How to Start a Business

South Korean startup founder met his Bangladeshi employees for the first time after an 18-hour flight

Dongsub Lukas Shin
March 13, 2024

Previous Post|An English-phobic CEO's story of hiring in Bangladesh

As a Korean, it was my first face-to-face meeting with my employees since starting an app development business in Bangladesh.  

There are no direct flights from South Korea to Bangladesh, so it took more than 14 hours each way. It was a tough journey. Since my wife is a full-time childcare provider without me, I had only three days to get there. Two days were spent in airplanes and airports, leaving only one day to spend with my teammates. Still, one day was all I needed.

(Credit : Lukas Shin)

Waiting for over 3 hours at the airport in Bangladesh

After entering Bangladesh, the first thing I had to do was to get a visa. For short-term visitors like me, a temporary visa called a landing visa is required. It took a super long time to get the visa stamp.  

It took me four hours to get from Guangzhou to Dhaka, but three hours added to process the visa. I was more worried because I knew my team members were waiting for me at the airport in time for my flight. 

Since I couldn't reach them or even come out for three hours, they were ready to call the police to find out what happened. I am so grateful and sorry to my team for waiting for me until 1am.

(Source : Unsplash)

It was refreshing to actually shake hands and hug my teammates after only seeing them on the monitor. Forhad was exactly what I expected him to be. Siam was a big guy, contrary to my perception of him as a skinny dude. Annik was as confident as ever, even on the monitor. Abdur was as smart as ever. Atik, who joined the team less than a month ago, was a little shy. 

Walking from the airport to the hotel, the streets of Dhaka were very impressive.

Unlike the YouTube videos about Bangladesh, the city was full of life. I could feel the energy of a city that is growing rapidly. I regret that I didn't take any photos, but the advertisements for IT institutes (or coding bootcamps in my country), one in every 50 meters, caught my eye. 

According to the team members, Bangladesh is encouraging the outsourcing industry at the national level. I was surprised to learn that they were teaching coding and how to make money on upwork, fiverr.

I checked into the hotel with my teammates and fell asleep.  

(Atik, Abdur, Forhad, me, Siam, Annik, Credit : Lukas Shin)

D-15 hours, a warm welcome from teammates

I was blown away by the hospitality of the team. The team t-shirts, banners, and cakes were all amazing. Usually, the quality of the team t-shirts in Korea is poor, but the quality of our t-shirts was as good as major brands.

I had a cup of tea with my teammates. We talked about things that were tough to discuss in front of a monitor. 

(Credit : Lukas Shin)

As we talked, I realized that Muslim countries have a very similar way of life to Koreans.

Abdur couldn't stay in a hotel because he didn't get his wife's permission. Forhad and Siam work hard to pay for his wife's education. Atik has a 3-month-old child, so it was nice to see him so tired from lack of sleep, almost like me. He had as many interesting stories as I did, and he's also a PUBG commentator in Bangladesh.

(Exchanging gits each other was such a joyful experience, Credit : Lukas Shin)

As you know, over the past 200,000 years of Homo sapiens' history, we have evolved in an environment where we were face-to-face and figuring out how to catch that prey. 

As we spoke face-to-face, I was inspired to recognize that no matter how advanced the world becomes, even in the age of remote work, the role of physical presence will never change. I was glad I had taken the time to come since listening to our team saying :

"We've worked with a lot of international CEOs, but you are the first one to come to Bangladesh to meet us in person."

From South Korean, it was hard to decide what to get my teammates for the gifts. In the end, I chose a stamp with each team member's name on it. I hope one day Potential to be a company where we can instantly buy MacBooks for our team! 

D-10 Hours Bangladesh City Tour, Dhaka University

(Credit : Lukas Shin)

The only place in Dhaka that I wanted to visit was Dhaka University. I was curious to learn what the students at Bangladesh's most prestigious school had in mind. 

I had a chance to chat with the Bangladeshi engineer next to me on the plane for a while. He told me that the dream job for Dhaka University students is to be a government employee. It reminded me of South Korea in the 70s and 80s. 

I wish more Bangladeshi students would pursue their dreams of becoming engineers or entrepreneurs because there are so many opportunities in the country.

Many students gathered in the square in front of Dhaka University. As a Muslim country with no alcohol culture, there was a strong tea culture around the square. 

It was a very open atmosphere where you could talk to the next person without hesitation. The streets were bustling with activity, but it was impressive to see people focusing on each other's faces instead of their cellphone screens.

(Credit : Lukas Shin)

D-5 hrs Shopping and dinner in Bangladesh's Capital

I bought a traditional Bangladeshi outfit that I had long wanted to buy. The locals looked at me with curiosity as I walked around in traditional clothes. 

BTS's popularity in Bangladesh was also evident. It was so exciting to see middle and high school kids saying hello to us in Korean. Annik's youngest sister is about 11 years old. Next time I go to Dhaka, I will buy her a BTS cheer stick.

We were all up until the wee hours of the morning, so our eyes were slowly closing in the evening. It was a tough three days and two nights, but the team took care of everything, including rentals and reservations, which made the trip really comfortable. 

(Credit : Lukas Shin)

A quick meeting and discussion 

I tried not to talk about work, but Siam and Abdur struck first. So I couldn't resist. 

The general consensus was that we've had a lot of new people join Potential in the last few months. We need to start laying the groundwork for a larger team now.

They suggested that we need to create SOPs for each part of the programming work and make sure everyone follows them, as well as get out of the current phase of Lukas(me) managing all the projects ASAP. 

Siam also mentioned that the current outsourcing trend in India and Bangladesh is not project-based but team-based contracts, a kind of subscription model. 

In Vietnam, large IT outsourcing companies have been offering a model called ODC (Oversea Development Center), where they set up a team for companies that want to have a development team overseas and charge a monthly fee. We will try it in the first half of this year.

In Bangladesh, there is a company called 'Brainstation 21', which is currently the number one in the industry. On my next business trip, I'll ask for a tour and learn a lot from the CEO.

(Credit : Lukas Shin)

D-0 hours home

The entire team picked me up at the airport even though I asked them to stay in the hotel.

The warm welcome I received from the team was one of the best I've ever experienced in my life. The only way I can repay their hospitality is to make Potential a bigger company. There will be many challenges ahead, but if we are willing to be honest, we will find the answers.

P.S. I would like to thank the clients for their understanding of my three-day business trip.

Next Post|From Solopreneur to Team Builder: How Bootstrapper Can Overcome Hiring Hurdles

Written by Dongsub Lukas Shin

(CEO and Founder of Potential)

Dongsub Developer


T +82-10-2706-1463
WEWORK 4F, 147, Yanghwa-ro Mapo-gu
Seoul, Korea


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Dongsub Lukas Shin
CEO and Founder of Potential