THE URBAN BROTHERS
In conversation with Ashish and Ayush Rajbhandari from Urban Food about their brand new venture in the packaged-meat industry.
They say family is your greatest strength; one can achieve so much more with the support of their family. The family duo brothers Ashish Rajbhandari and Ayush Rajbhandari are on a verge of conquering the nation with their brand new food line, Urban Food. With goals of providing slaughtering services, meat packaging and producing several types of food products based on meat and cereals, Urban Food Industries seeks to provide quality product according to the consumer tastes in Nepal. The TNM team managed to schedule a small meeting with these brothers in arms to discuss briefly about their current venture and more.
TNM: Having an entrepreneurial mind, one is always engaged in multiple projects/ideas. Please tell us about the venture that is keeping you on your toes at the moment.
Ashish: I had many other ideas before setting up a meat processing unit. I started this from the grassroots and I look after everything from purchase to sale. So you can imagine what keeps me on my toes.
Ayush: Let’s just say, the flow of ideas never stops and may be in the near future you can see me being occupied with another venture.
TNM: Although this is just the starting of the venture, how do you find the food business sector? And why did you choose this sector?
Ashish: Food is a basic necessity and it’s not affected much by inflation or recession. People might buy less quantity but they would never starve. My family has been in the trading business for the last 30 years, especially in food, and I wanted to do something related to the food industry. Instead of importing, I thought of producing here. This way, money will still be in Nepal. Here is one fact: It was estimated that per capita consumption of meat in Nepal was about 9 kg/year, whereas basic requirements for a balanced human diet is around 14kg per year. The country needs more meat.
Ayush: Nepalese people are zealous meat eaters. Nepalese consumers are modernizing; we relish processed meat products like sausages, bacon, salami etc. Therefore, we bring to you Urban Food, a top-quality, modern, frozen processed-meat factory.
HERE IS ONE FACT: IT WAS ESTIMATED THAT PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION OF MEAT IN NEPAL WAS ABOUT 9 KG/YEAR, WHEREAS BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR A BALANCED HUMAN DIET IS AROUND 14KG PER YEAR. THE COUNTRY NEEDS MORE MEAT.
TNM: What are the major challenges you have faced so far and how did you manage to overcome them?
Ashish: Setting up this industry was a big hurdle. Apart from registration of land, dealing with people and the local community among others was the real problem we had to overcome. As of now, the challenge lies in facing our competitors in the market and satisfying old and new customers.
Ayush: One of the most challenging things, I believe is work ethics, especially those regarding hard work and moral principles, of Nepal’s government officials. Some say money is the root of all problems but the truth is: money is actually the solution.
TNM: In your opinion, what is the future of a venture like yours? Expanding nationally might already be on your list, but any plans of expanding globally to the international market?
Ashish: The future is an ocean. There are lots of things that can be done. In order to supply quality products we are thinking of coming up with our own animal farms.
Ayush: The future looks fantastic. We are already in all the major cities in Nepal. We are here to stay and expanding to places that require hard-to-get visa. Besides looking at it as just another business, food is something very interesting; one can be creative, playful and make changes all the time.
TNM: From where we stand right now, people say that Nepal is probably in its worst development loop at the moment and many are hesitant to invest or start new ventures in the country. What is your take on this?
Ashish: Being a developing country, there are a lot of things yet to be done. Anything you do can have high probability of being successful if you do not compromise on quality.
Ayush: Opportunity, like publicity, looms in positivity as well as negativity. People make a business out of war, recession, sickness, death, divorce, waste etc. An entrepreneur has to be creative, organized and proactive. Underdeveloped countries like Nepal have way more entrepreneurial opportunities than the developed.
TNM: Even though the nation’s current situation is in a slump, there have been a lot of risk takers who have started several ventures. Is there any particular field or venture that you feel that you should have started or that you should have been involved in?
Ashish Rajbhandari: Our nation is in the hands of our politicians. So why worry. Work hard and it will pay off eventually. There are many businesses I could have or had been involved in, but if you are an entrepreneur there will be at least one business idea on your mind everyday which you can always start.
IN BUSINESS, AS MANY BENEFITS THERE ARE OF BEING THE FIRST, THERE ARE ALSO MANY BENEFITS OF BEING SECOND. SOMETIMES “FOLLOWING” CAN BE ONE’S SPRING-BOARD TO “LEADING” AND BEING SECOND CAN HELP YOU PREPARE BETTER AND LEARN FROM THE MISTAKES OF YOUR PREDECESSORS.
Ayush: The nation’s political situation is in a slump. Work is required everywhere so money can be made everywhere.
TNM: “Mushrooming Business Strategy” has become a common term today; a scenario where people tend to copy a business idea after seeing somebody do really well in that business venture similar to a way a mushroom grows. What are your thoughts on such strategy?
Ashish: Copying is one of the best strategies that businesses can do. It might be new to the country but everybody copies. In my opinion, you have to be innovative and cater the local market. We have to be GLOCAL-Think globally, work locally.
Ayush: In business, as many benefits there are of being the first, there are also many benefits of being second. Sometimes “following” can be one’s spring-board to “leading” and being second can help you prepare better and learn from the mistakes of your predecessors.
TNM: What is your normal working day like?
Ashish: Get up early. Have tea and reach the factory before my staff get there. The route is a 30-minute drive or 1-hour cycling. Check production; follow up on orders (current and pending), payments, meeting with sales and marketing team. Think about lots of crazy ideas.
Ayush: Rise early. Kick-start the factory. Spend time in the office – computer works, paper works, communication. Visit the market to meet people and opportunities. Before calling the day off, summarize the day and plan for the next.
TNM: As aspiring business men what are your strong traits? Any inspirations?
Ashish: I want to be the best in what I do and I also love what I do. You need to keep an open mind to criticism, and improve on it. You might make mistakes along the way but keep in mind never to make the same mistake twice. My greatest inspiration are my parents.
Ayush: I try my best, to expand, to be open, to learn and apply. I am most fortunate that my greatest inspiration lives at home with me: my father
TNM: If not business, what else would you rather do? Any passion?
Ashish: Sports has always been my passion. Only if Nepal had good scope, you might have seen me playing for some football club or as an athlete competing against Usain Bolt.
Ayush: Arts is my passion. I’d try writing stories and making music.
TNM: Was there ever a time when you thought of taking an off track profession? Which and why?
Ashish: Having grown up in a business environment, being a “Businessman” was my only profession. I made my first sale when I was in Kindergarten.
Ayush: No. I believe if one is to succeed, focus is the key. And I was focused on what I do.
TNM: Where do you see yourself in a few years’ time?
Ashish: At the top being the number one in the food industry. I also see myself being engaged in many other businesses ventures.
Ayush: I see myself being involved in multiple business ventures. Current ventures thriving and well expanded, and I see myself earning not only a good amount of money but also name and fame.
TNM: Business sense/professionalism/ vision, is it learned academically or in the field by experience?
Ashish: Nepal is a country where you have to be street smart but academics is simultaneously important to reach the next level.
Ayush: Are entrepreneurs born or made? I’d say 30-70. Of this 70, for academics versus experience, I’d say 35-65.
TNM: With technological advancements, developing civilization and world economy, the ways to start a business and its execution has drastically changed in the last decade, what do you think are the traits a new comer needs to possess to be successful these days?
Ashish: A person needs to be knowledgeable, well educated and, most importantly, willing to learn (from past mistakes and experienced people).
Ayush: Knowledge is power. And nowadays, information is only clicks away. Technology has made communication so instant it’s like time-travel. Embrace technology, embrace changes, and gain knowledge and apply.
TNM: Clever/cunning/sharp/honest/ hardworking/visionary/passionate, which of this or these adjective do you believe describes you best and how?
Ashish: I am a passionate, hardworking, visionary, sharp, honest guy.
Ayush: Although I’d like to possess all of the mentioned traits equally, I’d say what describes me best is “honest.” Apart from financial gains, which are necessary to survive, I see the business of food as “sewa,” a service to the people. And honesty makes our “sewa” more meaningful and helps us earn a good name. We give people quality. We say what we do and do what we say. Some companies mix pork fat in their chicken sausages and don’t mention it in their “ingredients” section. Some due to religion and some for health concers, but all chicken consumers do not consume pork!
ACCEPT CHANGE. DON’T GET USED TO SOMETHING. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS. WORK HARD AND BE HONEST. MAKE PERSONAL RELATIONS AND MAINTAIN IT.
TNM: Few words to the aspiring business minds in the country today? Things they need to consider and understand?
Ashish: Accept CHANGE. Don’t get USED to something. Don’t be AFRAID to try new things. Work HARD and be HONEST. Make Personal Relations and MAINTAIN it.
Ayush: Nepal is very complex. It’s got a tremendous amount of entrepreneurially undiscovered aspects. It has a lot of potential. Explore for opportunities. Wake up early. Go to class. Be honest. Do your best and keep pushing. Think (out of the box helps). Respect everyone – build a good network. Follow up. Bend the rules if you must. Be proactive. Turn your thoughts into action.