With the dream of setting up a venture on his own, Nishant Gurung of Butwal decided to leave his well-paying job in a reputed institution, and started The Coffee Club, together with his friend Bipin Kunwar. The first coffee house in Butwal, started some 1.5 years ago, has now become the junction for all the coffee-lovers in the town.
â€œThere was no place to hang-out for those who didnâ€™t have the habit of taking wines in the evening. There was no coffee culture in Butwal then. So, I gave a try on that relatively new business,â€ Gurung shared to Glocal Khabar. â€œWhile the coffee-house started, there was such a situation in Butwal that the people here couldnâ€™t even pronounce â€˜coffeeâ€™ properly, and were almost unknown to the type of beverage. We had taken a huge risk to start the business,â€ he added.
They had started the cafÃ© with an initial investment of Rs. 40 lakhs.
As the cafÃ© was solely dedicated to coffee, they named it â€˜The Coffee Club and Cafeâ€™, to promote coffee culture in Butwal. They also decorated the interior and built the ambience to suit the theme of coffee itself.
The starting days were not easy. The only customers at the cafÃ© were their own friends and relatives who had a habit of sipping coffees while abroad, or in Kathmandu. And, it took them almost 4-5 months to establish it as a coffee junction in the area and have regular customers.
All major varieties of coffee, including Americano, Latte, Espresso, Mocha and cappuccino are served at the cafÃ©, using the well-roasted coffee beans produced in Nepal itself. Other than coffee, they also have availability of other restaurant items.
They too serve availability of ice-coffee, ice-mint tea, and varieties of juice in summer seasons.
A cup of coffee at the cafÃ© starts from Rs. 70.
The majority of customers at the club are those who come at the cafÃ© to meet each other and have a short chitchat. â€œMost of the customers who come to The Coffee Club are youths, along with college students,â€ says Gurung.
On occasions, youths around the area also gather at the cafe for various celebrations including birthdays and night outs.
As of now, those coming to have coffee at the cafÃ© are mainly from the city of Butwal itself. But, those from Bhairahawa, Sunawal (Nawalparasi), Kapilvastu and other places too come for coffee at ours, Gurung adds.
In winter, almost cafÃ© serves coffee to almost 70-80 customers per day, whereas the sale reduces in summer, to around 50-55. The daily business of the cafÃ© accounts from Rs. 8,000-12,000 in any single day.
The coffee started with just 4 team-members, just 2 staffs other than the co-founders. â€œAs the business took up later, we hired 2 other staffs, making total no. of current team-members 6,â€ says Gurung.
â€œAnd, we have used all the profit and returns from the business for the growth of the company itself,â€ he further says.
Sharing the challenges from the beginning days, Gurung says that it was hard for them to penetrate coffee culture in Butwal itself. â€œIt was challenging to make people pay 70 rupees for a cup of coffee, who just used to pay 15 rupees for a cup of tea,â€ shares Gurung. â€œBut, the business picked up with time, and it became easier,â€ he says, adding, â€œBut, many new cafes have started in Butwal though, making the competition stiff.â€
He sees the rapid growth in coffee culture in Butwal in the last 1.5 years of duration, similar to Kathmandu and other big cities. The rise in coffee-culture and cafes is good for the society, Gurung says. â€œThe migration of people from the Bhatti and bars in the evenings, to coffee shops should be taken as a very positive transformation,â€ he adds.
â€œAfter some time of starting the business, some tourists entered our cafÃ©, expecting to have tea. They had not expected that there was any such cafÃ© in Butwal serving coffee. And, were very glad for getting to have coffee,â€ he shared, saying that has not been able to let go of that day from his mind. â€œThat day, I felt that I had done something good by starting the cafÃ©,â€ Gurung reminisced.
He has plans to make the business even bigger, and open new outlets in a near future in some other towns.
Sharing his experience, he says that the coffee business in Nepal is very good. â€œThere are challenges in starting a business in the beginning, but if you can manage it, it can give you with good revenue,â€ he shares to the aspiring cafÃ© entrepreneurs.
â€œWe can start a business even with a small investment, and build a good business. Itâ€™s not necessary to go abroad to earn. We can make a good living in Nepal itself by starting a business of any kind,â€ Gurung shares his messages.
Startups for a better Nepal!
Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal