“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery”– Samuel Smiles
NepalMaBaneko.com was an online e-commerce platform. It was initially launched as a Facebook page in 2017 with the goal of promoting and selling products “Made in Nepal” to Nepali consumers. The idea was to contribute to the strengthening of domestic production and reducing the trade deficit. It listed daily use products – like toothpaste, soaps, shoes, chocolates, ornaments, notebooks etc. that were made in Nepal. Launched with the collective effort of 7 enthusiastic and passionate youths with an initial capital of around NRs 100,000/-, it was aiming to become that sole platform for “Made in Nepal” products.
Conceptualization: Transforming a cause into a business venture
“The idea came up way back in 2013/14. It was in a time where online e-commerce platforms were relatively a new concept in Nepal. The idea sprung in a random conversation in our group of youth activists, on how Nepali people are compelled to use foreign products while Nepal made products were struggling to have a market presence. ,” says Pratik Shrestha, one of the founding members.
To understand the scenario better, the group first decided to practice using Nepali products themselves. They were amazed that they could do away with almost every daily life products because there were ‘Made In Nepal’ products available if people really wanted to use them. They realized that the foreign products were better promoted because they invested heavily in advertising and market promotion which Nepal made products were unable to. To understand more, they conducted market research through online surveys and field-work. Ultimately, they concluded that their efforts could be turned into a venture, and thus seven of them formed NepalMaBaneko.com.
Initially, the traction was good and there was a lot of interest from the consumers, but within a year of operations, it had to be shut down.
What went wrong?
Looking back, Pratik Shrestha feels it was not just a single reason but a combination of multiple factors that killed this initiative. To start with, the founding team members came from a similar background of youth activism without extensive knowledge about entrepreneurship. They were more focused on the cause itself than the business fundamentals.
Another factor that the team feels responsible for the failure of their venture is the lack of adequate research on the market potential. While they conducted research to some extent, Pratik feels it was inadequate because the sample size they chose was relatively small and did not represent the larger demographics of the market.
Another reason, which Pratik feels, led to the shut down was lack of full-time commitment from all the co-founders. Each one of them had their own commitments besides the venture they had started and lack of clarity of roles further led to confusion among themselves and this delaying the decision making process.
Pratik is still hopeful that they may revive the venture but it would be something new and will definitely gain from all the learnings from their previous venture.
Failure of NepalMaBaneko.com: A better teacher than success
The world of entrepreneurship today has been glorified, but all that shines isn’t gold. There are stories where entrepreneurs have failed, but those stories, even though are in more quantities in the society, aren’t shared as much. The Nepali society has a similar trend of glorifying successes and forgetting about the failures. But, failure is a better teacher than success and is to be taken as a part of the process and not the end. Those who succeed, do not do it in one shot.
All of us have faced some failure and it is more about our attitude towards failure that matters than the failure itself. Great people have failed in their life. You take any name, be it Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk, they have their own failure stories. But the highlight of their failure is how they have bounced back from the failures and used the learnings from those failures to achieve even more success.
In the end, it is all about perseverance and also knowing to make the right decision at the right time. Society, especially ours, often tends to overlook the failures and glorify success in such a way that a successful person has never failed and never will but the truth is otherwise. It is high time that we discuss failures and entrepreneurs need to talk about their failures even more. Also, all aspiring entrepreneurs should understand that failure is a part of the process. An idea may fail or a venture may fail but for the entrepreneur, it is not the end of the journey.
Overthinking: The biggest SIN of Entrepreneurship
“Don’t overthink. It is a really unpopular opinion, but overthinking ruins it. If you have an idea that you think you can transform into a venture, then don’t ruin it by going through too much thinking” says Pratik Shrestha to all the aspiring entrepreneurs.
According to him, while the go-to formula is to evaluate and study all the nuances of entrepreneurship before getting into it, too much overthinking makes even the most feasible, innovative ideas look impractical. Knowing when to stop thinking and start building is the key.
In the end:
Not all entrepreneurship are success stories. Though today the world makes it seem that entrepreneurship is a journey that will end in success. There is no guarantee of ‘ultimate success’. Entrepreneurship is an uncertain journey, full of risks throughout the way. Success is only the tip of the iceberg and failure helps to build a solid foundation for that tip. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail. Learn from it and adapt accordingly.
Fail Fast, Fail Often