H2O Aquarium: Story of a youth who turned his hobby into profession

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A hobbyist of pets and fish, Rickchal Khadgi always had a strong desire of starting a business of breeding and rearing the creatures. He used to have varieties of pets at his home and he keenly loved it. His own personal interests took him to this direction, who also used to gather all the information about pets and fish through YouTube and other sources.

Until recently, he used to be breeding dogs and pigeons, and selling it through his online store ‘Puppy Home’. But, some two months ago, he took a long stride into the journey by starting ‘H2O Aquarium and Pet Store’.

As fish live in water and aquarium is all about water (with molecular formula H2O), he named his shop as H2O Aquarium itself, and set into the professional journey of aquarium business, with a total investment of around 8 lakhs.

The fish at his store mainly come from India, Malaysia, Thailand and China, as the breeding and research of such fish has not yet been done in Nepal, in a way to make it adopt in the aquarium itself.

Along with the exotic fish, branded and beautiful custom-made aquarium vessel sinks and commercial interiors are also available at the store. They do also provide the service of buying and selling of puppies, kitten, birds, and other exotic pets. They also have in offer all pet related services.

“The trend of having an aquarium at home has been on the rise,” says Khadgi, “Once upon a time limited only to the hotels and homes of higher-income groups of people, it’s normal these days to find an aquarium in every home. Having aquarium at your home adds its beauty.”

But while starting the store, he had a fear in mind if it runs successfully as an aquarium is not a thing that is consumed daily.

“Some do take owning aquarium positively, but many of my relatives and even family members were skeptic if such stores can perform well. There were many who said ‘yesto chij pani chalchha ra?’” Recalls Khadgi from his beginning days. Though he was happy to bring his dream project into reality, he had a fear inside him. He had taken a huge risk to open the store.

To add more, it had taken him almost 2 years to convince his family on the idea of having an aquarium shop.

Now, he feels it great to start the business and turn his hobby into a profession. The business is slowly taking up. The footfall of people to the store is on the rise every next day. And, not only the people from his personal network, or those in the periphery, but also those searching pet stores on internet also visit H2O. Users from the Facebook Group, Nepal Fish Keepers also frequent the store. The store also gets clients from outside the Kathmandu valley.

Though he had been aspiring to open a store since long, it was real hard for him to formally kick if off. “Now, my family are also satisfied seeing the growth in this business. The sales of the past two months is really encouraging. And, the journey so far is very satisfying,” he says.

The challenges in the business

The business of having aquarium is too risky, he says. “As fish for the aquarium are mostly imported from abroad, it is somehow a challenging job,” he says adding, “Sometimes, even full packets of fish die. This is the most difficult aspect of this business. The parameters like temperature need to be maintained all the time. If the fish die, you will get into a complete loss.”

“Added to this, fish can get ill any time. If it’s cold, they can get sick. Very recently, most of the fish contained in a vessel died as an oxygen pipe got disconnected. So, it’s a very risky,” he shares. Khadgi takes aquarium business as both a joyous as well as risky business.

Customers’ response so far

He feels that the best part of running this business is that all the buyers are very happy. “They really appreciate it, and have been sharing the photos of it on social media,” he says.

Passion into Profession: The difference

“Earlier, it used to be limited to my personal network only. Now, everyone visits the shop. This is the main difference of making a profession out of a passion,” Khadgi feels.

“It is especially children who are fanatic of fish and aquarium. There are numerous parents who have visited the store just because their children demanded it,” he says, “There are also people who do visit because of religious belief, or to have a luck.”

The business growth so far

“In the beginning, it used to be only about 2-3 people who visited the store in a day, but these days more than 100 do come in a single day, at least to see and know about the fish and aquarium sink vessels. People are knowing about it. The business is taking up gradually,” he says.

The aquarium industry of Nepal

Talking about the aquarium industry of Nepal, Khadgi feels it to be a very competitive business.

But, as a hobbyist, he says that he wants to provide quality in his service and does not want to see the fish bought from him to die. “I’m not just doing a business, but also sharing knowledge and information to all my clients,” he says.

The future

“H2O is my first step into the aquarium and pet business. My next step is to open a pet farm where all the types of pets are available and take it on a bigger scale. My dream project is to carry out breeding of all the pets in the farm, reuse/recycle the wastes of all the pets, and ultimately create a complete ecosystem on the farm. Later on, I want to create an organic vegetable farm,” he shares his dream.

The most memorable day so far

“It was Saturday, and I was somehow late. By the time I reached the store, more than 15 kids had already gathered outside the shop. And, they shared that they had been waiting for me to reach here and open the shop. This made me feel like I created new hobbyists. The excitement and interest with which they waited for me is the most memorable day into my work so far,” he recalls.

To the budding entrepreneurs:

“I think it would have been better had I opened this store much earlier, the time I had come up with the thought of opening the store. Many had not believed in my idea. Now, I am glad that I followed my passion, and was successful to turn it into a profession. Coming this far, I am confident that I can take it ahead as planned. So, I suggest the aspiring entrepreneurs follow their passion and start it the very time they really feel about doing it,” Khadgi suggests the emerging entrepreneurs.

Startups for a better Nepal!

Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal

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