If you use ride-sharing car services twice a day in Dhaka, you might come across one car wrapped with a sticker of Alesha Mart, Bombay Sweets, Akash DTH, or Xiaomi.
Wondering how that would be possible? I would ask you to see it for yourself but perhaps after the lockdown ends.
I used a ride-sharing app to commute to my doctor's appointment about three weeks ago and on my way back, the second car turned out to be one encased in Alesha Mart's sticker.
It was a fine Friday morning when I came across a post on my LinkedIn feed published by Binoy Barman where he mentioned his start-up - Sticker Driver, had wrapped hundreds of cars for clients and one out of every two ride-sharing cars would probably have a sticker wrapped by Sticker Driver.
His statement was too good to be true until I experienced it first-hand.
Over the years, you might have noticed similar advertising initiatives taken by local telecom operators or popular consumer brands using yellow cabs as billboards.
Such a branding method is a one-off for any market but no one thought of converting it into a profitable business.
Eventually, in the fast-moving world of Industry 4.0, Binoy along with his co-founders began working on an out-of-home advertising business model in 2019 after they came across Thumbs Up's launching event in Bangladesh.
"Thumbs Up displayed a sports car on stage wrapped with stickers at the event. The car belonged to a friend of mine and he managed to make some money off the wrap. That is when we thought of building Sticker Driver," said Binoy during an interview with The Business Standard.
They had never planned on operating Sticker Driver on a large scale. "We thought of working with around 10-20 cars and wrapping them according to clients' needs. However, on the verge of doing so, we landed orders for over 1,500 cars within five months," said Binoy.
Sticker Driver kick-started in January 2020 and now has 3,000 registered vehicles on its platform; the number keeps increasing by 10 cars in its fleet every day.
So far, the ad-tech start-up ran campaigns for 11 clients and has wrapped about 500 cars that can be seen on the streets of Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet.
Within a short time, Sticker Driver has managed to attract many brands to its platform and according to Binoy, this ad-tech start-up will have a total of 1,500 wrapped cars in its fleet within the next four months.
The response on the vehicle owners' end, however, was not as promising as it was on the clients' end.
"Even though the platform was new for both clients and car owners, convincing car owners to let us wrap their cars with stickers was very challenging," said Binoy.
During the initial days, the Sticker Driver team had to carry out field marketing activities – scout ride-sharing hubs for commercially used vehicles and convince car owners and drivers to work with them.
"The biggest concern our publishers (vehicle owners and drivers) have is that the stickers will damage their vehicles' colour. This is why we wrap the entire car with paint protection film that ensures zero damage to the vehicle's paint," said Binoy when asked how they manage to convince their publishers.
Right after Sticker Driver overcame the challenges faced on the publishers' end, the start-up had to overcome a much bigger barrier.
In order to wrap stickers on vehicles for commercial purpose in Bangladesh, any company or individual will need to avail BRTA and the city corporation's permission.
Binoy says the process is very slow, takes many days, and needs to be done manually.
To save its publishers and clients from the hassle, Sticker Driver takes care of the legal process.
"Our business enables the government to collect more taxes. If there was any way we could speed up the process, it would be more beneficial for the government and our clients as well," said Binoy.
Sticker Driver's unbending effort to provide hassle-free services leads to a question – what else does this start-up offer to its clients and publishers?
For each client, Sticker Driver offers tailored proposals based on their requirements: The number of cars needed for the campaign, type of wrap placement, and duration of the campaign.
When asked about the costs clients have to incur for running campaigns with Sticker Driver, Binoy informed us, "Our pricing depends on many variables. It would be impossible for us to put a price tag on our services at the moment, however, I can guarantee you our services cost way less than any sort of traditional billboard or outdoor advertising."
For its publishers, Sticker Driver has created an opportunity allowing them to earn Tk1,500-12,000 per month from its platform. The amount differs due to certain factors such as the vehicle's model, manufacturing year (has to be of the year 2001 and above), colour condition, distance covered by the vehicle each month (run at least 2,000 km every month), and the driver's app usage.
During an ongoing campaign, drivers have to keep the app active for the client to be able to track the distance being covered by the vehicle every day.
Publishers also have to upload a picture of the wrapped car once every week for the clients to monitor the sticker's condition.
Besides, the app displays the routes vehicles operate on while a campaign is live to clients.
It also provides clients with an impression count generated by Sticker Driver's algorithm that gives an estimate on the number of eyes a vehicle attracts.
"We are giving them the first platform that has been able to blend technology with motion advertising. Our clients usually do not get this particular information from any other means of outdoor advertising," said Binoy when asked why a brand should choose to work with his start-up?
Sticker Driver has just begun its journey in an untapped segment of Bangladesh's advertising market and plans on scaling rapidly in three ways; expanding its market reach by entering other districts, adding more types of vehicles to its fleet (truck, bus, SUVs, etc), and utilising the interior of publishers' vehicles (installing infotainment devices equipped with 'freemium' services).
One of its earliest clients – Akash DTH, thinks Sticker Driver is a much-needed venture for the market and will do good in its days to come.
In an interview with this correspondent, while speaking of user experience, Quazi Shakil Mahmud, senior manager, brand activation, marketing of Akash DTH said, "Young entrepreneurs at Sticker Driver are trying to establish something new in the market and I really appreciate it. If they can hold on to the quality, I think they will get good results."
"However, as a start-up, they have a lot of areas to improve. Their target market was limited to the capital at the beginning but the market outside Dhaka seems very promising - allowing the Sticker Driver to have a higher success rate. We faced a lot of technical hiccups at the beginning; many vehicles could not ensure the mileage that was promised. Since our campaign was their first operation, they bore the liability," he added
"Nevertheless, when their clients increase, it can turn out to be challenging for them unless they work on improving. We can see that the business will grow eventually, and this will also attract similar businesses in the neighbouring markets."
He continued, "If they are not ready to handle the competition and cannot form a solid structure in terms of hardware, software, and manpower, competition might easily take over. They are preparing the market and if they cannot sustain, they will become vulnerable to competition."
To know more about Sticker Driver, you may visit: https://www.stickerdriver.com