Acting as a mediator between investors and the companies, One to Watch looks for startup companies in Nepal that require investment and connects them with investors in Netherland who want to invest in business that can create an impact.
--By Angila Sharma
One to Watch is a company that believes in changing the traditional concept of business development. Its services include sourcing, developing deals and monitoring. Many companies in Nepal while trying to push their startups to the growth phase feel constrained in getting access to finance. Existing sources of funds to finance business ideas for startup entrepreneurs in the present scenario is limited to borrowing from family, friends or bank loans. One to Watch helps them in it if these companies can make strong impact on society, in the business arena and the environment.
Established in 2010, One to Watch is a joint venture company run by Niraj Khanal from Nepal, and Willem Grimminck and Dirk Aleven from Netherlands whose basic motive is to encourage investment in Nepal. Though the company was established in 2010 in Netherlands, the company began investing in Nepal only in 2012. It acts as a mediator between investors and the companies. It looks for startup companies in Nepal that are growing and require investment and connects them with investors in Netherland who want to invest in business that can create an impact. It helps such companies in improving their business plans and to take care of the investors’ investments, by guiding them and monitoring their activities.
“We are basically filling the gap between startups and well settled businesses. We received 103 entries in December, which was narrowed down to 58 and later to 10, with whom we are working now,” says Khanal, director of One to Watch. Every week, the company organizes workshops for these 10 entrepreneurs and organizes weekly checking on Wednesdays. “We monitor and mentor them with the help of 18 Nepali and 10 Dutch mentors. Dutch mentors coach them through Skype while we support them on daily basis to overcome their everyday challenges,” Khanal said. He added they don’t train entrepreneurs rather accelerate their business ideas.
The company had launched ‘Rockstart Impact’ plan in Netherlands, in 2010 to support startups. In Nepal, it has also been running another plan named ‘accelerator’ which supports companies in the growth stage. “We are now coaching 10 entrepreneurs for 100 days. In this period, we are studying their business plans and guiding them with their ideas. We will have a ‘demo day’ on March 12 where their business ideas will be presented to investors of The Netherlands,” says Khanal.
One to Watch
Project Status and Growth
Khanal informs that the company is currently investing in three companies- Investment Opportunities in Nepal, Organic Mountain Valley and Kalash Milk Industries. Ofcourse, One to Watch itself is increasing investment. “We are investing 15 million rupees on each of the companies”, he states. He further adds that the projects are operating well and each of them is being monitored.
One to Watch only invests in companies that have been operating for at least two years and have a minimum of 10 employees. It provides an investment ranging from Rs 500,000 to 50 million rupees depending on the nature of the business. Similarly, it holds 49 per cent share in the companies where it invests and also hold a position in the board. "We stay in a company for 5-8 years depending on the nature of the company. We have our share of profit while also supporting the company upgrade to its growth stage,” he informed.
Khanal also claimed that the company is experiencing lineal growth since its establishment. “We have more than 100 companies waiting for our investment,” he adds, “we are the pioneers in our field, who have international experts belonging to different business fields.”
Khanal points out trust as a major challenge in the field. He believes that it is necessary to invest in the entrepreneur than in idea, as good entrepreneurs can overcome hurdles in a systematic manner. Secondly, there are legal challenges that create problems in the business and thirdly professionalism is another challenge in this field, says Khanal. “There is a difference in the way Nepali and other country people do business. We also have to bridge this gap and professionalise Nepali people as per the requirements of the investors,” he adds.
Khanal informs that One to Watch plans to coach two more companies in the near future and they have begun the process. “We are planning to invest in at least 20 companies by the end of 2016,” he adds. The company has a total of nine, five Nepali and four Dutch, full times employees and two Dutch consultants.