by Prasanna Dhungel and Ujwal Thapa
Entrepreneurship is finding opportunity in a problem.
It could be any type of problem that we see in our everyday lives. Impure food, lack of electricity and petroleum, security, health care and many others. Problems that we experience, read of and hear in any area could become an entrepreneurial opportunity.
Problems can come in various flavors – the product – too expensive, scarce, difficult to use, slow etc. Nepalese outside urban centers do not have easy access to doctors. In Nepal, we suffer from long hours of power cuts in the winter months. Food is getting very expensive in the cities. We want the world’s best health care in Nepal, but may not have access to it, or afford it.
The harder this problem becomes, the better the opportunity for someone who can solve it. If you are an engineer, know how to create a device that can generate wind power then, you can manufacture and sell that for cheap, this is a great opportunity here. Not many people can create this device, and once you are in customers’ homes, you can continue providing superior service and build a great business.
The larger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. A problem may only be for one person, or for many. If it is for one person, it – a one-time service and not a business opportunity. But if many people have the same problem, then it is a big entrepreneurial opportunity. For example, we all eat and want good quality food for cheap. However, we have food quality problems in Kathmandu now. This is a great business with a huge market as everyone hates having to buy impure and expensive food. If you can solve Kathmandu’s food problems with your business, you could be a billionaire. Plus, you would give service to millions and be thanked for the service you give.
Let us take examples of some famous entrepreneurs who have looked at a problem as an opportunity, built great businesses and changed the world and our lives.
In the 1970s , people did not have computers in their homes like we do today. You had to go to a large mainframe computer center and make a request to have your work be done. There may have been one or a few large mainframes in our region and your task may have taken a long time. Businesses such as cheap international calling, which depend on fast and cheap computers, were not around. It was hard and very expensive to make an international call. If your family member went overseas, you may have only spoken once every few months. Today, we are in a connected society in which we use Skype, Facebook and other technologies to stay connected in real-time.
Entrepreneurs looked at this big problem of expensive and difficult computation and connectivity, built products to solve this problem and changed the world. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andy Grove, Mark Zuckerberg, Janus Friis, Niklas Zennstrom and many other entrepreneurs looked at our connectivity and computing challenges and built great businesses to solve them.
In Nepal, Min Bahadur Gurung of Bhatbhateni has changed the way we shop through his chain of super markets. He has redefined success as how you can scale from a mom-pop grocery store to a chain of Super markets in Nepal. He has moved us from an age in which we went to different shops to buy different things in Asan, to finding most under one roof, from a culture of bargaining to a culture of fixed low prices, from daylong affair to hour-long time efficient shopping while streamlining the supply chain. Or take Karna Shakya who made Thamel what it is now. He opened a small motel in a quiet residential neighborhood years ago, and invited other businesses around it to flourish around it. Thereby he helped create the ecosystem that now stands as a must see neighbourhood in Kathmandu that we call, “Thamel’. Entrepreneurs build eco-systems, platforms, not just their business.
Entrepreneurs see opportunity in a problem. So I hope that each of us who wants to be an entrepreneur align our antennas and see an opportunity in the problems that we hear everyday in our lives.
This is part of “Entrepreneurship in Nepal” related articles we will be releasing in the coming months.