Sarjeena Moudud had finished her Bachelor's in Computer Science and Master's in Technology Management from the University College of London and was on a path to pursue a career in IT consulting.
However, things took a sudden turn. A phone call from her father inspired her to take a leap of faith to move back to Dhaka in 2017.
Once back in Dhaka, to decorate her new home, she started looking for good interior design service options but could barely find any that matched her standards.
Dissatisfied and eager to find a solution, she did a bit of research on the interior design industry. She discovered there was a void in the interior design industry in terms of finding affordable and efficient options.
She had returned to Bangladesh with the idea that she would contribute to the country's growing economy. She had found her calling in interior design. Along with Nizam Farid, the COO, Sarjeena founded the prop-tech interior firm, Sheraspace.
Interior designing service for the masses
Sheraspace aims to tap into an unexplored market and democratise interior design in Bangladesh by making it available to everybody.
To Sarjeena, having a space that one can connect to everyday, customised to their lifestyle needs, need not be a far fetched dream. Rather, they are working to establish that interior design is not just confined to magazines and is in no way an unattainable luxury.
She explained, "Traditionally, when someone thinks of interior design in Bangladesh, it is assumed that it is a service exclusively for the affluent. At Sheraspace, we challenge that notion: interior design should be for everyone."
Sheraspace is providing two kinds of services for now: online interior consultation and full interior design and installation support. Their online consultancy services can be availed at a starting price of Tk2,800 for one session.
Sheraspace composes the interior design according to the daily lifestyle of the consumer to reflect their personality.
"It was always about making the expertise of the designers more available and affordable all across Bangladesh. We cater to three basic needs of the consumers: affordability, swiftness and hassle-free online consultancy service.
Delivery time of service is usually a week or even less. It is hassle-free in the sense that it can be availed online by the customers from the comfort of their home," Sarjeena added.
For those who do not want to avail the service, Sheraspace has something else to offer. They share their blogs on interior designing in both English and Bangla, making the content easy to understand.
"Content has quite the value in today's market. We are pushing/striving to cater to the needs of Bangladeshi consumers so that for design, inspiration and information relevant to their daily lifestyle, they don't have to look for it in international sources," added Sarjeena.
Sheraspace currently operates with a team of 37, who work in sections such as sales, business development, marketing, technology, site operations, management, admin, finance and the creative department where designers come from architecture or interior design backgrounds.
Sheraspace's employment opportunities are spread out all across Bangladesh.
Sarjeena added, "We share a very tech-savvy, employee-first work ethos at Sheraspace. Our work plans are designed around KPI's (key performance indicators) and the Kanban method.
We do, however, have a physical office but a lot of the work is also done remotely from areas like Khulna and Rajshahi. Almost half of the team works remotely, including me - that is when I am working from the UK."
'Everything in life comes with an opportunity cost'
Upon being asked how difficult it is to conduct business from overseas she explained how an entrepreneur has to factor in the opportunity costs for every decision they make.
She believes, "Everything in life comes with an opportunity cost. I could have chosen a stable career and a monthly basis income. But instead, as I went after my own aspirations, I chose this business.
All it depends on knowing how driven you are to do what you know you have to do."
She is currently working from the UK because she is getting her master's degree in entrepreneurship at the esteemed University of Cambridge.
She continued, "I realised whatever I could do sitting in Dhaka, I could continue to do it from elsewhere, while my co-founder is based in Dhaka, so I thought why not take the plunge?"
She also believes that this master's degree in entrepreneurship will not only help her but will contribute to the growth of Sheraspace and in turn the economy of Bangladesh.
She said, "At the moment I am in a class of 70 entrepreneurs and I am learning from their vast and diverse experiences. This cohort will go on to build companies that would be valued in millions of dollars or more in the next few years to come."
"I believe in leading, not following"
So what should we make of the monopoly on the interior design market that Sheraspace is enjoying right now?
Sarjeena said, "I believe in leading, not following. I felt there is an untapped opportunity that has not been explored before."
"We should look to work on that, instead of jumping headlong into something that already faces heavy competition. People are prone to invest in a market where companies are getting a lot of traction already and solving the exact same problems and that hampers the creation of value," she continued.
Firms following the Red Ocean Strategy, instead of putting the needs of the consumer first, focus more on the competition and try to beat each other to the punch.
"I am a firm believer in the Blue Ocean Strategy and that has led to the creation of this completely new space that creates value for the consumers," she said.
Sheraspace is currently working to bring new add-on services, as per the feedback they are receiving from consumers, by integrating more emerging technology into their services like augmented reality, virtual reality and much more.
To make project management tools more available to consumers, so they can track real-time project progress, they aim to incorporate emerging technology like digital twin simulation. Through these additions, consumers will be able to explore and visualise their work progress, execution and project updates right on their phones.