A sedulous freelancer to a CEO with unflinching determination – this is the story of Amit Richard, working relentlessly to propel Bangladesh to the next level of designing.
· Share your journey of success from the very beginning.
I nursled a robust passion for designing for as long as I can remember. The dream motivated me to apply and eventually get accepted at Parsons School of Design, New York, after completing my A levels. However, life had other plans. My health did not allow me to travel alone to a country away from home, but giving up was never an option for me. I got into North South University while working as a part-timer and eventually as a full-timer.
After a lot of self-practice in design and editing software, working for 2 companies and learning photography in 2006, I began my journey as a freelancer that continued for more than 6 years. I transitioned to another level as I took on the director of marketing role at a high-end restaurant franchise in 2013 and later joined as a design director and managing partner of a digital agency by the end of 2014. However, due to differences in values, I left and decided to do something on my own. Even though I’ve received tempting offers from both local and global organizations, I succumbed to my own calling – the one that led to the inception of COdesign.
· What was your main inspiration behind starting COdesign?
As a freelancer, I garnered trust and recognition for my work, which seemed enough for me at the time. However, with time, the number of clients began growing, and so did the projects and pressure. One day an acquaintance asked me 7 simple questions about life – questions that kindled the inert passion in me. I realized my dream of contributing to the world in a way that leaves a positive impact for years to come. And this, I could not do alone. This was the inspiration that gave birth to COdesign.
· Which problems do you plan to solve by COdesign?
Design to me is not only visuals and aesthetics, but the very essence of solving problems for the world. Impacting and transforming societies, brands, and lives through design is what COdesign’s philosophy and culture are rooted in. At present we are developing seamless unified experiences for individuals, brands and organizations on a variety of platforms – be it physical, digital or social.
When we hear “Made in Bangladesh”, we always think of the readymade garments sector. I dream of translating that in the design and tech industry as well through COdesign
· What type of challenges did you face when establishing COdesign?
Like most entrepreneurs, I too had to face several challenges. COdesign started with a mere number of 4 employees, mostly from my previous jobs and partnerships. Due to the rapid success unanticipated by many, a few started rumors regarding these employees and the values of the company. However, the negative rumbles crumbled soon with the growing progress of COdesign. Our work continued to speak on our behalf.
Since we established the company, there were a number of difficulties that came our way. But I will always be thankful to my parents and my wife for their never-ending support and motivation. In fact, my mother is the cherished Chairperson of COdesign, who invested her own time and capital in my dream of impacting the world.
· Does the COdesign logo have any particular meaning?
Yes, of course. I jotted down several words that would eventually be the foundation of this company and soon realized that most of them began with the words “CO”. Also, the organizing idea behind the entity is to come together to design impactful solutions. Hence, I decided to name it COdesign.
A careful look at the logo will reveal a “3” that depicts the date on which the idea came into being – March 3. The logo further reflects C and O, representing collaboration and communication. When people come together, communicate and collaborate to create impact, the opportunities become infinite. And this is why the logo is a symbol of infinity. In addition, my name “Amit” also means infinite, so you also see a glimpse of my inner narcissist there.
Just as the design has no limits, we didn’t want our color palette to be restricted as well. We are reflected in any and every hue from pitch black to pure white – the options are limitless. For us, the design is purely design – be it the designing of strategy or identity, hardware or software, interior or website, product or service, copy or content. Design is everything, the design is everywhere. “Combining collaborative, communicative and cooperative people to make infinitive solutions to problems with no limitations” is the core message behind the logo of COdesign.
· What makes COdesign different from others?
We are a company that focuses entirely on improving experiences and impacting individuals, brands and societies through designing meaningful and relevant solutions. Having a human-centered, people-first approach, we have been able to nurture a tribe that is fairly unique than other players in this industry. I personally believe in giving our team members an upscale, comfortable environment to work in, which will eventually translate into increased productivity, employee satisfaction and retention and of course, better designs.
Our company culture is unlike most organizations in the country. Since the inception, we had tried out different work hours, a variety of project management software, and diverse ways of keeping people happier. We have then unearthed the ideal hours, software and customs that work the best for us, helping us maintain a healthy work-life balance for real. Just like we do not compromise with the on-time deliveries of projects to clients, we also do not believe in compromising with the mental and physical health of the COstars who are the foundation of COdesign.
· Which skills do you seek when recruiting employees?
I do not look for particular skills, but rather certain qualities that fit COdesign. I believe skills can be developed with proper guidance but the inherent qualities of human beings are the real deal. This is why every employee at COdesign is known as a COstar who possess the following:
Discipline: Disciplined individuals tend to be more responsible and are able to complete their tasks within the given deadlines.
Passion: When one is passionate he/she tends to improve their preferred skills over time, resulting in better work.
Vision: People with clear vision tend to focus on the long-run impact of their work instead of fussing over the short-term monetary wins and losses.
Finesse: Individuals with finesse in both their work and wardrobe tend to translate that to every aspect of their tasks.
Consistency: Consistent people tend to be better than one-time wonders since the former can be relied on for unswerving quality.
Encouragement: Human beings have an innate need to reciprocate. Encouraging personas not only make better employees but also stronger team players. One may not always have it all together, but together we have it all.
Humility: Last but not least, even when you’re soaring high, you need to stay grounded and true to your roots.
· Any message for the young entrepreneurs to begin their startup?
It is absolutely imperative to remember that patience and perseverance are the keys one needs to unlock sustainable success. It is common to find people who want to acquire fame, money, and recognition within a short span of time. But this is exactly the problem. Instead, remember to work for the betterment of people, not for the insatiability of profits. Dedicated discipline, meaningful goals, and empathetic humanity take one to the longest of ways and highest of peaks.
Also, the approach is extremely important. People are bound to pay attention to the one who is disciplined and humble at the same time, and listens to people with patience as well. So, listen to the people around you, listen to your clients, listen to what they need and discover new ways of assisting them with innovative solutions. Do not sell, rather help them buy.
There will be challenges of course. But hard work, honesty, and dedication win the day. And once again, always prioritize people over profits. That is the ultimate key.
· Where do you think the design industry is heading?
Although designing itself is an extremely creative process, it does not necessarily fall only under the “creative industry”. Design is everything and everywhere. It has always existed and will keep on doing so. I think in the near future, as science and technology further progress, we will be drawing more inspiration from GOD’S Handiwork, mother nature itself, and find newer ways to design lasting solutions.
· What is your future plan?
My goal is simple. I dream of solving as many problems as possible for me. I hope to make designing in Bangladesh to the global standard, be it in terms of setting up offices abroad or designing more and more identities, mobile-first software and hardware for all as meaningful solutions. I yearn to show the world how Bangladesh can thrive on global quality design work done locally.
· You have been involved in photography as well as gaming. Do you think these can be a career option in the future?
Of course, why not?
Photography is already a booming career option for many in the country. A huge number of talented photographers as well as cinematographers are making their names through their work, and earning 10 times more compared to what others were receiving in the same industry even a few years ago.
Online gaming or Esports might not look like a commercial success in Bangladesh to many, but I have been heavily involved in this sector since 2002 and I believe that we’ll be able to reap good harvests of the seeds we’ve been planting very soon.