It comes as no surprise to learn that the number of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh has increased unbelievably in recent times. Gone are the days when all everyone could think of was running blindly after corporate jobs or putting job security before everything on the list of priorities. One can gladly say that entrepreneurship has now become a major trend in our country.
However, even though the number of entrepreneurs is escalating, a good number of them are still failing to comprehend the vital components that lead to success. To get some helpful answers, we talked to Adib Alam, one of the co-owners of the very popular restaurant, HAKKA DHAKA. The Indiana University graduate was more than happy to share his recipe for success with us.
Journey to success
Adib started this business alongside Shah Faisal Naved and Rafi Zahed, around July 2014. Just like all top entrepreneurs, success didn’t come to them so easily. It involved determination, hard work, patience and a bucket full of great ideas. The journey to victory, however, is always a beautiful and memorable one to the individual, regardless of the obstacles along the way. Likewise, Adib’s journey with his two friends would always remain a memory he would cherish.
After earning his undergraduate degree in 2012, Adib returned to Bangladesh and joined Standard Chartered in early 2013. However, he didn’t work there for long, as he was not very enthusiastic about having a banker’s life.
“We always wanted to work independently, and starting something of our own. Something different, that would separate us from the market. We really didn’t like the concept of being tied down to one job, and honestly, the idea of multinational jobs never seemed to pique our interests.”
Thus, after a lot of brainstorming, Adib and his partners decided to introduce Hakka cuisine to Dhaka. When asked why they thought this was the best plan, Adib replied by saying that they believed it involved two things that Bengali people absolutely love: Chinese food and spicy food.
Even though their success wasn’t handed to them on a silver platter, it was indeed a platter which led them to their success. Adib stated that he believed in simplicity and transparency.
“The initial place was small. There was not enough room for a buffet. The concept of platter actually came from the size of the place. We wanted to serve quality food on small plates to customers, and the customers got what they saw. There were no hidden charges or any sort of hassles involved. Our backs were against the wall, but thankfully it all turned out to be okay afterwards.”
It was a great start for the three of them. Even the name “HAKKA DHAKA” seemed to perfectly fit into all of this. They soon opened up a branch in Uttara and then a much bigger place in Banani the very next year, again during Ramadan.
Ramadan is indeed the most favorite time of the year for Adib and his partners. They did, however, face challenges along the way. There were days when they had to wait tables and cook the food themselves due to shortage of staff. In fact, Adib believes that this allowed him to be better equipped for future situations and he hopes to learn more as he progresses.
Motivations and role models
When asked what motivated him to continue this journey, Adib answered that it was the reaction of the customers. Foodbank, a Bangladeshi Facebook page created to discuss food, got filled up with raving reviews about HAKKA DHAKA very quickly. Seeing the booming popularity over something which started off as an experiment was a massive source of motivation.
Adib’s family has been extremely proud of him ever since this venture began, and they always believed in him. A lot of praises were received because the three of them built up the entire business without anybody else’s help. This was a huge boost for him.
While he does look up to all the members of his family, he specifically considers his late grandfather a great role model.
“My grandfather was the pioneer of private insurance business in Bangladesh. He had a humble beginning but grew up to be a self-made man. He was indeed a trendsetter, and I used to go to him for advice.”
Potential and opportunities in the Bangladeshi market
“The Bangladeshi market has a lot of potential and a huge number of opportunities. There are so many industries that are yet to be utilised; it is completely untapped.”
Adib believes that this is indeed a generation of entrepreneurs. People are moving away from the secured job trend. He thinks Bangladesh has a lot of room left to grow, unlike many developed countries. He, therefore, concludes that Bangladesh is definitely the place to be in the next 10 years for entrepreneurs.
We were very curious to know what our food entrepreneur had planned for the future. After asking, he said that all three of them wanted to start out a franchise of HAKKA DHAKA. They want the restaurant to be established in other cities alongside Dhaka, and one day, maybe even internationally.
“It has been a great journey so far. We hope to continue it and also maintain the standards as we progress. Our vision is to have everyone in Bangladesh to try our food.”
Adib further added that he and his partners want to be more established entrepreneurs in the future. He wishes to branch out to different industries alongside restaurants. One industry he mentioned was the leather manufacturing industry in Bangladesh.