Nirmal's Blog

Nirmal's Blog

30 Stories: Himalayan Java

@himalayanjava Story by @thestorieshub

Tea remains a huge part of the daily Nepali culture and experience. Most people have multiple cups of tea throughout the day. Back in 1999, coffee culture in Nepal was mostly non-existent when Gagan Pradhan and Anand Gurung brought it to the masses by opening the first Himalayan Java in Thamel. Nowadays, coffee culture is widespread, trendy, and fashionable in Nepal.

Gagan fell in love with coffee beans when he was a student studying hospitality management in Australia. The small, independent coffee shops that he frequented as a student became the model and inspiration for his own Himalayan Java franchise. Gagan recalls that he does not remember a single outlet in Kathmandu that served freshly brewed coffee, and wanted to fill that gap. He wasn’t sure of how customers would respond to brewed coffee. However, he was a passionate coffee-head determined to turn his passion into business and went ahead to start Himalayan Java. From the beginning, the co-founders wanted to sell an experience through coffee.

Today, Himalayan Java not only offers the best tasting Nepali coffee beans in the country, but it is also a distributor of coffee machines, offers Barista training/Bakery training, and has its very own coffee farm.

Bio: Gagan Pradhan and Anand Gurung started Himalayan Java, which has been serving Nepali coffee since 1999. They now have 27 Himalayan Java outlets located throughout the world including Toronto, Canada, Omaha, US, and Minnesota, US. Follow them @himalayanjava

Image credit: Himalayan Java Facebook page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Urban Girl

@iurbangirl Story by @thestorieshub

When we were in college, we would see so many products on international shopping websites that we wanted to buy, but we could not because we did not have international credit cards. Then, an idea of an online shop for the Nepali market came to us and Urban Girl was born in 2012.

Our vision is to create a one-stop solution for all online shopping requirements. Having started out by selling fashion jewelry and customized products such as tee-shirts, we have evolved to sell makeup, home decor, electronics, and eventually cakes. 

In 2020, we launched our biggest project to date, UG Bazaar, which is a social e-commerce platform. From being one of the earliest e-commerce startups in Nepal, to now having launched UG Bazaar, it has been an incredible and humbling journey. 

Bio: Nikita Acharya and Kiran Timsina co-founded Urban Girl in 2012 with an initial investment of $200. Today the company employs more than 50 individuals and operates in Kathmandu and Pokhara. The two co-founders were on the Forbes 30 Under 30 – Asia – Retail & Ecommerce 2020 Follow them @iurbangirl

Image credit: Urban Girl Facebook page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Miki Agrawal

@mikiagrawal Story by @thestorieshub

“Iteration is perfection.”

That’s my favorite saying and I’ve always been fascinated with the process of discovery, invention, and rapid improvements. Growing up, I was told I could be whoever I wanted to be and had big dreams. However, along the way, society had set all these expectations of me on what I should do and look like. I did what society expected me to do. Then, I realized I could disrupt it all and become who I really wanted to be and work on projects I loved and those that gave me purpose and meaning.

At 25, I decided to become an entrepreneur and then went on to build successful companies that have tackled taboos head on, are truly changing culture, and improving the lives of millions of people around the world.

I wrote “Disrupt-Her” to share my experience of breaking down social taboos and building big companies that matter, while sharing other game changing disruptors from around the world.

Bio: Miki Agrawal is the Co-founder and Inventor of @hellotushy@shethinx, and @eatdrinkwild.  Her books include Disrupt-Her and Do Cool Shit. Follow her @mikiagrawal to learn how to be a Disrupt-Her.

Image credit: mikiagrawal.com

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Mheecha

@mheecha Story by @thestorieshub

The backpack market in Nepal is dominated by imported goods. Local Nepali brands are able to capture only a small percentage of the market, while the majority is covered by imported generic and branded backpacks.

Our motive at Mheecha is simple. Inspired by the traditional Mheecha for its minimal, classy design, strength, and durability, we design and develop our products with these characteristics in mind. We believe that Nepalese consumers do not have to choose between world class standard qualities and products made locally in Nepal.

A lot of time is spent on the design process to make sure our products are simple and appealing to our customers. Today, Nepalese consumers can choose merchandise like ours that meet the highest quality standards and are functional, durable, and fashionable. 

Bio: Founded by Anish Bajracharya, Pratik Shakya, and Nishan Bajracharya in 2016, Mheecha (a Newa term which means ‘pouch’) is proud to manufacture the highest quality bags in Nepal. Follow them @mheecha

Image credit: mheecha.com

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Auburn Foodie Sisters

@auburnfoodiesisters Story by @thestorieshub

We are two sisters from Auburn who love everything related to food. 

Auburn, Alabama is our home, where we grew up, and very close to our hearts. From our early days of tailgating while eating barbecue before football games, grabbing a quick bite at Chick-fil-A before attending classes, to drinking lemonade at Toomer’s Corner while relaxing on Samford Lawn, we have watched the culinary landscape in Auburn grow tremendously throughout the years. 

We decided to share our love of food and Auburn with you through our Instagram page. As the town’s culinary scene got larger, so did our appetites to discover, highlight, and share the best food spots. Join us on our food journey to tell the world about Auburn’s amazing eats, while supporting local Auburn and Opelika businesses.

Bio: Auburnfoodiesisters is an Instagram page started by two sisters covering amazing eats around Auburn while supporting local businesses. Follow their food journey @auburnfoodiesisters

Image credit: Auburnfoodiesisters Instagram

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Miss Moti

“Moti” in the Nepalese language can mean a plump woman or it can also mean a pearl if you say it with a softer “T”. 

Miss Moti was born out of my own struggle with weight. A friend of mine had given me the nickname Moti. Thus, when searching for a name for my comic character, I realized that Moti would be the perfect fit. This character would represent a woman who was plump and also display a sense of purity and innocence. 

The emphasis of ‘beauty’ in our society leads many people to have a negative body image about themselves, especially when it comes to weight. In a world that places so much importance on appearance, Miss Moti is a superhero out to conquer her world. She does not let anything, including her weight hold her back in life. For me, Miss Moti advocates that we should not let our insecurities and body image stop us from chasing our dreams and goals in life. 

Bio: Kripa Joshi is an Illustrator and Comic Artist from Nepal. She pursued her MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City where she started making comics and developed the character of Miss Moti. Follow her @missmoti_vation

Image credit: missmoti.com

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Bhav Products

@bhavproducts Story by @thestorieshub

A customer recently wrote to me “All Bhav Products are so creative, that you can’t help not being the same once you start using them. My long lost skills of calligraphy, doodling, and sketching have found a new earth to pour again all my creative ink into! Highly recommended!

When one of your creations gets appreciated like that, I feel pure joy. Bhav began as a determined, personal attempt at creating the best notebook possible for my own use. When I did not find what I was looking for in the market, I thought why don’t I make it myself. However, starting out I never imagined that it’d be hard. In my mind, I thought that I’d just buy a bunch of paper, design it, print it, and sell it. It required me to evolve and work along with suppliers who initially disregarded my queries or give me an empty promise of calling me later. I was committed to bring quality stationary in the market, so I worked with suppliers and made the best use of what was available. 

I love Nepali words and Bhav was a word I had been in love with for a long time. Since notebooks are something we pour our hearts out in, Bhav just clicked in. In addition, me being someone who’s into marketing, the word seemed like a short and sweet one that was easy to remember.

Bio: Bhintuna Jyapoo established Bhav Products in December 2014 to fill in the gap that was ever widening between enthusiast and quality stationery.
Bhav products is a Nepali brand that sells a wide range of creative stationery supplies. Follow @bhavproducts

Image credit: @siraj.ig

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Promise Tamang

@promisetamang Story by @thestorieshub

Makeup is a language to me. It allows me to communicate with millions of people around the world through my transformation. I am blessed and thankful for the platform to teach millions of people and entertain as a human chameleon by transforming into different celebrities and fictional characters.

My 13 year old self would have never imagined all of these would happen one day. I have been able to travel the world and work with so many big brands and companies (Pepsi, Disney, Sony, etc.), judged beauty contests, and became faces for make-up campaigns. It has been very rewarding so far.

My sweet husband, Steve, family members, Nimbus-my cute dog, and Poki-the sweetest most precious Hedgehog ever, also make special appearances in my YouTube videos. Having started doing makeup as a hobby, I am now very thankful to spread happiness and bring joy globally with my language. 

Bio: Promise Tamang is known as Human Chameleon. She is a Make-up Guru and shares her celebrity and fictional character transformations on social media. Follow her @promisetamang

Image credit: 9Gag

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Paras Khadka

@paraskhadka77 Story by @thestorieshub

Cricket always came first. There were other sports I liked growing up such as football, basketball, and table tennis. However, cricket was love at first sight. From the days I played club-level cricket on Saturdays, where match-winners would win the match ball and the losing team would pay for the cold drinks to playing and representing Nepal cricket on the world stage, my journey has been incredible. 

The proudest moments for me in my cricket career was when we played in the 2014 World Cup and when we achieved One Day International (ODI) status. Nepal felt like a different country after returning from playing in the World Cup, because cricket was played and viewed by the masses. Getting ODI status was also special because with it came recognition and a chance to play against teams with international status. Looking back, these are the two moments that I feel blessed to be a part of.

Join me as I share my story, perspectives, and all things Liverpool on my website and social media.

Bio: Paras Khadka was the captain of Nepal’s cricket team for 10 years (2009-2019). Follow him @paraskhadka77

Image credit: Paras Khadka Facebook page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Sastodeal

@sastodeal_insta Story by @thestorieshub

Dec. 2011
Rs. 50,000

Our journey started with those numbers. Nepal was opening up to E-commerce and by registering SastoDeal, we were not only launching a company, but an industry.

Nepal is still mostly a cash based economy. We love going to shops, feeling the products, conversing and bargaining with the shop owners, and walking out with a great deal in our hands. However, with the changing lifestyles, work schedules, and the convenience of online shopping, the country was beginning to enter a digital economy. With Rs. 50,000 in hand and facing a 9% national internet penetration rate, launching SastoDeal in December 2011 was a pioneering decision. 

Today, Sastodeal is the leading E-commerce company in Nepal.

Bio: Founded in 2011, Sastodeal.com is one of Nepal’s biggest and most popular online shopping platforms. SastoDeal is targeting to achieve Rs 1 billion in annual revenue within the next 18 months.

Follow them @sastodeal_insta

Image credit: Sastodeal Facebook page

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Sipora Gurung

@siporagurung Story by @thestorieshub 

My father taught me various outdoor sports such as volleyball, football, and badminton at a young age. I was always a sporty girl from childhood. My father was a huge David Beckham and Manchester United fan and that’s where I get my love for Beckham and Manchester United from.

Almost 15 years ago, I picked up volleyball. Coming back from school at 4 pm and getting to volleyball training by 4:30 pm was my daily schedule. I have so many fond memories of playing volleyball from school level tournaments, to the National Women’s Volleyball Championship. Volleyball is the love of my life and the sport has provided me a global platform to connect with people from all around the world. 

I’m a mountain girl who loves hiking with my father in Nepal. A perfect Saturday for me is morning tea, hiking, and getting lost in nature.

Bio: Sipora Gurung played volleyball for Nepal’s National volleyball team starting at age 12. She has won numerous awards and accolades throughout her volleyball career. Follow her @siporagurung

Image credit: Nepalipaan

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories: Nirmal “Nims” Purja

@nimsdai Story by @thestorieshub

“Everything in life is possible armed only with a determined approach and positive mindset.”

This attitude helped me climb the world’s 14 highest peaks (the 8,000ers) in just six months and six days, which I called “Project Possible.” Looking back, I did not grow up in the laps of the Himalayas, instead I was raised in the flatlands of Chitwan, Nepal. My journey of mountain climbing started much later because my initial dream was to become a Gurkha in the British military like my father and brothers. That dream became a reality in 2003.

My passion for mountaineering began on a trek to Everest Base Camp in December 2012, while on leave from my Special Forces duties. The 6,119-meter Lobuche East was the first peak I climbed. The mountaineering continued whenever I could and ultimately led me to embark on a project so impossible that nobody thought I could do it: to summit the world’s 14 highest peaks – the 8,000’ers, in an astonishing 7 months window. At the time, the record stood at just under 8 years. After accomplishing that mission in under 7 months, I can definitely say that the right mindset, planning, and team can make all the difference and change the impossible to possible.

I am equally excited for the next chapter of my enterprise, Nimsdai. Here I share my knowledge and approach of big mountain climbing by teaming up 1:1 and providing commercial client opportunities for breath-taking high-altitude special projects.

Bio: Nirmal “Nims” Purja MBE broke the Guinness world records for climbing the world’s fourteen highest peaks (the 8,000ers) in less than seven months. His book “Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone” will be released September 2020. Follow him @nimsdai

Image credit: nimsdai.com

This story was first published on https://www.instagram.com/thestorieshub/

30 Stories. 30 Days.

From August 1st to August 30th, The Stories Hub is going to feature stories of individuals and brands that represent inspiration, authenticity, creativity, innovation, and are making a difference (locally, nationally and globally).

If you know of individuals and brands that meet the above criteria, do share with The Stories Hub. That story could be one of the 30 stories.

Please share this blog post with your network. Stories Hub wants to hear, highlight, and share the amazing stories. One of them could be your story. Let the stories begin!!!

1,000 business cards

Bryan was excited about printing 1,000 business cards for his new business. A founder starting his entrepreneurial journey, he wanted to let the world know that his business had arrived. That excitement carried over to me and I was just as ecstatic about the business cards. A college friend who wanted to start an online jewelery business, Bryan reached out to me to help him out on business development. A young me who had just finished college was totally on board. I was always fascinated by startups and Bryan’s pitch was an easy sell.

A budding business needs clients and we get clients by giving out business cards. Business cards make us credible and confirm that we have a presence. We thought “How will we get our upcoming brand promoted at events, conferences, and seminars without business cards?”

Do we really need 1,000 business cards?

When Bryan told me that he had found a good deal from a printing place on 1,000 business cards, I was like of course we’ll be going through them quickly. So he ordered 1,000 for himself and another 1,000 for the business development wizard (that’s me!). Little did we know that a few months later, I would have used only 30 of them. The rest of the business cards would be collecting dust on the desk.

Trying to become the next Steve Jobs

I’m going to be the next Steve Jobs. That’s what I was thinking to myself.

I had a business idea that I believed was going to change the world. It was an idea I had been pondering about for the last few months.

Upon researching start up events, I found out that the first ever Startup Weekend was coming to town on February 2013 in Nepal’s capital-Kathmandu. This would be a great place to test out my business idea, so I registered to attend this event.

The day before the event, I looked at myself in the mirror and asked one question repeatedly:

What are the consequences of publicly sharing my idea at the Startup Weekend Kathmandu?

I weighed the pros and cons of sharing that idea at the Startup Weekend Kathmandu. I was thrilled to be participating in the competition and wanted to fully utilize my time in it. However, the above question kept coming back to me and I couldn’t decide what would be the best course of action.

After much contemplation of various scenarios, I decided to share the idea because the benefits of sharing outweighed not sharing it. By sharing my idea to an audience, I would know if the idea could become a business. Holding on to an idea that could not become a business would not be useful to me.

On that Friday evening at the Startup Weekend, I stood behind 10 individuals waiting for my turn to pitch the idea on stage. Behind me, there were about 30 more aspiring entrepreneurs equally excited to share their ideas. Waiting in that line had my nerves excited and my heart beating faster. The abundant energy in that hall invigorated me and I couldn’t wait to get on that stage to pitch my idea in 1 minute. 1 minute was all I had to explain my idea that could change everything.

When my turn came, I went on the stage and pitched my idea of a mobile/web app that allowed users to download books from Nepali writers and read them through the app anywhere in the world.

Over the course of the three day Startup Weekend Kathmandu, we created a team and built the idea. After working and iterating the idea for more than 50 hours, we had a prototype ready to be presented to the judges on the final day. The three judges actively listened, looked at our prototype, and asked us questions. At the end of the event, the results were announced and we had earned the 1st runner up position in the startup competition. Our team was ecstatic and we were congratulated by many attendees that night. That was a special evening for our team and in the ensuing days, we were featured on tech blogs and national newspapers.

If I had not participated in that event, the idea of a mobile/web app for book lovers would have stayed in my head forever. Additionally, I would have never received such amount of valuable feedback in a short period of time and validated if the idea made business sense. There are moments in our lives when we are presented with an opportunity and we have to strike it when it’s hot. That moment for me came in the form of Startup Weekend Kathmandu. I also realized that you can make a difference in the world if we shared our ideas rather than holding on to them.

After the Startup Weekend Kathmandu, I didn’t become the next Steve Jobs, but I became a much better Nirmal Thapa.

Perspectives on life

I’m always curious to hear about different perspectives on life. Perspectives are windows to how people see the world. Two people can be looking at the same thing and have two different perspectives.

Here’s a perspective that I really enjoyed listening to: Harvard Business School AASU Conference: Kasseem Dean Keynote

Some thoughts shared by Kasseem that I really liked were:

No matter what you do in life, you should always be a student. You can be a boss and a student at the same time. You can be a leader and a student at the same time because I feel that when you stop being a student you cut off all of your areas for learning.

We need to invest in ourselves more. We can tell the world about what everybody else is doing but when was the last time we looked in the mirror and made a better us.

My saying is sky is not the limit, it’s just your view.

My leadership style was transition…… transition is the most critical thing in your business because it can be the result of you making a lot of money or losing a lot of money.

The best advice always been do whatever you feel. Do whatever your heart tells you to do. Follow your passion. Follow your goals. Follow your dreams.

Our town is going to make jeans again

I love this story.

From Hiut Denim Co.’s website:

Cardigan is a small town of 4,000 good people. 400 of them used to make jeans. They made 35,000 pairs a week. For three decades.

Then one day the factory closed. It left town. But all that skill and knowhow remained. Without any way of showing the world what they could do.

That’s why we have started The Hiut Denim Company. To bring manufacturing back home. To use all that skill on our doorstep. And to breathe new life into our town.

As one of the Grand Masters said to me when I was interviewing: “This is what I know how to do. This is what I do best.” I just sat there thinking I have to make this work.

So yes, our town is going to make jeans again.

Here goes.