One to Watch’s flagship accelerator ‘Enterprise’ has selected ten companies from a pool of 300 applicants for its fifth cohort. “Via Enterprise we empower innovative entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities and work towards finding solutions – by providing access to basic needs products and by creating jobs. We believe these ten companies have what it takes to do exactly that and therefore to support the economic development of Nepal,” says Amod Rajbhandari, Director of Accelerator and Entrepreneurship Development at One to Watch.
he ten ventures in the fifth cohort of Enterprise, have undergone a rigorous selection process. “We first screened them as per our selection criteria, whereby we look at the track record of the company, the scalability of the business etc.,” said Mandeep Bashistha, Business Analyst at One to Watch. However, finding the most interesting companies takes more than criteria based selection. “Using the criteria, we first narrowed down our pool to the top 30 companies. Then we wanted to know more about them, so we invited them for Elevator Pitching sessions”, reveals Rajbhandari, who further adds, “The elevator pitches were attended by local investors whose insights into the investment potential of the companies, played a vital role in the selection process. By doing so we also started engaging the companies with potential investors from the very onset of our program. This may very well be the first time in Nepal, that such a mechanism has been used.”
The cohort includes companies from different sectors and geographies. This, “not only brings peer-to-peer learning but can also initiate complimentary business opportunities between the ventures,” says Skishya Gyawali, another Business Analyst at One to Watch. Beyond the sectors, what is interesting in this mixture is that six out of the ten companies have female founders. This is by far the highest number of female founders in any one cohort of One to Watch’s accelerator program. These include the fresh fashion of The Mint Studio, the healthy drinks of NoChini, the passion and drive of Helmets Nepal, and the entrepreneurial experience of Hajuri Khadya Udhyog. Amongst the ten companies are also an innovative state-of-the-art Aeroponic technology company - Aeroroots, a sustainable leaf cutlery manufacture - LeafPlus, a recycled plastic based road construction company - Green Road Waste Management, F&B company - Burger Shack, audio-visual company – Onion Films, and, mushroom producers - Seedland Nepal.
The cohort officially launched on 22 November. In the coming days the entrepreneurs have a lot to look forward to, including a mentor week and two demo days, one each in Kathmandu and London. “We have based the program on our experiences of what has worked before. The fundamentals are intact, a credible financial and valuation model, sessions to help entrepreneurs understand investment memorandums and term sheets are all part of the program. We have also carefully matched the mentors to the companies, because we hope that with their involvement and understanding of the business the mentors will become lead investors,” says Rajbhandari. Some other outcomes for the selected companies include a third party due diligence and a company video. And of course, there is the ultimate outcome of becoming investment ready.