Dhaka is hardly conducive to any and all outdoor activities. Unless you were one of the privileged few to have a yard or even a driveway to play as a child, chances are, sports and physical activity was never a huge part of your life. That is not to say that there aren't any places to play outdoor sports such as cricket and football, but those spaces are too far and few between. In recent years many organisations have popped up all across the capital to provide such facilities, but even those are quite expensive to book for a session and require a lot of capital and coordination amongst your peer group. All of this is to make the point that "playing outside" is not as easy and laissez-faire as it sounds. This is very much not the norm in other parts of the world.
Khelbei Bangladesh is a digital service platform focused entirely on sports. It provides information about sports academies, professional coaches, booking venues for games, and a spate of other sports support services.
Founder Quazi Sabir launched their first training session on March 08, 2020, but then Covid ground everything to a halt. However, by November 2020, he founded the company with his co-founder Mehtab Uddin Anwar Ahmad, a former cricketer himself. Quazi was slightly under-equipped to run a start-up, but fortune smiled with the Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre or BYLC Accelerator program, that granted him initial funding and armed him with the business acumen and access to the world of start-ups. In 2021, Khelbei Bangladesh was one of 26 winners of the Bangabandhu Innovation Fund. Khelbei Bangladesh also won the Start-up World Cup 2021, Bangladesh Chapter.
The what and the how
Bangladesh has e-commerce, grocery delivery companies, rideshare apps, and ed techs, but no sports start-up as such. Quazi's first step was opening a YouTube Channel after which he gradually added services and content based on crucial feedback from the community he was trying to foster.
"We wanted to keep a hybrid model of online and on-field services. We are the first company to launch interactive online sports training in Bangladesh. Now anyone can learn sports and join fitness classes from anywhere in Bangladesh. For example, an aspiring cricketer can learn from a former national cricketer like Shahriar Nafees, watch his training videos, submit his own performance videos, and receive constructive criticism and feedback via direct calls," explains the CEO.
Khelbei Bangladesh is not just a business but a social movement to get Bangalis into sports and fitness. "We want to customise services in such a way that Bangladeshis of all ages, irrespective of geographic location, age, gender, or social status, can engage in sports and fitness. Over the next few years, we aim to reach out to at least 2 million people and involve them in the world of sports and fitness," said Quazi. The founder's most aspirational dream is that one day a beneficiary from Khelbei Bangladesh's efforts will win glory representing Bangladesh in an international sports arena.
What truly sets Khelbei Bangladesh apart from other sports initiatives is their talent pool.
Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps, Tennis stars Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Cricketers AB De Villiers, Brian Lara, and Virendar Sehwag all teach sports online.
In the same vein, Khelbei Bangladesh is providing an avenue to access our top minds in sports. Their current pool of mentors features former national cricketers Shahriar Nafees, Talha Jubair, former national footballers Saiful Bari Titu, Nuruzzaman Nayan, Former Badminton Champion Anayet Ulla Khan, certified fitness trainer and cricket coach Imtiaz Ahmad, National Boxing Champion Al Amin, Chess Grandmaster Enamul Hossain Rajib, National woman bodybuilding judge Tahmina Nila, Yoga instructor Rumana Akter, and Fitness Trainer Nibras Panni.
Speaking of mentors, BYLC's involvement was in the same vein. They provided logistics, network, legal and financial consulting to nine companies with BYLC's Acceleration Program in September 2020, and Khelbei Bangladesh is clearly one of its best beneficiaries. Their evaluation and support in pivoting to online to sustain their business through the pandemic cannot be discounted and was a foundational stepping stone for the sports-based initiative to reach the heights they are at.
Khelbei Bangladesh has more than 20,000+ registered subscribers, 100,000+ Facebook followers, and 34,000 + YouTube subscribers. The company has 10 mentors and a team of eight sports-passionate members who are on a mission to get Bangladesh active and healthy.