From establishing Cosmic Electrical with an investment of few thousand rupees to employing to over 100 people, Mahesh Mahato, who belonged to a middle-class family, has experienced many peaks and troughs in his 18-year career. Mahato established his company in 2000 after completing his electrical engineering graduation from Pulchowk Engineering College. Mahato, managing director at Cosmic Electrical, has had a career packed with struggles, hard work, commitment, and the belief to dream big. In a conversation with Ashim Neupane of New Business Age at Cosmic Tower in Sanepa, Mahato shared his career story.
Getting Into Pulchowk Engineering Campus
Mahato believes that getting into Pulchowk Engineering Campus was the first stepping-stone in his career. Born and raised in Mahottari district, Mahato completed his schooling from a government school. He then studied Intermediate in Science (ISc) from Ramsworup Ramsagar Multiple (RRM) Campus in Janakpur. After completing his intermediate, he moved to Kathmandu to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. Mahato was planning to join a management course as he felt the government scholarship he was striving to get was a tough ask. He appeared in the entrance examination for electrical engineering, but he did not believe he would get through the test. “I used to think only students with a lot of political power would get scholarships in government colleges,” he remembers. He was shocked when he found his name among the students who were granted a full scholarship. “I had the wrong conception about government scholarships,” he shares.
Mahato, while starting his company in 2000 had little knowledge about the legal processes of establishing a company. He remembers he got a lot of moral support from the family, but not knowing about business in the early stages hindered the growth of his career.
Believe in Yourself
During the initial stages, Mahato had no capital to invest. He visited many banks and presented his business model. Though his business model was perfect, Mahato had to put up property as collateral to secure a loan. “I only had my certificates with me. But, certificates were not accepted as collateral then,” he remembers. He established the company with an investment of few thousand rupees. Mahato remembers he had rented a small room, and he was the sole member of the company. As capital was scarce, Mahato had to purchase a computer for the company in instalments. Eventually, he got projects, and after almost five years, Everest Bank passed a loan of Rs 500,000 to the company on a personal guarantee.
First Big Project
In 2001, Kathmandu Mall was under construction. Bishal Bazar was the only mall in the country at that time. Mahato used to traverse the city on his YBX motorbike in search of clients and projects. He attempted to convince Kathmandu Mall representatives that his company could handle all the electrical designs. At that time, international companies like Hitachi undertook the electrical designs of major projects in Nepal. Finally, Mahato got his first big project from Kathmandu Mall. There were doubts whether a startup could handle such a massive project, however, Cosmic Electrical completed the project successfully, following which, they bagged multiple projects of similar stature.
In 2010, Mahato felt he had achieved what he set out to do as a businessman and wanted to expand and invest in other sectors. He invested in four different ventures including real estate, stock market, among others. Mahato invested in those businesses without thorough research. All the investments were in vain, and it almost bankrupted him. The only venture that was running successfully was Cosmic Electrical. After the failure, he realised he needed to expand his knowledge base in business, accounting and finance. Therefore, in 2011, he joined Ace Institute of Management for an Executive Master‘s of Business Administration (EMBA) program.
Choose the Right Partner
Mahato suggests startups to find the ideal partner before starting a venture. He feels it is essential to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of a prospective partner. “You need to look at the reputation of the partner before committing to a partnership.
The partners should complement each other, but if the partner becomes your competitor, the business will suffer and the relationship with the partner will also be broken,” he shares. He suggests startups to enter a partnership only if the core values match.
Learn From Entrepreneurs
The careers of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson have inspired and motivated Mahato.
He values various concepts pioneered by these entrepreneurs and has attempted to implement many of their ideas at his company. “The workplace should not be like a boring classroom, the employees should enjoy every moment they are at work,” he shares.
Embolden Your Ideas
Mahato suggests startups to implement their idea without the fear of failure. “There are many venture capitalists and angel investors to help startups,” he shares, adding the growth of startups will help the economy of the country to grow. “Much like the situation in developed countries, the focus now should be on generating entrepreneurs,” he said.