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Shohoz to expand service outside Dhaka with foreign investment

My goal is to build the most popular online destination, says its MD

Adnan Hossain Bhuiyan | November 28, 2018 00:00:00

Managing Director of shohoz.com Maliha M Quadir — Photo collected

Shohoz, a Dhaka-based start-up widely known for its ride-hailing service, now plans to expand its operation outside the capital city with fresh foreign investment.

The app-based firm, which started its operation in 2014, came to limelight in the beginning of 2018 when it introduced a new feature in its app allowing commuters to call motorbikes or private cars in Dhaka metropolitan area.

Before the launch of the ride-hailing service, the app of 'shohoz.com' was used only for purchasing bus tickets online.

Presently, services available under 'shohoz.com' are ride-sharing and ticketing service for bus, launch, events and movies.

Now, the firm looks to offer its service outside Dhaka, especially in Chattogram, and also launch the food delivery service soon, said Maliha M Quadir, managing director of Shohoz.

"My goal has been to build the most popular online destination for Bangladesh, a company that will offer services the country's people will use every day," she said in an interview with the FE.

"I was inspired by the big conglomerates in the tech world. I picked a very generic name as the brand name -- 'Shohoz', which means easy and purposefully, -- so that I could offer any services under its umbrella."

She also said over the years, Shohoz has realised that it would be a 'mobile first' strategy as that is what is driving e-commerce in emerging markets like Bangladesh, and 'hence, we term Shohoz a super app'.

Elaborating the idea, she said a super app is an app that provides multiple crucial services. Shohoz started with bus and launch ticket service four years ago. Later, it expanded to ride-sharing in 2018.

Talking about her early professional life, Maliha said, "I began my career at Morgan Stanley in Wall Street, then worked for Nokia and Singapore-based Vistaprint. But four years back, I gave up my promising career to move back to Dhaka."

She completed her MBA from Harvard Business School and BA in computer science and economics from Smith College (USA).

After returning to Bangladesh, Maliha invested her hard-earned money initially to establish Shohoz.

"Through Harvard Business School and Morgan Stanley network, I was able to attract many well-known angel investors for my start-up. These individuals have themselves built up large companies and are well-versed in the area of tech," she added.

Recently, Shohoz has raised US$15 million from new investors to broaden its services, according to TechCrunch, an online publisher of technology industry news.

Confirming the fresh investment, Maliha told the FE: "Start-ups raise money in various rounds. In this round, the lead investor is Singapore's Golden Gate Ventures while other investors include Linear VC, 500 Start-ups and Singaporean angel investor Koh Boon Hwee."

Opportunities for growth in the ride-sharing services in Bangladesh are tremendous, she said.

"The industry is only a year old, competition will be tough, and winning will require precise execution, thoughtful strategic planning, good technological resources, and of course, capital," she added.

Referring to Shohoz's market share, Maliha said, "There are three large players dominating the market currently. Shohoz has established itself to be the second largest player within only nine months of its launching."

Shohoz has about 50,000 registered drivers and it has completed a million rides as of October, she said.

However, Shohoz is somewhat struggling to find skilled people for its operation as tech industry requires specific skill-sets while very few people in Bangladesh has done such work before, she added.

Asked about the 'Ride-sharing Service Guideline 2017' of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), she said, "We are compliant with all the rules set by the government."

Shohoz often hold talks with the relevant authorities on various issues the industry is facing from a regulatory perspective, she added.

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