Ash Shrivastav is well known name in the M&A deal making and investment industry. He has also remained in headlines in Nepal’s media outlets as there were reports that he was making a case for Nepal’s deposed King Gyanendra Shah to become active.
As a partner at an investment bank in Washington, DC, Mr. Shrivastav has advised many middle market companies in the United States, India and Nepal and also led investments in many of them. He is the Director of NepaliVivah, an interactive matrimony platform catered to new generation people of Nepali origin. Based out of Nepal and United States, the company has been growing rapidly. We sat with him to talk about NepaliVivah today.
In your own words what is nepalivivah.com?
NepaliVivah a platform for Nepali Singles all around the world who are looking to connect with each other and eventually get married.
How did you come up with the idea of nepalivivah.com?
Since Nepal didn’t have a leading technology matrimony platform, Nepalese have historically experimented with Indian websites in finding other singles. There was no product that served the people of Nepali origin. Relying on Indian websites to find a Nepali single was simply not working. This problem gave birth to NepaliVivah.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up nepalivivah.com?
We were assigned a class project to develop a small website. Coincidentally, some of the people we knew were in search for a bride or groom. Hence, we were aware of the challenges that Nepali singles were facing. So we wrote codes while keeping the problem in mind. Eventually, that led to the formation of NepaliVivah.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?
We face difficulties every day. In fact, as a company you are expected to face difficulties. We love converting those difficulties into opportunities though. The particular challenge of doing business in Nepal as a consumer internet company is the collection of payments since the electronic payment system is not developed yet. We are working on to solve that issue. As a new startup, earning the respect and trust of a user is a challenge. Luckily, we have been very successful on that front. As a result, NepaliVivah has become the largest platform for NepaliVivah singles to search for their potential bride or groom in a very short period of time.
How have you been developing nepalivivah.com since startup?
We initially launched the website to test the concept. When we saw hundreds of members signing up, then the idea was validated. When the members started paying for it, the business was validated.
What kind of feedback did you get for nepalivivah.com so far?
We ask for feedback from everyone, especially the users. We then analyze whether it makes sense for us or not. Some users are used to other matrimony websites. They expect the system to work like that. We don’t follow that. We show the users why our method and system is much superior than the other ones. Overall, our users thank us for solving their problem. That’s a very good feeling.
Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?
There are some websites who have started following us now. If a business model is attractive, naturally it will attract competition. We don’t have a hyper competition yet and we hope to pre-empt others. Our central focus is to get our users married. We work for them. We want to make them happy. When they are happy, families get united. We love to hear wedding music.
Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?
This industry is in nascent phase. Sooner or later, it will grow though. All I can tell is that there is a need and we are doing all we can to address the need with a product like ours.
How do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?
We assume people will always want to meet and get married. Our vision is to remain the most trusted platform and get as many families united via marriage. We want our married couples to proudly share with their kids where and how they met. So the future is always there. We plan to remain in the industry with a single focus – our users.
Was there anything that disappointed you initially?
We don’t get disappointed. We see them as obstacles. I also believe that each obstacle represents a great opportunity. So rather than focusing on disappointments, we focus on the opportunities that it brings.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?
Starting a business in the West is much easier than Asia. However, growing a business is relatively easier in Asia than the West. The markets in Asia are still very ripe for opportunities. People are more open to trying wide variety of products and services. The new generation – both women and men alike- is working harder to start generating income at an early age. This has resulted in disposable income which they spend thereby helping businesses to grow.
In Asia, I have seen several entrepreneurs copy the business model of the West. While this might work for some industries, it may not necessarily work for all. Rather than copying a business, you should be able to answer yourself why you are starting that particular business. Your business must be able to provide some value for your potential customers.
What is your definition of success?
Success is just the well execution of a vision backed by a sound plan. It would be difficult to find anyone who is not successful who had a vision and planned to execute it. The plan could be small or big. If you are able to execute the plan, you are a success. However, most success is interim. People don’t get satisfied by becoming successful. They set a new goal and focus on the execution. From other’s perspective, you may be successful (as they have their own definition) but you may not consider yourself a success and vice versa.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I am not sure whether people decide to become entrepreneurs. I see myself as a problem solver. You have a business when you can solve problems for your customers. In addition, the ability to create jobs is very self satisfying. Just imagine how many jobs one business creates.
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
Keep your focus no matter what happens. Nothing is ever permanent. Largest businesses are found in history books. Little or unknown businesses have become very large because of some people’s vision behind it. I always tell people to “stay away from the “noise”; just focus on yourself, your business and your customers. The stronger the bond between you and your customer is the better entrepreneur you would be.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?
Don’t listen to noise. These days there is more noise out there in various channels than actual businesses. I have found great businesses who are so quiet that they are nowhere to be found. Don’t get distracted by what others are doing. You just keep your focus.
Personal Website: www.ashshrivastav.com
Business Website: www.nepalivivah.com
Business Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/nepalivivah