The Business Cushion: From Dubai dreams to home-grown success
BIRATNAGAR: “Certificates are mere formalities. And with a ruthless determination in your blood you’ll make it to the greener side, sooner than others,” Shreeyans Jain and Manish Bhagat, rising textile entrepreneurs of Biratnagar say.
However, as they now sail to achieve an affluent status in the industrial hub of Nepal, they are wise enough to acknowledge that they have had a humble beginning.
The two childhood friends who grew up in the buzzing trade hub in the metropolis have, nevertheless, already made it to the side where aspiring entrepreneurs struggle years to reach.
Thanks to their perseverance and a connection of toil, sweat and kinship with their venture.
Make it or Break it:
Like youths trying to crack the great philosophical question: “How do we get somewhere in life?”, both Bhagat and Jain were struggling hard to get a foot in fast moving world of trade. High on ambitions but low on business ideas, the two friends, realised at the same time that they have had enough.
“We were trying to make ends meet and initially, like many of our friends, we also looked beyond Nepal’s borders," Bhagat remembers. “We were at a roadside tea shop screening options for foreign employment. Dubai, Qatar and Malaysia were preferred job destinations.”
However, they decided to exhaust their options first before seeking foreign work visas and permits.
After introspecting over few weeks, Jain, who before hitting that silver-lining idea, acknowledged the resources in hand, most importantly - prior experience in garment deals and social connections in the clothing business. Similarly, Bhagat was also pondering on the list of products they could roll out in the market.
And when the idea of a fibre-textile factory producing low cost pillows and cushions hit them, dreams kicked-off at home ground.
Life has its Ways: from Salesmen to Merchants
“We did it all. By all we mean from hauling raw materials, wiping machines to carrying samples in 40-degree-heat, just to gain little to produce more,” Bhagat says, “we rode in the relentless heat and dusty roads carrying sample cushions and pillows, hoping to make at least a small sum to keep our factory (a small room with two machines) rolling.”
It was long before the duo realised any profit. But be it stairs or mountains, they have steps and climbing up is always an arduous task. With a frustrating year and few more in the past, the business buddies faced skepticism from friends and family. But as Jain says, “Lack of moral support is one of the reasons why many youths don’t dare to proceed to turn ideas into viable businesses. We expected criticism but had other big problems to deal with.”
The duo decided to persevere more, and hunger and rest came second to selling goods they made.
But all they could sell were five-ten cushions worth days' clerical work until they hit rock bottom. Mounting expenses, continuous skepticism, payment delays loomed upon their venture. But they pretended to swim through all the troubles until the market opened its arms.
After few months of inactivity, pillows and cushions were now “in demand” as wholesalers sought more. “Now was the time, we knew that if we could supply on time we would get where we wanted to. Days and nights blurred as we had two machines to produce and a mountain to supply,” Bhagat recalls. “We still remember the days when we slept for two or four hours to meet deadlines.”
Moreover, they managed to make timely payments to their suppliers to ensure regular flow of raw materials and also kept a tight leash on wholesalers who owed them. And, they always have had eyes at local competitors.
“If payment reaches us on time, then our products should be delivered on time,” Jain opines. “A day’s delay means giving a day more to competitors to snatch your sales.”
As the duo started selling more, infrastructural needs grew -- more human capital, a small factory and more machines -- were now required to meet supply targets.
And at present, the duo have seven machines including a quilting machine that weaves a fiber blanket in less than ten minutes and a factory where 20 employees, majority of them female tailors, work.
In mere three years, Jain and Bhagat who bought their time with Rs 200,000 as individual investment, now run a business that is valued over Rs 10 million excluding goodwill. At present, the factory rolls out large quantities of pillows and cushions in four brands. And, the duo now has expanded their product line with much-in demand, fibre blankets.
“If you want to get somewhere, get selling,” Jain advises, “there will be months when you can’t off load a single piece and days when you are overwhelmed by the orders. Nonetheless, get selling every day.”
“And if you get selling, it won’t be long until Dubai turns into a sabbatical destination,” Bhagat adds a satisfied smile.