have shifted from a manufacturing country to actually now creating global brands and also owning major European and American companies, it can be a case study for Bangladesh to learn from. Malaysia is another country for us to study, where dedicated efforts have been taken to educate people, and then take companies to that next level. For us, that education part is still not there. 

Ruhul Kader  

That's a very interesting take. Fully agree that we have a lot to learn from, as you mentioned, the countries that have done very well in terms of being mostly manufacturing-oriented countries and then going into becoming major global brand producers. When we spoke with you in 2020, ISHO was a team of about 150 people. I think you just launched your first store in Baridhara and you were mostly setting the stage. How much has the company evolved since in terms of maturity of the operation, and scale? Along with that, if you can give us an overview of the company today in terms of the team, size of the operation, structure, products, etc? 

Rayana Hossain  

Product-wise, I cannot tell you how many we have right now, there are a lot of products not only in furniture but beyond that. We’ve put in great efforts to give a full lifestyle experience for our customers to take ISHO beyond just a furniture company and have grown significantly there in that aspect. 

We are now a team of about 350 people. In terms of stores, we have opened new experience centers in Uttara and Dhanmondi. And we're looking at launching more. I think the growth has been great. It's something we're very proud of. And we can just hope that this team extends beyond Bangladesh.

Ruhul Kader  

You are a vertically integrated company. You design in-house, you do manufacturing, and you have your distribution channels. What are the upsides and downsides of being a vertically integrated company?

Rayana Hossain   

Upsides, I can launch a product tonight, which is exactly what helped us during COVID because we were quickly able to adapt and come up with products just the moment we thought about them. Since everything was/is in-house, from designing to manufacturing to marketing, the capacity for the relevant teams to do things fast and adapt was relatively easy. Agility, and adaptiveness, are some of the upsides. When you have everything vertically integrated, it is easier to move fast. 

Then again, the downside of it is scalability to a certain degree. Once we are out of our comfort zone, it can be challenging. For example, the work that we're doing right now for India, finding the right partners and creating networks, is tedious. You have to go, analyze and figure out who the perfect strategic partners will be for wherever you go. 

Ruhul Kader  

How are you addressing those challenges as you scale?

Rayana Hossain 

As I said, we're trying to find the best strategic partners for us to grow.

Ruhul Kader  

You have ecommerce, which, I think, is the DNA of the company, because you started as an online-first company, and then you moved into stores and you are now in three locations in Dhaka, including your experiences and collection centers. How do the offline and online in terms of distribution work? In eCommerce, people talk about building an omnichannel operation to have the advantage of delivering faster and building a hyperlocal operation. Does that apply to ISHO?

Rayana Hossain   

For us, the experience centers are going into those places where we're seeing most of our orders are coming from, so yes being hyperlocal does apply to us in that aspect. The demands we're seeing from people, analyzing the data, and showing people products in particular experience centers that we know will be appreciated in that area is something that we are trying to achieve. That's our way of trying to operate as an omnichannel operation as we bridge and create the whole phygital experience, as they're calling it now. 

It depends from area to area and customer to customer. We're seeing different patterns in different areas when it comes to buying. In some cases, people are seeing the products online first, and then they're coming to the store, feel the product, and then ordering from the store. Similarly, we are also seeing people come to the store first, then go back home, and then order from the website. Or they're using our AR feature, which is also there, and they're using it in their homes.

I think it is important to have all of these options both physical and digital for people to experience products in different ways, it helps the buying decision process for the customers.

Throughout my life, I was never interested in what other people were doing. It has always been about pushing the boundary for myself. In that respect, ISHO is not concerned about what other companies are doing. It's important to have an understanding of the market for sure, but not necessarily look to other companies in the same domain as competition.

Ruhul Kader  

What is unique about ISHO compared to other furniture companies in Bangladesh or any other markets? What makes ISHO indispensable to the customers you serve? 

Rayana Hossain 

This is where vertical integration comes in — when you have a design team that analyzes people's needs and wants and gives them something that they’re looking for. 

For example, In Dhaka city, from Gulshan to Niketon is different. As you know, Banani to Tejgaon is different. Wherever you look, the neighborhoods that are beside each other can be extremely different in tastes and values. Understanding those differences and designing and showing relevant products to relevant customers is something that sets us apart. We now have robust data of what is getting delivered where which gives us a good understanding of the changing tastes as well. So we try to design accordingly. We understand the demand and deliver accordingly. 

Similarly, when you go to a place like India, traditions are very different from north to south, city to city. Understanding those traditions and designing for that particular niche as we try to address and go to individual neighborhoods is what we're going to aim for. 

Collecting information in various ways, analyzing them and tying them in, and designing something contextual, is what sets ISHO apart. 

When you look at an Ikea, you know, they're bringing Sweden to you. When you look at Muji, you know, they're bringing Japan to you. That's not who we want to be. We want to be a company that feels local, like the world's local furniture store. 

Ruhul Kader

That's very interesting. So you have this robust approach to data. You collect customer demands, the taste, and all those things and then put them together and design accordingly. 

Rayana Hossain  

We're also keeping, obviously, some of our core design philosophy there, it still needs to be minimal in terms of the design language. Looking back and moving forward is the way I try to approach it; you cannot expect a country like Bangladesh to suddenly open up to a completely ultra-modern furniture store and for people to like it in a day. That's not going to happen. You have to come up with a design language that is not completely out of the realm.

Ruhul Kader

It has to have some familiarity.

Rayana Hossain

Of course, whether it's materials, whether it's tiny structural details, or elements, you tie them in, in a way where people are seeing something they are familiar with or nostalgic about, but in a way that is completely reinvented for them. 

That's how our users see lots of our collections, for example, our Ratargul collection, it’s primarily made of rattan. What people tend to say about that collection is that it’s modern, but then the elements are so traditional and familiar. The idea is to keep our aesthetic of being modern whilst bringing about things that we know hold value to locals. 

Ruhul Kader  

Related to that, although you probably don’t describe yourself as such, it seems people perceive ISHO to be a high-end brand for a particular class of people. How do you see that? 

Rayana Hossain

We don't think it's high-end, at all, factually speaking. Unfortunately, people tend to have that idea about ISHO sometimes without looking at the prices. The perception is usually created after seeing the marketing and the branding and perhaps people come to that conclusion because there is a certain lack of clean design in Bangladesh; people tend to equate that to being unattainable. 

You can look at our chair categories, you can look at our bed categories, a lot of sofa categories, we are priced much lower. I believe we are placed right in the middle. 

Ruhul Kader 

But as you mentioned, people perceive you differently. Do you plan to do anything about it?

Rayana Hossain  

We are now venturing into different marketing strategies, including pop-ups and experience centers that would bring them closer to the brand and the products. 

However, people have come to expect a certain level of graphics, a certain level of branding, and a certain level of content from us, that's not something we can fully change. But what we're seeing, something that we're extremely happy about is the number of people opening up to that aesthetic, which is extremely eye-opening for me. It’s a really good shift that we are seeing. 

Ruhul Kader 

Have you thought about, say, launching something for a different segment of customers, not breaking your existing positioning in the market but launching as a say second brand or something like that?

Rayana Hossain  

No. That's not something we're interested in at this point. We have a very good bracket in terms of each product, I feel. I think there should be something for everybody within those prices. 

We don't want to let go of the design aesthetic that we offer right now, nor do we want to let go of that particular market positioning. There’s a lot to be done with ISHO still before we start venturing into sub-brands. 

As a company, we do not have that mindset where we would give people lesser materials. That's not a sustainable way of moving forward. That's not something we believe in. I think the way we price ourselves is in a way, where we try to give the best available materials. Anything lower than that honestly will ask us to lower our standards in production and quality. That's not something we’re interested in.

Ruhul Kader 

So going forward, it's about educating the market. Telling customers that although our positioning wise we may seem a bit high end, you can afford us. 

Rayana Hossain 

By high-end, if you mean design, I believe that's completely changing. And more so because of COVID. When you open Chorki, when you open HoiChoi, when you open these streaming platforms now, you're not looking at traditional furniture anymore. You see modern furniture. And HoiChoi or Chorki is for everybody, it’s reaching a very large audience. And the content that you're looking at, the aesthetics that people are starting to look at is actually quite modern. 

Ruhul Kader  

Minimalistic, a little bit.

Rayana Hossain  

Absolutely. So people's exposure to things is exponentially faster now. What is now considered a modern design aesthetic, even three years ago if you asked me, I would have said that getting to that aesthetic level was going to take us at least 10 years to reach. But because of COVID, because of people's access to how global interiors look, I think this change in taste level is going to be extremely fast. 

Design is based on a need, based on use. When you think about it that way and put that same logic in a business, the entire system should be formed in a way, where the end user, whoever it is, from a trainee to a manager, to the CEO, everybody should be able to do their respective work efficiently. Going back to your first question about obsession, I suppose I like systems. To me, any company can prosper if you just do the research right, act accordingly within a system, and are efficient about it.

Photo by ISHO
Photo by ISHO

Ruhul Kader 

This is an interesting observation. Because now anybody who is living in Dhaka is basically living in New York, in terms of exposure. They consume global entertainment. They read New York Times or something else if they are doing English. So it's like, the world is becoming flat. 

Rayana Hossain  

Absolutely. Not flat, But more connected.

Ruhul Kader

Yeah. In terms of tastes, it's becoming a little bit more homogenous to what's happening everywhere. That's a powerful observation. And as you mentioned earlier that you don’t want to give people lesser stuff or compromise on design or don’t want to give people more stuff. What are some of the things that ISHO believes as a brand? What defines ISHO? One of those things is probably what you mentioned earlier, we are your local furniture company, right? Wherever we go, we are close to you, we understand you, and we deliver you things that you value. And then probably second, as you mentioned, it's like we are pro-environment, we'll do things that are good for the earth. What are other things that define ISHO?

Rayana Hossain 

That is the core value of the brand, you mean?

Ruhul Kader  

Yes. 

Rayana Hossain  

Sustainability is there. So is innovation. We're constantly trying to innovate and come up with new things. We do have a small innovation team, we're coming up with very interesting products there as well. 

Whether it's through products that are coming through, or services and technology that we're introducing, for example, AR embedded into our website, these are unique things even when compared to global brands. For example, if you look at IKEA, speaking technology-wise, for you to experience IKEA products in AR, you have to open up a different app. For us, you don't even need an app, you can do it on our eCommerce site, which is what our audience in Bangladesh also tends to like more. These are little things that we're trying to do that can be to a certain degree on par with established global brands. 

Ruhul Kader

You have launched several really interesting initiatives such as a design studio and the Artist Club, where you are working with local artists. Can you tell us about these initiatives? 

Rayana Hossain 

That's another of our core beliefs: empowering people and artists. With the Artists’ Club, we have a partnership with young artists where we go into a profit-sharing model for art that is being sold through ISHO. Empowering artists is particularly important for Bangladesh and I hope we get to do more in the future. 

Ruhul Kader

That's very interesting. How many artists are you working with now?

Rayana Hossain  

About 10. We follow a rigorous system when it comes to working with artists. You see a lot of things matter. For now, we can only work with people in the fields of photography, illustrations, and digital art; works of art that can be reproduced and sold.

Right now, that is the capacity. Maybe in the future, we can evolve into something that can house more people and more kinds of artwork. 

The design studio is a very different thing. It's another touch point for our customers to experience ISHO. It’s a separate service that we launched to give people interior design solutions. There are three very budget-friendly options that people can opt for depending on their needs online. 

Ruhul Kader

So Design Studio is for the customers, where customers learn and experiment with their interiors? 

Rayana Hossain 

It's an online platform where you have access to our in-house design studio. For anybody who uses the ISHO Design Studio service, there are three categories. It ranges from mood boards to 2D drawings to full 3D renders, however, all categories involve a video call with our team, and sometimes, I get on these calls as well. For me, it's really interesting to see people's homes, what people’s needs are, where they are, how their space looks, and how we as a company can create a positive impact in those spaces. 

Ruhul Kader 

ISHO has grown significantly over the last few years. You have become, I think, in the middle of a pandemic, the largest online furniture brand. 

Rayana Hossain 

We're targeting the top place in terms of B2C in the country.

Ruhul Kader

What are some of the things that have contributed to that growth?

Rayana Hossain

All of the things combined. It's a joint effort of various things — online and offline campaigns, marketing, building a brand that resonates with people, and also getting Shakib and Badhon on board I think has helped reach a larger audience.

Ruhul Kader  

Seeing from the outside, I think you have built this fascinating culture of trying things out, trying different things. It's interesting to see because usually, furniture brands are a little dull, digitally at least. I think that's also something that has contributed to the growth of the company. But how did you build that? From the cultural perspective, building a culture of trying things out, how did that happen?

Rayana Hossain 

It's a culture of innovation. That's what we believe in. If you look at the people working here, we have a young team. It's a very good mix of people who work at ISHO. 

The other thing we do is have open conversations. You don't know who has the best idea. Somebody from IT might have a fantastic product idea, and somebody from the supply chain might have a great design concept, we try to open up these conversations to bring in new ideas. 

Ruhul Kader 

Do you have any structure for that? 

Rayana Hossain   

We have regular town hall meetings that happen every month. We also have weekly meetings with different teams. I like to have conversations with people as well when I'm on the floor, or I’m passing by people’s desks. It’s not a particular structure, it’s an approach to working. 

Ruhul Kader  

Companies are, in many ways, the reflection of their founders. How much of ISHO is its founder?

Rayana Hossain  

I hope the core values of ISHO reflect what I believe in — in terms of innovation and always trying to do something new. Throughout my life, I was never interested in what other people were doing. It has always been about pushing the boundary for myself. In that respect, ISHO is not concerned about what other companies are doing. It's important to have an understanding of the market for sure, but not necessarily look to other companies in the same domain as competition. 

Ruhul Kader

Have you raised any external investment? Do you plan to? 

Rayana Hossain   

No. And we don’t plan to right now.

Ruhul Kader  

Your parent company has been investing in early-stage companies? Do you have any take on that, in terms of raising investment or investing in other companies?

Rayana Hossain  

Strategic investment for other countries makes sense for ISHO, we might consider such opportunities in the future. Going to Europe and America is not easy, you will need solid partners. 

Now, how do I feel about investing in other companies? I think it's something that you can look at in three different ways. And that's how we at DEKKO ISHO look at things as well. It's primarily run by the fantastic team we have over at DIVC.

One is, once again, going towards vertical integration. We have invested in a company called Ecovia, which focuses on producing biodegradable plastic products. It’s a great vertical for us. As a company, we believe strongly in sustainability. We believe these products can help with packaging in garments as well as our other brands. 

The other is efficiency and promoting great technology and investing in companies that are bringing about a new way of doing things. Diversifying is another way of looking at it. Investing in companies that are beyond our domains. There are lots of different things that need to be considered as a conglomerate before we think about investing in a company.

Ruhul Kader  

How do you see the competition in the furniture space?

Rayana Hossain 

As I said, it's not something that interests me.

Ruhul Kader  

But not exactly as looking outward into what other companies are doing. Not from that perspective, but from the perspective of how competitive the market is. And how do you see whether there is competitive pressure in the market? If there are pressures in the market, how do you see ISHO creating competitive moats?

Rayana Hossain 

One of the pressure points for ISHO is the furniture coming in from China. The government has put in huge taxes for importing furniture, which should be great for local brands and companies to flourish. However, the other thing that the government has done is impose extremely heavy taxes on raw materials for furniture as well. Either you put a heavy tax on the final goods, or you put a heavy tax on the raw materials, but if you're doing both, nobody gets a good product, in this case, affordable good quality furniture. That’s something I think the government should look into. 

In terms of competition, I would say, hopefully, with more market players coming in, people's dependency on local furniture will increase. 

Ruhul Kader

And I'm pushing the same question, uniqueness of ISHO? What separates you from other furniture companies since we’re talking about competition?  

Rayana Hossain   

Like I said, analyzing various data points, and then being true to our core beliefs that we have as a company and coming up with something that at the same time meets the needs in the market.

Ruhul Kader

What's the most exciting thing about SIHO? 

Rayana Hossain 

Always be on the lookout for new approaches, and new ways of doing things. Working on various products and services — we're launching some products as well as services that we are excited about. In short, the pace of innovation. That's about it.

Ruhul Kader 

What's the most underrated thing about ISHO?

Rayana Hossain

I'll tell you about an incident. Somebody came for an interview the other day. She said, I've been following your brand for three years and love the stuff you do, but I'm not your target customer. I asked her why she thought so, and she said, because I live with my family. My response was, Okay, so maybe your dining room and your living room are not ISHO customers, but your bedroom is an ISHO customer. And she was like yeah my bedroom actually can be an ISHO customer. And why do you think the other rooms are not? My mother won't like ISHO, she said. Has your mother been to ISHO, I asked. No, she said. I said, Okay, take your mother to ISHO then let me know. So that was the assignment. And then she came back. And she shared how her mother loved a TV cabinet that they are going to be buying. 

So that to me is something that is perhaps in some ways underrated, that certain segments of the audience are making up their minds about the brand before even exploring it. Hopefully, it's something that we will be able to change very soon.

Ruhul Kader 

How big is the furniture market in Bangladesh for a company like ISHO? 

Rayana Hossain

It's fast-growing, the market size is currently at about $800 million with a 10% average growth every year. I would say the market opportunity is huge, it's big and it's only getting bigger.

Ruhul Kader 

How does the furniture business work, the dynamics of the industry? So you manufacture things, and then you have distribution channels, and you distribute…

Rayana Hossain  

Our model doesn't work that way. For us, customer experience is the most important thing at this point. Making sure that no matter which ISHO store people walk into, the look and feel are the same, the experience is the same, these things are extremely important for us. So for that customer experience, at this point in time, we operate our own stores.

Ruhul Kader   

Interesting. If you look from the P&L perspective, what are the cost centers, and how do the companies usually make money? 

Rayana Hossain 

For a vertically integrated furniture brand, the cost structure is usually from raw materials to design and manufacturing, to marketing, logistics, and retail. Having said that, one area that could prove to be an area to cut costs profoundly in Bangladesh is raw material import. Good quality upholstery material, for example, is not found locally that way. So like I said before, either local companies will have to start developing good quality materials, or something has to be done so that raw material prices for import are lower if you want the local furniture industry to flourish. 

Ruhul Kader

Your profile on DEKKO ISHO describes you as someone, I quote: (Rayana Hossain) who “believes that design should be embedded at every level of any organization. Her education from Harvard University cemented her passion for making design and creativity a priority so that it can be used for transforming systems and inspiring innovation.” What does that mean philosophically and practically? What does that look like, embedding design into organizations?

Rayana Hossain

Design, architecture, particularly landscape architecture and the approach to design, is something that I follow. When you are making changes within a landscape, in order for you to provide a successful design solution, you need to study the history, geography, politics, environment, economics, and everything contextual of a site before you arrive at the design. That analysis helps you create a working design system where all natural and built environments can coexist in harmony. 

Similarly, for a company, when you have that kind of data analyzed in terms of teams, and their functions, it helps you connect nodes and create a system making sure that everybody is working cohesively, everybody is being able to do their work efficiently. That is basically what design is to me; being functional and efficient.

The approach to design is to be systematic.

See, design and art are two different things that I find people tend to forget sometimes. Art is an expression of oneself, it's a personal expression. Design is for other people. Design is for efficiency. Design is for functionality.

Ruhul Kader

More of a system? 

Rayana Hossain 

Absolutely. Design is based on a need, based on use. When you think about it that way and put that same logic in a business, the entire system should be formed in a way, where the end user, whoever it is, from a trainee to a manager, to the CEO, everybody should be able to do their respective work efficiently. 

Going back to your first question about obsession, I suppose I like systems. To me, any company can prosper if you just do the research right, act accordingly within a system, and are efficient about it. 

When you look at an Ikea, you know, they're bringing Sweden to you. When you look at Muji, you know, they're bringing Japan to you. That's not who we want to be. We want to be a company that feels local, like the world's local furniture store.

Ruhul Kader  

Thank you so very much for being generous with your time and insight. 

Rayana Hossain 

Thank you. 

Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based writer, researcher, and entrepreneur. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and the author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about entrepreneurship, business, strategy, technology, and culture. He can be reached at [email protected]

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