Demo Day 2017
Nepali entrepreneurs present their business cases amidst investors!
The stage was set- it looked nothing short of spectacular- strobe lights sketched a synchronized pattern as they followed the 9 entrepreneurs on stage, as they made powerful pitches to a roomful of investors, and industry leaders. They were the real rock stars of the evening at Hotel Himalaya at Rockstart Impact Demo Day, the accumulation of the 100 days of an unparallel pressure cooker programme, Nepal’s first accelerator tested success, all unanimously agreed, at the after-party and networking and has set a standard that will be difficult to emulate.
A collaborative effort by One to Watch, an investment management company and Rockstart, a programme dedicated to serving entrepreneurs in Netherlands. On the 9th of March, nine companies- Best Paani, Chainlink Engineering, ICT for Agriculture, Natural Resins, Mush Nepal, Rammed Earth Solutions, Green Bamboo Creation, Hesty Kiwi and Nepal Thopa Sinchai were on stage in Kathmandu. Following their module of the Demo Day from Rockstart, each entrepreneur shared their story and ambitions for the future, which has been carefully crafted under watchful eyes of mentors and industry experts in Kathmandu over a 100-day period.
Similarly, on the 15th of March, nine companies traveled all the way to Amsterdam, The Netherlands to the headquarters of Rockstart to pitch amidst a room full of investors. The program started with a powerful and moving speech by the Ambassador from Nepal for the European Union, Lok Bahadur Thapa. Entrepreneurs did a great job with pitching their business cases and a lot of interests were exchanged after the program was over during the networking session.
Program Director of Rockstart Impact, Simon Mathijssen shares, ‘There are only a few people that view Nepal as the land of opportunity. They form a rare breed as most of the Nepalese only see an opportunity abroad. However, the environment of Nepal itself creates various opportunities which exist only for those capable and brave enough to grasp it. Presented on Demo Day are nine companies that I personally believe have an important role to play in the future of Nepal. These are entrepreneurs that have created robust business models, fine tuned for the environment of Nepal. They are creating value not only for themselves, but also for people surrounding them. Over the past four months, these companies have worked hard laying the foundations for their company growth. They have strengthened their vision, network, capabilities and created a business that is now ready to scale.’
Willem Grimminck, founder of One to Watch and initiator of Rockstart Impact shares, ‘In the last 6 years that I’ve lived in Nepal, I have had the opportunity to learn about the country; I have seen how Nepal, a developing country, is developing on its development indicators. I have seen governments form and dissolve in extremely short time frames. I’ve seen the country trying to resurrect itself from war, from earthquake, from energy crisis, and I have also seen how much of the democratic political leadership has gradually failed to deliver. Yet, that is when leadership is booming from another part of the dynamics – from people, from people like these entrepreneurs who are solving social challenges through business models and contributing to prosperity in Nepal. The development of the country is taking a turn where SMEs are playing the role of a leader, an inspirer, and, a provider. In this quest, that these truly brave entrepreneurs have started, we can and we want to contribute as partners. I see that our role is very special; we are on ground to build the mechanism for impact investments. We have learned that we need to integrate 3 elements– the accelerator, the local investment management team and the dedicated fund for Nepal. Through this mechanism, we build impact companies and assure that all the stakeholders benefit from the equitable distribution of success. You can be a part of this quest, either as an investor, a mentor or financial partner and know that for every contribution you make, Nepal will witness another upcoming leader to make the country a better place for its 30 million people.’