From the goggles of an investor:
A lot of the investors, entrepreneurs that I spoke to reiterated the optimism that surrounds the Nepali entrepreneurial ecosystem. The energy in everyone seems palpable and it is evident now there is a plan in the making – a solid support system that is being designed to ensure that ideas are given a platform and that those ideas are put through the paces of a concentrated system to ensure fruition.
If we look back at the initiatives that are currently in place, and a plethora of them already are, with many others in the pipeline – we can see that it is a very exciting time for entrepreneurship. Start-up Weekend, Idea Studio, Reconnect, NYEF Boot Camp, Ncell App Camp, Rockstart Impact – are working at different levels of the ecosystem to boost the ecosystem. The experts warn of an underlying danger though – with so much support in place entrepreneurship is becoming ‘fashionable’, and an aversion to risk-taking may be in the offing.
Ashutosh Tiwari, CEO at Sherpa Adventure Gear, stresses on the intangible quality that is the person behind the business or an idea. Tiwari, who has been at the helm of organizations throughout his professional life and has mentored numerous entrepreneurs, values persistence and determination as major success factors. He says these are also the qualities that a potential investor looks into besides the formal business plan. While the potential of the idea, that should be based on market research, is an important factor, often the people behind the idea drive seemingly simple business plans to enormous success.
Brijendra R. Joshi, COO at Roosterlogic, has been very actively giving shape to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem by co-organizing the Start-up Weekend Kathmandu editions. He is optimistic about the support that programs are offering to entrepreneurs. ‘Now an entrepreneur isn’t working alone. There is mentorship, networking, and start-up funding available. Workspaces are being offered to potential ideators. That’s a lot! Things will really take off the ground if the time limit for startup funding is lowered from 2 years to 6 months/1 year.’
Ton aan de Stegge, one of the many Dutch investors that were in Kathmandu for Rockstart Impact Demo Day to identify Nepali companies to invest in, is optimistic about the human capital that he saw on display. He reiterated on the ‘person-behind-the-idea’. ‘When we make an investment the entrepreneur is the most important consideration. A plan is alright but the ‘person behind the plan’ has the ability to make a difference.’ Ton has made his investment in Red Mud Coffee and says that it was Aashish’s energy, commitment, and enthusiasm that won him over. He had also heard from the organizers how extremely motivated he had been throughout the program. ‘On top of that he is a real team player. He was grateful to his entire team for running his business whilst he was committed to succeeding at Rockstart. We sometimes meet entrepreneurs who feel that they are the most important people in the word and forget that it is always teamwork that ultimately triumph. Aashish clearly understands that. It was also helpful that his plan looked really good. And we will work on that in the coming weeks to add our own expertise and ambitions onto that. We have planned visits when Aashish is in the Netherlands to help him get a flavour of how great companies are building their empires, the importance of branding, staff enhancement, quality control and such other. But beyond all this he is the cementing factor that will bind all of this together and build a brand that will resonate with customers.’
‘Programs such as Rockstart Impact are a real blessing for us. We are looking to invest in Nepal but often fail to see solid planning and related entrepreneurs. Rockstart Impacthas eliminated that shortcoming by building on the businesses and the people behind them. We have honed on to Red Mud and are considering the other ideas seriously. Perhaps a group of Dutch investors could invest in group of Nepali companies that have come out of Rockstart Impact. The possibilities are endless.’