Start-ups face economic challenges but riches await those who excel

- KRISHANA PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Feb 11, 2019-

As more youths embrace their entrepreneurial spirit in the country, they soon encounter an unavoidable obstacle that all budding businesses have to overcome, the issue of managing finances.

Many start-ups begin their journey with lofty goals and hopeful dreams. But soon enough, the bills start to pile up and with not enough income flowing into the company, they are forced to abandon ship and give up.

But amid the failure, there will be a handful of companies that make it through this period.

Some of these include Metrotarkari.com, Urban Girl, Foodmario and Khalti.

For Anil Basnet, founder and CEO at Metrotarkari.com, he recounts how he started his venture with just Rs20,000 and a computer. “In the beginning, I worked on the website by myself for a few months, putting in long hours. But even then it was not enough and I had to ask my friends to loan me some money,” said Basnet. Over time, he managed to earn a profit from the business and promptly reinvested it into the company.

Metrotarkari.com ultimately received investment from Movers and Shakers.

Another start-up, Urban Girl, opened for business back in 2012 with just Rs20,000 which was used to pay for the company registration and other small expenses for the shop. According to Kiran Timsina, co-founder of Urban Girl, he started the business with his pocket money and has been scaling up the business with the profits.

Rohit Tiwari, founder at Foodmario said that before starting Foodmario, he worked at other start-ups which subsequently went bust. “One major problem that start-ups face is to earn enough to cover operational costs,” said Tiwari. Foodmario initially started as a Facebook group.

Amit Agrawal, founder and director of Khalti said that it was obvious that start-ups generally do not have enough money. “When we started Sparrow SMS back in 2010, we just started with a laptop and a small savings amount. Gradually, the money generated from our company was reinvested,” said Agrawal. He remembers the initial days of the company, where the founding members only took home enough salary to cover their bare necessities. “I could have easily earned Rs50,000 by working a regular job with my engineering background. But the dream of starting my own business led me towards this path,” said Agrawal.

A prominent entrepreneur who declined to be named, said that the government should do more to develop the eco-system of start-ups. The government should follow what India is doing and be flexible in adopting innovative ideas. India provides a tax waiver of five-years for start-ups and even provides working space with basic facilities at subsidised rates.

On the other hand, the government in Nepal is clueless about such things and even goes after start-ups if their business model threatens established players, threatening legal action against the start-ups.

Despite the government’s shortcomings, more angel investors and venture capital firms have started funding start-ups.

Udhyami Innovations recently announced the Rs50 million Udhyami Seed Fund to invest in early-stage start-ups. It is the first of its kind mentor’s fund, said the company. “We run the seed camp so that our mentors not only help sharpen the start-ups’ ideas but also get to know them,”  said Sharad KC, coordinator, business and partnership at Udhyami Innovation, adding, as the mentors are investors, the seed camp helps them to make an informed decision regarding the investment.  

Udhyami Innovation is a platform aimed at helping start-ups kick off their business. Udhyami Innovation has been organising Udhyami Seed Camp from 2016 under different business themes.

Published: 11-02-2019 12:44

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