iHub, leading the startup revolution in Bhutan


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Tussle and Triumph in conversation with Tashi Wangdi founder of iHub, the first private entrepreneur’s community hub of Bhutan where he is building an ecosystem to support entrepreneurs with idea validation, growth, and fundraising.

iHub grooms to ideate, invent, innovate, implement and continue it is not as a hub only for Startups but also for Scale-ups and Startups who want to grow, expand, scale and put Bhutan in the Global Map of Entrepreneur’s Ecosystem.

iHub was founded on 2nd June 2017. It coincides with the anniversary of a major milestone in Bhutan’s technological history- when the Internet and Cable Television were first introduced in Bhutan, in 1999.

iHub is currently incubating 12 startups in their facility. Of these, 4 have gained traction and are ready to get their seed funding. And 1 has already been selected by a foundation to receive their seed funding.

Tell us about your journey at iHub and how did you come up with the idea about iHub?

While working at the CIO Academy Asia in Singapore, I came across such establishment and found it relevant to the country where many aspiring entrepreneurs are coming up with innovative ideas.

How is iHub contributing to the Entrepreneurship landscape in Bhutan? What are the core services of iHub?

In all parts of the world, the major part of new job positions is created in new and small enterprises, which are growing and developing, and specializing to produce new goods and services intended to solve business and social problems. These new and small enterprises are of vital importance for the economic health of a country. Such enterprises are also the reality of the global economy.
photo_2018_01_11_01_03_47It is evident that the early life of start-up enterprise is a difficult period. Managing growth, developing new skills in areas such as accountancy, marketing, business development, etc. pose considerable challenges to entrepreneurs, which can lead to failure. Research has proved that the biggest cause of failure in new starts is simply because small businesses have to “go it alone” with no support directly provided to entrepreneurs to help them remain enthusiastic in the face of difficult conditions.

Until recently, Bhutanese youth aspired to join civil service expecting stability in employment and other benefits of being government employees. However, the trends are changing and the change is rapid. Youth now equally aspire to join private sector or become employers. The trend is supported by the statistics from the entrepreneurship programs, startup promotion programs and business idea competitions.

With many youths considering entrepreneurship as a viable career option, an adequate ecosystem of support service is required to thrive entrepreneurship culture. The support services include direct business development assistance, professional network and relationship management, educational programs, and facility-based services.

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Core Services

1. Mentoring
2. Branding
3. Marketing
4. Networking
5. Technology support
6. Employment support

How did you build your core team at iHub?

Well, I started off by requesting the experts or the mentors on a voluntary base. Then, it was just Mr Hari Prasad Kafely, Head of Operation, iTechnology. Now I have 15 members or mentors along with 12 In-house entrepreneurs at iHub.

What are the challenges that you are facing as an entrepreneur?

  • The eco-system for an entrepreneurial culture is at its nascent stage.
  • Lack of statically figure to understand the market better.
  • Opportunity for seed fund to kick-start business in service-based industries.

How are you financing your startup?

Self-financing

What is the revenue generated at iHub?

Well, it’s more of social business. My primary objective is to create more job creator so that we can ressolve youth unemployment in Bhutan.

I earn around 15k a month (incubation fee from 12 startups). It’s not profitable at the moment but in near future, it will be as I can place equity on various startups that come in at iHub to avail our services

Bhutan is primarily an agrarian country how is iHub working on to build the entrepreneurship ecosystem in iHub?

Though Bhutan is an agrarian country when someone comes with an idea to start an agribusiness we encourage them to add in tech component so that they can grow their business in other countries whereby we can substitute import and export of good and services.

What are your future plans at iHub

To come up with a podcast where I would like to share some of the Bhutanese entrepreneurial journeys on how they built their startup.

Conduct a summit to bring in Government, Policy Maker and Entrepreneur on a platform to address, discuss and to bring changes in policy, to make Bhutan a better place to do business and even to encourage more youth to take up entrepreneurship as a career option.

What do you think are the bigger opportunities for entrepreneurs in Bhutan?

Potential to be the pioneer in the market as the population is small and greater opportunity to grow in an international market with help of tech and internet.

Please describe your Entrepreneurship journey in 3 words.

Challenging yourself with a vision.

Here is the list of 12 starts incubated at iHub:

  1. Team Happy: Sports Entrepreneur (conducts sports and Corporate events)
  2. Happy Delivery Services: Delivery LPG, Fast Foods and Groceries items etc
  3. Green Vibes: Produces fresh smoothies juice from vegetables and fruits. Have supplied to DHI, UN House, Loden and IT Park.
  4. Druk Digital Advertisement: Advertising agencies using LED Screen in City Bus (tied up with Bhutan City Services)
  5. R2:A project that collects beverages glass bottles and sanitize and supply to beverages companies. (he have recently joined the market)
  6. Atoz: An online platform to sell your classified product.Prototype is ready and preparing itself to be launched in the market.
  7. mFarm:  Mobile App platform to provide fair share of price to the farmers. (Idea Stage)
  8. Planet Plastic: Develop local machine to produce mobile covers, plastic flies using pet bottles.\
  9. Druk Kitchen: Online platform to sell groceries online.
  10. DrukSell: E-commerce (it’s a virtual Member)
  11. 11.Sanitary Pad: To produce sanitary pad for women. (it’s a virtual Member)
  12. tshongonline.com: e-commerce portal to sell and promote local handicraft products. (it’s a virtual Member)

Here are the links to reach out the iHub social media profiles:

FacebookTwitter, Instagram, LinkedIn

 

We do hope you had a chance to go through our previously published interview with Assam Lawyers.

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