At 18, I started ‘Butwal Uniform House’ without registering it, right after the high school year, 2062 BS.
Born in Chhapia, Rupandehi, Dhurba KC is the perfect example of what you call a self-made entrepreneur.
Started from complete zero at 18 and now at the age of 29 he owns three factories of two industries, worth of around 55 Million. Spending his childhood as a typical Nepali village child, he left village at the age of 8 and came to Butwal for further studies. Here, we present you the talk with him on his journey.
What gave you the idea to start this venture? How did you start this off?
I had no idea of what I wanted to do in life as for in school years. While my colleagues spoke of being a doctor or an engineer, I’d speak of being a business just so. After I completed my high school, a relative of mine suggested me not to take job under anyone but to be an entrepreneur. Another uncle of mine who stayed in Kathmandu gave me this idea of marketing his imported school logos pasted in uniform shirt pockets. I liked the idea and I started this off with a brother.
At 18, I started ‘Butwal Uniform House’ without registering it, right after the high school year, 2062 BS. I used to roam to at least two schools a day showing samples of logos and all around in micro bus, saving up my money for lunch or lending it from hither and tither. I found 2 schools for the starting, where per logo, I got a saving up to 8 rupees and in a school, total of 500 to 1000 logos were sold. Which made profit of Rs. 2500-3500 which took months to come. Designing the logo, not meeting the exact specifications, meeting again, finalizing after 3/4 meet-ups, sending the design to Kathmandu which was sent to Delhi, receiving samples from Delhi, pointing out the specifications again and finally receiving it; I worked a lot for a year. This is how I dived into the business.
How did you expand your business then?
I started logo trend in Butwal. Then I moved on to college tie. I got to make tie of New Horizon College first, for it happened it to the college I studied. There were around 12 colleges in Butwal, where 3-4 colleges believed in me and I made a profit of around 20 to 30 thousand.
I bought motorcycle first after I started earning little bit. Bike helped me a lot in marketing. It was truly an investment. Slowly and steadily, I made a brand of Logo and Tie in Butwal. Then I went in to various parts of uniforms of ‘House Dress’ which happened to be casual dresses of red, yellow, green and blue colored t-shirts and track suits. Then I opened up a factory in my village itself, after which I believe my business took off. I started importing logos and tie belt from India, and I got hold of an import agent here in Butwal. I made all my products including tie belt all in butwal, whose raw materials were imported from India.
During my masters, I joined Rotaract club, where many Rotarians were happened to be the founder and principals of different schools and colleges. Knowing them in a personal level and having a link with them helped my business foster. I got in connection to 2/3 finest schools of Butwal, which helped me get hold of 10/15 schools. Now I have connections with 600 schools in Butwal at minimum which gets tie and belts from me. Dresses however are taken by about 110 schools and 50-60 institutions and clubs. I manufacture them here in Butwal itself.
I also started in KC Industries with another uncle of mine 3 years back, which is a GI pipe industry, manufacturing pipes for underground boring to household purposes. We manufacture 164 regular items and other according to orders. We haven’t been able to reach the demands due to lack of space and different petite problems.
What were and are the major challenges you faced/face in this business?
The major problem is importing. We cannot produce the items here in Nepal. I myself tried to make buckle of belt here itself. It needed 24 different stages and was harsh to make. And if even one component was missing, the production stopped. Then came the vital part of costing, which happened to be rs.5 more than that imported from India, which is a huge cost in mass production. With various problems, getting the components for production seemed a good idea rather than producing them here itself.
But again, when it comes to this business, we cannot stack up the items and the import doesn’t happen in time. It’s always late.
Another problem most of the Nepalese entrepreneurs face is the problem of credits. We trust institutions in credit. Then, the problem of ‘no fund’ ‘no principal’ and all happens. The credit clearance reaches more than six month, and is a daunting task in schools and institutions of Nepal.
Have you ever reached the point where you thought you couldn’t continue and need to turn back?
In the time of establishing factory in Butwal, I had financial crisis. I had no way to gather money where no banks trusted me, and I gathered it from my relatives and friends. That time around, for around 10 days, I was really down where I couldn’t figure out how would I do it and finish this. I even thought of bringing from Kathmandu. But I didn’t turn back and took myself up.
What is your say to all those who are making one or the other excuse for not doing what they want?
If I speak in short, nothing is impossible. Finance is a part, and your aim is everything. I too started from zero and now ‘Butwal Uniform House’ has valuation of around 3 million rupees and ‘KC Industries’ has a valuation of nearly 2.5 millions. You need to put on continual effort in order to taste the success. However small might the work you are doing, if there’s no continuity, it’ll doom to failure. You get big slowly and steadily, day by day; not overnight.
I’d like to give an example herein. In village a barber had rented a room in my home. He always opened up in Saturdays and the days he wished for other days of weeks. I was frustrated for I couldn’t trim my hair unless it was Saturday or my luck favored me. I shouted at him once asking him either to leave the shutter or open it every day of the week. He replied of customers not coming on usual days and doing household chores rather than idly sitting in the shop. I tried to convince him of that shop being his business and all people not coming to him at a single time. I spoke of winning the trust of people and letting them know of the shop being open every day. If they see the shop closed many days, they’ll definitely not check your shop being open or closed and go to some other shops. Uncertainty isn’t a good idea. I spoke to him about it nearly 10 times. Then he opened the shop daily and himself confessed of 10-15 customers coming each day.
Do you think entrepreneurship and studies go along?
First of all, I learnt that the misconception of studies and entrepreneurship not going together is wrong. They can be easily managed with efficient time management. You can always study well, and run your business meritoriously. Where there is will, there is the way. Business does not hamper studies. I have joined Masters in Economics after finishing Masters in Finance.
How do you think your studies have helped your business?
It helps a lot more than we think it does. Even while talking, if a person is aware of your academic qualification, the behavior is different. If the second person knows you are just a high school graduate, the way he responds you is never better than the way he responds to a person with higher academic qualifications. It builds your personality. The way clients treated high school passed Dhurba KC and the way they treat me now is completely different. Applying the principles in business is of course a huge benefit.
What do you think is the One thing that helped you if you have to pick?
If I have to speak of only a thing that helped me start off, it’s the background of my uncle. Huge number of people know my uncle here in Butwal which helped me to get the materials and all even in credits at times just because of his name. His trust in me and my work helped a lot.
What is the biggest regret of your life if you have any?
Well, I am a positive person. I am merry all day long and whenever any problems hit me up, I remind myself of problems being part of life; console myself of solution hanging around somewhere near me. So yeah, I can say I have no regrets in my life.
What do you suggest to your 18 year old self?
Be serious, dedicated and put on continual effort.