Manohar Adhikari, the founder and Chief Technological Officer of Foodmandu, has been one of the leading entrepreneurs of Nepal who changed the game in the restaurant industry. Back in 2010, when Foodmandu was launched, the thought of ordering food from one’s favorite restaurants and eateries online and having them delivered at one’s destination was not only fascinating but also complicated.
But today, ‘Foodmandu’ has become a popular go-to for youths of Kathmandu when they want to satisfy their cravings for various cuisines at their own convenience.
To know the story of the man behind this venture, our Glocal Khabar correspondent, Mahima Poddar had a conversation with Mr. Manohar Adhikari to know more about the peaks and valleys of his journey as an entrepreneur.
Let’s look at a few interesting twists and turns in the journey of Mr. Adhikari and Foodmandu.
What are the achievements that you as an entrepreneur are most proud of?
I am very proud of the fact that ‘Foodmandu’ has become the pioneer startup who changed the game in the food and entertainment industry.
Despite of the fact that I do not possess an outgoing personality which can influence people, I and my team have been able to create the brand recognition for Foodmandu as such that it is today used as an example in the start-up ecosystem.
Foodmandu has indirectly also been helping the country by increasing employment opportunities. As soon as the number of orders go up and as our company’s partners and customers grow, we require additional delivery partners and employees which means that the growth of our company has a direct and linear relationship with employment generation in the country which could help boost the economy of Nepal.
The fact that I am now touching lives of many Nepalese families through my start-up and I am recognized because of it is the thing I feel the most proud of.
What other projects are you involved in other than Foodmandu?
I have taken the risk of dedicating all my time, efforts and investment in ‘Foodmandu’ itself. I think that because I am solely focusing on Foodmandu, my level of commitment and effort towards my enterprise has highly increased. Had I been involved in multiple projects or places, my focus would have been diverted and Foodmandu would not have reached where it is right now.
What does your educational background look like?
I have a very ordinary educational background. Though I began my journey in the IT sector, I studied the management course and completed both my bachelors and masters in business studies (BBS and MBS) from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.
Did you always aim to become an entrepreneur? If not, how were you directed into this sector?
I think because of my experiences and my personal habits, I evolved to become an entrepreneur. I had embarked on my journey in 2001 as a software developer in an organization. I jumped from one job to another for quite some time and then I started a company with my friends when I was very young but our company didn’t do well and after one year I moved back into working as an employee again.
With a desire to work more flexibly and independently, in 2006 I started working as a freelancer and slowly formed a team of coders whereby we used to work on various outsourced projects. My journey as a freelancer taught me the importance of freedom and flexibility and I started cherishing the idea of entrepreneurship thereon.
After working for a few outsourced projects, I felt the innate desire to work on something of my own and that’s how Foodmandu was born. So, all my previous experiences and specially my journey as a freelancer paved my way towards entrepreneurship.
How did the idea of ‘Foodmandu’ strike into your mind?
I knew I wanted to build an e-commerce platform solely dedicated to domestic Nepalese consumers but I initially didn’t know what the core value provision of that e-commerce platform would be. I had explored other options before jumping into the idea of Foodmandu.
I reflected back on my own experiences to see what the market need was. Then I realized that when I was working as an employee, the major problem I faced during the lunch hours was that we had no eateries or restaurants near our office. We had to walk for 20 minutes just to get to a food place which meant more than half of our recess was already spent travelling to and from the restaurant. Our busy schedule made it even more difficult for us and at that time getting good food at our own place would be a boon for us. I knew other people too faced similar problems and thus I was confident that the idea of Foodmandu would satisfy the needs of people and was feasible to implement in Nepal.
So, the desire to sate people’s hunger by delivering their favorite cuisines at their convenience, drove me to start ‘Foodmandu’.
What are the challenges you faced being a young entrepreneur?
I am a first generation entrepreneur in my family and my inexperience in this sector was a major challenge for me in the initial days. None of my family members and guardians had worked in this field and it was so difficult for me to find a guiding light. All I learnt in this sector was from my own unique experiences.
Other than that, for companies like us where we have this constant need for growth, finance and funding can be a major challenge. Also, in case of Nepalese organizations, high employee turnover is a challenge too as it is very difficult to recruit and retain good quality employees. This problem further worsens for companies like Foodmandu as we are highly human resource intensive.
How many employees did Foodmandu begin with initially and how many employees are there in the team right now?
The company was initiated with a team of five people including myself and now the Foodmandu family has more than 150 employees.
Where do you see Foodmandu headed to five years down the lane?
In the past five years, Foodmandu has grown 10 to 15 times greater than what it used to be and I would be happy if we grow in the same exponential rate in the next five years too.
Foodmandu is going to expand beyond the boundaries of Kathmandu within the next five years and we will also diversify our service provision. We want to interact with our customers on a larger scale more frequently.
I know Foodmandu has a bigger and brighter future ahead as we will expand both in service provision and in location in the next five years.
How did you manage finances for your venture?
Initially, I and one of my friends had begun the venture. However, my friend isn’t actively involved in the venture in the present.
In 2016, we received an investment from the board members and clients of the investment company ‘True North Associates (TNA)’. Since then, TNA has been involved as an investment partner for Foodmandu and I look after the execution of the business.
You recently shifted from being a CEO to becoming a CTO. What changes would this likely bring in the functioning of the company?
We wanted to have a team which would solely focus on the core management and operations of the company and that team will now be led by Mr. Nidhaan Shrestha, who is the new Chief Executive Officer of Foodmandu.
Due to my involvement in the management of the company earlier, I wasn’t truly being able to dedicate time on the technological aspect of the company despite the fact that Foodmandu is a tech-based startup. Since, I have always been proficient in the tech sector and because we look forward to bringing better service offerings for our customers through continuous innovation, I will now solely be focusing on making the tech portion stronger for our company.
Thus, this change in my position was driven by the intention of igniting positive changes in our company and bringing full supervision and focus on two integral aspects of the company – the management aspect and the technological aspect.