Sherab Lhamo 

Sixteen aspiring entrepreneurs pitched business ideas to a panel at the end of a two-day workshop organised by the Regional Startup Network (RSN) in Thimphu yesterday.  

Of that, five participants will be selected for a three-day training in Kolkata. 

The Impact Hub (iHub) Thimphu team reached out to startups around Bhutan through social media, resulting in 78 registrations, which was then narrowed down to 20 startups and trained in October last year. For the second batch, the team approached the remaining teams who were enthusiastic about their products.

The workshop was jointly organized by KIIT-TBI, an Indian incubator providing incubation services, in collaboration with the U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata and the US Embassy. It was also in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Impact Hub (iHub) Thimphu, Royal Thimphu College.

Manager for social incubation from KIIT-TBI, Soumya Mahapatra, said the regional collaboration between India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan was to encourage startups to work together and find solutions to their problems and opportunities.

“As the four countries have similar ecosystems in terms of Trade, environmental issues, opportunities all have similar problems and similar solutions,” said Soumya.

The workshop provided idea validation tips, ensuring that proposed solutions align with the actual needs of customers, and building a value proposition on it. 

Entrepreneurs said that they gained clarity on their business ideas, and learnt to focus on ensuring proposed solutions align with customer needs and building strong value propositions.

Kinley Wangmo, who runs Bhutan Hydroponics, a soil-less farming business, shared her learning experience, including customer validation, approaching investors, and identifying and addressing weaknesses in her staff and operations.

Chhimi Dem, the owner of Crystal Moon Products, a local food manufacturing business, said the workshop provided information that helped expand the capabilities of entrepreneurs. “RSN workshops assist us in unblocking our obstacles.”

The results of the ideas competition will be announced in 15 days.