20 Nov 2017
4 min read
Not everything that successful companies in the West have done can be replicated in Nepal. For example, there are many crowdsourcing resources that companies in the West have used to go big, but the same resources aren’t accessible in Nepal’s business ecosystem. That said, there are yet many lessons that Nepali innovators can learn from their Western counterparts. With the recent technological developments we’ve seen worldwide and the ubiquitousness of the internet, Nepali innovators too have quite a few resources at their disposal. Here, we list some of the most pertinent ones.
The one tool that innovators in the West have used and which Nepalis too can use with equal efficacy is social media marketing. There are numerous businesses in Nepal—like Paila Shoes, Tootle, Bhav Products, Aamu, and Dulla Shoes, among many others—that have gained a considerably large social-media following owing to the social-media marketing strategies they have employed. Their methods have proved to be so successful that even major established brands have followed suit and have hired social-media managers.
Compared to traditional means of marketing (newspaper advertisements, television advertisements, and so on), social-media marketing allows business to achieve much more at just a fraction of the cost. With the digital marketing tools offered by Facebook and Instagram, it’s possible to promote your product among as many viewers as you wish, and you can even use targeted ads so that only potential buyers come across your product. All this comes for a nominal fee, but it’s possible to get considerable reach even without spending a penny. One company that has built a solid social-media following using sheer effort is Bhav Products. Because the stationery brand is all about creativity and self-expression, Bhav encourages its customers to customise their stationery and send snaps of their customisations to Bhav so that they can be shared on Bhav’s Instagram account. This encourages people to not just buy a Bhav product, but even take the time to customise it so that it can appear on Bhav’s official Instagram. And because using Facebook or Instagram’s premium marketing tools aren’t exactly easy to pay for (as the payments are made in dollars), a strategy like or similar to Bhav’s is perfect for Nepali innovators. If you are a new startup in Nepal, you would do well to learn from Bhav’s strategies.
Another promising mechanism at the disposal of the modern innovator is crowdfunding. Simply put, crowdfunding is the process of raising funds for a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people. It helps innovators fund their projects with minimal risk. By spreading the investment capital across a large populace, you can dilute individual risk to investors. Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter have helped materialise many ideas in the West, but the same can’t quite be replicated here. That’s simply because most crowdfunders on global crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter have nothing to gain by funding an idea that will make an impact only within Nepal’s boundaries. However, if you’re an exporter and are trying to bring to life a product that will ultimately be of use in the West, you’re more likely to get funding. Take for instance GoBout, a company started by a Nepali based in Boston, that used crowdfunding to such success that it raised multiple times the required capital. Karkhana Nepal, a makerspace in Kathmandu, also successfully used crowdfunding to raise much of its initial capital. But the examples provided are exceptions rather than the rule. As things stand now, Nepali innovators getting funding on websites like Kickstarter is a long shot. That said, Nepali innovators with winning ideas can make use of social-media platforms like Facebook to reach out to potential local investors. What’s more, because global crowdfunding platforms don’t do much for Nepali innovators, the current market gap here may even be used as an opportunity by someone to start a Nepal-centred crowdfunding platform.
Crowdfunding is technically a sub-category of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is essentially about many heads trying to solve one problem. Whether you want a company logo, a winning product design, a software platform or a mobile application, crowdsourcing can be your go-to option. Butta, a sister company of Threadpaints, is employing crowdsourcing tactics to get designs from thousands of people. Through the ‘Be an Artist’ section on Butta’s website, people can email their designs to Butta, and the incentive for the people here is obvious (your design will be printed on Butta T-shirts). By doing so, Butta is seriously reducing the amount of time and resources it takes to come up with T-shirt designs. Food Mario, a company serving home-cooked food to office-goers, could be said to be similarly using crowdsourcing when they ask housewives to cook. A lot of Nepali companies looking for ways to design their products or operate in a more lean and cost-effective way could benefit from crowdsourcing.
3D printing and other high-tech tools
3D printing has proven to be a technological blessing for innovators the world over. There are numerous 3D-printing services available in Nepal too, and some organisations, like Karkhana, even let you use their 3D printers for a fee. A 3D printer gives you considerable advantages, as you can prototype at very low costs and work with as many prototypes as you want, without burning a hole through your pockets. Additionally, Nepalis are also making use of high-tech machinery such as CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines to manufacture exceedingly well-designed, well-crafted products. Kala Kathmandu, a company that produces sleek, minimalistic, affordable decor items, have made use of their CNC machine to manufacture products that are at par with those made by the best decor items’ producers out there. Nepali innovators too can bring in high-tech machinery to help up their game.
With such modern innovation tools available to most people in Nepal, it’s gotten easier and less riskier than ever to start a business. If you are an entrepreneur, all you need today is a winning idea that you can bring to life by using today’s innovation tools.