Bangladesh’s bicycle industry is an emerging export sector. What are the obstacles do you believe that manufacturers need to overcome to become successful?
There are obstacles indeed! Make no mistake, the bicycle industry has enormous potential in the global market; it is already the largest exporter of Bangladesh’s engineering sector. However, to succeed, manufacturers need to overcome numerous challenges.
Firstly, you have to ensure a robust backward linkage. Success in this sector depends on relying less on imported parts. It took Meghna Group over 20 years to develop the backward linkages required to ace in the bicycle export business. Secondly, it is also necessary to have proper supply chain management. Bicycles have a high number of models, and that comes with tricky combinations of parts and accessories. Supply chain management is essential for tackling high variations in components. Finally, it is imperative to have an effective R&D and a skilled workforce. There is a severe lack of skilled workforce in the bicycle industry in Bangladesh. Most of the trained workers in the sector were developed here at Meghna Group. Lack of a proficient workforce is a significant obstacle in expanding any business in Bangladesh. It has to be developed through years of training and investment, which diminishes the competitiveness of Bangladeshi manufacturers in the global market.
So you mentioned about R&D in the business. How crucial is it for the business?
Investing heavily in R&D will give manufacturers a competitive advantage and will allow them to scale the business globally. R&D isn’t just about creating a new product; it can also be used to strengthen an existing product line or service delivery system with additional features. Consequently, it is more critical for higher-end bikes. It also helps to develop a higher understanding of the components and their combinations, which can prove pivotal to sustain the success rate.
How is CycleLife differentiating itself from its contemporaries in the traditional retail market?
CycleLife Exclusive aims to provide an extra level of service along with bikes at a higher price point than offered by traditional stores. For example, the factor which immediately sets CycleLife apart from other retailers is the sheer variety of products it offers. From basic road bikes to off-road mountain bikes, it has something for every type of bike enthusiast.
As bicycles are becoming a more preferred choice of recreation/sports for urban Bangladeshis, who do you think are the target customers of Veloce?
Ever since the BDCyclist community became popular among the Bangladeshi youths, the cycling culture has experienced an unprecedented momentum. CycleLife was launched during that period. Cycling has become popular across the country, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.
Veloce’s target customers are people who possess a greater understanding of bicycle parts and components and demand the most updated mechanism with state-of-the-art designs. The bikes are higher-end than the average bicycles in Bangladesh.
Now moving on to a more luxurious product brand envisioned by you. What thoughts were behind the inception of Mohammad & Sons Luxury Watch Boutique?
It is an investment for the future. We are expecting it to be analogous with our experience with BMW, which grew into one of the most successful car businesses in the country from humble beginnings. As the aggregate income level rises, the demand for luxury watches will be on the rise. Be it a businessman or corporates, watches are the ubiquitous fashion statement for a gentleman adorning a perfect three-piece suit. Ever since we launched it, the responses have made us believe more in the future potential of the venture.
hallenges are part of life; they make life interesting. My initial challenge was making my own identity in the family-owned business. At a very young age, I had to ensure that my employees believed in me and my vision. I was only 16 years old when I hired my first team at CycleLife Exclusive, and most of them are still employed in the company. That initial success in the cycle business enabled me to win the trust of my employees, which is very important for any emerging business leader.
Who are the people in your life that shaped the person you are today?
Everything I am today is because of my father. He has been my mentor throughout my life and taught me to become confident and brave in business. Most importantly, he guided me to become ambitious while staying humble.
My two uncles also played a pivotal role in shaping me as an entrepreneur. Both of them are very successful in their businesses, and conversations with them helped me to develop my business intuition further. My passion for watches is inspired by them leading to the birth of Mohammad and Sons Luxury Watch Boutique.