"Identify a problem affecting a lot of people. Dig out all you can about that problem. Finally, propose a profitable and helpful solution to tackling that very problem. That's basically all you need to run a successful operation." This sounds simple, yet equally complicated to achieve. However, there is one man who has followed this mantra from day one and achieved success continuously. Consequently, he co-founded one of the biggest professional-learning platforms in Bangladesh. The man of the hour is Md Yanur Islam Piash. He is the CEO and co-founder of ‘Bohubrihi’ and the head of Business- Skills and Professions at ‘Shikho’.
Yanur shares the entire journey of Bohubrihi, the lessons he learnt along the way, and Bohubrihi's plans ahead.
The idea behind ‘Bohubrihi’: In the second year of studying Chemical Engineering at BUET, Yanur and his classmate Galib Hassan Khan realised that they need to make a difference and create something of their own. With that in mind, they thought about tapping into the skill-development sector of ed-tech.
"Back in 2016, there were no viable and effective platforms to upskill yourself to compete in the job market. Most ed-techs would draw the line after HSC syllabus," shares Yanur.
So, in search of such a platform, Yanur got introduced to Coursera, edX, Udemy, etc. by his friend Galib. After completing several courses, they visualised esteemed faculties of BUET taking such classes, helping millions. However, that idea seemed not feasible. Yanur and Galib planned on making an open platform where instructors could upload courses and videos on their own. Soon, revenues started to roll in, making it a successful launch for Bohubrihi.
The early stages: After Bohubrihi launched with around 12 courses on its open platform, the co-founders wanted to ensure more quality control.
"We started to design courses and onboarded instructors ourselves. I even uploaded a few courses by myself," recalls Yanur.
The company initially followed the bootstrapping technique of being operated with limited resources to achieve efficiency. Later, Bohubrihi's dedication and growth attracted two angel investors, who contacted the co-founders with an interest to invest in the company. With the investors on board, Bohubrihi started to reinvest their profits more and more. This approach stays the same even now.
Standing out from the crowd: There are a lot of ed-tech firms in Bangladesh catering to different or the same audience on a daily basis. With such competition in place, how has Bohubrihi established themselves?
"We focus on a career track, not just individual courses," explains Yanur. "Suppose, you want to be a data analyst. So, attending only a course on Microsoft Excel will not be enough for you. You will need a package with the courses and guidance to help you achieve your goal."
And that is what Bohubrihi has been doing successfully. With its career track, Bohubrihi does not just replenish people's knowledge. It helps them to get into an entry-level job at the very least and also adapt to the job using the knowledge they learnt.
"There are platforms, such as Coursera, edX, etc. that are equally accessible to people, but those courses are not curated for Bangladeshi audiences and correlated with Bangladeshi industries," says the CEO.
Bohubrihi's career track and professional courses are carefully curated and developed, keeping in mind what the Bangladeshi audience wants. Hence, the courses are accessible in Bangla and aligned with the prevalent industry practices.
Acquisition by ‘Shikho’: In November 2021, Dhaka-based ed-tech firm Shikho acquired Bohubrihi. With this acquisition, Bohubrihi and Shikho plan to cater to a student from his childhood to his professional life.
"The idea behind the acquisition was that Shikho used to cater to students only till HSC. However, as soon as the students step into university life, they will need to pick up different skills and that's where Bohubrihi comes into the equation," Yanur breaks it down.
The rudimentary plan was that students would join a platform during their childhood, learn the school syllabus with the help of ‘Shikho’ and as soon as it was time for university, ‘Bohubrihi’ would take over. So, it would be a giant platform for students of all ages.
"The word 'Bohubrihi' means multidimensional in English," says an optimistic Yanur. "So, we are aiming to help students from numerous angles throughout their academic and professional journey." Bohubrihi certainly brought a new example of ‘being true to its name’.
Future plans for ‘Bohubrihi’: Yanur outlines his goal for the short-term, "Bohubrihi wants to be the premium destination for career track and professional courses in Bangladesh. So, it will focus more on the career track than anything else while Shikho will continue to help its existing target audience."
It is true that serving premium content in a country like Bangladesh is not an easy task. The co-founder agrees that Bohubrihi will need to operate mostly in the niche market to achieve its goal. However, with an increase in quality and dedication from the entire Bohubrihi and Shikho team, reaching this target only seems like a matter of time.
Recipe for success: There is no certain recipe for success in any field in life. However, there are certain guidelines that Yanur follows that he believes are the key drivers behind Bohubrihi's success.
"Quality, integrity, and customer focus-- these are the three pillars on which Bohubrihi's success stands. Whatever we do as a company, be it unveiling a course or a feature, we make sure it has quality coupled with our diligent effort to meet the customers' demands."
Even before starting Bohubrihi, Yanur focused a lot on customers. At present, Bohubrihi continuously takes feedback from customers about their experience, suggestions, and what kinds of courses Bohubrihi should launch next. Keeping the customers the first priority has certainly paid off for the company.
Words of wisdom from the CEO: Yanur has been at it as an entrepreneur for a long time and has picked up tons of lessons along the way.
"Looking back, if I could make some changes to the journey of Bohubrihi so far, I would most likely focus even more on quality than quantity," he ponders. "Although we focused on quality control from day one, I still believe that there was room for improvement in that department."
A perfectionist, Yanur shares that he would like to achieve more efficiency in terms of using resources and creating course content.
As mentioned at the very beginning, Yanur believes that as long as you can solve a problem that will help the masses and you can earn from it as well, you will have a successful business.
"An entrepreneur's focus should be to help people overcome an important issue. As long as your intentions are to help others, success will automatically come to you," states the visionary.
The writer is a third-year BBA student at IBA, Dhaka University.