how nepal's pioneering party organizers adjusted to competition

When a curfew until 6 am was called in 2004 during the Maoist insurgency, Party Nepal hosted its party all night, the event ending when the curfew did. With an innovative approach to fun and lots of hard work, Party Nepal introduced party culture to Nepal.

Party Nepal had the resolve to make the best of a situation because Robin Sitoula was determined to party. After a year of partying in 27 countries, he wasn’t ready to call it quits once he returned to Nepal. In his quest to drink, dance, and socialize, he partnered with Mandil Pradhan and Bhushan Thapa, forgetting his fears and doubts. True to its form, Party Nepal, a party hosting company at its inception, was launched by throwing a party.

People flocked to Party Nepal’s events because beforehand, the party scene in Kathmandu was dismal. “We started Party Nepal to liven up the party scene,” recalled Sitoula. “We weren’t looking to make huge profits, but to feed our partying needs.” And feed they did. Events hosting as many as 1500 people were held in notable venues like Kantipath’s 1905 restaurant and DurbarMarg’s Hotel de l’Annapurna.

Party Nepal, launched in 2002, became synonymous with fun filled gatherings. In these pre-Facebook days, the company lured young Kathmanduites to its website by posting photos of the event the night that it happened. Eager to check out the photos, the party goers went on the website the next day and on following days, viewing listings of other events in the process. News about upcoming events also spread through word of mouth and SMS. The company’s marketing strategy contributed to only a part of Party Nepal’s success, says Sitoula, reflecting on the company’s success. The company’s advantage was that there were very few parties at that time. It therefore had barely any competition.

Eventually, the competition grew. Event companies sprang up, and groups of friends decided to throw parties themselves as the number of venues increased dramatically. Government-imposed regulations, such as early closing time for venues, resulted in the party scene, in some form, dying down.

Despite these far-reaching changes, Party Nepal is still thriving, thanks to its ability to transform itself with time and offer new services. In addition to event management and multimedia production, it now does marketing and organization trainings. Party Nepal recently launched its outdoors component, Party Nepal Outdoors, through which it has secured clients with internationally recognizable names like Colgate and Mercy Corps.

The challenge, no matter how much it does shift, is that Party Nepal relies heavily on tapping into people’s wants and desires as opposed to needs. “In a developing country like Nepal, we’re working with a very small demographic able to participate and stay interested in what we offer. Sometimes they may have money, but not time, and vice versa,” says Executive Director Shree Gurung, putting it in plain words. One of the ways to go around this issue is to pull in foreign companies, as Party Nepal Outdoors does for company retreats, and to work with corporations and organizations, which have the funds for trainings. To keep itself relevant in the future, Party Nepal plans to take its events and direct marketing to the next level by being more innovative.

Gurung acknowledged the difficulty in heightening its marketing strategies for clients. According to him, many companies underestimate the importance of marketing. “You can’t sell a product unless it’s marketed properly,” says Gurung. “Coca-Cola is just a product, but its marketing has made it one of the biggest brands in the world.”

“Invest in marketing,” says Gurung, advising entrepreneurs. “Physical investment is one thing, intellectual investment is something else.” Before making any kind of investments, conduct thorough research and remember to do an analysis. “Don’t copy people,” he says, adding, “Do something innovative.”

Because Party Nepal has been original throughout its process, changing its focus and expanding to offer something new, it continues to stand strong more than a decade after its launch. In a world where nothing is permanent except change, Party Nepal’s journey of adjustments is a business strategy well worth paying attention to and learning from.

Where Are They Now?

Party Nepal isn’t the only one changing its course as appropriate. All three Party Nepal founders have left the company, using their entrepreneurial lessons to embark on new adventures:

• U-Turn Group – Robin Sitoula’s company does advertising with a twist by marketing at events.

• Himalayan Rides – The cycling tour company started after Mandil Pradhan paid for top biking magazines’ visit to Nepal and mountain bike with him. The huge risk was such a success that his tours are booked until 2016.

• Greenlife Energy – Bhushan Thapa transitioned into the fi eld of alternative energy as one of the founding partners of the hydropower company.

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