Bangladeshi software developer wins over Dutch client after matchmaking event
Perseverance and patience have paid off for Bangladeshi software developer Brain Station-23.
Following a matchmaking event arranged through the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF) III Bangladesh project, Brain Station-23 met and won over Dutch software company Virtual Affairs.
Brain Station-23’s first encounter with Virtual Affairs occurred in late 2014, during a business-to-business event in the Netherlands.
‘Virtual Affairs was looking to find partners with dedicated and highly skilled resource capacity at attractive rates,’ Brain Station-23 Chief Executive Raisul Kabir said. ‘They were looking for a long-term relationship, and we wanted the same. They were interested in seeing how flexible we were, because some other competitors were offering a fixed monthly amount and Virtual Affairs preferred flexibility.’
Connecting across borders
Several months later, Virtual Affairs and other European companies travelled to Bangladesh at NTF III’s invitation and, during that trip, visited Brain Station-23’s offices. ‘They asked a lot of questions about our processes, how we worked, our methodologies,’ Kabir recalled. ‘They found out that some of the methods we used, they also used – they found a lot of alignment.’
Virtual Affairs began a three-month pilot project with Brain Station-23, which sent five developers to the Netherlands to learn about the Dutch company’s technologies and processes and the business questions it addresses as part of its focus on banks and insurance companies. Once back in Bangladesh, the developers teamed up with two workers from Virtual Affairs and developed a software product called Insurance Right that enables people to get insurance quotes and policies directly via the web.
‘This product has gotten a good response,’ Kabir said. ‘Virtual Affairs was pretty happy.’
So happy, in fact, that the Dutch company has hired Brain Station-23 for future product roadmap development and may team up on other projects. Brain Station-23, which focuses on web and mobile application development, has gained a long-term customer that now contributes to 16% of its revenue.
Securing long-term clients
‘This has been very helpful for our company, because getting new clients is really difficult,’ Kabir said. ‘But once we get a client, we have the client for the long term. So we are very happy that we have a working relationship with Virtual Affairs.’
That relationship will help Brain Station-23 reach its goal of boosting revenue by 50% within a year and to triple it within three, he added. The company, which began in 2006 with four developers, now has more than 100, as well as annual sales of about $1 million. Kabir is counting on NTF III to help Brain Station-23 continue on its growth path.
‘NTF has opened our eyes,’ he said. ‘We have a better understanding of the market because of the NTF III Bangladesh project. They have offered training to focus on creating and working on strategy so we can really win the day. That has been extremely helpful.’
Brain Station-23 gained two other Dutch clients thanks to NTF III, which aims to increase the export competitiveness of the Bangladeshi information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services industry and is funded by the Netherlands through the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries. Under the previous phase of NTF, Brain Station-23 won a contract with a Danish client to develop an automation product that is now being implemented in the United States.
Creating a win-win situation
Such projects illustrate the benefits of outsourcing, according to Kabir.
‘Sometimes people are sceptical about outsourcing, believing it is costing jobs on site,’ he said. ‘In fact, it has helped economies. It is easier and faster to use an outsourcing vendor because the cost is lower – you can hire four developers in Bangladesh for the price of one in the Netherlands. Then you can start selling, so you are engaging more people in your home country as a result.’
‘When we make new products, it creates local employment,’ Kabir added. ‘It is a win-win situation for both countries.’