What impact has Rockstart made in the past 90 days?
With an aim of making 10 enthusiastic entrepreneurs investment- ready in 100 days, Rockstart Impact - the first accelerator program that Nepal has ever witnessed has tons of stories to share. The program initiated by One to Watch- an asset management company- that waved a green flag on 3rd December 2014 is coming to an end on 12th March 2015.
With success stories about how a small company with one distributor made it through having 10+ distributors till the end, you will now read stories. Success stories from the mentors who were dedicated to seeing the growth of the companies and entrepreneurs charting out their own growth from the 1st day of the program.
Who : Nripal Adhikary
What : Infrastructures made out of bamboo and Earth
Nripal Adhikari speaks for Abari
I believe with time spent at Rockstart, my pitches are definitely getting better and it has turned out to be more professional. There are several changes in the business models as well. Earlier, we planned on starting with a new product but now we plan on making the current services better than aiming at sales of a product. Apart from that, combination of mentoring and networking via Rockstart Impact helped me to grow in the last few months because we have been able to score a lot of projects during this time frame.
Apart from that, we now have a gallery which will focus on marketing on a narrowed down process. Since Abari’s consumers are not in mass but belong to the niche market, we aim at organizing smaller events, open houses, tours to selected clients who are interested in our designs. Overall, I learned to do one thing but doing it the right way.
From the mentor, Sekhar Chettri
Abari with a unique housing and furnishing solution provider were limited to handful of projects and now they have dared to explore commercialization of their ideas now evolved to provide customized solution. They have built confidence over the period of incubation. They will definitely be able to provide a customized bamboo and combination with other housing materials a unique handcrafted housing and furnishing items to their clientele.
Bloom Nepal School
Who : Ram Krishna Rijal, Rabindra Shrestha, Rajendra Singh Bista
What : Providing students interest- based education as afterschool events for an hour everyday
Rabindra Shrestha speaks for Bloom Nepal
Bloom Nepal School’s plan while joining Rockstart Impact was to build schools from scratch. However, now we are looking for acquisition of school that already has infrastructures which would save the time and energy leaving us more focused on the quality of education. With the mentoring that we received at the program, we plan on educating one student per district for a class. Apart from that, we are also focusing on targeting students who fall under the age group of 9-12 which is a minor age to make the best impact. A lot of people have their own businesses these days but not many know what they are doing- or the minutest detail about their business canvas. Now, after having completed the program, I can state with pride that I now know my school better. From marketing strategies, legal issues to branding- I know the ABCs of entrepreneurship!
From the mentor, Madan Lamsal
Bloom Nepal School has improved drastically in presenting their plans and have a better understanding about their business. In the last meeting I had with them, they were eager to find out more about the validation process of their school while presenting the same to prospective investors. I felt that they will be able to attract right investors with the learning process as they are much clearer in creating a social impact from the type of education they plan on providing the target group. I have expectations of them growing out to be big- as their venture is innovative and they know what they are doing with 100% commitment towards their startup idea. It’s likely that the education model that they have initiated will be replicated in the future.
Who : Kushik Basnet, Anjali Lohani Basnet
What : A meat processing and retailing company providing international quality meat at a local level.
Shashank Shah speaks for Fresh Meats
At Fresh Meats, we have always had a simple business model of offering and catering hygienic and disease free chicken meat to our customers. However, after having joined Rockstart, we now realize how competitive this field is. Surveys amidst the target market and revisions of financial projections have made us accurate and confident about the product and how to go about it in the market. Marketing strategies were never our primary concern initially- but after several grilling sessions with the mentors, it is one of the most important things we abide by right now. We are mapping out ways of entering the social media platform to along with meeting the comfort of our customer’s demands. Along with these, the locations of the outlets have been identified along with an approach to be followed for various market segments.
Overall, the team at Fresh Meats has learnt that it is not just about profit or higher revenue. The primary aspect of doing any business in a place like Nepal needs to have an element in its model which would act positively to create better social well being. Along with that, we believe that the correct path to go ahead with is good governance.
From the mentor, Constant Tilman
Fresh Meats is different compared to the other companies in the program. Their market analysis, competitor analysis and financial projections were some researches done before entering the program. However, I do feel that the Rockstart Impact has been able to offer them valuable tricks to strengthen their business case for potential investors.
Most of these improvements are concentrated on the impact side of their business. The positive impact Fresh Meats will have on the health of the Nepalese (meat eating) population is huge, so this was something they have been able to put more emphasis on in their business case. Besides this, they have been able to quantify this effect following some of the workshops in the Rockstart program.
Who : Aashish Adhikari
What : Aims at making Nepal grown coffee known worldwide
Aashish Adhikari speaks for Red Mud
When you are an entrepreneur, a lot of things you do are based on experiences, hands on approaches and some gut wrenching decisions. I have always been a go-getter, someone who has to be on top of everything. With time I have learned how to locate people’s fortes and assign work accordingly. Also to trust them to produce results and only act as needed. This has allowed me to look at the bigger picture and lead the company like I should.
In spite of being a marketing guy, numbers bore me. I usually get away from it by outsourcing the work but since joining Rockstart Impact, I have had a chance to get a grip on the whole idea of start-ups and investor’s point of view. Being really good at what you do and having a potential is one side of the coin while explaining it in numbers is the other side – both of them equally important.
From the mentor, Barsha Shrestha
Aashish is one of the most confident entrepreneurs in the program and he has that commitment which is bound to take him forward. With his second outlet for Red Mud, he is bound to grow but he needs to work well on his marketing strategies. Jhamsikhel is an area which is mushrooming with restaurants and Red Mud will be one of them but if he can make it stand out from all of the rest, he will rise. Apart from those, his ideas about providing lunch boxes to various organizations is another initiation which would leave him at a better market position in the days to come.
Intercontinental Systems (ICS)
Who : Santosh Pradhan
What : Technology solutions for global financial markets, especially stock & commodities exchanges, brokerage firms, traders, banks, and fund managers.
Santosh Pradhan speaks for ICS
Before Rockstart happened, we were working on raising capital amongst our small network but the absence of mentors made the whole process slow and non-efficient. The program helped in changing our though processes that were limited just to being entrepreneurs to a consumer and an investor. Connecting with the mentors who have walked our shoes to guide us through the polishing of the business model and other important aspects required to run a business house effectively has helped us in multiplying our growth process in a short time.
From the mentor, Anjan Kumar Dahal
A common thing that has changed amongst all the entrepreneurs after my mentoring sessions has that their companies are now legally registered. The extension that ICS is aiming at- in an international level is commendable and I believe this company will grow and as of now, is investment ready.
Suddha Muhanko Khanepani Sewa
Who : Ujjwal Shrestha
What : Production of cost effective ultra filtered water and its distribution through stainless steel tanks
Ujjwal Shakya speaks for Suddha Muhanko Khanepani Sewa
The family run business that I inherited when I was very young was something that was gifted to me with a set of things to dos and donts. I never knew what marketing was, what market research was or how a proper business model looked like. We are now venturing into a water measuring GPRS device which will make people alert when their water is going to run low. As of now, the extraction of water is just being made from one place but we plan on making all the 7 places available in Kathmandu so that we can cater to water woes throughout the valley. We also plan on opening a call centre which will answer to people’s queries and cater to their water issues throughout Kathmandu.
From the mentor, Sanne Snieder
Ujjwal got much more confident throughout the program on what he aims for with his business. His motivation to innovate his company has grown a lot. Compared to his initial idea, his growth ambitions have doubled! Besides his determination, he is also better able to communicate about his business model and his future plans. I think his chances on an investment are quite high. And even in case he won't raise funds, he'll have enough determination to pursue his plans in some way or the other.
Who : Dibyesh Giri, Serish Dhittal
What : A software development company specialized in CAD based engineering software.
• Smart Road – for road designing, that is mostly, Urban and agricultural green road.
• SWSS – for gravity based water supply and sanitation design.
• Smart GIS – majorly used by local district development offices for infrastructure and social inventory management.
Dibyesh Giri speaks for SmartTech
After having joined the Rockstart Impact, we see things differently – more like in a 3D dimension while earlier it was strictly limited to 2D. We are coming up with something new and the whole idea of market research suddenly seems important- because now we know how much value it holds. Incorporating the feedbacks that we get from the mentors at the program and taking clients seriously has made us aim high. By high we mean going international.
From the mentor, Bibhushan Bista
From when they started, SmartTech has become professional in terms of CAD software to plan building roads in Nepal. However, they had major issues in terms of product pricing and market positioning. They have managed to get their pricing model right which is an integral part to sustainable and profitable venture. Also, they have understood what their business is worth and are now aiming at expansion to the international market after being constantly grilled by the program. At the same time, they have visible growth in their pitches and product which create linkages with different potential clients and business verticals.
In the future, I would be happy to see Smart Tech establishing their brand as top CAD software developing company in Nepal and South Asia to start with. At a global level, they should be able to compete directly with global CAD software development firms and pose serious challenge. They have unique advantage in a niche IT product and expect a lot from them in further specializing in their slot, get their business model right and expand their business globally.
Who: Susan Vaidya
What: Public toilets in Kathmandu and highways
Susan Vaidya speaks for Team Consultants
I came to Rockstart with just an idea which was made fun of by friends and family alike but appreciated by the entrepreneurs and mentors at the program. I think that has given me a boost in what dreams I have for making toilets available to all in Kathmandu – and soon all of Nepal.
The initial plan was to build toilets from scratch but with our time spent at the program, we realized that the existing toilets can be fabricated and tie-ups can be made with gas stations. Since toilets fall under everyone’s priority list, we thought our target consumers would be everyone under the sun but have now plans in positioning ourselves in the market over a segment of consumers who value service.
From the mentor, Willem Grimminck
I think Susan has improved a lot from when he started. He has worked hard on the legal issues and is now confident about his plan. He is the only entrepreneur who has come with a plan and I believe with his enthusiasm and efforts, he will definitely make a difference even if he does not land up with an investment.
Uchit Jaivik Mal Udhyog
Who : Ukraini Maharjan, Uchita Maharjan, Krishna Chandra Maharjan
What : Bio- organic fertilizer for eco-friendly organic agro - input
Ukraini Maharjan speaks for Uchit Jaivik Mal Udhyog
With Rockstart Impact behind our back, we have not witnessed any major changes as such but are building are on the verge of a big bang soon. The marketing strategies that have been used so far have made it possible to sales to increase. Along with that, we are not only dealing in Kathmandu, like before but are now expanding our sales via distributors outside the valley as well. Apart from that, the customers were based on a random formula that our family had built. It was going on to be fine but with time, we started to realize that there was a missing piece in the puzzle. Once at Rockstart, we realized that the business that was run on a family basis can be systematic too- when it comes to documentation and how the whole customers are looked after.
From the mentor, Sohan Khatri
The first thing that anyone at the program would notice when it comes to Uchit would be the confidence they have built up with time. Having mentored them from the selection phase itself, they have some a long way which has enhanced their capabilities in understanding the business model, building blocks and interrelations, value proposition, market/ consumer point of view, business planning and management. The founder of Uchit is also a father to 5 daughters. Two of them are involved with the program and are confident about taking the business forward. This is what our country needs, juxtaposition of old and new generation in driving business through proper mix of cross selections of skills, knowledge, network and experience. However, they still need to work on knowing the market more along with building a good PR and network of consumers. They have taken a step of distributing Uchit outside the valley too, but this should be done more seriously with an assurance of consistency quality in their production process.
Who : Sulav
What : Segregation recyclable solid waste producing organic fertilizers and contributes to the economy by generating employment in the market.
Sulav & Rajani speak for Waste Concern
The business model that we had earlier was very traditional which was created during inception and it never changed. We are now testing, validating, branding, marketing and understanding the customer values. Not to forget that work has now become very much organized and systematic since there is a huge variation in the working style as well.
We realized that we had all the resources required to run the business efficiently but were poor at delegating the work accordingly. Currently, we are focusing on the grass root level and looking at prospects of making our customers and labours satisfied through a structured format. After joining the program, we took surveys and worked on mass awareness regarding waste segregation. So far, we have received a lot of positive responses and we hope that it will soon get better with time.
From the mentor, Niraj Khanal
Personally, I think Waste Concern has come great heights from when they started at the program. They now have a refined business model and are much focused compared to their initial plan which seemed scattered. They have taken a great leap from being a waste collector to a waste manager along with the client incentive models which are again environmentally acceptable.
The writer is Manager, Business and Public Relations at WriteWeavers, a specialized content planning and development company. [email protected]