Shujug is a unique startup story

Shajgoj, the local brand that brings world-class cosmetics to Bangladesh, recently became one of two start-ups in Bangladesh to be backed by Sequoia Capital India, raising 21 crores. One of the few of its kind in Bangladesh, the internet-based beauty and wellness platform won the 2021 The Daily Star Startup of ICT award.

Toggle recently reached out to Nazmul Sheikh, CEO and Co-founder, to learn more about the brand, its origins, and aspirations. Here are the main excerpts:

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How did Chagagog start?

Initially, Shajgoj was a blog site. We used to write articles on skin care like how to take care of skin and product reviews – all about beauty. We launched our business through content, giving people brand awareness, and steadily came to be seen as beauty experts. We opened our first physical store in Jamuna Future Park in 2015, seeing our readers come to the store. We have built a trust factor through our brand identity of being beauty experts that clients can talk to directly and take product suggestions.

How is Shugag different from other beauty platforms?

We have an emotional connection with our audience. Our physical stores aren’t just outlets, we also offer free advice from beauty consultants. 86% of people come to Shajgoj because they know we sell genuine products. The content in terms of quality and quantity helped us a lot.

How did you overcome the challenges? What is the hardest one?

There was no platform before Shagoj that devoted itself only to beauty products. A lot of research is required to create original content that is useful to customers. This kind of knowledge, like what niacinamide does, wasn’t there before. We also took a long time to find talents who can consistently write these articles without plagiarism.

Also, when we started our physical outlet, we didn’t have much retail experience. We had a lack of knowledge of government rules and regulations like VAT, taxes, partners etc. The supply chain has also been an ongoing problem. Once we started our e-commerce business, we had enough experience and knew how this business worked, which of course took time.

What are the remaining challenges in the industry?

The larger scope comes with its own set of challenges. Government rules change frequently. As we aspire to run a compliant company, frequent organizational changes become difficult for us. For example, we will ship Tk. 120 for a product where the Facebook page, which does not handle such links by the rules, charges Tk. 100. Customers who look at the price feel that we are overpricing while in the end, we are undervalued.

What makes Shajgoj a unique company?

We are trying to create a class that does not exist in Bangladesh. The beauty space is very fragmented. We do not try to sell our products for the sake of sale. We want to believe in long-term relationships. We are a very empathetic brand and love to work for our customers.

Tell us a little bit about the work culture at Shajgoj.

65% of our workforce is female. The company is managed by females for females. Our work culture is transparent and open. Anyone can say no to anyone. The junior CEO could come into my room and say, “No, I don’t like what you’re doing.” As for our patriarchal policies, they are standard according to government rules.

Tell us a little about the recent investment raised. How do you plan to use it?

70% of our customers return to our customers. Because we want to expand, our main focus with the funds is maintaining customer acquisition. We have a lot of offers geared towards the first purchase made by new customers.

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