Rarely do people discover their passion in early childhood, get all the support from the family to pursue that passion, and eventually make that passion into their profession. When all the stars align in such a magnificent fashion, it becomes a person’s duty to make the most out of it. That’s what Tahmid M Shahjahan, a young entrepreneur and car modification expert, is doing.
“I discovered my love for cars at a very tender age, when I very visibly preferred toy cars over any other toys. Even when playing video games, my interest for car simulation games was noticeable. That interest did not escape my father’s sight, and he encouraged my interest. As I grew older, my older brother used to bring me magazines such as Top Gear so that I could know more about cars,” Tahmid recalls the root of his journey.
Currently, Tahmid is a partner at MSM Car Center in the capital’s Banani Chairman Bari. They are opening up a new branch soon. He also modifies cars as a hobby.
He started modifying cars when he was just 15. “I got my first car from my father back in 2006. It was a rather beat up Mitsubishi Lancer, and I modified it myself.”
He also worked as an active member of various car-owner clubs such as DriveTimeDhaka, WheelsBD, R3VBD, etc and developed connections with other car enthusiasts through his involvement. Tahmid swiftly established himself as a prime source of information about cars among a growing circle of car enthusiasts.
“Most of my fellow members were much older than I was, and my skills caught their attention,” Tahmid recalls.
He later went to Malaysia and earned an undergraduate degree in Business Information Systems from Sunway University.
[caption id="attachment_260061" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Photo: Reshad Karim
Speaking about his business, Tahmid says, “My initial investment in MSM Car Center was a loan from my father. Instead of buying me a car, he offered to give me the money for me to invest. My partner is a seasoned businessman in the industry, and I am learning the craft of the business from him.”
When asked about the market for automobiles in Bangladesh, Tahmid seemed very optimistic. “Especially over the last few years, the demand for cars has seen phenomenal growth. People are buying more cars than ever before. And thanks to the Internet, customers now know exactly which car they want to buy.”
“There is not a car in the world that importers here can’t get for you. In fact, some Bangladeshis own some rare cars, which are available in very limited quantities in the world.”
Tahmid says educated and ambitious youth are now setting up high-end workshops that provide a wide range of automobile-related services. The industry is growing rapidly.
“However, in the streets of Dhaka, you can hardly utilize the full potential of your automobile, mainly because of the traffic congestion.”
There are various challenges of doing the business, but Tahmid says he is learning and hopes to continue improvement with time.
“Some dealers give cars an overnight makeover and sell them to customers at a much higher price than they are worth. Often, doing business fairly, competing with them becomes difficult. Customers must be aware of which dealers they are purchasing the cars from.”
Business in Dhaka can be tough. Tahmid related his bitter and quite bizzare experience of giving showroom car to a friend for test drive and never getting that back. “I’ve learned a great deal from these experiences.”
“Going down the line, I plan to have my own business. However, that is a big step and I have much to learn before I can take that.”
Thankfully, the harsh world of business has not damaged Tahmid’s passion for modifying cars. “I still modify cars, but that’s more out of my passion for cars. It’s not about the money. I’ll do it for free if I find a particular project appealing. I’ve become this go-to guy whenever a friend or an acquaintance has any query related to cars.”
“There is not a car in the world that importers here can’t get for you. In fact, some Bangladeshis own some rare cars, which are available in very limited quantities in the world”
He is a regular participant in the Lucas/Globatt Dhaka Motor Show. His modified cars have been featured multiple times in newspapers, magazines and also in a show called iDrive on Independent TV.
Tahmid is a believer in consistency. “My second car, and the most favorite car I’ve owned to date, was a Honda Civic Ferio ES1, which I modified myselfs of course. Very recently, I sold that to a close friend so that I could buy the Nissan Teana V6, which is already undergoing some upgrades. My father taught me the vices of unnecessary luxury, and that’s why I do not like owning more than one car, at least not now.”
To fellow entrepreneurs, Tahmid has a message. “I believe in the laws of attraction –if you want something with enough passion, and pursue it with commitment and dedication, you will eventually get it. However, there is no shortcut. Every day, you have to take at least a step or two towards the direction that you want to go. It takes planning and effort.”
He continues, “You’ve got to have a vision – a clear idea of what you eventually want, and work towards slowly achieving it. My vision, for example, is to run my own business by myself. As you learn from experience, your initial fear or nervousness goes away.”
“It is also important to draw a balance between personal and professional life. You have to divide time between your business and personal chores.”
Only 26 years old, it does seem like the sky is the limit for the young entrepreneur.