heating up instant success
ClicHeat, a seemingly overnight success led by two youth, is also a story of innovation, opportunity and passion. Their story proves skeptics wrong and instills new hope for Nepal’s economic potential.
Grivand Dhwoj Shrestha, 29, and his fiancée Raihan Asman, 28, are neither chemist nor do they have any business experience. From their college days ten years ago, the couple have been driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. In 2009, they went on to conceive ClicHeat, a line of heating products. Theirs is an exemplary story of a well composed entrepreneur and how he came about a small company in Dillibazar which is preparing to start productions in India just a year into operations.
To describe ClicHeat simply, it is a salt-based liquid sealed inside a wind and water-proof plastic pouch. It has a small button which when pressed produces heat within 5 seconds. Ranging from 125 to 1000 rupees, ClicHeat’s products are ideal for heat therapy for back pain, shoulders, stomach cramps and even just warming your fingers during the winter chill.
When ClicHeat officially launched in 2013 at an expo organized by FNCCI, the novelty product instantly got everyone talking. The curiosity was normal; such a product didn’t exist in the market. Nobody had seen a product that could fit on a palm and produce heat of up to 54°C at the click of a button. People crowded around Shrestha’s stall to inquire more about it. “The customers’ reactions were overwhelming,” says Shrestha. “They loved it and made bulk purchases. It was then that we realized that our product had great utility value and potential to make it big.”
This unconventional product in its sleek, modern design brings with it an inspiring account of the vision and determination of a young entrepreneur. Shrestha had finished his Diploma in Hospitality from Singapore and was working at the airport when he come back to Nepal in 2009 to take care of his family. Upon his return, he observed a tremendous entrepreneurial potential in the market and convinced Asman, his future fiancée, to join him in his pursuit of starting his own business.
“The idea of ClicHeat was a lucky accident,” says Asman. “After learning about the cold winters of Kathmandu, I had brought Japanese heating bags with me. They were use-and-throw products and provided heat for a short period.” Options like hot water bags were messy and burnt the skin if used for a long time. Constant voltage fluctuations and load-shedding meant electric blankets were not ideal for Nepalese. The couple then started seeking alternatives for a heat bag and like any entrepreneur would, immediately saw a market for a more affordable and efficient product.
In the same year, the to-be business partners set out to conduct research on the market for a heating product that would be safe, reusable, portable and instant – USPs that still hold true for the company today. They drew inspiration from heat products available in Singapore and bought sample pieces. With close to zero knowledge on the scientific aspects of the products, they sought the expertise of a chemical engineer friend. In the meantime, Shrestha joined IB & MS College for BBM, because he felt that in Nepal’s context proper marketing skills would be crucial for his business’ future, and also to expand his network and resources.
“Though it looks simple, the product turned out to be rather complex. Through countless trial-and-error improvements, we finally created a workable model,” says Shrestha, recalling his four years of research on the product. “The reason we commercialized the product so gradually was to come up with the highest quality product possible.” Indeed, the details in ClicHeat’s products prove their commitment to quality.
Shrestha maintains he never had a really pressing issue running the business except initially with human resources. “We had a tough time finding the right people for the job. Sourcing suppliers to import raw materials from India and Thailand was difficult too,” he says. “With a positive mindset and by supporting one another, we were able to overcome these challenges and move ahead.”
FNCCI expo has seen a promising start for ClicHeat, which has already started supplying its products to leading pharmacies and soon to departmental stores for retail. With a young and driven team of ten, Shrestha remains optimistic of his endeavor inspiring other Nepalese to start something on their own. “At a time when youth in thousands are leaving the country for foreign employment, we want to send out a message that there are opportunities here in Nepal. Take the initiative to connect the dots that make up a larger picture,” says Shrestha.