This is a summary of Last Thursdays series co-hosted by “Entrepreneurs for Nepal” platform which I co-founded. This platform networks entrepreneurs working for Nepal. For more details, go here. A lot of credit also goes to Samriddhi Foundation for transcribing it.
Kiran Bhakta Joshi, the founder of Incessant Rain Animation Studios, left his job of 18 years at the Walt Disney Studios at age 46 to create his own studio in Kathmandu. With a background in computer software, Joshi was working as a graphics software developer for Disney. He was in the team that developed the animation system used for “Beauty and the Beast”, which went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the 1992 Academy Awards. Leaving an 18 year old job, the post of Head of Production and a team of 250 artists and technologists under him was not easy for Kiran. There were doubts among his friends in Walt Disney if an animation studio in Nepal would deliver the quality and turnaround they were seeking.
The year 2007 was the turning point in his life. When he had come to Nepal for the funeral of a relative, his friend Sanjeev Rajbhandari suggested opening a studio in Nepal. He then spent three weeks in small animation boutiques and was impressed to see the portfolios of skilled and passionate young artists. He met a 19 year old boy who showed his portfolio and said that his passion was animation but due to pressure from his parents, he had been studying management. He asked Kiran for help, so realizing the level of this boy’s passion, he decided it was time to open an animation studio in Nepal.
Kiran opines that employees are the most valuable assets of a business. He says that it is very important to coordinate with every individual differently because even a single person with an ego can jeopardize the work process. While working with his employees, the first lesson he learnt was that it is easy to train young people rather than old ones. He feels that young people are very creative, more adaptable and energetic about their work once they are convinced. Since experienced people are more resistant to change, he feels that it is better to have young supervisors and employees in the business. He shares that it is important to make sure the employees are having fun during work but at the same time there should be proper enforcement of discipline. Salaries at his studio are based on the productivity and the quality of the animation that his staffs can create. He even helps his staff to go abroad if they want because he believes those people will gain better knowledge and return back. He admits that hunting for talent is an arduous process and he would love to collaborate with the universities here and start an animation academy to nurture fresh talents inside Nepal.
Kiran shares that setting up of a business is easy but execution is difficult. Since he shuttles between Nepal and the US, is it difficult to execute all the ideas due to time constraints. Challenges he is facing now in Nepal include bandhs (strikes) and load-shedding. He also feels that as his company is growing bigger, the fun element is reducing. Even though he doesn’t have any marketing person, his personal one to one networks and visits to several networking programs contribute to his business development. He stresses that networking is very important for entrepreneurs and no one should underestimate its power. His focus is on brand building and creating their own intellectual property.
He sees bright hope for Nepal as we have cheaper labor force, untapped resources, rich cultures and diversity. His studio’s goal is not just to outsource work from USA, but take the rich folk stories of Nepal to the world. He cites the example of “Jungle Book”, a story from India that became a famous animation. He finds Nepal rich in tales of Yaks and Yetis and he has successfully used the yaks and the one-horned rhino for the animation advertisements of World Food Program (WFP) and Ace Development Bank respectively. He believes these would help to showcase our local identity.
Articles about Kiran Joshi: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-cultural-exchange-20110313,0,7117105.story