We just completed the first phase of our Fuccess series of foreign entrepreneurs working here in Nepal few months back. Here now, we start the phase two of foreign fuccess stories, where we are not only into the foo entrepreneurship, but into wide spectrum. Following is an online interview conducted with the founder of Portal Bikes- Caleb Spear, an US citizen, working here in Nepal for a revolutionary bicycles or bikes: Portal Bikes. The bikes are lightweight and handy, and most of all- applicable. You’ll find more of it on their site (http://www.portalbikes.org/)
The story here is in the firsthand answering of the founder himself.
1. Is there any story behind the name “Portal Bikes”?
We believe that freedom is the ultimate goal of human development. We also believe that a bicycle can play a significant role in setting people free. The name “Portal” comes from our desire to see people set free… to see them pass from one state of being into another state… from poverty to prosperity. We like to think that we are creating a “portal" through which people can travel on their journey toward freedom.
2. What provoked the thought of opening up portal bikes?
Portal is a response to the things that have deeply influenced me in this life. I have studied development, started companies as an entrepreneur, and been deeply moved by the effects of poverty in the developing world. Portal is an attempt to re- frame development in terms of entrepreneurial empowerment. We believe that empowered individuals have the capacity to create pathways out of poverty that will change the world.
3. Any opportunity to work with you and your team?
We are always looking for talented individuals to join our team. If anyone is interested, please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
4. What was the process like, how did you manage to land funding or is it
collectively funded by the team?
Prior to starting Portal, I was the managing director at a commercial composting company in the USA. The liquidation of that company laid the groundwork for what we are now doing in Nepal.
5. What was your motive behind journey to Nepal? Any particular reason you
As I mentioned before, I have been deeply influenced by development, the entrepreneurial spirit, and poverty. I am not content to remain part of a system driven by materialism and consumption. Rather, I am determined to spend my years on this earth working toward a more just and equitable world. When people are compelled to sell their children because of financial insecurity, the world needs to take notice. Unfortunately, most of the developed world rather enjoys the comforts granted them in a system that exploits the poor. I have a deep desire to make a difference for those living at the margins of this system; to empower them to live safe, full, and free lives.
6) What were the challenges of opening up portal bikes as well as challenges for
running it currently?
In our experience, global supply chains are designed to supply expensive, quality goods to the wealthy, and low cost, low quality “junk" to the poor. Building a bicycle of good quality for an affordable price has proved to be incredibly difficult. This has been our biggest challenge, but we think we have nearly figured it out. Other challenges include keeping pace with changing Nepali regulations and a shortage of skilled labor.
7) The working mechanism behind portal bikes – how do customers get their bikes,
the price (if can be disclosed), can we have it on rentals?
Portal sells bicycles to individuals, businesses, NGO’s, and INGO’s. Retail sales are done primarily through our location in Jhamsikel. We are committed to the success of our customers. We work with individual entrepreneurs to help them refine their business ideas, we work with larger businesses to increase efficiency and maximize profit, and we work with NGO’s and INGO’s to help them provide services more effectively. The base Portal Cargo bike costs 32,500 NPR, and it is not currently available on rent.
8) What does success mean to you? What do you think are the key ingredients for
Success is leaving this world a better place than I found it. I’m not sure this is possible, but I am determined to make a positive difference while I am here and to inspire others to do the same. I’m still walking this journey and making plenty of mistakes along the way. I think a key ingredient for success is developing an ability to see beyond yourself, and to recognize that we are all living together in an interconnected and interdependent system. The game is not zero-sum and we have incredible power to change the playing field into one that is more just and
equitable for generations to come.