This startup has successfully tapped into a fertile market in Nepal –pest extermination.
--BY MUNA SUNUWAR
Biddha Nanda Jha
Orange Ball Pvt Ltd
With the advent of the internet, people have benefitted in terms of connectivity and access to free information. The availability of the internet played a vital role in the development of Biddha Nanda Jha’s business venture - Orange Ball Pvt Ltd, a pest control service. He was a part-time employee in a mobile shop situated at Mahaboudha, Kathmandu when he first encountered the possibility of launching his pest control business. People would make frequent visits to the agro vet (a store that supplies pest control chemicals) in front of the shop he was employed in. He discovered bedbugs were causing problems among people residing in Kathmandu. “I did not feel the problem subside in any way, and concluded that people were lagging in the proper usage of the chemicals,” Jha states. To confront the problem he researched online and found out that separate companies dealing with such a problem existed. “People were not following the exact procedure for effective results. I thought of pursuing the business in Nepal to plug that gap,” he adds.
Leading a Business without Business Background
Jha had the idea but had no experience in running a business, in addition to which he had not worked in any corporate house to know about the functionality of companies. Despite the lack of experience, he decided to explore the business but faced problems right away. He remembers the difficulty of finding the right heading under which the company could be registered. The officials suggested him to register it as a cleaning company. “We had to identify our market as people did not know about our service. We did not prefer door-to-door marketing, rather we waited for our clients to reach out to us first and they did,” he mentions. He took an online course and later trained and interned in Chandigarh, India. When he started the business, he had no concept of financial record keeping. It was the same with the seed capital; he remembers investing Rs 50,000 in the beginning. “The investment and earnings were not systematically recorded in the initial phase, now we have systematic financial and client records,” he shares.
When people ask him what is different about his business, he answers by saying it’s not the idea, but his team and ways of working are different.
Orange Ball started operating from 2012 and was finally registered on January 5, 2016. The company aggressively took over the market after the 2015 earthquake. “We were told that bugs got transmitted when people shared beddings during the earthquake,” he recalls. “Now, we get calls from people seeking help for bedbugs, rodents, termites, and cockroaches.” Corporate clients are served on an annual maintenance contract (AMC) while household clients are served on an on-call basis. The service can cost between Rs 3,000 to Rs 25,000. Orange Ball’s services are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Biratnagar.
While a majority of the tools and equipment used for pest control are procured from the local market, some are imported from India and Korea. The company has served more than a hundred corporate clients and over1,500 household clients. “Household clients are seasonal while corporate clients are associated with the company for the whole year,” he informs, adding, “Anyone with pest problems can be our client.” The company has six members in the team that are deployed according to the need.
Work in Nepal
When Jha started, he felt Orange Ball’s prospects in the field were boosted by the absence of similar businesses in Nepal. “I hear people say there is nothing in Nepal, while in my opinion, there is room here to do so much and create space for ourselves,” he opines. “There are lots of undiscovered opportunities in Nepal as people here perceive unique ideas positively intensifying the chances of new businesses to flourish.” He says his friends working abroad appreciate his work and achievements. “They could achieve so much if the hard work they put into their current job abroad is invested in Nepal,” he shares.
According to Jha, Kathmandu alone has 500,000 households excluding corporate clients and a company, in general, can deal with barely 50,000 homes annually. This sheds light on the prospects this field carries for those who want to try this type of business in Nepal as Jha indicates the chance of growth for the company is high. However, he suggests the company should be equipped with an experienced workforce that is knowledgeable about the proper handling and usage of pesticides.
The annual turnover of the company in the first year of operation was Rs 600,000, which rose by 300 percent the year after. The company secured a turnover of Rs 1.9 million in the FY 2017/18. Jha informs the company is aiming for a 400 to 500 percent growth in the next year and hopes to achieve it after they expand their presence in Pokhara.
As people have been introduced to the concept and they now know such a service exists, Jha claims the future of this particular business is bright. Along with the development in the area of professional pest control services, the company expects to launch branches in major cities of Nepal in the next five years. Orange Ball has plans of setting up a branch office in Pokhara by the end of 2019 and provide clients with the easiest access to the company’s services. “We have envisioned the agriculture sector to be systematic in a sense that different companies would be working for different stages of harvesting and we would be playing a part in the system in ten years,” he says.
Startups don’t always excel because of which the government should take the initiative to manage this ecosystem. According to Jha, the authorities concerned should formulate and implement guidelines for entrepreneurs to start with. “Many startups fear failure and don’t register their companies right away, take us, for example, we registered our company only in 2016 while it started operating from 2012. Had we received genuine counselling, we would have caught up with expected growth rate,” he reminisces. “In the beginning, we were not sure if the business idea would work, so we hesitated to register. Later, we realised that it was late,” he says. He suggests startups to be well informed about the company registration processes and operation.
Jha believes there are many flaws in the government policies startups that need to be amended according to the need of the time. “It would be better if the government designated a certain probation period for startups and if they pass the phase and feel ready, they can finally proceed with the registration of the company,” he says.