Bangladeshi design firm Ice9 Interactive innovates to win clients

10 January 2017
ITC News
Four years after its launch, Ice9 Interactive pursues business opportunities in the United Kingdom and Kenya through the ITC Netherlands Trust Fund III project in Bangladesh.

The Bangladeshi digital-marketing company Ice9 Interactive is attracting new clients with its augmented reality, virtual reality and interactive 3D content.

A relative latecomer to the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Netherlands Trust Fund III (NTF III) programme, Ice9 Interactive has hit the ground running. Since joining last year, Ice9 has attended two business-to-business (B2B) events, participated in a trade fair in China and a training session on export market planning, and started to collaborate with another NTF III beneficiary in Kenya.

Keeping up the pace, Ice9 co-founder and director of software development and research Afeef Zubaer Zaman traveled to London in November for another B2B event – his company’s first outside of Bangladesh. The event gave Zaman an opportunity to spread the word about Ice9 Interactive’s various services, particularly game-engine apps, when he sat down with British business representatives.

‘These companies are looking for branding and design, and that’s where we can offer some great services,’ he said. ‘We also work with game engines, and that’s becoming very popular worldwide. Other companies work on that, but we have a great team and a lot of experience working in those areas.’

Doing business in the United Kingdom

Zaman and his partners began Ice9 Interactive in 2012 as a sister to their other company, Maverick Studios. Ice9 is an interactive solutions developer that works with technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and interactive 3D content. With fewer than a half-dozen staff just four years ago, Ice9 now has about 45 employees.

Soon after joining NTF III, Ice9 participated in a B2B event in Dhaka organized by the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services and ITC. The end result was a new United Kingdom-based client and a contract for 3D modelling work.

‘They are happy with our work and looking to increase business with us,’ Ice9 co-founder Ahmad Niaz Murshed said. ‘We are now getting ready to step into the next phase of the project.’

Building broader networks

This NTF III project – funded by the Dutch Government and implemented by its Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) and ITC – builds export competitiveness in Bangladesh’s information technology sector.

‘The fact that we are an NTF company gives us a lot of credibility,’ Murshed said. ‘When we talk to other clients, we make sure to mention that we are part of NTF.’

The networking opportunities offered through B2Bs are one of the biggest advantages of participating in the project, he said.

‘It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to expand our network and work in other markets,’ he explained. ‘Sitting here in a silo, it’s difficult to get out and meet other clients. Even if we don’t get clients from B2Bs, we find out what clients are looking for.’

Exploring the Kenyan market

In addition to B2Bs, Murshed has taken part in an export market planning workshop that ‘helped us to think clearly about our mission and short- and long-term goals to travel’. He also traveled to China for a services trade fair, where he made new contacts, learned how the Chinese market functions and met other NTF III beneficiaries, including SawaSawa. The women-led provider of software solutions is now trying to market Ice9’s services in the Kenyan market, and the two companies’ future relationship is promising, Murshed said.

‘Without NTF III support, we wouldn’t have been able to do all that,’ he added.

Murshed says 2015 was a year of firsts for Ice9 Interactive. The Dhaka-based company was the first Bangladeshi design firm to win the international Red Dot Award: Communication Design 2015, given by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany, and the first Bangladeshi business to win the Platinum Award in the ‘A’ Design Award and Competition 2015.