Spandan Moktan: FOUNDER AT: ELEVEN11
FOUNDER AT: ELEVEN11, A ONE STOP COMMUNICATION AND PROMOTION AGENCY, Photos: Bibhas Maharjan Suwal
One of the main people behind bringing Bipul Chhetri to Nepal, Spandan Moktan was the entrepreneurial head who ventured into the business in 2009. An MBA graduate in marketing, Spandan started the venture with Rs. 16000 in hand and with a vision of creating a platform for alternative art and artists, something that was missing in the market at the time.
With that in mind, Eleven11 has been come a long way and succeeded in promoting local artists outside Nepal. Spandan stays in the forefront of his work, which seems like an endless parade of parties and events; at least that is what it seems like. There aren’t many people who can truthfully say they enjoy what they do, but Spandan is one of them.
Of course, there is more to his work than what meets the eye. Despite seeming like a laid back job, Spandan is always on the grind, juggling and prioritizing his work. But that is what spurs him on, the stress of deadlines breathing down his neck. We managed to get hold of him for a few hours in between his busy schedule to have a small talk.
What were you doing before you started Eleven11?
Before Eleven 11 happened, I was working in an agency in India where I had completed my studies. Right from the start I was into music and I had a keen interest towards art lifestyle. But I did not know how to shape it into a profitable profession for myself. After the completion of my studies in India, I had started working with different art agencies there, sometimes collaboratively or on individual freelance basis. When I came back for a vacation in Nepal I felt Nepal lacked a good platform for alternative art. I’d have to say that is how the idea of Eleven11 came to mind. I wanted to start a venture that would focus on the art and entertainment sector. It started with three of us, two of my friends were already into this business. In the beginning it was basically brand production, photography, market- ing, website, organising parties. It was like a hobby that turned into a profession.
We hear there is an interesting story behind the name of your company. On seeing a sequence of digital num- bers together like 1111, the human brain generates a positive reaction for the same and they have the ten- dency to ask for a wish; a common belief worldwide. Eleven-Eleven to me was like the world asking me to make a wish and that’s why I chose this name. Besides we as a company are here to make your wish come true too. You make a wish and we will make it true.
Making wishes come true. You must love your job.
Yes I do. Actually I’d I have a sort of love-hate relationship with my work.
Well, it looks like a yearlong vaca- tion to most people. But it sounds too good to be true, is it?
Yes, if people look at my lifestyle and the way that my work is being done, what I do certainly appears to be a party to them. But for me, it’s my work. This is where my bread and butter comes from, this is how I have been surviving in this indus- try. So, yes, it may look like all fun and games but while people are par- tying, I am working and when they are working, I am partying.
What is the best part of your job?
The best and worst part of my work is the stress (laughs). The thing is, I can’t work without pressure. I am more productive when I’m chas- ing deadlines, I love the pressure. Maybe that is the reason why stress becomes a good part. Besides that, meeting creative people from all as- pects of life and getting to know them, their stories, is a part of my job that I really enjoy.
What were the difficulties you faced when you started and how have things changed?
When I started my business, my family was a bit sceptical about it. I had attained a degree from a good University and they wanted me to have a secure 9-5 job, which I did. Even after coming back I did a job for a financial institution, though my business had already started.
Besides that, in Nepal, it was very hard to make people understand the concept of branding and why organ- ising events are important; this was back in 2009. More than difficult it was like, people were picking up but still confused about what we were doing. And the disappointing part was, there wasn’t much support for start-ups, especially when it came to the finances. Thank goodness for the support of my friends.
We started with designing menus for restaurants, which seems pretty low scale. Things did pick up but then there were issues with Gov- ernment permissions, fulfilling the demands promised by the artists or overcoming security issues in the events to mention a few. You’d be right to say it was a difficult be- ginning.
However, things have changed, mainly because people started real- ising the importance of reaching out to the market. In the last 5 -6 years, the number of different events tak- ing place has increased, people have started going out, they have been respecting music, artists, actors. A new culture has formed. And we, being the bridge between the artists and the audience, have to make sure that we suffice both the groups. This has become a bit easier as compared to when we first started.
Everyone has a role model, who do you look up to?
I look up to my friends and family. They have been there from the start and given me all the love and sup- port I needed. And my girlfriend, also a core team member of Eleven 11, has been really supportive about what I’m doing; she comes from a music industry as well so she un- derstands my work.
I am more productive when I’m chasing deadlines, I love the pressure. Maybe that is the reason why stress becomes a good part
Do you think that entrepreneur- ialism is something you’re born with or is something that can be learned? What do you think was the case for you?
I worked under people, but for me working for others felt like going to school. I had to wear a suit and tie which I practically hated. And when you’re working for others, being able to make decisions in- dependently was always an issue. I always wanted to make my own decisions and work for myself so maybe entrepreneurialism was something I desired from the start.
What’s next for Eleven 11?
We have certain things planned out. Currently we are merging with different promoters and we want to cater to markets outside Nepal. We are pushing Nepali musicians/ artists to different festivals in In- dia as well as a few other coun- tries. We have been working very closely with VH1 and MTV India as well. Ultimately we want to in- crease the number of home grown product and do something for the country. Currently we organise four major events like Tattoo Conven- tions, Himalayan Outdoor Festival, DanceMandu every year and we are planning to come up with more in the upcoming years.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE…
What would you say is your strongest trait?
I believe in what I do and I love what I do, that’s my strength. Would you call yourself a fashion follower? How important do you think fashion is for your lifestyle? I don’t really follow fashion. People tell me that I have my own ways of dressing up, so it’s all about comfort for me and what I wear basically depends on my own mood.
Being a business person, how im- portant do you think it is to focus on personal grooming?
Well, my business doesn’t really require me to dress up or groom myself in a particular way, maybe sometimes when I attend confer- ences or meetings with NGOs and INGOs I dress up in a formal mat- ter but other than that its mostly my wish. So personal grooming is important for me not because I m a business person but because for my own personal contentment.
I always wanted to make my own decisions and work for myself so maybe entrepreneurialism was something I desired from the start.
What do you like to splurge on?
Currently I am saving up to travel the world.