The idea of starting the venture sparked when ‘Idea Studio’ called for submission of ideas for a competition last year. Ishan Pandey together with Smriti Tuladhar, both the students of BBA at KUSOM, applied for the competition with their business idea of chocolates. This marked the starting of the venture as the idea was then selected for the competition by the organizers and was successful to reach finals in the competition.
A foodie since her childhood, Smriti wouldn’t be eating if the food is not very good. That led her to create her own dishes. Though she knew about cooking stuffs, she didn’t have any knowledge about making of chocolates. As she felt the necessity to prepare something to place a product in the competition, she travelled to Thailand and Malaysia to do an extensive R&D on chocolates and learnt more about it there. As she was passionate in cooking, she didn’t take much time to learn about the making of chocolates.
They had put their own savings as initial investment to kick-start the business: 20,000 rupees each by Tuladhar and Pandey, making the total investment as 40 thousand.
They used to do everything manually at first, one by one.
They first put the chocolates for testing at KUSOM premises itself and students there tasted about the chocolates. “People generally think that Nepali chocolates are not of that good quality. Tasting the chocolates, they expressed wonder as most of them didn’t know that Nepali chocolates can be of that quality and standard,” shares Smriti about the reactions received at the chocolate tasting phase.
They then formally ventured out the business in a business to business (B2B) model, and started approaching their probable corporate clients and business houses. Brihat Investments was the first corporate client to buy Swiffles chocolates. As the business is B2B model, the clients they deal with place demands of thousands of boxes in a day, making the work easier. They even have the facility of customizing the boxes and putting company logos on the chocolates, flavors, and every other thing as per the demands of clients, as it’s possible in the cases of bulk pre-orders. The chocolates are mainly sold to corporate houses and coffee chains. Big corporate clients contact them on every special occasion, placing demands for chocolates, to distribute to their clients.
They planned to start with the B2B model as both of them were students while venturing out. And, starting with that particular model meant that they would be getting pre-orders for chocolates and they could manage everything accordingly, from raw materials to laborers that they hire on a daily basis.
Smriti is so much into the business that she has given her heart into the work. She could be found making chocolate on a day even if she has exams tomorrow. With the perennial load shedding problems in Nepal, they make their work routines as per the electricity hours. And, many a times they wake up at midnights e.g., at 1:00 AM to make chocolates, and sometimes, even at 3:00 in the morning.
From her first earning in the business, Smriti bought gifts to her parents, but didn’t buy anything for her. She remembers the moment of handing over the gifts to her Dad and Mom as one of the most memorable day in her life, but she still feels that she is yet to achieve the happiest and memorable moment in the business.
Within 2 months of starting the business, they were able to cover the initial investment of 40,000 rupees. As cash started to flow in the business, they bought machines for the production of chocolates and mechanized the process. They utilize the ingredients available in Nepal itself and produce the chocolates in Kathmandu.
Currently, they have production capacity of more than 200 boxes per day.
“Swiffles is more-of a quality conscious brand, thus standing apart from others,” says Tuladhar sharing on how it stands apart from other varieties of local brands.
As of now, the two members from the team manage everything from the supply, marketing and every other work while the 6 other staff members look after production of chocolates.
The business was started at a time when the trade blockade was ongoing in Nepal, and everything was in crisis. At that time, many essential ingredients for chocolate making were scarce. Having overcome such challenges, and recently completed the graduation, they are opting to scale up the business commencing the retail business of chocolates, and reaching the end customers. They also have aimed not to get limited on chocolates and will soon be starting their own confectionery brand making availability of various dessert items.
Sharing her experiences, Tuladhar says, “We only study about the business models and principles in colleges, but not how it works. In practical life, we need to be ready for all the challenges, from dealing with the clients, managing the cash flow to marketing and scaling up of the business. There is no mention about it in the university courses. So, we need to work if we really have to know the practical part of business.”
In the context of Nepal, more than 2.1 billion Rupees chocolates are imported every year, and it is growing at 6% per annum. Almost 98% of chocolates consumed in Nepal are imported, with only 2% being supplied from domestic brands. They now want to change the scenario and bring disruptions to the chocolate market in Nepal, being the market leading chocolate brand.
Sharing a message to the youths, Smriti says, “Most of the youths here say that they are planning and trying to do something or the other. We need to have a detailed thought and come up with a concrete business plan to take an idea ahead, but I request them not to make the thought a mental blockade. Don’t just try, but do it! Have courage to start it. Capital and manpower can be easily managed after you really start.”
Startups for a better Nepal.
Presented By: Basanta Kumar Dhakal