The world has become one giant village, thanks to the advent of the internet. Assets have become digitised and some of them hold more worth than physical ones. NFTs (non-fungible token) and SaaS (software as a service) are some such examples.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, digital assets in the form of content skyrocketed as most people were cooped up in their homes with the internet as the only outlet of expression.
In turn, business investment in this field also gained momentum, be it in content-based blogs and websites or online services such as online courses and digital subscriptions, social media platforms, online streaming and so on.
Bangladesh has also jumped on the bandwagon.
A locally-formed company called Rank Wizards manages and deals with affiliate niche blogs, content-writing websites that act as a host platform for relevant e-commerce ads to turn them into attractive investment opportunities for micro-investors or companies of individuals that invest small sums of money into multiple businesses.
In a conversation with The Business Standard, the founder Saleh Ahmed, creative director Abu Yousuf Shihab and Branding Programme Manager Golam Sadman spoke about the bootstrapped startup, a company that runs on personal finances or operating revenue, and how it plans to revolutionise the digital assets industry.
"Rank Wizards is basically a digital asset creator and manages similar sorts of digital assets on behalf of the clients. We are focusing on the niche blog building sector of this industry and we plan to move on to different sectors later," Shihab said.
The startup's founder, Saleh Ahmed, founded the company when he was a student of Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology and a freelancer in 2016.
"It was initially a solo venture and Rank Wizards is my brainchild, which is now a team of 74 people. Although the digital assets industry was doing well on its own, most developing countries trying to tap into this sector were falling behind.
There was barely anyone from Asia to disrupt this industry. So I thought of the idea of a bootstrapped company and making it available to micro-investors to help us build more digital assets," Saleh said, detailing how he came up with the idea.
At first, Saleh's focus was to ensure return on investment and to establish the platform as a go-to personal investment opportunity for other micro-investors like him.
From 2016 to 2020, the self-financed Rank Wizards was providing only online services such as content marketing. And to gather the finances, Saleh had to sell off the services and consultancy wings of his startup.
"As our journey continued, we had to learn the craft by serving our clients. In those three years of acting as a service agency, we developed our own formula for building the assets. We are still in the phase of building assets alongside our services," Saleh told the correspondent.
We asked the team to tell us about how successful Rank Wizards has been so far. Answering this, Sadman said, "This is a tricky question but I reckon we have been doing pretty well. As we are focused on two broad goals – meeting clients' expectations and building our own products – we have to measure success separately."
He continued, "When it comes to onboarding clients, we can proudly say that we have a returning pool of clients and we do not need to hunt for them. Our success here lies in the fact that we get new clients through word-of-mouth. But if we speak numbers, we have served over 250 clients till now."
"Our other metric for success is our number of employees. At the start of 2021, we had only 13 employees. But now, as the year is about to come to an end, we are a team of over 74 thanks to our revamped recruitment and HR strategies," Sadman proudly said.
Sadman added that Rank Wizards is currently running 25 websites, which they refer to as their products. These 25 websites generate over 2 lakh visitors, or online traffic, every day.
Rank Wizard's digital assets work as a hub for three different target groups - the content consumers from countries with English as their first language and other non-native English speaking nations, affiliate brands and solo enterprises, and investors (Rank Wizards' service wing and micro-investors).
Although the target groups are separate, the market chain remains connected. Rank Wizard promotes the elements of the first target group to the second and third target groups to further fuel investment.
"SEO is our primary marketing tool. This helps us acquire the traffic.
For example, we have a website about fashion and when we write articles for the site, we publish them after optimising those for Google SEO to catch. This makes our site appear [more frequently] in searches online with more chances of people eventually landing on one of our sites," Saleh explained.
He added that such write-ups bridge the path between the site and advertisement, making it a platform for companies to place relevant ads and product placement.
Revenue is generated with each sale derived from these ads/placements and Rank Wizards charges the brands an affiliate commission, which is an amount of money the brand pays to Rank Wizards for promoting their products on Rank Wizard's platforms.
Saleh continued, "We have to make sure our content maintains an online ranking. If it drops, we lose commission and traffic. If the traffic drops, we update the content by adding complementary elements."
As the conversation came to an end, we asked the three founders about Rank Wizards' future.
"I want to see people carrying or wearing Rank Wizards' merchandise in the streets, just like I saw someone carrying a bag of The New Yorker today. Hopefully one day, people will be connected with our platform on a personal level," Shihab said.
"We hope to work with NFTs, cryptocurrencies, online courses, subscriptions and every other form of digital assets in the future. But as we are bootstrapped, we still have to secure our grounds," said Saleh.
He added that in the next five years, Rank Wizards would focus on turning their blogs into brands, making way for the merchandising dream to materialise.
Last but not the least, the Rank Wizards team is working to familiarise the concept of digital assets in Bangladesh.
"There are around 10,000 to 15,000 people actively investing in digital assets in Bangladesh but they are only doing this as a side gig. Among the millennials, we want to familiarise this [digital asset investment] in Bangladesh as a full-fledged career option," Saleh said.