You need patience to become an entrepreneur
- strictly business
Sep 10, 2018-
Amshu Dali’s first job was as a barista at her school café while pursuing her bachelors’ degree in the US. Upon graduating, she moved back to Kathmandu and started working for TBWA/Benchmark Nepal—an advertising agency, which has its headquarters in Bangladesh. After more than three years of working in advertising, Dali decided to take a break and in 2014, started her own small venture—Prakriti Breads in Bhaisipati, a unique bakery that is run solely by women. Now, Dali juggles being managing director for the confectionary with working as a project manager for TBWA. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Dali talks about Kathmandu’s baking business, operating an all-women company and balancing being a boss and an employee. Excerpts:
What prompted you to get into the baking business?
I am not exactly from a business background. I studied mass communication in university but after working in advertising for about three and a half years in Kathmandu, I needed a break and I wasn’t too sure as to what I wanted to do. Getting into the bakery business happened out of the blue. My mother told me about these trained bakers who were looking for something to do and suggested that I start a bakery. I was skeptical in the beginning but after meeting with the girls and seeing their enthusiasm, I thought it would be a lovely project, as they could influence other girls to do something and get somewhere.
You have mentioned in previous interviews that Prakriti Breads is an all-women company. Can you tell us how that came to be?
Yes, our bakery is run only by women. We started out with six girls—five bakers and I as managing director. These girls trained at a reputed bakery in Japan and wanted to open a bakery in Kathmandu but weren’t sure how and where to start. My mother, aunt and I helped them set up the business. They are from Kavre and a lot of girls there don’t have the opportunity to do something on their own, but these girls have been able to set an example for others in their town.
You have been managing director of Prakriti Breads for four years now. Given the number of confectioneries in the Valley, how do you manage to retain your customers and your quality?
Every bakery in the market will claim that they have great products and they will make the best offers to customers to retain them. As long as the competition doesn’t get to your head or harm others, it can definitely help you with product development. To be honest, it has been a daunting task to retain the quality of products but our goal is to provide our customers with the best tasting products of a certain excellence. We do get a few faulty ingredients from time to time and that can make the situation difficult for us. It isn’t exactly the supplier’s fault that they got a bad batch of flour or sugar, but as we have maintained good relationships with them even if we do receive a bad batch, they exchange it for us. Retaining customers depends completely on our service and products. They always appreciate good service and so far, we have been able to provide that.
Apart from being a managing director at Prakriti Breads, you are also a project manager at TBWA/Benchmark Nepal. How do you manage working simultaneously as a boss and an employee?
I quit my advertising job after three and half years to start my own bakery. After two years, the girls at the bakery were able to handle most of the work without me having to be there full time, so I re-joined TBWA and I have been working there for the past year and a half now. I become an employee at TBWA on weekdays and I wear my MD cap during the weekends. My boss and my co-workers are nice and as I studied advertising, I enjoy what I do. As for the bakery, I go there on alternate weekends to make sure everything is working out, but besides that, the girls have gotten better at handling the work pressure. I consider myself an amateur entrepreneur, so I am still learning. I think I have gotten the best of both worlds.
What marketing techniques have you come up with that has worked in your favour?
In the beginning, we visited different department stores, mini marts, colonies and restaurants for promotion and to see if they were interested in placing our products at their locations. This helped us put our name in the market. We couldn’t just rely on social media at that time. Since we are almost four years old now, we don’t do that as much, but we haven’t completely stopped either. Right now, most of our marketing is done on social media and that works quite well for us. We encourage people to take a picture with our product and post it online. One of the best ways to let people know about your brand is through word-of-mouth, especially in Kathmandu.
What are some qualities that an entrepreneur must possess?
Patience. A lot of patience. And I suppose you need to be a people person.
When starting your own business, what does one need to do to move forward and upscale?
It’s all about planning. When you first start a business, you need to know where you want to be in the next five years. You need to envision it and work towards it. Of course, you might not achieve that goal in the first or even second year, but you work hard enough to make sure you get close to it. You also need to realise that the market changes a lot and you need to work around it. It isn’t easy but when you achieve something, it’s very satisfying.
Published: 10-09-2018 08:21