Kiran Krishna Shrestha is Team Leader at Nepa~laya, an organisation that manages music, publishes books and produces independent non-fiction films besides doing events like concerts, book tours, film screenings, photo exhibitions, etc. He says, “Instead of having corporate-style titles at Nepa~laya, we believe in having titles that are team focused and keep the team intact.” Shrestha started Nepa~laya in 2001 and has been the official promoter and manager of Nepathya, the music band, since 2002.
Explaining his responsibilities at Nepa~laya, Shrestha says, “Our work is more based on creativity like marketing and promotion. We have different wings at Nepa~laya. My work is to communicate with the different wings and keep them in coordination.”
Before Nepa~laya, he used to work as an RJ, filmmaker and producer and considers himself a student of management and marketing. Richard Branson’s book “Losing My Virginity” is his favourite. And among many teachings passed down to him from his father, his favourite is (loosely translated from Nepali): Don’t get into a business in which you don’t want to see your children as customers.
In this issue of B360, he shares with Dibesh Dangol, the five fundamentals that have shaped his work and life.
Travelling awakens the mind
Like a musician needs to be a good listener and a writer needs to be a good reader, a business person needs to be a good consumer. I always test our products on myself first before releasing them in the market. For example, we do concerts and our concerts are known for starting on time. Why did we do that? I used to attend concerts and they were always delayed. Delay always left me irritated - a feeling which I thought all concert attendees share in common. No one has time to wait and waste. So, I decided that our concerts should start on time and people have appreciated us for that. I tend to look at my products from a consumer’s perspective.
Unfortunately, no textbooks explain the market trend of different places of Nepal. One needs to go to the grassroots level by travelling to various places in Nepal and take consumer feedback. I have travelled to most of the places in Nepal via road and whatever I have learned from my travel experiences, I have imbibed the knowledge and used it to promote our products. A photo might tell a thousand words, but while travelling, your mind can come across thousands of photos every day, so you can imagine how much one can learn by travelling. Both of my daughters are also avid travellers and have travelled to 50 districts of Nepal. I encourage them to travel because travelling opens up the world and they can learn many things about life while travelling rather than from textbooks or sitting idle in a place.
People are primary; business comes second
People should work where their passion is and that’s what I try to keep intact in my team; they need to be passionately involved. If a person is working in music, s/he should enjoy music. If a person is selling books, s/he needs to understand books and the value of writers and authors. Rather than running Nepa~laya as a business, we always put artists, writers and whoever we work with as our first priority. Their creativity is primary for us and business is secondary. Though as a businessman I should be saying business is primary, but Nepa~laya is a creative-based business so creative people are primary to us. If they aren’t satisfied, our business doesn’t run.
Social responsibility matters
The business landscape has changed. Previously, business used to be profit-oriented and other aspects were considered more. But now, the shift is evident globally. Though the main purpose of doing business is still to earn profits, but businesses are equally concerned about customer satisfaction, cultural, environmental and socio-political impacts and corporate social responsibility (CSR). This is because the social image and how much the businesses are being socially responsible matter nowadays. Since we are dealing with many role models of the society, we have always taken care of our team and the people we work with and made them aware of ours and their social responsibilities, and that’s where we stand out. The general public don’t come and look at a company’s financial statements; they look at the company’s social image. So, creating a positive social image and maintaining that has been vital to us.
Commitment to creativity
The trade we are involved in is passion-based. Once artists put commercial success first, their creativity is hampered. We take logistics, promotion and marketing hassles off the people we work with and create an environment for them to concentrate on being creative. I am inspired by all those great artists, musicians and writers who have contributed so much to this world and stayed committed to their creativity including creative minds I work with.
Back in 1996, during the initial phase of FM radio station revolution in Nepal, I was involved with a radio station and used to present programmes. Then I moved to producing documentaries for television which led to me becoming a filmmaker. In 2000, I met Amrit Gurung of Nepathya. There was not much happening with the band as it suffered from internal issues. We talked about how music should be promoted in Nepal. There were music companies and event managers during that time and I tried to link them up with Nepathya but the response I got from the people in the trade was very discouraging. Then I thought to myself—“If I’m looking for a company to promote the band that I suppose is a sellable and credible band and I am not finding one here, there is a big vacuum in the market.” Out of obligation, I quit all my ‘safe’ jobs and formed a small team to start Nepa~laya in 2001. So, with sheer passion we started Nepa~laya on the basis of our belief in our instinct that it will work out. Since 2005 we branched out to publication. That instinct came in my mind not because I saw a huge business potential, but because no one was doing what we intended to do and here we are sustaining ourselves for almost 2twodecades now.