Highlights from the Panel of Udhyami101 Tech Edition

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Highlights from the Panel of Udhyami101 Tech Edition

 

Moderator

Bibhusan Bista is the CEO and co-founder of YoungInnovations, a software development firm based in Nepal. With a background in technology, research and international development, he has led successful projects around open data, transparency, accountability, and other development issues in collaboration with local and international partners.

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Panelists

Ajay Shrestha holds a Master Degree in Management with a specialization in Finance, from Kathmandu University. He is currently the Founder and CMD at iCapital. With an experience in national and international financial markets, his core expertise lies in venture development and stock market. He has founded SB Textiles, Growthmax Investment, Source Code, Kaffeine, and Altura International. He is also Director at True North Associates, Program Director at Enterprise-Nepal Business Accelerator Program, and Vice President at Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs Forum.  

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Mr. Shailendra Raj Giri is the Managing Director of MeroJob.com, Nepal's number one job site for white collar jobs, and rojgari.com, a unique job portal for blue collar jobs. He has amassed more than a decade of experience as a Human Resource Consultant working with a leading human resource consulting firm, Real Solutions. He is a founder member of Human Resource Network of Nepal. He is an active participant and moderator of HR Kurakani – HR learning platform. He is an NLP Coach certified by NLP Master Coach Jack Makani, Cyprus.He was also recognized as ‘Global Entrepreneur 2012’ by Sambriddhi-The Prosperity Foundation.

Sameer Mani Dixit, PhD, is a research scientist who has been working in Public Health for almost a decade, and basic/applied science. He is currently a visiting faculty in School of Biotechnology and Life Sciences at South Asian University, India. He has worked as a national consultant in multiple projects in the area of communicable diseases in developing countries. He has published a reference text-book and has authored peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. His work has allowed him to help CMDN and its affiliates develop working relationships with organizations in India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh. 

Entrepreneurship is easily one of the most demanding professions out there. Most people consider entrepreneurship a solution to their taxing job, but is entrepreneurship really for everyone?

Shailendra Raj Giri: A lot of people want to start a business, but not everyone has what it takes to run one. We have to face indecision, insecurity, and we have to accept a life without the assurance of a stable paycheck. People who jump at the chance of becoming an entrepreneur haven’t understood that there are real challenges and risks out there that they need to consider. And I don’t think everyone is cut out for it.

 

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Sameer Mani Dixit: I think everyone has the capacity to be an entrepreneur, but not everyone has the drive and passion that go with it. To truly succeed, it is imperative that the person have both these qualities. Business is no joke. To be an entrepreneur, you need passion to start a new project, and you also need the drive to continue with the project.

Ajay Shrestha: It’s a subjective question you’ve asked, but I also think that being an entrepreneur is not for everybody. To be honest, entrepreneurship is much more than a profession, it is a choice. Most professionals make more money than entrepreneurs. So, if you’re looking for financial stability right from day one, entrepreneurship is not for you. If you’re not patient, entrepreneurship is not for you. There have been times in my life when I have worked 3/4 months with no breaks. One day I stopped to think and that is when I realised it had been three years since I had watched a movie. If you can’t go all in like this, I recommend you not to start a business.


Question to Ajay Shrestha: You manage portfolios, you’ve been running accelerators, you know an entrepreneur when you see one. So do you sometimes see your employees being an entrepreneur?  If yes, when does that happen?
Ajay Shrestha: For anyone inclined towards business, running your own company one day is the ultimate dream. That is why I always tell my employees that one day they will run a company of their own. Each one of my employees is going to go somewhere else when they find a better opportunity. That is why my outlook is that everyone who is working with me should grow when they are with me. I’m always honest about the challenges they might face-- no sugarcoating. Why I choose to do this is because, once they understand that there are real obstacles out there, they start taking measures to overcome it. I see them becoming more open to risks and competition, a characteristic everyone knows to be distinctive in entrepreneurs.

 

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Being in the entrepreneurial and business ecosystem, when we’re not talking about what’s new. a lot of the time we tend to talk about investment. My question to the panel is whether based on investment always necessary in a business based on your experience? If yes, then at what point should you be going after investments.
Sameer Mani Dixit: For my company, investment was necessary from day one; in fact, we went through a particularly difficult time trying to secure investments. We needed at least one crore and that was ten years ago. See, in our field, there is no such things as starting slow. Even the simplest of equipment cost five lakhs to ten lakhs. You can’t buy a single equipment and hope to buy more once you make a profit. That is why it was absolutely crucial for us to secure that investment in the first days itself.

 

Shailendra Raj Giri: When I started my business, I was hoping to start with zero money and eventually earn lots of money. I tried this tactic for almost eight years before I realised to make money, you need money. I was facing stagnant growth for almost eight years. It took me too long to realise that the reason my business wasn’t evolving was because I wasn’t seeking out investments. But, see, I started my career as a salesman, so it was easy for me to convince people to invest in my business. So, my answer to your question is yes. Virtually every business needs investments, but in order to realise when you need to go after investments, you need to understand your business itself. If your business is not growing, you need to change something. Maybe that change is an investment.

 

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Ajay, you have had the first-hand experience in running many business accelerators, incubators, boot-camps, and such. What is value entrepreneurs can get by participating in such platforms?
Ajay Shrestha: Just your idea and business doing well is not enough-- you need connections. Especially in this day and age, and especially in Nepal where you can’t go beyond a certain point without help from networks and connections. So seed programs, business accelerators and the likes are important because these are the platforms where you are most likely to meet those connections. See, the concept and culture of mentorship in Nepal is just evolving. Everyone needs a mentor. Mentors can tell you things in five minutes that might take you five years to realise. Even I have a mentor-- a national mentor and an international mentor. I, myself have been witness to struggling companies who’ve done so much better after participating in accelerators and boot camps.



We are not in Silicon Valley, we are not in Korea. There is a clear lack of skilled manpower in Nepal. How do you overcome this problem and get together the ideal team to start a venture?
Sameer Mani Dixit: We have five of us in our company and we’ve been together since the very start. Everyone has a unique skillset and everyone brings something to the table. I am a scientist, three of my colleagues have a business background and one even has a sociology and anthropology background. We have people from different sectors feeding in, which allows us to look at one single problem from different perspectives. At the time we started, Biotech wasn’t a very lucrative business, but with the right team of people, we were able to fill the market gap and make money out of it. So, to form the ideal band of brothers, get together with like-minded people. They don’t necessarily have to be your friends, but make sure you all share the same vision and have the same aspirations. Get together people from different backgrounds who will help you to fulfill your business dreams.

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