“Finding the right mentor is 90% job done, you’ll not just get a shoulder to lean on but an entire pool of experience giving you a head-start”; Er. Gyanendra Lal Pradhan’s take on entrepreneurship

Thu, May 10, 2018 5:09 PM on Experts Speak, Interview,
“Finding t...

Prelude:

Part 1:Debunking the myths in Hydropower Sector of Nepal with Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, Hydropower especialist and entrepreneur

Part 2: "The reason we haven't been able to revolutionize the Hydropower sector yet is because we’re looking at it from the wrong angle”; Interview with Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, Hydropower specialist and entrepreneur

Part 3: “Hydropower sector has the capability to make us one of the highest GDP growth rate economy, the only irony is rather than facilitating we have regulating policies. It’s time we learn from the success stories of Ethiopia”, Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, Hydropower specialist

The swell of entrepreneurship is sweeping the Nepali market and a lot of venture capitals have also come into light with a purpose to create entrepreneurship eco-system. How do you feel about this?

The meaning of entrepreneurship has changed over time. Back then we did, we made mistakes and we learned. That’s how we moved forward, there was no other way. But now you have a lot of success stories to follow, mentors to guide you and a set of lessons learnt through other’s mistakes. So now the new generation of entrepreneurs won’t have to start from ground zero. They already have a foundation and that is their greatest advantage.

So for aspiring entrepreneurs today, the first thing to do is get a job in the field that you want to indulge. Work for around 2 years maximum, learn from the brain of that organization, make mistakes and learn from them. The founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma said, “If you come and work at Alibaba, you’ll never be an entrepreneur. You’ll just be a job seeker”. This is because, just cause you work there, you can’t meet him or learn from him. So rather join a small organization where you can face the brain behind the idea. The benefits you’ll get from a job are: (1) you learn team work (2) You don’t pay for the mistakes (3) you know about the hiccups (4) you have a strong foundation to start on your own.

The second step is to choose a mentor. Choosing the right mentor is like having 90% of the work done. So while choosing a mentor you need to be extra careful. The criteria for it are
: (1) one who is genuine (2) one who is approachable and available (3) one who belongs to the same field you want to enter. So by choosing a mentor, you can avoid the mistakes that he made and explore new ones on your own. The entire journey to success gets a head-start and you can reach the goal in shorter time frame.

For an entrepreneurial venture, the major constraint is the economies of scale, and when things can be imported at cheaper cost than being produced here – they lose in comparative advantage. Being involved in several agencies that facilitate trade of Nepal with other countries, where do you stand?

No, I don’t think foreign trade is going to affect their comparative advantage. In past it was necessary for a country to excel in all sector for subsistence, but today we don’t need to produce everything. We can focus on things we’re good at. The best example we have is Singapore. It was left by Malaysia thinking that it was good for nothing but now it is one among the top. Why? Because they capitalized on the thing they’re good at – Management. All the rest of the thing like food, clothes etc. they import.

Similarly, the gulf countries sitting on sand dunes eat better quality and organic foods than us, do they produce it? No. So we need to specialize on things we’re good at.

Sitting right next to China, we most often hear that we should start garment factories which actually is a very funny idea. Why do we want to produce garments? We neither have silk nor cotton. We should rather focus on things we have potential in like Hydropower, Cement, High-value agro and Tourism.

In places like UP and Bihar, they don’t have stones so they cook soil to create rubbles for construction. Here we have plenty of hills, but still there are a lot of regulating policies Cutting all the hills might hamper the environment but cutting one will not. So rather than creating all the pollution transporting the rubbles from outside the valley, we can cut one hill near lele. That hill will give enough gravel and rubbles for a long time. This will decrease the market price of the construcion too. Then when the hill is entirely consumed, we’ll have a 200 ropani of land for new settlement.

Every developed country, from China to America did the same, but I don’t know why we are in different direction.

What are your three mantras of success?

  1. Opportunity is coming every second, it is like time and passes by us all the time. So we need to be aware and identify an opportunity when it comes your way.
  2. Be active and smart. If opportunity comes our way, we need to be smart enough to not let it slip by.

Prepare a plan, without a plan you’ll be lost. So set a goal and work towards it, then develop milestones to achieve that goal.