Dhaasoo is really Dhaasoo!!
One evening when Nitesh Sharma came back from work, there was a small get-together with his dad and uncle over beer, and slowly the conversations shifted from politics to kawadiwalas. “I had thought these people who collect scraps were poor and lived in slums but then my uncle splashed me with reality, which really shook me. Yes, it might be a glass but it worth more than a rupee since it goes under labelling, processing, refilling, etc. So, I thought if a bottle of Tuborg values more than a rupee, what about the thousands of bottles, which make way to the trash can,” Nitesh recounts the moment that led him to start a trash upcycling company.
Now liquor bottles are no more craps to him.
Dhaasoo.com.np is an online store which initiates to upcycle the crap into a unique piece for home décor or for better use. It is not just another recycling store but a whole new concept, which introduces the crap in an unimaginable way. From beer bottles to glasses to steel pipes Dhaasoo upcycles everything, whatever comes in Nitesh’s mind. He is on a mission to create value for something which has no value.
Before starting the upcycling work, he first browsed through the internet and found out that he was not the only one in this world coming up with an idea of upcycling, but still, this idea was new in Nepal. “To get started I visited every scrap yard to hunt my golds. I used to go to Naxal, via Kupandole and on the way, I could see too many handicrafts stores and their handicrafts bulbs and light. So, I thought why can’t I make a lamp from beer bottles. I told my idea to my dad but then he told me that it won’t work out,” Sharma recalls the starting days.
After 15 days of coming up with the idea, he made a Jack Daniels Electric Lamp and showed it to his mom, but she said ‘Nobody will be interested in buying your crap’. “Those days, I didn’t have a Facebook account and then I posted an ad at Hamro Bazar site and few weeks later a guy called me saying he was interested to buy it. He paid 1100 to me for that JD Lamp in front of my mom and my mom was shocked,” he reminisces.
Naming the company ‘Dhaasoo’
While making the logo of the startup at first, Nitesh thought it would be a sign of OK. “So, I was wandering about some words in Nepali which will be picky, catchy and means OK or good. After a lot of brainstorming, one of my friends suggested me Jhakaas! It was quite good but not the name that I wanted. And out of nowhere, Anil Kapoor’s film dialogue came up in my mind, which included Dhaasoo,” he shares. Thus began the journey of Dhaasoo officially.
Taking-off the business
He had thought that his store would go crazy, but then there were only 3 to 4 customers a month. Slowly by slowly, he collected scraps from Restaurants and Hotels. At first, they were giving away the bottles happily but as soon as they got to know that he was making a profit out of it, they stopped giving me bottles and replied “Oh! We just threw it away”, and made similar other excuses. “I even paid for the scrap to some people but along with paying it from my savings I lost my funds for Dhaasoo and after that, I completely shut down Dhaasoo for a year because I was in need of funding,” he shares.
So, to collect funds, Nitesh came up with Dhaasoo wears, and started uploading pictures of clothes on Facebook and Instagram dhaasoowears. “I knew I won’t be regular in Dhaasoo wears because I only needed funding and wanted to make aware people about Dhaasoo after selling some of the items,” he shares. But, Facebook blocked the page since they were selling replicas, nevertheless they kept on going with Instagram. “After I got enough funding, I visited the scrap yard again and again for my Dhaasoo search. I even planned to open a store but my parents weren’t happy about it since I need an accessible place where I can create my own ideas and store some scrap. Added to this, the rate of rent in Kathmandu is too expensive,” he shares. Luckily, he found a place near Campion College where it was little cheap and small and peaceful where he could work on his ideas. “And when people visited me through dhaasoowears, I even made them aware about Dhaasoo as well. After knowing my story, people used to get shocked and some even asked me whether it is a store or an office or a workshop. I would just reply that it isn’t a store, neither an office nor a workshop but a fusion of all,” he shares.
The challenges in the business
He got a lot of appreciations but rarely anyone agreed to buy his products. People are drinking these beers from years and years whomsoever came to his store. “They would ask how much a lamp costs. And, depending on the availability of bottle and design, I would say 1200. But, as soon as I mention the price, people would say ‘How much will it cost if I give my own bottle?’,” he shares about people’s responses.
And, that’s how things change. “A few days ago, people didn’t care about those bottles and now they come to my store to bargain. Bargain somewhat gives me a little heartache because I have put my effort and time and a whole lot of dedication but along with it whosoever marches into my store are now aware of the Liquor bottles,” he says with satisfaction.
Do they only stick to bottles and lamps?
“We do not restrict ourselves to bottles but also focus on upcycling everything that we can find from auto parts to PVC/plumbing pipes to cash machines. We have even upcycled an 80’s suitcase into a sound system. We are also focusing on furniture pallets. Our business is more into customization as well. Just give us the picture or a virtual idea of what do you want, we will try our best to make it into reality,” explains Nitesh.
What hurts him the most whenever he goes to a scrapyard?
As per Nitesh, people are still not aware about the vintage stuffs they own and they just throw it away to kabadiwalas. And those kabadiwalas on the other hand would just destroy some vintage stuffs without knowing, which usually costs hundreds of dollars. “I once found a petrol gas jerrycan which dates 1950, which was thrown away. I also found an 80’s cash machine, which was being destroyed by the kabadiwalas with a hammer, and that hurt me the most,” he shares, adding, “There are even times when I don’t want to sell my stuffs because I have invested so much time and efforts that it becomes dear and near to me,” he says.
Startups for a better Nepal!
Presentation: Suweksha Shrestha