Despite the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Anushka Shrestha and her partners did not lose hope and commenced their venture Makkusé in November 2020. Her motive to produce locally and preserve our distinct Nepali desserts from extinction enabled her to be persistent in her endeavor. With amazing reviews from all generations within a few months, Makkusé has been successful to reminisce old memories while adding modern flavors to this luxurious experience.
A couple of weeks back we connected with Ms. Shrestha who answered all of our questions about her entrepreneurial journey and upcoming visions for her venture.
Read our conversation to find out more about this interesting venture here.
Has your journey in Miss Nepal and Miss World 2019 inspired you to start your own venture in Nepal?
Entrepreneurship was really out of my comfort zone. Perhaps due to subconscious conditioning, I would always dream of becoming a CEO in someone else’s company. I never imagined becoming my own boss. My motivation stemmed from multiple thoughts such as finding solutions to problems, creating a Nepali product and doing something that I was proud to do. I credit my Miss Nepal journey that led me to focus on community and encourage Made in Nepal products through locally sourced resources. The amalgamation of all these ideas led me to one possible solution: becoming an entrepreneur.
What is the inspiration behind the unique name of your company?
Makkusé originates from Nepal Bhasa, which represents a taste but does not have direct translation in Nepali or English. The closest translation would be umami. It is something that is scrumptious and fills you up with a mixture of flavors.
Can you tell me more about the idea generation process for Makkusé ?
After coming back from Miss World 2019, I had talked with my mentors about doing something based in Nepal. One of my mentors suggested that I should try gudpak, which I had never tried before and understand these traditional Nepali desserts. As I tasted these delicacies found in the market, I enjoyed its distinct flavors while I realized what the current generation has been missing. I believed these delicious traditional products deserve a better market.
What are the products that you are currently offering?
We have launched with five products, which have been categorized as journeys from the untouched past, playful present and innovative future. In our untouched past category, we have pustakari, which our consumers have complimented that it reminds them of the past. In our playful present, we have gudpak with two modern flavors such as rose water and pistachio, and mocha. In our innovative future, we have three cookies. One is oatmeal, cranberry and pumpkin seeds cookie, another is dark chocolate with gudpak fudge cookie and lastly, our holiday special ginger and cinnamon cookie.
In terms of shelf life, pustakari stays good for 60 days. Gudpak stays well for two weeks and cookies can also stay good for two weeks when stored in airtight containers.
Who are your allies in running the business?
I, along with my four other partners run this business. The expertise of my partners in this industry gives me the confidence to scale when necessary. Additionally, we have two facilities managers, three traditional chefs and two bakery chefs in our team. We outsource marketing and delivery while packaging is sourced through a local supplier in Nepal.
Other than preserving our culture, are there any other social impacts that your enterprise aims to create?
There are no culinary schools that teach traditional skills so it is usually passed down from one generation to another. However, traditional and made in Nepal products will only survive and grow for long if there is market creation. The next generation will only continue their skills passed down from generations when there are viable commercial opportunities in the market. This has been the main motive of our venture.
In addition, we aim to reduce waste and use locally sourced resources. We have a waste segregation system in our production facility while also using glass bottles over plastic bottles despite the higher cost associated with glass bottles.
How do you deal with market competition?
We are targeting a completely different market compared to other producers found in New Road and other areas. We could never compete based on price range. In these three months since we started, price was a shocking factor for many in the beginning. But once they have experienced our product, the most common feedback has been that it is worth the experience.
What were the main challenges in starting this venture especially during a pandemic?
For a startup to operate in Nepal, the most challenging aspect is lack of availability of information. It was difficult to get information online about suppliers and most information comes from word of mouth. Additionally, due to COVID-19, most of our planning and discussions were done virtually. However, our initial plan was to launch during Dashain, which was slightly pushed till Tihar due to the pandemic. For us, it has worked out for the better as people have really appreciated initiation during such a difficult time while also creating some form of employment for people.
Where can the customer’s find your products?
What are your future plans for this enterprise?
We are launching a summer menu within a few months. We are also planning to export to at least one international location this year.
How has this entrepreneurial journey been so far for you?
This journey still feels surreal at times as being an entrepreneur was out of my comfort zone. But, it has been a very gratifying experience so far. As a founder of a startup, you need to know everything about everything. It takes a lot of hard work to operate an enterprise. Thus, I am glad that people have appreciated it.
Is there any additional suggestion you would like to give to other emerging entrepreneurs?
I would say start first and then carry on. Although starting might often be easier among the two, persistence is really the key to drive success. Nepali people have the tendency to be energetic in the beginning while it quickly diminishes as it comes. So, it is quintessential for emerging entrepreneurs to stay consistent and be open to listening and learning.
Let’s make new memories of these traditional delicacies by ordering Makkusé from here.
For International Order, Gyapu Marketplace: Makkusé
Interviewed and Article by Shreeya Bhattarai