A Messenger of Sentiments- Bal Krishna Joshi from Nepal

Originally co-written as part of “Entrepreneurs for Nepal” group along with Samriddhi, the prosperity foundation

Bal Krishna Joshi argues that he might most probably be the most famous “goat-seller” of the world. Bal is best known for co-founding thamel.com, an internet e-commerce business that enables expatriate Nepalis to purchase gifts and arrange for their delivery within Nepal, including famously, selling goats over the internet, during Dashain festivals.

What made him an entrepreneur? His dislike for a career oriented job and his reluctance to work for a corporate entity. His search for new opportunities got his attention towards the IT industry. With a friend of his, Bal thought of building an information portal. His friend registered thamel.com. Their initial step was to cater to the needs of the site visitors by creating a chat platform. The platform was also intended for the vendors to use to connect to their prospective customers and sell their products. But to their surprise, they found that most of the users which consisted of Nepali students studying abroad, used the platform to connect to their relatives and friends here in Nepal. Bal remembered a website called 1800flowers.com which used to sell stuffs online and had made millions while going public. He and his friend thought of having a shot and so started selling stuffs on the web. A tough time ensued as people were reluctant to put their photos or sell stuffs.

It was the Dashain festival of 2001 that gave Bal the lucky break he deserved. Driven to the brink of shutdown, he and his partners had made their decisions to give it a last shot and either see their business pick up at the Dashain-Tihar period or pack their bags and return to their old jobs. While discussing about the business during the festive season at a bar, a friend who was a bit tipsy suggested them to send ‘Khasi’ (Goats) to Nepal. Bal got most excited by this seemingly crazy idea and he quickly implemented the idea. Though it started with much skepticism, today this idea has made him perhaps the most famous goat seller of the country, or even the world.

When thamel.com started taking orders from Nepalis abroad to deliver goats to their families in Nepal, their primary concern was what if the ‘khasi’ died? How will the customers know if we delivered the type of ‘Khasi’ they wanted? Plagued by uncertainty Bal went to observe and study the goat selling process as used by the local goat traders. He solved this problem by arranging to take the pictures of the recipient families with the goats and send it to the customer. By the third week, thamel.com apparently sold goats worth 50,000 dollars. Not only did this idea make him financially successful but it also got him famous all over the world when he got featured on TV channel like the BBC world service. The idea of clicking pictures with the Dashain goats excited his customers so much, that the staff at thamel.com had a hard time managing time to deliver goats and clicking pictures. “Bhai Tika” also saw the most number of pictures as every present thamel.com delivered carried sentiment of all sisters and their brothers. Moved by the sentimental value of their work, Bal changed the slogan of thamel.com to “Messenger of Sentiments”.

Some thoughts from Bal Krishna Joshi for aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. Always think of the final consumer while designing a product or service

2. Don’t complain about the obstacles along your way. Try to turn them into opportunities

3. Keep seeking new opportunities

4. While hiring people make sure they believe in the cause you are working on

5. Finding a talented workforce is hard and retaining them is even harder.

6. Never ignore the social cost of your economic activities

Don’t forget to post in your thoughts at whynepal.com

Ujwal