A different kind of homestay at Whispering woods

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Pratik, one of the participants of UYC, had always been interested in the agriculture sector, so he thought of bringing a change in the homestays that we see around. Through Whispering Woods he plans not only to provide outstanding home stay service to the guest but also plans to provide basic agriculture training while bringing the guest closer to nature.
Read the conversation we had with him to know more about Whispering Woods and his experience at UYC bootcamp. 

1. What motivated you to take part in Udhyami Yuva Challenge?
Udhyami Yuva Challenge focused on the area of environment, peace and tourism which completely aligned with my business idea, Whispering Woods. Also, I was looking for an opportunity that would provide me the direction to take my idea forward and in the meantime I came to know about UYC and felt that it was an opportunity I shouldn’t miss. 

2. Can you tell us about your idea, “Whispering Woods”?
Whispering Woods is related to agro-tourism where I will be using my farm located 6 km away from Chhabil, in the outskirts of Kathmandu to provide home stay facilities to the people, so that they can take a break and enjoy nature and its beauty.
We will be using the idle spaces of our neighbors for the accommodation of our guests. We will also be delivering high-quality cooking herbs to the tourists along with various courses, classes, and workshops, on sustainable methods of farming, preparing green manures, crop rotation and so on. We are currently working on commercializing the idea. 

3. Can you tell us about your team?
We have a team of four people as of now, one from IT, two from agriculture and one from a business background. We are also looking for one more member from the hospitality background as our business idea is more inclined towards that area.  

4. Who is your major target market?
Before the lockdown, we had targeted the international tourists with the plan of giving them the taste of Nepali culture. But considering the current pandemic, the tourism sector, especially the flow of international tourists, is bound to decline. So, we have made a slight change in our target market. Now, we are planning to target the domestic tourists who are looking for destinations that are near to Kathmandu but are also looking to relax and  enjoy nature. 

5. What are the different services you are planning to offer through Whispering Woods?
Apart from homestay service, like I mentioned we will be providing the guests with different workshops and courses on cooking, farming, preparing green manure and so on. Likewise, we will also be providing the facility of handpicking the organic vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits grown in garden which they can use for self cooking or can take back home.
We have also been planning to provide meditation and yoga classes to help the guests connect with nature. 

6. What is the major challenge that you are likely to face?
The accommodation may be a challenge that we may face. Since none of us are from the hospitality sector, determining the customers’ taste and preference, I think will be a challenge when we start off. But if we are able to on board someone from the hospitality sector, that wouldn’t be an issue. 

7. There are a lot of home stays being opened in every nook and corner. What do you think will make Whispering Woods different and unique?
It is true that there is a lot of competition in this sector but what I have seen is that the homestays are normally opened without any knowledge on management, they are opened for the sake of short term profit and that is where Whispering woods defer.
As I mentioned earlier, we have a diverse team, so we have knowledge in the majority of areas which will be leveraged for providing better and outstanding facilities to our guests. Moreover, we are not trying to push our services to the customers rather we will be providing them with what they need and demand. Also, we will be providing a wide range of facilities like different classes, medication facilities to our guests. So, I believe our expertise and the wide range of facilities we will be offering makes us different. 

8. How has your experience been as a participant of UYC bootcamp?
It was a great experience, I personally learned a lot regarding different areas of business. But since it was conducted online the interaction was missing to some extent, which is completely understandable. Apart from that, the experience was great and full of learnings. 

9. Which session did you like the most?
The sessions on investment were the most productive ones for me. It has definitely broadened my knowledge on what, why’s and how’s of investment. Likewise, the session on finance was also good but I think it could have been more productive if the trainer had talked about the ways of managing finances for the startups. All in all, the bootcamp was very effective, if I had to rate it, I would give it 4.5 out of 5. 

10. Has your idea  evolved post bootcamp? If so how?
My idea has remained the same but there have definitely been changes in the way I will execute it. Post the bootcamp I have planned to look for investors who are from the hospitality sector or whose views align with my business idea. Also, I am planning to make my team stronger before we officially launch Whispering Woods. In addition to this, I have been more inclined towards my goal.

11. Any other information you’d like to share with us?
Having interacted with 14 other participants, I came to know that people in Nepal are really innovative. So, we can proudly say that the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nepal is really strong. This journey may not be all roses but there are a lot of support systems like UYC bootcamps, incubation centers, mentors and so on. Also, there are a lot of opportunities in our country to start your own business and work on doing good for the people and the society. 

For more inforamtion about this idea, please connect with Pratik at khanalpratik1@gmail.com

Interviewed and Article by Trishna Shakya