Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Experiences with Truth : Part 1

After working for more than 3 years in India in the field of VLSI, I returned to Nepal with high hopes of starting something big. Its not that I had expected my entrepreneurial trip to be a smooth ride, but there were many aspects of the trip that I had never considered, which in fact haunted me during the ride. The journey is on hold at the moment.

My experiences with Truth is my findings and learning on this journey.

When I returned to Nepal, I had two paths to walk onto. I could either start something on the internet, like the e-commerce sites or something to do with industrial automation (using robotics) / peripheral electronics products (like printers, scanners, etc).

Both the paths had their share of goodies and baddies. Doing something on the internet meant I would be stepping into a new territory, but if you view from the investment side, it wasn't going to need a lot of investment. If you look at the electronics product manufacturing venture, it would require lots of investment and more importantly - skilled manpower. But on the flip-side, it would mean that I would be doing something that I have always loved.

And what did I choose? The easy path (at least at the beginning), i.e. building an e-commerce site.

Myself and a friend had this wonderful concept of an internet mall, giving spaces to brick-and-mortar shops and let them sell their stuff in the internet. The idea was a rocking one, because it would save the shops from the cost and unnecessary pain of developing individual website and maintaining it. We would charge a simple premium for it.

We started the project with myself looking at the technical and operational aspects and my friend looking at the marketing aspect. I took the open source e-commerce platform " opencart " and customized it to my needs. The basic site was done in 15 days. Then came the long testing and modifying phase. This was a very painful phase, because every now and then the site used to have problem, and it really sucks to solve it without proper web-site building experience. Anyways, I finished the site after a month and then the marketing started.

We had lots of issues during the marketing phase. Most of it was due to the unknown market we were targeting. The site was one of its kind in Nepal, so it was not really tested before. All we did was thought of the idea to be amazing and started to work on it. And new things are really resisted by the conventional market. Changes are always difficult.

After a month, we still had no customers. The shops who had previously shown interest had already built their own e-commerce sites. And some were just not convinced of the benefits of e-presence.

Three months into the project, our patience was running out. This is where the learning comes. When you starting a venture, you will have a very turbulent time, with lots of ups and downs. If you don't love what you are doing, then this is the time, most business commit suicide. The entrepreneurs just can't take the blow, because at one end they are not getting revenues and at the other end they are not loving what they are doing.

This is the learning of Part 1 of my journey. If you are to do something new, always do it in the field you know and you love, because there will be tides in your way, and only your love towards what you are doing will give you the courage to be patient and sail through the bad time.

Remember, always do what you love (of course it needs to be profitable on the long run).

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