Tag Archives: entrepreneur

12 Lessons I learnt running a company in Nepal

Here are a few lessons I learnt while running my online branding & web development firm Digital Max Solutions (DMS) in Nepal for nearly 10 years now. Some of the lessons are site specific and technology start-up specific. Enjoy!

  1. Be directly, personally responsible to the client. Otherwise chances of success in your project is low.
  2. Ensure quality yourself. If you personally don’t do quality checks on your products or services, make sure the person who does it, has your 100% trust.  (Otherwise it will come back to haunt you)
  3. Delegate but teach. If you delegate project communication to your developer (employee), teach him/her exactly how, what, why and when to communicate.
  4. Train your employees.  Do not expect them to solely learn by their own or by internet. Understand the concept first, yourself.
  5. Employees value what they can learn from you personally. Substituting respect from them by friendship with them, may not work.
  6. Repeat yourself. Over-communicate. Your employees may not understand the first time around. This happens often. Ask them to paraphrase (To repeat what they understood.)
  7. Client is always right (but only at the end). Do ask them a lot of questions before the project starts. Over-communicate. Have written approvals from clients on exact requirements before starting. If something goes wrong at the end, blame yourself.
  8. Believe in numbers when confused. Make sure you record and then pull up past project history, client history, project hours, efficiency etc regularly. Track everything!
  9. Lead by example. Change yourself first. Learn yourself first. Show them yourself first. Learn first (if its technology you want the company to adopt.)
  10. Groom people with exceptional attitude. If you find such a person in your team, help them, mentor them, train them and partner with them; i.e groom them to lead. They will return in kind (and more). Don’t worry about them leaving. You reap, what you sow.
  11. Always decide. Don’t “decide not to decide” or leave it for fate to decide for you. Your in-decision will turn into sleep-less nights for you. (I am guilty of this myself)
  12. Fail fast. Let your team experiment with a lot of ideas but make sure you do it small. This way you can fail fast. And if you succeed, you have a new way to generate revenue :) !

Meet Entrepreneur Kiran Joshi, Disney Animator who started an animation studio in Kathmandu

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

10 tips to know while starting your own business

We (as part of the Entrepreneurs for Nepal group) have compiled a series of tips and lessons about starting your business, which is taken from established Nepal based entrepreneurs speaking at the Entrepreneurs for Nepal forum. Here are first in hopefully what will be a series. (downloadable pdf version at the end of the article)

1. Success takes patience. Min Bahadur Gurung waited almost for a decade before he expanded his one-room cold storage shop to a small department store, which then went on to be today’s Bhat Bhateni Supermarkets at more than one locations.

2. Know yourself. Karna Sakya has devised a test that helps you find out how you work, how you value time, and what your values are. His point is that unless you really know what you are good at, and how you function, you are not likely to be a success.

3. Know the strength of others you are working with. You can’t do everything by yourself. Icchya Raj Tamang of Civil Group says that working well on a team is a function knowing and using the strengths of other team-mates toward your goals.

Continue reading

tips from Karna Sakya, a locally established entrepreneur and author.

During a recent interaction with entrepreneurs for nepal group which i established and co-run, got some good tips from Karna Sakya of Kathmandu Guest house fame.

Here are a few.

  1. Experience is critical for an entrepreneur, more than the academic qualification as its it’s the experience that teaches you better on how to manage time, motivate people towards your vision, develop your human resources, get the loan approved, deal with unions etc etc. Nepali entrepreneurs have to learn more from the context of Nepal rather than from international books on entrepreneurship. He cites examples such as, Laxmi Sharma, who has been to a school for not more than three days but became the first woman “Tempo Driver” of Nepal and has then created an internationally sprawling business of handicraft, and is now known as “the button queen on Nepal” for her unique designs of buttons made from animal bones.
  2. “Saraswati ra pasina sittaima bechnu hundaina” (Knowledge and sweat should never be sold for free) and believes that there isn’t anything called free lunch. He adds, “Selfishness is not wrong, if it does not harm others”. Selfishness is a virtue until it hurts others. He believes self-interest makes people work towards helping others to earn profit in return. Self-interest is an inevitable aspect of entrepreneurship.
  3. “An entrepreneur must never be scared of competition, Competition is good thing as it helps you develop your business. Competition shouldn’t be treated as a threat but as a necessity. Competition makes you more efficient and fitter for survival. Don’t think of finding success alone. ”
  4. Drive for success, not the wealth, makes a person successful. Silver spoon is a slow poison, not an advantage if you are seeking success in life. The abundance of wealth dilutes the drive to succeed which is the most vital component for success. Many once successful business houses driven to oblivion as the first generation fails to transmit this entrepreneurial drive to the following generation.
  5. Nepal doesn’t need any more political leaders. For every one politician produced, one hundred people become unemployed in the name of political workers. They are a burden to our society. On the other hand, we need much more entrepreneurs who are generating wealth and creating jobs for tens and hundreds of people.
  6. “If you are serious about being a millionaire, you need to save every paisa possible by utilizing your money,” Shakya reflects back on the difficulties he faced while he was building his first hotel. “I used to make sure every lump of cement was used efficiently. I used to wake up early every morning to water the roof myself,” says Shakya. He believes being a millionaire is the tougher part of the journey in being a multi-millionaire.
  7. “But the same resource-utilization strategy of efficient conservation doesn’t work on making you a multi-millionaire though”, opines Shakya. After being a millionaire, Time becomes your most valuable resource rather than the money and an entrepreneur needs to think and act accordingly. Now your goal has to be the be finding the most efficient use of your time and your networks. “
  8. His suggestions to aspiring entrepreneurs? Evaluate yourself. You need to be passionate to about your work, you must think about your venture 24 hours a day. A true entrepreneur needs to build his character and have the courage to be different and the enthusiasm to be consistent. A person needs to think, seek more knowledge and implement his ideas. A person must love his work to be successful. Without love for your work, you can be an employee but never an entrepreneur. Love for your work generates passion. An entrepreneur must love and get lost in his work. Entrepreneurship is similar to riding a bicycle or swimming. You won’t learn them by reading books about them. You need to experience them yourself, commit some mistakes and learn from these mistakes.

Hope you enjoyed it. keep the feedbacks/comments rolling !