Bikram Sambat, the first authentic denim brand of Nepal, which launched its clothing line one year back has brought the apparel industry of Nepal alive with more than 400 satisfied clients already. This fashion-startup which has been ventured upon by Mr. Shovit Raj Upadhaya is slowly increasing its market share in Nepal and has been able to create brand recognition for itself. Let’s look at what Mr. Upadhaya has to say about the growth of his company and the opportunities and challenges he has been facing as a start-up entrepreneur.
1. How did the idea of Bikram Sambat come to you?
After completing my higher education abroad, when I came back to Nepal, I went for some denim hunting. I am an avid lover of denim but sadly when I went to shop some for myself, I was completely shocked as the price of the jeans in local retail shops had increased two-fold compared to the prices I bought them for just two years back.
While the increase in prices must have been substantiated by good quality, what I witnessed was the exact opposite. Even though the prices had increased, the quality had really gone down. In the desire for good quality, I thought I would then turn to some high-end brands but turned out they were unaffordable for me at that time.
My love for denim and lack of it in Nepalese market intrigued me to conduct a research on denim brands in Nepal. I was shocked to find that Nepal didn’t even have a single denim brand. I always wanted to have my own venture, that too, in the apparel industry itself and this event just gave me the right direction I was looking for. I decided to venture into the denim industry and that is how Bikram Sambat came into being.
2. The name ‘Bikram Sambat’ is quite unique. How did you come upon this name?
The name keeping of my venture was a really long process. I initially, searched out all across the Internet to find a few potential names. Out of the 50 names that I initially selected, I liked only 4 of them.
Out of the 4 names selected, I had thought of the name ‘Alligator’ as it gave the rough and tough vibe that people associate with denim. However, the name didn’t have a Nepalese feel.
So, one day while socializing with my friends, I just put in the concern about name keeping of my venture when one of my friends suggested the name ‘Bikram Sambat’. Initially, I was quite skeptical about the name as I didn’t quite understand how the name of a calendar would resonate with an apparel brand.
A few moments later, I could sense the toughness the name portrayed which exactly is the quality of denim and also it provided the authentic Nepalese touch to the brand and that’s how Bikram Sambat became Bikram Sambat!
3. As we move ahead with startups like Bikram Sambat, do you think the existing market is attractive for products like denim as our retail shops are all flooded with international apparels?
The market is truly flooded with products like denim. However, the quality of such products isn’t necessarily consistent. Even if one goes shopping to only a few particular shops regularly, it turns out that the products people get during different occasions vary in quality as majority of the retailers focus on low costs rather than providing good quality products.
This has created a dire need for high-quality apparels. This need motivates me to work on our venture tirelessly where we take care of everything from top quality fabrics to things like stitching and sewing thus ensuring our clients get the best quality denim at affordable prices.
4. As a startup entrepreneur, what do you think about the startup ecosystem of Nepal?
It is good to see the increasing number of startups that are slowly building up in Nepal.
There is one suggestion to the Nepalese government regarding startups. The government should find a way out to inject investment in startups.
In the current situation, banks and financial institutions are hesitant providing loan to startups. Likewise, in case of a few startup incubators and venture capitalists that exist in Nepal, most of them look for strong startups that have been running for a minimum of 2 years with good turnovers.
However, not all start-ups begin strong and if the blooming startups look for investment, there should be a medium for them to find it. Only then, will entrepreneurial mindset in the country increase.
5. Would you like to share a few challenges Bikram Sambat has faced in its journey?
The major challenge for Bikram Sambat has been the production itself. The manufacturing in Nepal is very low. For production of denim, we have to import everything from the fabric to the sewing pin! Our imports result in higher manufacturing costs for us.
Not only that, the other major problem being faced by Bikram Sambat is lack of professionalism among the various stakeholders. Like, for instance, when we give the production responsibility to the producers, we cannot rest assured that the quality will be as expected by us. Furthermore, people don’t follow deadlines strictly and they keep on shifting dates as a result of which we have trouble maintaining our stock.
6. What is one motto that ‘Bikram Sambat’ lives by?
Bikram Sambat believes that Nepal should make a transition from ‘MadeinNepal’ to ‘MakeinNepal’. Right now, majority of the Nepalese brands have to import raw materials from outside and only the final product is produced in Nepal.
However, if all the aspects of production can be taken care of in Nepal itself including the production of raw materials, then we can all create better products at affordable prices with the maximum benefit coming to our country.
In the case of apparels industry, Nepal has a very reputed history and prestige. With our venture, we want to re-ignite the fading apparel industry of Nepal with quality production. Not only do we want to make our products in Nepal but we want to also see other manufacturers growing in Nepal who can give us quality raw materials for low prices so we can all serve the market together.
Article By: Mahima Poddar