Pooja Pradhan

Demo days 2018: Deals in progress

Demo Days, are the culmination of the Rockstart Impact’s 100 day acceleration program, in these days the entrepreneurs pitch their business to national and international investors. Normally the Demo Days take place in Kathmandu and Amsterdam, however, this year a third Demo Day was hosted in London – a first for Rockstart Impact.

Nine “investment-ready” entrepreneurs took to the stage to pitch to investors. As a part of their pitch, the entrepreneurs talked about their companies, why their company is needed in Nepal, and how they are planning to grow their business. The first Demo Day, for the fourth batch of Rockstart Impact, took place in Soaltee Crowne Plaza, on 15 Febuary. Similarly in Amsterdam, Demo Day was hosted in Rockstart Headquarters on 21 February. During the program, the Ambassador from Nepal for the European Union, Lok Bahadur Thapa, gave a powerful speech, where he talked about how everyone is presenting a possible solution to some of the problems faced by people living in Nepal, instead of talking about the problems in Nepal. Both of these programs ended with a networking session giving the entrepreneurs a chance to talk one-on-one with the investors present in the audience.The nine companies that pitched this year were Godam Sewa, Indradevi Strawberry Farm, Kanjirowa Agro Farm, Kadka Nursery, Mount Everest Organic Coffee, Rudyn Agroflora, Sarathi, Tripathi Group and Urban Girl.

A third Demo Day, on 23 February at the CDC Group, marked Rockstart Impact’s venture into a new investment market, in London the financial centre of Europe. This was the first time that Rockstart Impact hosted a Demo Day in London; this Demo Day was attended by the Ambassador of Nepal to the United Kingdom, Dr. Durga Bahadur Subedi. The ambassador also vowed to host the next Demo Day, London at the Nepali Embassy. Another first, for Rockstart Impact, was a second pitching session in London for some of the entrepreneurs. This session took place on 27 February, and was facilitated by Mr. Rajen Khandel, an active member of the Nepali diaspora in London. This session was also endorsed by the Britain Nepal Chamber of Commerce & the NRNA Business Department.

A sense of excitement and  achievement has continued after the Demo Days. Within a month after the Demo Days, Urban Girl has landed an investor for their first round of investments, the other entrepreneurs are in discussions with potential investors. With the investment by Purplefield Investments, Nikita Acharya, the co-founder of Urban Girl, an e-commerce gift platform, hopes to be able to “gain expertise on e-commerce marketing and technology, and at the same time, scale up the current production and logistics capacity” of Urban Girl. She further explained that, they (Nikita Acharya and Kiran Timsina) started the company with a small investment of Nrs. 20,000, but with this first round of investments, they will be taking their “first step to reach our (their) big dream.” Ravi Singhal, the co-founder of Sarathi, a cab aggregator company, shared similar feelings about talking with their first investor. Right now they are still “negotiating and working out the best model” with their potential investors, but with this investment they hope to “give tough competition to all the international players.” They also have plans of launching a motor bike service along with an App in the immediate future.

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