Young entrepreneurs who set out at the startup center two years ago are facing a gamut of challenges like sustaining themselves in the market.
Lack of skilled manpower, absence of solid team, smaller amount of production and varied market forces are some of the challenges that startups are grappling with in Thimphu.
According to the Chairman of the startup center, Dawa Tshering said tthe mindset of the Bhutanese needs to change. “Even if we sell our products, keeping the price same as other imported products, people go for imported ones,” he said.
He added most of their products are organic. ”If we are facing challenges to sustain in the market at this initial period, I can’t imagine what will happen once we graduate from this startup center.”
“Some may drop their business. Not having a solid team is also coming in the way of running startups,” said Dawa Tshering, also CEO and founder of Bhutan Essence (Herbal tea).
Speaking on the sidelines of a one-day startup expo at Changlingmithang, Yangchen Wangmo, founder of Norwang Chips said many startups wound up due to lack of a strong team. “It requires team work, as a startup cannot be run by a single person. The idea behind our startup came from my friend, who is also its founder. However, all members of our team have to work together for its success,” she said.
One of the founders at a startup center said, “The startup boom is still very much there. However, there is need for proper implementation of the idea and an understanding of the market demand.”
More than 32 startups are exhibiting their products and services at the Changzamtok, startup center currently. Startups from health, education, lifestyle, technology, and social media are being featured in the expo.
“Prices are a big challenge for startups. Keeping customers happy is another challenge that we face,” said Phuntsho Wangmo, Promoter of Bhutan ramen which deals in healthy food based on a person’s requirements such as red rice, noodles and buckwheat noodles.
She said they have to assess a consumer’s health needs and deliver food accordingly. “Here, cost plays an important role and the entrepreneurs have to keep in mind market forces,” she said.
Sangay Thinley Tangbi, promoter of Green snack said the startups suffered hiccups after the boom, but passion among founding members is still there.
“Thimphu is the focus area of startups. A lot of action is happening in other Dzongkhags, but there’s more diversity in startups in Thimphu. There are challenges of finding right employees, co-founders, raising funds, and understanding the market,” Dawa Tshering said.
Dawa Tsheing said the startup ecosystem is evolving fast in Thimphu with more people settled here. “Board members of startups have discussed to involve media to advertise their products,” he said, “This plan may change the mindset of the Bhutanese.”
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu