Meet Tamanna Ahmed. She is one of the regular faces at North South University but she is a lot more than just a pretty face-she’s an Entrepreneur. Not only is she a brilliant final year student of the Pharmacy department but also a phenomenal leader, the Secretary of Public Relations for one of North South’s most reputed clubs, the Earth Club. Tamanna runs an online business through Facebook called Unique Collection, which sells exported cosmetics, clothing and accessories.
Over the recent years, with modern age tools at hand the overactive, imaginative entrepreneurial youth of Bangladesh have increasingly tried to utilize the power of the internet to run small businesses from home. Be it an ordinary handicrafts business, or full blown poster and printing business, very few leaves have been left unturned. e-commerce and facebook commerce businesses require smaller investment and are easier to start, and social media can be used as a powerful engagement and marketing tool. But no matter how much more possible it is, or how many more options there are, being a student in a reputed University, living up to family’s expectations of performing academically and still running a successful business is no easy task.
Q. Tell us your story. How did you get so far?
As an entrepreneur or a growing entrepreneur to be precise, my story is quite difficult to explain but simple to understand. To be honest I am always doing something or the other because once you start getting busy your mind adapts you to the situation such that, you don’t want to go back to being lazy again. So it ultimately gets easier by the day to work harder. It all depends on how you set your priorities and your goals.
Okay so if I start with how my little online business started that is, my story, you would probably think I am l am one of those who “moved into” the big town with the dream of getting bigger or something because it is SO much similar.
However, when my family and I moved into Dhaka from Chittagong for my undergrad in Pharmacy at NSU, I basically had nothing to do at home. You know how in Dhaka one can’t move much because of the traffic so with few friends and a lot of time in hand, I decided to look for something to kill time. Also to a great extent more than me I think what inspired me the most was the fact that my mother left her family, her home to move to Dhaka for me and the fact that she sat idle all day at home while all of us were busy is what pushed me to look for something to do so she could participate. Then this one day I came across a few pages who sold products online. There you go, the idea of a startup popped up right there
Q. What are your products and services?
My products right now are watches and cosmetics. It also includes a little bit of boutique. My mother and I run this and I mainly started off with importing Pakistani lawns which were the heat back then but the trend never stayed so I had switch to watches which is to be honest, a pretty good business.
Q. Among so many other online businesses, what sets yours apart?
Um I think the fact that I am a well behaved and patient seller is what it makes me different. Along with the fact that we (my mother and I) provide warranty with the products. I know it sounds silly but I have repaired a lot of watches as per my clients’ choices and trust me, they love that! I think the most important thing in this business is the client-seller relationship which you we don’t emphasize on enough. To be honest, every customer wants to be given the best treatment and it is our job to do so. Also because one bad review can ruin your business.
Q. What are some challenges you faced along the way? How did you manage to balance work and academic life as well as club life which I believe takes a lot of time and effort? Not just being a general member but an executive body member which gives you a lot of responsibilities!
Setting the entire business up wasn’t easy especially because even back in 2012 people were only getting used to buying online. So we had a lot of challenges starting from pitching the right suppliers to attracting clients and all that but the biggest challenge was the time it took to build that trust with the clients because internet wasn’t as “trusted”. Even now we face challenges as we see several other pages selling the same thing in different prices so it’s difficult to make the clients understand our nature of investment. The profit margin is never that big as much as everybody thinks it is because of the growing f commerce and e commerce in Bangladesh. In the race of growing online business, I think change is needed; meaning you need to keep up with the trend and serve the growing demand of the people for whatever the product is.
It was super difficult at first however as time passed, I sort of got used to being busy like I mentioned before and to be honest, staying busy keeps your mind off a lot of unnecessary distractions so I like it.
As far as Club is concerned it doesn’t really affect the share of time and effort I put into the club because most of the business goes on online. Studies well, we only study the day before the exam (or atleast I do) so it’s all cool. I definitely keep my mind off everything else for that one day before exam.
What are some advice you would live to give fellow budding entrepreneurs?
Spend more time in researching your target and their common demands rather than focusing on the popularity of your page/website while setting up. Engagement that comes with each post and sharability of the post is much more important.
Find out more about Tamanna’s online startup here