Photo Credit: Mr. Umes Shrestha; www.bleakimpression.wordpress.com
Watching Mr. Divesh Mulmi – frontman of COBWEB, present his story at the Storytellers yesterday was a treat for me personally. Probably it was his humility that added that extra flair that asked for my undivided attention. While hearing out his journey of more than 2 decades, there were few things that I could relate to in my 4 years (short) journey as an entrepreneur and few things I learnt that I would definitely apply in the days to come. His story could undoubtedly serve as guidance to many of us aspirants to realize our dreams. Here I list down 13 things that we as entrepreneurs – novice or veterans – could benefit from Mr. Dibesh Mulmi’s musical start-up – COBWEB.
“हिंड्छु सधैं, त्यही बाटो…
…मनमा लाखौं सपना, सपना बोकी।”
With wild unkempt hair walks in Mr. Mercedes, strums the guitar and sings out the song above.
Watch the video below.
What he says at the end is the essence of entrepreneurship, especially when you are bootstrapping your start-up. For all of them who’ve been there know if it wasn’t for the “laakhau sapana” what would have happened to you and your start-up.
Lesson#1 Passion is a must.
Top it off with perseverance and you’ve got yourself a no-fail-potion.
Next up, he heads with his story of how he started the band along with his friends and the initial days without proper instruments and gears. He laughs about how they plugged in all their guitars and microphone in to one single amplifier speaker.
Lesson# 2 Start out where you are, with what you have.
Still laughing, he goes on to talk about their first album, which he claims was a flop. The reason he states why the album flopped was lack of necessary equipment that resulted in poor recording quality. Following that, he mentions how they rented out good equipment when working on their second album that did pretty good compared to the first.
Lesson #3 First, make a basic working prototype of your product.
Lesson #4 The prototype is not going to be what you had imagined and you are not going to be happy with it. It’s OK.
Lesson #5 Analyze what caused the dissatisfaction and INVEST to counter the identified problem.
He, then dives in to how intrigued he was when he saw studio-quality recording instruments for the first time and how he fell in love with the recording mixer just by the way it looked. Once while jamming, he confesses how he accidentally came up with a new sound by having a headphone near his recording microphone. He reminisces that was how he came up with a DIY talk box, which he used in “Maryo ni maryo” and how many times he had failed making a working talk box that actually lasted. He used it for 9 years – he says.
Lesson #6 Keep Experimenting. Sometimes innovation happens by accident. You never know what would work.
Lesson #7 If you can’t afford to invest money, invest your time and figure out a way to make it happen.
Following their success in the Nepali rock scene, he, somewhere in his presentation mentioned how there were other rock bands that started joining in the music scene. Seeing this he recalls, that they realized they had to introduce “something new” that the other bands hadn’t yet. This led them to produce the video “preet ko nasha” with completely industrial feel to the video and using a “bow” on an electric guitar which back then definitely was a breathe of fresh air.
Lesson #8 Competition is definite.
Lesson #9 Iterate your product and differentiate your start-up from the competition.
During early 2000s he remembers questioning their existence when hip-hop music had started to gain momentum in Nepal and was growing like a wildfire. They decided they would still continue playing small gigs in Thamel where they could still keep themselves in shape and had to be there own porter despite being a well-established band already.
Lesson #10 Competition from a completely different product is probable.
Lesson #11 Slowing down temporarily and always working on your product is the key to a sustained business.
After the struggles of the early 2000s, he jumped to the devastating earthquake of April 25th and how he and his friends from the band were helping out the survivors in the affected areas. He didn’t talk much about it. Probably he lost his track when “a funtoosh” picture of him – according to him – popped out on the projection screen that he didn’t want to be on the presentation slides. However, deducing from what he said;
Lesson #12 Giving back to the society is important.
One major wish he said out loud during his time on stage was “How good would it had been if there were enough people to invest in music schools where the youngs could go and learn to play music. This would have made the music industry much better.” Building up on this, he talked about his involvement with “Project Namaste” which helps homeless kids learn music and how he was astonished to see what these kids had to offer when they came over to his recording studio to record a song.
Lesson #13 If the industry you are in is still in infancy; its also your responsibility to help build it while building your start-up.
Watching him talk, like I said earlier, was a treat for me personally. One thing that I will definitely take away from his storytelling and him is his humility. I think it was his humility that made him what he is and where he stands today.
“पूरा हुनेछ, मेरा चाहनाहरु, एक दिन।”
Minimalism. White. Change. Pearl Jam. Wingtip.