when work is play

From spending hours in front of a computer to making one smaller than the size of his hand, Pavitra Gautam, CEO of Karkhana and self proclaimed geek, tells us his story.

People say that entrepreneurs are lucky that they’re not stuck to a dead-end 9 to 5 desk job, taking orders from someone they have started to despise.

This is true, Entrepreneurs love their job, that is why they risk it all to be one. However, there is much more to the equation than what people think. Perhaps a dash of luck and a dash of charm is needed, and definitely a whole lot of experimentation and courage. Relentless passion and hard work comes in without question. Or so I learned from Pavitra Gautam, who says that he is on his way to figure out this intricate system of a successful entrepreneur.

Experimenting with machines and playing with different colored wires is as good as it gets for the young entrepreneur. Equipped with wires and metal bits and bobs that reminds me of my physics class, Karkhana is a makerspace, a place of creativity and passion for technology lovers and hardware programmers. When asked to describe his company, Pavitra simply says, “We build things”. Karkhana, meaning ‘factory’ in Nepali, is a for-profit company that focuses on encouraging the ideas of experimentation and innovation, organizing technology events and trainings.

Wanting to expand the local field of hardware engineering and dissatisfied with the stagnant education system of Nepal, in 2012 along with three friends, the idea of starting up Karkhana consumed Pavitra’s mind. He wanted a space where everyone could learn collectively, practically, and enjoyably. “You can’t teach people to perceive things, you can only create an environment to inspire others,” says Pavitra. For his team and him, Karkhana was that ideal platform for innovation. In just seven short months, in addition to experimenting with prototypes, his team has managed to run 25 workshops that encouraged practical learning and problem solving through technology.

Pavitra Gautam’s motto for success? Fast to failure. Why not fail early in the process and learn so much more, rather than waiting for two years and still failing. Staying true to the words of an entrepreneur, Pavitra says, “Just do it and fail instead of not doing it at all.” Starting up Karkhana was a risky idea; it needed a dedicated team, huge capital, and well-thought out business ideas. He was just a hardware programmer. “I had not anticipated managing a company, which is very different from programming. However by taking risks, at least I would have an idea on how to succeed the next time,” he says. He sees a big future ahead for Karkhana.

In addition to running a company, the entrepreneur keeps himself occupied by leading the Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN). With the collaboration of RAN and Karkhana, he is now busy planning events such as Build Night with Instructables.com, a hardware hackathon, and Yantra 2.0. He hopes for Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) to be a “future agent for innovation”, a social company that would facilitate students and bring international exposure to Nepal’s robotics scene.

3 things Pavitra Gautam would like to say to tech entrepreneurs in Nepal:

1. Never make a product for yourself. The perspective is how many people are going to benefit from it. That makes a product successful.

2. Management and accounting may be boring, but it is a must for entrepreneurship. If you have enough passion for your work, then it won’t bore you (as much).

3. It is not about money, but about how much value you are putting into the work. Money may be the desperation of the company, but should not be the ego of the company.

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