Breakdown of Nabil Nari Udhyami Seed Camp Day 1

Breakdown of Nabil Nari Udhyami Seed Camp Day 1

Udhyami SeedCamp BreakDown - Day 1 

The first day of the training camp sees 20 enthusiastic teams get ready to start their entrepreneurial journey, each team huddling around a foldable chair in a large hall ready to test their ideas and see if they could come out of the 5-day boot camp with a sharper and more practical mindset.

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The first session begins with Kavi Raj Joshi, the founder of NEXT Venture Corps and Udhyami Innovations, the company responsible for Udhyami Seed Camp. He welcomes the 20 teams and introduces them to Udhyami Seed Camp, giving general background of the concept and the past iterations that have helped shape many entrepreneurs realize the ‘udhyami’ in them. His speech, that goes for around half an hour, is listened with fervour in some, and straight faces in most; many look keen to dig deeper and jump to the training. His welcome speech, when over, is received with lacklustre applause, the reason for which could be attributed to the heat in the room, literally; a Kathmandu resident has rarely been subjected to a temperature as ‘scathing’ as the current one. The session hall, which lies on the 5th floor of Ace Management College in Baneshwor, has installed four ACs in total.

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 The second speaker is Dhiroj Shrestha, the Associate Director of the college. He starts by declining the mic that is forwarded to him, insisting that he is better off without a device needed to amplify his voice. This is followed by him loudly asking if he is audible to the end of the room. Participants are already galvanized by this ‘daring’ act, visibly with less number of people using phones now. He continues on the necessity of developing an ‘idea’ and quotes one of the teachers of the college who would rather entertain someone with a great ‘saleable’ idea than someone who wearily does assignments and only possesses academic accolades. He goes on to say that the teacher carries a cheque with him everywhere, just in case another ‘Facebook Or Uber pops up’.  “There are people who will invest in your ideas, it is necessary to have a good idea in the first place.'' I try to reason the depth of this statement as I am reminded of the umpteenth number of investor-hungry entrepreneurs who flood the inbox of StartupsNepal’s Facebook page every other day. I can’t help but think of connecting the ‘flood-ers’ with woke teachers. It could only be a win-win situation. Mr Shrestha also dabbles on the necessity of an innovative mindset and goes on to tell how ACE has been trying to incorporate that in recent years, backed with some more anecdotes, important phrases and his loud voice, that matches his burly structure quite well.

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The third speaker of the day, who kickstarts the keynote speech for the day is Sixit Bhatta, the Tootle man. His demeanour, both casual and keen, is accompanied with a similar style of attire - a PayPal cap, khaki-coloured shirt worn outside a tight white vest, and casual pants. He looks like an embodiment of a startup founder in the Silicon Valley attending an important annual conference.  He begins by talking about his past experience of having a conventional dream job of a six salary figure that he eventually quit starting Tootle. The number of analogies, examples and metaphors he draws in his one hour and a half talk seems indicative of his reading and learning habits. He goes on to talk about the five important aspects necessary to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. Being able to distort reality like how an artist would do is necessary, he says, by using Steve Jobs as an example. The quality of scratching beneath the surface and researching one’s product enough is equally as essential, his second point.  With that, he also maintains that having an optimism bias, an intrinsic attitude of being successful is equally important. He insists that companies must also look at scaling their products and not just limiting to building a Business Model Canvas at the formative stages of a startup. He says that companies that fail to nurse a growth mindset as its core value usually end up slacking. Lastly, he reiterates the need to grow by learning, unlearning and gradually trying to remove the illusion of knowledge, a plight that Nepalis are so used to. As he talks, Bhatta goes around the room, sometimes bringing the tip of his thumb and forefinger together to stress the points he makes. Eventually, he sits on the stage, without a mic, and informally ends his session, which gets immediately revived when participants ball him one question after another. When answering questions, his use of humour is liberal, even at his own expense. When a participant asks to be forgiven if she offends him with the question that she is yet to ask, Bhatta smirks while reassuring her and saying it must probably be about the taxes (Tootle was entangled in a tax evasion case of almost 34 million Nepalese rupees, the verdict of which is yet to be given ). The session ends with Bhatta waving his hands in the air and everyone clapping fervently; a murmurous environment sets in immediately as everyone is asked to move to the canteen for lunch.

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Post lunch, the 20 teams are asked to give their short introduction on the stage within a period of 3 minutes, a task that might look formidable for the ones not so comfortable on the stage. However, the teams are allowed to have up to four members, making it easier to shift between complementary skill sets. Teams start pitching their ideas, trying (and some failing), to be as succinct as possible. And that is exactly what the bootcamp promises too- to help the teams polish their presentation skills with constant feedback. From wedding marketplace to opening a restaurant serving only corn dishes to making aquaponics more accessible to women, to farming locally produced mushrooms to catering to the needs of Hindu puja to delivering freshly cut fruits in the market, to opening locally conscious online brands, ideas are abound and varied in the hall consisting of 60-70 people. The pitching session is followed by a session on ‘Value Proposition’, a time allocated to dissect and learn the importance of adding value to customers, investors and stakeholders alike. It is led by three coaches from India, namely Saumya Agrawal, Rohan Chaudhary and Rishabh Kapoor. While Saumya and Roshan help the participants understand the concept of adding value with interactive activities, Rohan sheds light on the importance of bringing something new to the table with his years of experience as an investor and blockchain expert in India. His insights on the right time to inject capital and the value of a smaller capital invested correctly become of key importance by the end of the session.

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The last speaker of the day, rightfully selected, is Mr Prayas Rajopadhyaya, the co-founder of Job Dynamics. He is there to present on ‘Team Building’ and touches on subjects from employee retention to the necessity of rules and regulations in a company. Although his session is towards the end of the day, he is successful in fuelling the energy in the room by constantly engaging the participants in games and activities that everyone seems more than happy to be a part of. He makes everyone arrange their chairs in a big circle and paces back and forth giving real-life examples of HR related solutions. He then shifts between explaining a concept and moderating a  physical activity around the circle that represents the idea behind the concept. His session is refreshing in the least; topics of trust, safety net, comfort zone, leadership are all covered. The end of his session also denotes the end of the first day for the future ‘udhyamis’. The three main things that participants took from this day, upon asking a few, were opening up to networking, taking notes of important statements by the coaches/mentors and presenting their ideas in front of a large hall. With a positive and resilient mindset, the participants seem eager to take on the remaining four days with gusto and fervour. All the best Udhyamis!

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Guest Thursday, 12 December 2019