Both are children of established business families in Chattogram. One holds the highest degree from the University of Greenwich in London, the other from the Malaysian Sunway University in Malaysia.
Despite the alluring option of settling abroad or getting involved in their family businesses, both instead opted to use their talents and blaze their own trails.
Sheikh Uzair and Mukarrabin Ahasan, two enthusiastic young entrepreneurs from Chattogram, started their business together, the digital marketing company Intelzaa, with zero capital.
They instead built their office furniture by furniture, buying fans and lights as the money trickled in.
Their ambition, stated simply but hard to realise, was to scale up Intelzaa to a size not seen before in Chattogram, while serving the needs of the people at the same time.
Over time, their company now boasts under its portfolio some of the biggest national and international sales, including the Ispahani Group, Well Food & Beverages, Diamond Cement, N Mohammad Group, Avenue Hotel & Suites, Rio Coffee, Twingle Ice Cream, Bigbite Chocolate, VivA footwear, Afreen, Pitstop Restaurant & Bakery, Senang Insurance Malaysia.
Their annual turnover has also crossed crores of takas.
From business to friendship
A chance meeting in 2018 between Mukarrabin and Uzair at an event is when the seed of the idea was planted.
Uzair was an IT enthusiast and Mukarrabin, too, saw the potential of the sector.
The two decided to put their heads together and make their talents pay dividends.
Sheikh Uzair, managing partner of Intelza, told The Business Standard, "I have been in business since I was a child owing to the family business. However, I was always thinking of doing something on my own without returning to the family's lap. Since I was passionate about the IT sector, I thought of starting an online marketing, consultancy, promotion and branding business. Meanwhile, Mukarrabin came to visit the country from London and he was in IT.
"That's how Intelzaa's journey began."
"I can proudly say that when we started Intelzaa, we didn't start the business with any money. There was no office or address. The only capital was our talent. Luckily, our first client was a company called Malaysian insurance broker Senang. We do a huge data collection job for the organisation," he said.
"We had to sit in Bangladesh and add inventory to every street and house in Malaysia," Uzair said of the work.
Uzair said the company currently employs 12 IT specialists. They are currently working on affiliate marketing, web design, development, online marketing, consultancy, promotion and branding of 12 reputed industrial groups, including four foreign companies.
Despite less than four years in the field, Intelzaa has won a lot of admirers already.
Ispahani group's Brand Executive (Marketing) Nazifa Nuzhat told The Business Standard: "We have been working with Intelzaa since 2018. Over these last few years, our experience with them has been really great. Intelzaa has always been a huge creative support for us. Their quality content and prompt service make them one of the most reliable agencies to work with".
Mukarrabin Ahasan, said, "Our motive was to do something which has not been done before in Chattogram on this scale that we have done by the grace of the Almighty. Our perseverance and never give up attitude and mainly the notion to give something valuable to this wonderful city where we both truly belong have been keys behind this".
"Finally, after four years of hardship with a sweet and sour journey we can say that we are on our way to achieving what we initially had in mind," he said.
Branding or marketing is becoming big in Chattogram and to this end social media marketing has become a big player.
This is the market Intelzaa has been able to capture with such gusto.
Well Food and Beverage Company Limited Brand Executive Sadneema Ahsan said, "As a brand custodian, I believe advertising agencies are your true saviours when it comes to shaping up your brand. In this era of social media marketing the value of digital marketing agencies is growing significantly. My journey of working with Intelzaa has been wonderful. It doesn't feel like Intelzaa is our vendor, rather we have been working like a team to build the digital platform of Well Food and Beverage Company Limited; one of the finest local bakery brands of the town.'
High risk, high rewards
Recounting the journey, Uzair said it had not been easy.
"The fans and lights in the office came from the clients' money. As the days went by, the number of our furniture also increased. That's why we didn't make any profit from Intelzaa for the first two-and-a-half years, but we used the money to build the company. At present, with the help of Intelzaa, we have started a co-working space called 'Ektra', which we have done only out of social responsibility," he said.
Describing a difficult chapter in the journey, Uzair said, "Initially, we trained a number of people at our own expense. But none of them finally agreed to stay in Chattogram, although we left Malaysia and London and came to Bangladesh to do something for Chattogram."
He said the main challenge in Chattogram was that everyone was heading to Dhaka, so initially they had to work day and night to put the business on its feet.
Uzair said, "We not only cater to the digital marketing needs of the clients, but also go to the field to know how the customers are taking any of their products," adding they also advise companies on innovations and promotions based on customer behaviour.
"That's why clients have adopted us."
Mukarrabin Ahasan, said, "Intelzaa wants to set up its own commercial digital campus here to institutionalise digital marketing. Through this, the unemployment problem of the youth of Chattogram and surrounding districts will be solved. Besides, it will be possible to earn revenue for the country by presenting Chattogram before the world stage."