In the space of a few short years, digital marketing has transformed the business landscape of Bangladesh. It’s currently one of the key booming areas for Bangladeshi startups, representing an exciting workspace where innovative ideas and brands come together to engage audiences in real time. It’s a market that’s growing rapidly and is characterized by fierce competition.
Strategeek Digital, however, firmly believes that it stands out from the crowd. We got a chance to sit down again with Sidrat Talukder, Co-founder of Strategeek, for a session that explored Strategeek’s journey, its strengths in digital marketing and also his thoughts on the broader startup phenomenon.
In an earlier interview, he also shared his views on Digibuzz, where he was a featured speaker; Strategeek also won the Judges’ Choice Award for their Robi Axiata Limited Facebook page. Feel free to check out the interview, as well as our coverage on Digibuzz!
Q: Could you tell us about Strategeek’s journey so far?
ST: This is actually our third startup, as you may know. We started with Maverick Studios in 2010, all the way back when we were in 2nd Year. We worked on sustaining ourselves as professionals, and by the time we graduated from IBA in 2012, we had a good idea about what to do next. That’s when we went ahead with our 2nd startup, ice9 interactive.
Maverick Studios focuses on content creation, through videos, while ice9 interactive is more about coding and development solutions such making mobile apps. We got an office space and soon the two companies were working side by side.
Over time, however, as we gained more exposure to the market and started taking on different kinds of work, we got into digital marketing. Initially, the focus was more on content creation, however, eventually our clients wanted us to take on a more active role. We started doing many social media campaigns, planning and advertising work until we felt in 2014 that the digital marketing part of our activities was big enough to become its own company.
So yeah, that’s how Strategeek was born, officially, in July 2014.
Q: How do you give manage your time with the three startups?
ST: I have been blessed with very good partners since we started out with Maverick. It’s an eight-member partnership, and initially we used to work together on all the projects that came. As time passed and our companies grew, we gained experience and by now we have split principally into three groups that look over our respective companies. For instance, I don’t normally have a management role in Maverick Studios, but I sit on the board and am there during the important decision making processes. That’s the same for the other partners in regards to Strategeek.
Q: Tell us about the products and services you are offering to your clients.
ST: We provide digital strategy and digital planning. We also provide social media customer service, social listening and online advertising services. In addition to that, we work together with our sister concerns to provide other services such as content management and content creation. So when our plans need video content, for instance, we work with Maverick Studios to deliver that.
Q: Could you share some insights about the current state of Digital Marketing in Bangladesh? How fast do you think it’s growing?
ST: Well, it’s growing in line with the digital progress of our country. Forget the marketing part—even a few years back there were less than a million Facebook users in Bangladesh. Now, there are 13 million! If you look at some of the countries that are highly active in terms of digital media, Bangladesh is definitely up there, and that’s huge potential.
Our digital space is growing very rapidly, and advertisers are catching up on the fact that a huge audience can be reached through this medium.
Q: Where do you think Digital Marketing will be in the next five years?
ST: Since time moves so fast in digital media, five years is actually a lot of time to think about in that context. I think Facebook presence will grow, to around 40-50 million in Bangladesh. There will probably be another platform that will pop by then, and Facebook may not even be that big of a thing then anymore.
What needs to happen is a growing acceptance of a mindset that recognizes the need to approach digital audiences in an organic way, that’s independent of specific platforms, that understands that a lot more can be done beyond engagement through Facebook pages.
Q: What would you say are the USPs of Strategeek?
ST: We do the kind of work you would probably not expect to be done in the market until five years from now. We are ahead of the curve, not only in terms of the gimmicks that attract attention, but the basics of digital marketing. That’s analytics and social media customer service. With social media customer service, when you go to a page and ask a question, you can get an answer in less than 10 minutes that gives you exactly what you are asking for. In fact for some queries the response time might be less than 1 minute, because we have incorporated automated response systems for that.
Overall, we have a very pragmatic approach to digital marketing, and that sets us apart from the general trend in digital marketing in Bangladesh, which tends to be very advertising-centric.
Q: Tell us about some of the campaigns you have done for your clients.
ST: One of the biggest campaigns we have done is the Robi Human Flag campaign. One of the joys of working with telecoms is that they have big ambitions and big budgets, which gives a lot of room to explore things that haven’t been done before. We have also done several smaller campaigns, such as viral video campaigns, such as the one we did for the ‘Say it with a Coke’ campaign for International Mother Language Day. We have also done a lot of Facebook campaigns—recently we did cricket-based campaigns for the World Cup.
Q: What do you think of the overall startup culture in Bangladesh as a whole? How it has progressed so far?
ST: Starting new businesses has been done in Bangladesh for a long time, of course. If you go by the startup culture as the current trend with angel investors, and now some VCs coming in, then yes, I am happy that investors and other people are working together to create an infrastructure for new potential startups to come up and make an impact.
However, I feel that there is need for some caution, as there is a lot of excitement building up right now, but some companies may not have the business side of things figured out yet. If you look at some of the most talked about local startups in 2014, you might find out that some of them aren’t that much active right now.
You need the passion, definitely, but you also need to pay good attention to building up businesses and sustaining them, as much as to the marketing side of things.
Q: Speaking of sustainability, what do you think the future holds for the startup phenomenon in Bangladesh?
ST: I think that, what has started, it’s never going to disappear. However, startups need to not only achieve success, but sustain it. When you think about Bdjobs.com, for example, you don’t think of them as a startup at the moment, but that’s what they started out as, and they made the transition to where they are now. So that’s a success story.
When you see some of the startups which are early stage now go on to become profitable businesses later on, it will show the way for the next wave of startups. Some of those earlier startups might go on to achieve the scale of international recognition gained by highly successful global-scale startups in the past. That will be the next stage in the next couple of years, hopefully.
To find out more about Strategeek, check out their website: