In 2018 when Labib came back to Dhaka after graduating from Monash University, Malaysia, he observed many changes in the city. So, he decided to explore its latest additions.
Given his interest in food, he chose to explore this first. He listed down the names of some of the hyped local restaurants. But a tight budget turned out to be a problem for him. Few of the restaurants in his list were so expensive that it crossed his monthly expenditure.
This reminded him of his days in Malaysia, where he used to live on a tight budget but still managed to enjoy the things he liked if he planned strategically. For this, Labib used to follow a website named Fave - where products and services can be availed on discounted prices.
Fave is a platform in Malaysia where numerous companies and restaurants offer flat deals or special discounts for students and general people. This makes it easier for people to find the best deals in Malaysia and enjoy its services using promo codes.
When Labib told three of his friends about Fave, they noticed something like this was missing in Bangladesh and everyone was looking for such an option, unknowingly.
At first, Labib and his friends wanted to create a digital directory. After brainstorming for a while, they came up with the idea of SaveUp. Later, they decided to monetise it by creating a platform where both merchants and users will be under one umbrella.
The four friends immediately started working on their idea and launched SaveUp in 2020.
SaveUp is a platform where all exclusive discount offers are shown in one place. To purchase a range of goods and services at low prices, SaveUp offers deals from 200 companies, which includes different e-commerce platforms, restaurants, beauty parlours, hotels, gyms, travel agencies and more.
Anyone can visit the website and avail these offers with specific promo codes and click the attached link, which will lead them to the product's official website, from where they can order the goods using the promo code.
"Availing discounts against our student ID cards was a part of our daily lives. This was missing here but interestingly, people figured out a way to enjoy such offers here by keeping an eye on the different Facebook groups. But I figured that these are not much helpful as most information is shared in a scattered manner," said Tahmid Huda Labib, the CEO of SaveUp.
When these four friends started their official journey in 2019, they targeted all the places where physical presence was needed. They started discussing their plans with concerned people.
"But it was not an easy task to convince people against something traditional because most companies are used to giving discounts by themselves and not through a website," said Nahid Iqbal, the COO of SaveUp.
Their path was not smooth as their partners had a lot of queries.
"We had to try hard to make them understand that the more discounts companies have on our platform, the more customers we can bring and it will be beneficial for both the parties. We worked hard for almost a year to create a pool of merchants. We participated in Banglalink IT Incubator 3.0 which added extra value to our portfolio and was helpful for our work as well," Nahid added.
However, the struggle did not end there. Right after starting their journey, the Covid-19 pandemic hit Bangladesh and the SaveUp team had to re-think, re-plan and re-execute things.
During the time, the entire team had to take a backseat and operate online. They tagged along with more e-commerce businesses and startups. This time, their experience was not as bitter, since startups connected with the idea easily and agreed to support them.
Instead of sitting idle, they continued growing. Now, they have a team of eight people. Along with a website, SaveUp also has an app.
To avail the exclusive discount offers, using the SaveUp website or app is mandatory for its users. Consumers cannot use the promo codes if they do not enter the OTP code, which is then cross-checked with website data.
It is possible to track consumers via the OTPs as it leaves traces online. However, when a customer visits a physical store and takes their services from SaveUp, tracking them becomes difficult as the merchant may forget to keep note of the customer's data. In turn, it may cause SaveUp to lose its customers and commissions.
The SaveUp team is working hard to overcome this situation, which is why they are adding a reward system for their customers to encourage them to keep note of the services provided by them in the physical stores. According to SaveUp's customers, their service has been quite satisfactory.
"One of my friends suggested that I use this app. So one day, I ordered some medicines from SaveUp in a hurry and received a prompt delivery. I was impressed and became a regular user of the app since then. They even offer good deals for restaurants," shared Saraf Hasan Abir, a student at the Institute of Business Administration, Dhaka University.
SaveUp is planning to grow by going back to its previous plan of increasing their merchants at physical stores. In the future, once SaveUp has covered the whole Dhaka city, it has plans to expand in Chattogram and Sylhet.