Firelight studio: “Thinking Made Visible”

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Firelight studio: “Thinking Made Visible”

Have you ever come across a poster for an advertisement that caught your attention at the first glance? Or even a website that is so cool that you signed up and even forwarded the link to your friend so that they can also appreciate the sheer brilliance of the use of colour palette? This is the impact of the art of Graphic Designing, a mode of communication and projection of ideas through visual and textual content.  


Firelight Studio accentuates the art form. One look at the Firelight Studio’s website and you will get completely blown away. It manages to reflect the passion and love the team has about graphic designing and branding. Registered on the month of Chaitra, 2071, the studio makes it a mission to turn imaginations into reality.


Light bulb moment

Chirag Thapa, one of the co-founders, was passionate about graphic and photography from the very beginning. His mother, who is also an artist, was his inspiration and says art is in his genes. His friend Suresh Thapa (another co-founder) approached him and said, “You are good at designing. Let’s make it a business.” They were excited about the idea but did not know how to start. The two friends would hang out at Sundhara in front of Dharahara and would talk until late at night. In one of these sessions, it suddenly struck them, “The Nepali industry requires proper branding, quality advertisement and quality marketing. Let’s penetrate the advertisement, marketing and creative industry. Let’s call it Firelight Studio.”


The name Firelight Studio represents the fire like passion. The logo of the studio is a satirical representation of the power cuts we experience in Nepal. It is an inverted light bulb filled with ignitable liquid to act like a Tuki light. Chirag explains, “We are habituated to loadshedding. It’s part of our routine. If we don’t have loadshedding, we feel something is wrong. We need loadshedding to free our time. The logo is a satire.”


Programmers assemble

When they carried their passion forward, they realized a dire need of a team. They participated in  ‘Startup Weekend’ and met two, in their words,  “awesome, phenomenal programmers” who could write “out of the world programs”. They were Saurav Karki and Sushil Shrestha. The four found out they all were like-minded while networking in the event. Instantly, they collaborated and made a deal to work together.


Service Palette 

Firelight Studio turns the clients’ imaginations and dreams into realities. Everyone has dreams and imagination for their business or project. What the team at Firelight Studio does is they understand those imaginations and make them visible. They provide UI&UX Design, Web Development, Brand Creation, Web and Mobile App development and Print Design. “We are selling philosophy, we aren’t selling services or product,” the team remarks. Quoting Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” they are driven by their motive and passion.


They claim everyone to be their target market. They compare themselves to Wai-Wai saying everyone consumes Wai-Wai, regardless of their stature. But in reality, their “everyone” lies in the world of corporate houses and they do have different packages to meet the needs of their clients. They have minimal package to high end packages and lean more towards startups which makes up for about 60% of their clientele. 


Big break

During their time at  Startup Weekend, they met a dynamic lady Maya Lama. She works in California and was in Nepal to search for a team for an outsourcing work. They got to talking and trusted the team. When she returned to California and had a project for them, the team decided to accept the prospect, but with the notion of ‘let see how it goes’. It was a branding project for Monetary Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP), a company that provides financial support to startups. This was their first international project, and everybody appreciated and applauded their work. 


Working for MBEP taught them every gory detail of branding and being in business. While the project lasted for about three to four months, their interaction with professional foreigners was challenging and yet fun. Their scrutiny over even the smallest of aspects like colour palette, font, alignment and so on astounded the team. Having to brainstorm and guess what the foreigner might like, the team got plethora of insight during the phase. The learned much about professionalism from those foreigners and that gave them a complete personality makeover. Chirag recalls, “We had oversea meeting on Hangout. So we wore formal shirts on top while half pants below.”


The organization grid 

Filled with creative people, Firelight Studio promotes a relaxed environment which dares them to dream and imagine beyond the box. It is informal and very task centric. They don’t believe that forcing their employees to sit in an office for a long time can bring out creativity. So they set a policy that the employees only have to attend certain hours in a week given that they complete their project. They don’t have one fun project as they have enjoyed every projects that have come their way.

They have an interesting way of working too. The employees have the freedom to choose the project they are interested in. Sometimes many of them want to do the same work. So a debate is conducted. The interested candidates have to present how they are going to proceed, and how they are going to make it successful. They must also state their contribution in the project to determine the members who are going to work on the project.

They seem to be married to their work and call their working time “dating”. Chirag even receives calls early in the morning stating that his team members are in the office and they need him to open it up. Their family often have to resort to emailing them to remind them to come home as they get immersed in their work and forget their phone and lose the track of time.


Debugging the challenges 

Initially, Firelight studio faced myriad of problems. From weak infrastructure to financial issues to unpredictable power cuts, Firelight Studio has taken them in stride and have also managed to make light of these problems. “I remember having the bus fare for only one way transport while meeting a client. I made best out of the situation and listened to the people communicating and then analyzing their needs and thinking out ways to benefit the studio,” says Chirag. He adds, “Public transport is the best way to understand people. Once, there was a man talking on the phone and when asked where he was, he replied with ‘Sapana ko sahar Kathmandu’.” They take these ideas and turn them into data for their project. 


Growth algorithm 

With an initial investment of Rs.1 lakh and around five to six rounds of investment ever since, the company has amassed a turnover of five to ten times. A company that started from a table and a laptop, a ‘Jhole company’, as tagged by the team, now has its own office at Trade tower. They believe in sharing and analyzing experiences, and learning from their own and other’s mistakes. As they sell philosophy, every project is a story within itself. Another reason for their growth is their ability to understand and accommodate to the unspoken problems of clients. This will let the company bloom and grow. “Other companies structure themselves as third party with the clients, but Firelight Studio makes the client feel that they are part of the client’s team. This builds family like relationship with clients,” says Chirag.


Future Scaling 

As for the future of Firelight Studio, they want to think beyond Kathmandu valley and decentralize. When other companies would like to go international in the future, they prefer going national. They want people to know the Nepali products and help in branding them. They find it funny that the Nepali handicraft is way too expensive for Nepali to afford it. It’s Nepali people who are to carry on their heritage, but it’s just a souvenir to foreigners. They want to see Nepal being self-sufficient.





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Guest Thursday, 11 August 2022