We often hear our parents say kaamsaam kehi chaina din bhari dulera bascha “DULWA!”. Read below to find out how Nipun Shrestha is giving his entrepreneurial twist to this word, with his venture- Dulwa.com
With Dulwa.com you can access authentic and reliable information about unexplored and untouched places in Nepal. Like Instagram, on dulwa.com, you get a customized feed of destinations for you to visit and explore.
1. What social problem are you trying to solve?
I came across an article that mentioned that the travel industry experts were seeking 1 billion NRs. to market ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ out of which, they only got around NRs.100 million.
I understand we may not be able to spend in big numbers, but we have people who have traveled to breathtaking places in Nepal that have not been explored by foreigners yet. Dulwa.com aims at collecting these stories and promoting Nepal. We have a roadmap to expose Nepal to Global Tourism and we are trying to address that to some extent.
2. Tell me about your journey to starting the venture?
While trekking to Ghorepani back in 2016, I found every map lacked majority of information about the region. After returning from the trek, I started surfing for information on Nepal and discovered that there was an information lag.
This meant if an individual is traveling to a remote area of Nepal, they are bound to lack reliable information. Similarly, solo travelers inspired me a lot. That is when it hit me to create an online information hub for travelers where they could come together to share their stories. Hence, I dived into the tourism industry and decided to promote it by creating a digital platform.
Gathering information led me to ask a few people how would they feel about a platform where they could write stories and get paid or get discounts for ones that received a positive response? They were enthralled with the concept and that is what pushed me for the idea of Dulwa.com.
3. How did you raise funds to start your company?
Initially, the venture started with self-funding where my co-founder and I injected a certain amount. Apart from that, we participated in several camps and events which gave us an opportunity to network and get international exposure This allowed us to generate more funds.
4. What is your current staff strength and how many people did you start with?
I started this venture alone but now I have a co-founder who looks after the business strategy development and digital marketing. Similarly, we have freelancers, a group of content creators (videographers and photographers), and almost 50 writers who travel and send us their pictures and stories.
5. What is the legal status of your company? What stage is the company in now?
Dulwa.com is registered as Dulwa Expedition Pvt. Ltd but we prefer to be known as dulwa.com. We are somewhere between an idea and a full-fledged business. We are a young growing company so, we are still trying to explore new ideas and look for collaborations while trying to create a digital presence.
6. What challenges did you face while starting the company and what are the challenges that you are facing now?
The initial challenge came during company registration. It was an arduous process to make policymakers understand that the tourism industry is not just about travel agencies and travel agents. It’s about destination management companies too who play a vital role in marketing and promoting the tourism industry.
To date, we have not been able to get through policymakers, which is why we are now acquiring a travel agency license. Another challenge comes in gaining trust as we are a young company and foreign customers find it hard to trust.
Likewise, most of the travel agents in Nepal have a traditional mentality. They do so by restricting themselves to offline businesses and failing to recognize how information and services are sought by millennial travelers and tourists. Many other existing travel agencies fail to harness the power of digital marketing.
I do not want to call it a challenge per se, but we do face some restrictions when creating content. For example, for an aerial shot, we have to get the license and approval from the local government. We also need to visit the Civil Aviation Authority which in itself is a lengthy and complicated procedure. So there is no one-step solution.
7. How are you overcoming your challenges? Also, could you tell us about your company’s business model?
We are trying to change the mindset of people by talking to them and creating awareness about the benefits of the internet. However, our success rate has been 3/10, out of ten companies we approach, three agree to collaborate and market with us. However, many of them are hesitant to reveal their prices.
The business model is B2B and B2C. We have tie-ups with businesses and recommend their packages to customers, similar to what Amazon does.
8. Who are your target customers? How many customers or clients do you get on a monthly basis?
Dulwa.com’s target customers are mostly foreigners and we are mainly focusing on spiritual and cultural tourism. Our targeted Demographics include teenagers and people up to the age of 40. We also target Nepalese who have settled abroad.
We have catered to 87 domestic tourists, mainly high school and secondary school students. Moreover, we have collaborated with six travel agencies.
9. What are the key needs of your company?
Finding reliable and authentic information is one of our key needs. Creating content is not an easy job and we require funds which is another one of our key needs. We are trying to tap into as many artists, photographers, and videographers as possible who will help us create more Nepali content.
10. What are your plans for the company?
We recently created a video- Lumbini in a nutshell. Our short term goal is having at least one representing video per district within a year.
Talking about the long term plan, we want to reach globally. After exploring the untouched beautiful places of Nepal and making people aware of their presence, I want to explore other such destinations in the foreign lands, especially in South Asia.
11. Do you consider yourself as a Social Entrepreneur? How do you measure the impact of your product/service?
We are moving towards the path of social entrepreneurship. But I, at this moment cannot declare myself as one. Travel is a leisure industry, it is not a want or a need.
First and foremost, the happiness and satisfaction of customers is used to measure the impact. I ask my customers whether they are happy or not. Once we are sure that we have been able to meet our customers’ expectations, we move to money metrics to measure impact.
12. Any other information that you would like to share?
I would like to brand dulwa.com. I request you all to go through dulwa.com and support us. In the present time, we are collecting the digital footprints of our customers so we have a subscription page that already has 1100 people from all across the world. So I would like you all to join our community.