From the Launchpad - Hitesh Karki

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From the Launchpad - Hitesh Karki

 

The need for mentors

As a startup, the newness of the business itself presents entrepreneurs with different things to think about. Thus, it is always better to have a mentor who will help you  figure things out. For example, every country has its own set of rules and regulations that any business has to abide by. A mentor who has experience with business law can help you understand and navigate your way through legal procedures. There are many other areas of that sort that you’ll need help with. Mentorship—provided by experienced industrial players, as opposed to academicians—can especially be helpful as it can show you how to start a business, give it a legal identity and set yourself up in a specific industry.

 

Current crop of IT students and industry expectations

Even in practical subjects like computer science and IT, most students just stick to the theory portion, and only study to pass their exams. While such an approach helps the students get a degree, it doesn’t really prepare them for the job market. And although management studies teach that employers should be patient with their fresh employees and should train them, companies, in reality,don’t have the time to do so. If the company finds a better employee for the same job,  firing the ineffective fresher is their only alternative. Startups and companies need people with skills to get their jobs done.

 

Meeting the needs of the market

Although many tech startups tend to focus on developing technologically advanced programs, applications and solutions, they are not able to sell their products because there is a gap between their products and the market’s needs. For instance, while working at Mercantile as a novice software developer,I was asked to develop a loan-management software for banks. However, I didn’t know how banks managed loans back then. After looking at my work, my mentor advised me to  first learn what the industry was looking for. Today, I believe that this applies to every IT personnel thinking of creating such applications or products for the market. Creating an advanced software is not as important as making a product that caters to the specific needs of the industry and trying to fulfill it.

 

Basics of growth management

When startups grow, they need more people working for them. By the time D2 Hawkeye was acquired by ISO of Verisk Analytics, it had 350 employees. I believe the key to that growth was our attempts to do things right.We faced difficulties and challenges like every other company in Nepal, but because we were working for customers in the US who demanded quality work, we learned to churn out quality work. The more work we got, the more we needed to hire new people. That’s how the company grew. Here are a few things I can tell you about managing growth:

Trust and delegate: Trusting your staff and delegating tasks is another key to growth. You can demonstrate trust by letting your employees take decisions. One of the mistakes made by newbie entrepreneurs is that they think they should be taking all the major decisions. But that impedes growth.

 

Know your domain and area of expertise

There are many ways a startup can grow. You can either try serving more customers with the same product, acquire other products within your area of expertise or think about a whole new product itself. But to grow, you need to look at both the market’s opportunities and your own domain, expertise and resources. The problems with many startups as they grow is that they tend to notice opportunities and just expand without taking into account their domain of expertise. It all boils down to what is within your capacity and how soon can you develop products to serve the existing market.

 

The startup environment for entrepreneurs in Kathmandu

I believe the environment in Kathmandu is great for startups and aspiring entrepreneurs. A basic infrastructure setup is already in place, people today have an increased spending capacity and are more connected—who would have thought the internet would be so inexpensive and Kath-mandu would be loadshedding-free? These indicators speak of the vast opportunities for entrepreneurs to work on their idea and build solutions. Especially for people in the tech sector, there is no limit as to how much you can do. If you think about it, setting up an office during times of loadshedding would cost at least 20 per cent more than it does now because of electricity costs. Kathmandu has never been a better place to start something new than now.

 

Things that need to change

Most entrepreneurs here have no appreciation for intellectual capital. For example, the ownership of a company is divided among partners in accordance with the moneyt hey put in. Oftentimes, one partner is more passionate and hardworking than the other.But because both of them put in the same amount of money, the ownership is 50-50. If we could appreciate things like sweat equity or the value of an idea, entrepreneurs would be more encouraged to continue working at startup. Another problem is that we don’t have enough venture capitalists yet. But things are starting to improve.

 

Suggestions for aspirants

Many entrepreneurs are stuck with trying to  find something entirely new. We live in a connected world and everything that we can come up with has already been done some-where, by someone. So instead of looking for a unique idea, you can simply learn from what the world is doing.

*First Published by the author in M&S VMAG 

Comments

  • Guest
    Anish Sah Friday, 31 March 2017

    Great post! Thanks for sharing

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