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Brain Station 23: A Bangladeshi technology outsourcing company quietly builds a global business

Brain Station 23 was founded in 2006 with an ambition to build a world-class technology outsourcing company out of Bangladesh. Today, the company has a presence in over 25 markets globally, making it one of Bangladesh's largest and most fascinating technology companies. Despite its scale and growth, Brain Station 23 is one of the most underrated and least talked about tech companies in Bangladesh. The reasons are understandable. Unlike many rising consumer technology companies in Dhaka, Brain Station 23 rarely tries to be flashy and trendy. The company prefers quiet execution over fanfare. 

But there is a lot more to Brain Station 23 than meets the eye. If it plays its cards right as it has been doing, it can become Bangladesh’s first global technology company. And tech enthusiasts and founders would be wise to pay attention to the emerging behemoth in Dhaka.

Simply put, Brain Station 23 provides technology solutions to international and local clients across industries. Starting small with a 4-person team, the company has expanded internationally over the last decade on the back of an excellent talent pool, empowering culture, and strategic partnerships. Characteristic of itself, the company has quietly built a reputation for being an excellent workplace for high-caliber tech talent and for working successfully with large international clients across a variety of industries. 

The outlook for the tech industry remains bright globally. The pandemic has accelerated the growth of the industry. Although Bangladesh's tech industry has a long way to go compared to its neighboring countries and peers such as India and Indonesia, the country has been showing serious potential to become a technology hub. A growing economy. A young population. High internet and smartphone penetration. The country has both talent and a market. In accordance, the Bangladesh Government has set an ambitious target of $5 billion in technology exports by 2025. Brain Station seeks to take advantage of the momentum and orchestrate its next round of growth. 

This article undertakes a challenging set of tasks: develop an understanding of what Brain Station 23 is, explain its rise in the global market, and glean lessons from its journey. We plan to dive deep into a few things: (1) what makes Brain Station 23 such a fascinating company (2) what are some of the things that have helped the company build a fast-growing global technology outsourcing business and (3) how it has built a workplace that attracts high-quality technology talents in Bangladesh. 

Ambition is contagious 

Brain Station is an ambitious company. The company says it aims to create massive technology employment opportunities in Bangladesh, provide the best quality solutions to its clients, and become a home for cutting-edge technology solutions for global customers. 

Ambition is a fascinating phenomenon. It is contagious. When the leadership of an organization emanates ambition, it trickles down and spreads throughout the organization. Everyone picks up the vibe. This is partly what has happened at Brain Station 23. 

The company says it has built an exciting workplace. It offers excellent growth opportunities to its people. It invests in upskilling and training its people through offline and online courses and training programs. Brain Station is one of the few companies that offer ESOP in Bangladesh. 

The company works on fascinating technological challenges, a motivation in itself for intellectually charged people. More importantly, it says it is working to make an impact, which means people have an opportunity to build legacies at Brain Station 23. Meaning is the ultimate driver for ambitious people. Along with other benefits, Brain Station seeks to offer that to its people. 

The combination of ambition and an enabling culture has done the magic. Within a short span of 15 years, the company has managed to show a glimpse of its potential. The numbers speak. Brain Station is one of the fastest-growing IT outsourcing companies in Bangladesh. It currently has footprints in 25 markets including the US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Turkey, Caribbean countries, and the Middle East and more are being added regularly. 

With over 550 people on its team, it is one of the largest and fastest-growing employers of IT talents in Bangladesh. It is known for having the best talents in blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, reality technologies, BI solution, project management, software, database, cloud, UX, quality assurance, business analysis, AEM, LMS, e-commerce, AR-VR, and other emerging technologies in Bangladesh. 

Brain Station 23 has always strived to be at the forefront of technology. For instance, when .net was a nascent technology, the company used Microsoft.net technology for a PayPal project. That spirit persists today. Adapting to the changes in the technological landscape, the company has upped its game by investing in technology capabilities tailored to help businesses prepare for the fourth industrial revolution such as cloud computing, IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies that have a growing demand in the market. 

The breadth of industries Brain Station 23 has worked is long, diverse, and interesting: retail, fin-tech, software, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, ecommerce, telecom, real estate, education, startup, non-profit, automobile, etc. 

The company has built partnerships with all major technology solution providers including AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, Atlassian, and nopCommerce among others. 

Brain Station has an excellent track record of long-term partnerships and collaborations. The company partners with both international partners and individuals including non-resident Bangladeshis for market expansion. 

You can attribute Brain Station’s growth to two ingredients: 1) great tech talents and a culture that empowers people and 2) customer and quality obsession. 

Brain Station ensures that clients get high-quality work delivered on time and consistently. A combination of experience and talent allows the company to consistently deliver high-quality work to a diverse set of clients from across industries. 

Let’s take a closer look at Brain Station’s growth levers. 

Giving people something worth fighting for 

"The thing that has helped since our early days is our vision," explained Raisul Kabir, Founder, and CEO of Brain Station 23. "We started Brain Station 23 for a reason which was way bigger than any material goal. We had a common vision. We wanted to achieve something bigger than ourselves as opposed to building a mere business. As a result, everyone in the company was motivated and spirited. Everyone felt that they were part of something bigger. People want to matter. They want to be a part of something that supersedes their human limitations. We had that thing from day one." 

People don’t stay longer at Brain Station because of the pay alone. It does pay a good salary. It probably pays better than average companies. But the company also makes it a point that it does not want to be the highest paying company because, the company says, it understands the limitation of financial motivation alone. It wants its people to care more for the cause and passion. 

"We want people who are ready to sacrifice for the vision we have," says Mr. Raisul. 

Quality as a cultural phenomenon 

Brain Station over the years has built a distinct culture. People are empowered. There is a feeling in the company that "we are working towards a goal, let’s build the company." The organization is horizontal. There is no boss or sir culture. Having a minimum hierarchy has created a sense of ownership among employees and a conducive environment for new ideas and innovation. The company constantly encourages and supports its employees' development of skills and pursuit of their interests in new technologies. These policies around human resource management have helped the company develop skills in new technological verticals and maintain a high people retention rate.

The company puts a lot of importance on honesty and transparency. It emphasizes transparency while dealing with clients, such as offering clients several options even if it will result in short-term revenue loss. Brain Station's developers work directly with clients, a rare practice among outsourcing companies because of the risks associated with it. Almost everyone who works on a project is aware of the company's prices to the client. The openness fosters long-term relationships and trust.

Brain Station 23 has always been a quality-obsessed company. It has built a culture in which people strive for excellence and engineers compete to become the best in their field. Through an agile approach, Brain Station 23 has developed a working tempo where clients get their deliverables on time. A built-in feedback loop allows clients to provide ongoing feedback, improving the overall quality and speed of the project.

The company uses scrum. Sprints are scheduled every two or three weeks based on the project requirements. The advantage of sprints is that if a client has 10 features, they get those features within a certain timeline one by one. You don't need to finish the entire project at once when the deadline approaches. Every sprint includes a feedback review. By the time the deadline approaches, clients have their projects delivered.

A five-phase model — planning, development, quality assurance, release, and maintenance — is followed to ensure quality and service. Quality assurance gets the highest priority. Codes are reviewed thoroughly for quality because if the codes are of low quality, clients face challenges in maintaining and changing the product when needed. Whereas high-quality and standard codes make maintenance easier. 

Brain Station 23 says it has developed an excellent QA process. It runs both manual and automatic tests to check a piece of software. The company has more than 30 IST-certified developers for quality assurance.

Truly putting customers first 

Brain Station 23 always places the highest importance on delivering the best quality and timely services to its clients and partners. To ensure the best service amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company has quickly put together a hybrid working model enabling people to be productive and partners to get their projects delivered on time. 

The company introduced work from home from the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The Brain Station’s HR team has developed a special regimen to reach out to every employee to make work from home easy by providing them with gadgets and other necessary tools. 

Brain Station has already been working for remote clients for years. So going remote was not a challenge for the company. As a result, working from home didn’t cause any major challenges for employees, clients, or partners. Moreover, a string of employee-friendly initiatives has been launched to help employees avoid burnout, and tackle the challenges of loneliness and lack of collaboration while working remotely. A company-supported healthcare program for employees and their families has been introduced to ensure access to healthcare for COVID-19-related emergencies.

All these initiatives have helped Brain Station work effectively with its partners and deliver high-quality projects on time amid a global pandemic while experiencing excellent growth at the same time.

Expansion through partnership 

Throughout its journey, partnerships have played an important role in Brain Station’s growth. It has built partnerships with major technology solution providers to deliver services and used partnerships to lead its global expansion strategy. It has partnered with companies and independent agents to build a presence and grow its business across countries. It currently has partners in 12 plus markets including the USA, UK, UAE, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, Norway, Germany, and Africa.

Partners help Brain Station 23 to access their native markets. In exchange, partners get to access Brain Station’s expertise and excellent IT talent pool to deliver exciting tech solutions to their customers, grow their businesses, and earn additional revenue through profit sharing.

Brain Station 23 has developed a process for onboarding partners. Compliances are being checked whether a partner meets its criteria before confirmation. A standard procedure is used for working with partners. Partners get several benefits for every opportunity they bring, based on a pre-signed agreement, including profit sharing, cost-effective development rate, flexible time zone adjustment, and sharing Brain Station’s 15+ years of experience profile as their experience to onboard customers.

Unlike many IT outsourcing companies, Brain Station allows partners to access their IT resources directly allowing a seamless collaboration. 

Brain Station 23 reaches out to B2B companies for partnerships that match its requirements. Interested companies also send partnership requests and inquiries. One of the major sources of partners for Brain Station has been its clients who refer B2B companies for partnership. 

Relentlessly resourceful 

One of the best things about Brain Station 23 has been the company’s willingness to change and transform. In the world of technology, if you don’t change, you are likely to die. Over the years, Brain Station has taken major steps to change both its direction and business when necessary. When Industry 4.0 technologies started to gain momentum, Brain Station leaped to the opportunity. It invested in upskilling its people to build capabilities and developed processes and systems to deliver work in these emerging technologies. The has built a culture that is adept at adopting new technologies quickly.

Brain Station 23 started working with cloud technology in 2012 when it developed “BT Business Online”, the online portal of BT Business and Public Sector, a division of BT Group. These were the early days of cloud technology. The company has shown similar foresight time and again throughout its journey. 

For instance, since 2017, Brain Station has been working on in-house PoCs on machine learning, AI, and a host of other technologies. It has developed PoCs that can check the insurance relativity, predict loans, predict the stock market, predict the housing price of a certain area, and much more. Today, it has an enviable set of PoCs in industries from finance and banking to healthcare to retail and education.

In collaboration with mHealth of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Brain Station has been working on several fascinating healthcare technologies: AI-enabled stethoscopes which can detect cardiac condition anomalies, diet monitoring neckbands to monitor everyday diets, and give advice on health and lifestyle, technology that can detect the condition of lungs based on X-ray, interfaces for health monitoring that can monitor health conditions based on the voice. Bodycam to record physical activity, a Smart Air technology can detect environmental conditions from the sound.

In agriculture, Brain Station has worked with local conglomerate ACI Limited and helped build Fosholi, an agri-tech solution for farmers in Bangladesh. 

In the banking, enterprise, and Telecom sector, Brain Station 23 has been working on SharePoint for a long time. 

In the e-commerce sector, Brain Station has built web and mobile applications for leading e-commerce companies in multiple markets. In Bangladesh, the company claims to have worked with almost all major ecommerce companies in various capacities.

Brain Station developed the front end of the app Rehive, a Silicon Valley-based fin-tech startup using blockchain to provide financial services. It has collaborated with Maruboshi Europe to provide AR and VR solutions for the automobile industry and is building an AR technology that can give you a virtual tour inside a house. 

In collaboration with a Japanese satellite company Brain Station 23 is working to use image processing technology to detect and monitor facilities and other assets using ML and IoT.

In Europe, Brain Station has been working with several European companies including a European pharmaceutical company as a technology development and consultant partner. The company has built an AI chatbot for a German company that helps users to find the nearest gas or oil depot. For a Norway-based company called IOTIX Ltd, Brain Station is building a cloud-based IoT platform that collects real-time data and runs data analysis.

Endnote: Just getting started 

Brain Station has been relentless in the past several years. It has become a leading Bangladeshi company providing advanced technology solutions to customers both locally and internationally. The company now looks higher. 

Brain Station has built an excellent place for highly talented technology professionals. The company has built a culture that empowers people and allows them to flourish. It has been successful in attracting Bangladeshi talents from across the world. It now wants to go a notch up and attract Bangladeshi technology professionals working for companies like Amazon and Google. 

Brain Station offers opportunities to do high-quality impactful work for talented high caliber people. The company is structured to empower people to do their best work. It provides people with excellent financial and non-financial benefits. The company structure is designed to benefit everyone when the company grows with ESOPs and other benefits. 

Brain Station’s relentless focus on talent makes sense. The company is in the business of talent. If you can attract great talents, empower them with the right culture and incentives, and put together healthy processes and systems, you have a killer recipe for success. Over the past years, Brain Station 23 has prepared and finetuned the recipe, it is now time to see it doing its work. 

Originally published on 22 August 2022. Updated on 24 May 2023.

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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