Competition: Three young and handsome boys. They have just flown in.  Jet-lagged, they are quietly peering out the wide windows of Royal Thimphu College’s (RTC) Executive Centre, as if they are trying to make sense of the strange delirium. It’s been a long journey, and they haven’t slept a wink.

On the table where they are sitting, there are three medals – silver – and a voucher of excellence from Google. It was a tough competition they got in, but their hard work took them far. They almost brought home gold from the Mekong Business Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition for university students in the Mekong region, which was held in Cambodia three days ago.

Mekong region? Bhutan doesn’t fall in it. But then, successful PR can work wonders. For the first time a Bhutanese team took part and, it wasn’t bad, at all.

The Bhutanese team from RTC went to Cambodia with the idea of Bhutan Interlocking Brick. Over a 100 teams from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China presented their business ideas. The business model from Bhutan was born from a Malaysian technology. The team prepared a plan, carried out research and tests. All looked good and viable. Soon the team will conduct the last feasibility study – soil testing.

But the idea has already matured. All that needs to be done now is to seek funds to purchase a machine to make the bricks. Gelay Nima, Ratu and Sangay Wangdi are confident that their business idea will work with a little support.

“A loan or a small subsidy, that’s all we need,” said Gelay Nima, who gave birth to the idea that got selected from among 21 applicants from RTC.

Ratu said that the competition was tough but the team was confident. “We were representing Bhutan and our idea wasn’t bad.”

Short and fair with intelligent eyes, Sangay Wangdi is also the most loquacious of the group. He thinks that the team can launch their product by later part of 2017. “Whatever you do, if you put your heart in it, things can be achieved.”

The team will soon leave for an all-expense paid trip to Singapore’s Google office to learn how businesses like Google excel and how individuals in Google have become successful in a highly competitive world.

A little way down south from the centre, all’s quiet. Serene and sagelike, Thakur Singh Powdyel, the president of the college, is sitting on a couch. His presence is awe-inspiring.

Says Thakur Singh Powdyel: “Obviously, the college is most delighted about the performance and success of both our teams that participated in the Mekong Business Challenge. This success didn’t come about by accident or luck. It is the consequence of many days of hard work and preparation by our students guided by our faculty.”

He stops between words, and then adds, “For any Bhutanese institution to feature at the international competition of this profile would be a matter of pride in itself, but for the two teams from RTC representing the country in an event that featured over 100 universities and colleges from across the region and, to achieve this level of success, is truly cause for joy and pride.”

Then there is a quick addition. “This success belongs not only to RTC and the participants, but to the country at large. It showed that with hard work and dedication, our men and women are capable of competing with their international peers and achieve commendable success.”

The three young winners have now left the centre. They have already missed some classes and they are worried. There is a lot of catching up to do.

RTC’s other team – Menjong Pasta – also did well. It came fourth in the competition. The team will be back in college Thursday.

Jigme Wangchuk