In a country like Bangladesh, you would consider yourself lucky to spot a pretty floral notebook at your local stationary store. You may find a geometric one at best with a nice color theme and pattern, that again, if you are VERY lucky. Notebooks are good business. That is, if you do your market research right.
Well, these people got it right.
Meaning ‘bold’ in French, Audacieux came into business on February, 2015. Founded by Zulfikar Rahman, Srabani Christine Costa and Ibtida Hasan, three ACCA students currently working at KPMG Rahman Rahman Huq, Audacieux is arguably the largest online retailer for notebooks at present, also selling bookmarks and candles.
“We started to think and we all agreed on one thing, 95% of startups fail, what if our startup doesn’t? We needed to make sure that this business that we would do, would survive and hence we needed everything to be perfect. But we needed a benchmark as well. We thought we wanted to be like IKEA, one of the biggest Home Décor brands in the world. Another idea was to be like Ryman, the UK’s largest stationery retailer. Since we could not make up our minds, we decided we would be both. The largest home décor and stationery brand in the country.”
They started off with bookmarks which were a huge success. Then came their notebooks which however received even a bigger response. Launched on the first week of March, the notebooks went viral within the first few days. “We received over 800 organic likes on Facebook in just three hours of launch and our Manchester United notebooks sold out within a day. Since then we have not looked back and in only nine months, we have reached over 10,000 organic likes on Facebook.”
Audacieux’s designs are mostly based on popular television shows, movies and football clubs. The product range till date includes 13 kinds of notebooks, 2 student copies, over 30 bookmark designs and 1 type of candle. Audacieux is currently planning for their next range of notebooks, with a special Christmas surprise in line. They also plan to launch a new range of scented candles before December this year.
Banana. started out in April, 2015 with three partners Shahtaj Mahmud, Junaid Deep and Shahroz Asif. What started out as in exclusively online business now has retail hubs all over Dhaka. Banana. notebooks are now available at the Yellow Submarine Café in Banani, Candyfloss in Dhanmondi, Vertical Horizon and North South University photocopy centre.
Banana. notebooks are all about putting some fun into our otherwise mundane daily lives. The designs are funky and hip, with no particular theme attached to them. The name itself symbolizes what the Banana. founders want their notebooks to stand for. “The name Banana. was chosen because we wanted people to remember us easily. We want our notebooks to be part of people’s everyday lives and not some luxury product, just like bananas!”
What makes Banana. unique however is their marketing strategy. Two months into their launch, Banana. in collaboration with popular website, Rantages brought out a limited edition notebook of the same name. Recently, they teamed up with Plaantik, the country’s most popular football website, for a special range of football themed notebooks, each featuring an iconic player from top football clubs. Three out of six exclusive designs were selected for production via voting on Facebook. Needless to mention, in a country, where even the slightest mention of football brings about waves of heated hour-long squabbles, this was a brilliant move on Banana.’s part.
Banana. has launched two collections of notebooks till date. They don’t reprint notebooks that have already been printed and sold out once. For the second collection, Banana. joined hands with projekt.co, where the notebooks are now available at discounts of 25% on pre-order.
Relatively new to the business, Silly Crows took flight in June of this year. Headed by three undergraduate students Rahat, Tasnuba and Raida, Silly Crows went into business because of a mutual admiration for notebooks. All three founders are avid collectors of notebooks which got them thinking about venturing into the world of small scale business of selling notebooks. “The good old days of fountain pens and good paper maybe out of sync with today's world but we try our best to push a culture of writing, doodling; after all the best ideas are the ones you write down.”
Silly Crows notebooks stand out because of their artsy designs. The notebooks have very subtle references from a very wide range of topics from a Vincent Van Gogh design to a Carl Sagan quote design. The designs reflect the founders’ personalities and ideals.