[Startup Interview] Maarten Roelofs, Founder Diva World Wide
Please describe Diva World Wide?
Diva World Wide, also known as DivaWW, is a digital production office, based in Dhaka (Bangladesh) with an educational partner in The Netherlands. It specializes in servicing advertising and media agencies with production of interactive materials.
We design and produce creative and high quality online display advertising, HTML5 banner ads, interactive materials for social media and activation sites, and all kind of digital assets.
Our goal is to design, produce and deliver first-class digital materials on time at competitive prices while providing all the professional development needed to improve people’s lives in Bangladesh.
We achieve this by offering Digital Advertising developed by high skilled developers from Bangladesh. We take pride in our team of talented young and skilled designers and developers with good work ethics and a flexible attitude. We are directly contributing to boost Bangladesh's productivity and competitiveness through workforce development.
We operate where creativity, design, and software production meet, since this is exactly where clients have a gap in finding a reliable service provider.
DivaWW is currently supporting a number of media agencies with their digital advertising efforts, and has delivered over 320 projects in the last 6 months.
What our clients say about us is that we save them more than 75% of their production costs, produce high quality materials faster than other digital production companies and use the newest technologies this market requires.
Why did you start Diva World Wide?
Back in 2012, I hired a software developer from Bangladesh, Kallol Naha, for a project. When we started, I need to be honest he was not yet the best, but Kallol worked hard and learned fast. We had such a great time working together. After a while, Kallol shared his dream with me. He wanted to come to Europe and study to become the best software developer.
When I heard that, I didn't doubt for a second and decided to loan him the money he needed. He finished his Masters programme and performed exceptionally well. After completion of his Masters, his average hourly rate went from $4,00 to $25,00. He is now one of the best-rated developers on upwork.com and employs five people. What a guy! He is now paying back the loan without hitches month on month.
This experience made me realise that education is the best way to give people new opportunities in life. In October 2016, Kallol and I founded Diva World Wide and started building a digital advertising studio in Bangladesh with the ultimate goal to generate sustainable income and fair development in the country.
Who owns Diva World Wide?
DivaWW is an LLC in Estonia and I’m currently acting as an only shareholder. In the last years, Estonia has made great changes to attract talent, innovation and investment in the country, and as a result, Estonia has created the e-Residency system and become the new digital nation for global citizens. Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world. The e-Residency offers the freedom to easily start and run a global business in a trusted EU environment.
We decided to establish DivaWW in Estonia for so many reasons like giving the possibility to our employees and trainees to become an e-resident, but also to be a shareholder of the company.
How and where are you located?
The main production office is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh in the area of Baridhara DOHS. We also have a small secondary office in Dhaka. We have a European organisation based in Haarlem, The Netherlands.
How is Diva World Wide financed?
Financing has been quite simple. Thanks to profitable previous activities, I’ve been personally able to finance the start of DivaWW, hire 12 people in the main location, train them, rent our current office of 260 sqm, which also doubles as an apartment for extended stays for guests.
We target media agencies and large advertisers with recurring business. Our clients' intake and thorough onboarding process are highly important to us. We take whatever is needed to fully understand their needs and define the technology and technique required for the success of the digital campaign, but also to foster a long term relationship. Our clients expect exceptional results from us, and we succeed by being fundamental to their success. We put customers at the center of our organization. We give special care and attention to each of our clients.
Our client base is currently built from our founder's network. We offer a no-risk test production to clients. We have experienced that 99% of our clients become recurring clients!
What distinguishes Diva World Wide from other businesses in the industry?
Diva World Wide has a very clear product and focus. Our lemma is 'We don’t do all', we first optimize our knowledge and processes, so we can deliver fast and good. Since we started in Bangladesh, we received all kinds of requests from potential clients like develop websites or mobile apps. We’ve stuck to doing the only the services we are really good at and we believe we have exceeded expectations. For us, process optimisation is key.
Furthermore, we want to make a change. Bangladesh isn’t exactly a country that is well known for its high-quality design work. We’re training our team members and help them to address clients from Europe and the USA. We've brought our team to a level where they can understand, and often amazed, clients.
In short, we’re making digital production in Europe and USA more affordable, and at the same time providing education and new job opportunities to people in Bangladesh.
What is it clients want from you?
Mainly: reliability. In the digital Marketing industry the campaigns come with a clear and tight deadlines, and we need to have all the materials ready and tested before submission. We have no fear of missing a deadline or technical imperfections. This is essential to us. I must admit this was one of our main struggles during the first 6 months of DivaWW. I’m glad to say we’ve hardly ever missed a deadline. With over 550 campaigns created in the last 9 months, that's quite an accomplishment.
What does Diva World Wide need to grow?
We are now working on expanding our team. We would like to train more front end wizzkids and hire experienced graphic artists. There is an abundance of them in Bangladesh, but to educate them to reach the quality we need, takes around 3 months of intensive training. And Women! Culturally a complex matter, we have some difficulty in finding women to work for us. But with our education program, we hope to realize a new inflow of at least 10 new apprentices in the coming 6 months. A company that has more diversity, just works better.
What are your international ambitions?
We will be opening an office in another city soon. We see this as an opportunity for risk mitigation, but also a way to enrich our organization with fresh and new talent with different backgrounds and life experiences. That city may well be in another country...
Any recent news you would like to share?
As I mentioned before, we did our 550th campaign quite recently and we're really proud. I recently met Victor Knaap, the founder of Mediamonks. They are amazing, and we keep a keen eye on them to see where our future needs to be! Keep connected with us, we’ll have some very interesting news in less than six weeks!
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